PhD Project: Kasia Narkowicz

Contested Spaces: Group Identities and Competing Rights in Transitioning Warsaw

Reseracher: Kasia Narkowicz


Supervisors: Professor Gill Valentine, Professor Richard Phillips, University of Sheffield

This PhD project addressed conflicts between religious and secular groups, investigating the ways that the groups claimed public space and were excluded from it. This thesis looked at group conflicts around religious and sexual politics in the Polish public sphere. Through two case studies; conflicts over mosque building and conflicts over abortion politics, the project mapped antagonisms between Muslim, Catholic, secularist and feminist groups. The empirical data for this project was gathered during nine months of fieldwork in Warsaw, Poland, and applied qualitative mixed methods such as focus groups, interviews and participant observations.

The central questions of the project were linked to how spaces of understanding, dialogue and political friendships between groups in conflict can be fostered. This PhD project was underpinned by three main theoretical perspectives. Firstly, the Polish conflicts were analysed from a postcolonial perspective adapted to the Central and Eastern European context. Further, the thesis engaged critically with theories of secularism and postsecularism. Lastly, political theories of the public sphere and conflict facilitated thinking around religious and sexual politics in the public sphere in more inclusive ways.


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