Polish Floods


A collective panic, which spread in Poland during the flood of July 1997, revealed off-stage properties of state-citizens relationships, i.e. the inability to trust, as an important aspect of post-communist societies. In this article the city of Wroclaw is a local string point for a study of citizenship-relations in post-communist Poland which are related to specific hidden histories – the communist heritage as well as the repressed German past of the region. Both factors, by producing overcentralization and unaccountability of state structures, deep rivalry among political actors, disrespect and distrust among citizens and between citizens and states, as well as collective amnesia, explain the incapacity of Wroclaw’s citizens to keep control over their city, the Odra river, the state organizations and their imagination.

How to Cite

Kalb, D. & Tak, H., (2001) “Polish Floods”, Ethnologia Europaea 31(1), p.63-74. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.915

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Don Kalb (Utrecht University)
Herman Tak (Utrecht University)



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