Juxtaposing close readings of photo books, socialist-era newsreels called the Polska Kronika Filmowa, the comedies of Leonard Buczkowski and Jan Fethke, the writing and films of Tadeusz Konwicki, and a case study on the Palace of Culture and Science—a "gift" from none other than Stalin—this study investigates the rhetorical and visual, rather than physical, reconstruction of Warsaw in various medias and genres.
Ewa Wampuszyc roots her analysis in the historical context of the postwar decade and shows how and why Poland's capital became an essential part of a propaganda program inspired by communist ideology and the needs of a newly established socialist People's Republic. Mapping Warsaw demonstrates how physical space manifests itself in culture, and how culture, history, and politics leave an indelible mark on places. It points out ways in which we take for granted our perception of space and the meanings we assign to it.
"In recent months, the contentiousness of space—and the ideological narratives reflected in our spaces/places—has come to the forefront of our contemporary political discussions. In the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Jacob Blake, and the subsequent waves of Black Lives Matter demonstrations throughout the United States (and much of the world), serious and important questions have been raised about to whom society should build its monuments and after whom society should name its streets and buildings. These, of course, are not new questions. And while Ewa Wampuszyc’s Mapping Warsaw: The Spatial Poetics of a Postwar City could have never anticipated the political moment in which we currently find ourselves, her book’s excellent treatment of Warsaw’s spatial reconstruction after the Second World War can certainly remind of us that the 'spatiality of place is ever-changing,' as well as offer us a fantastic historical example of how ideology constantly informs the creation and evolution of a city’s topography." —Matthew D. Mingus, H-Maps