What are the political and cultural reasons for studying Polish?
‘It is one of our main duties to support and promote Polish-Dutch relations and improve mutual understanding between The Netherlands and Poland. We are doing well.
That is a logical consequence of the fact that Poland is an upcoming nation. ...Within the EU Poland’s position is increasingly strong, The economy is growing steadily. The share of Poland as a market for Dutch products is considerable.
The cultural, social and political relations between The Netherlands and Poland are growing accordingly. It is therefore obvious that the demand for Dutch people able to converse in Polish will also increase. ... Other nations too, especially also our neighbouring countries, will work to improve their relationship with Poland.’
Paul Bekkers, ambassador for The Netherlands in Warsaw
The University of Amsterdam is the only institute in the Benelux countries to provide a course in Poland’s rich language, culture, literature, film, politics and history. In addition, our curriculum looks into the importance of Poland as part of the wider - indeed, for Europe highly significant - linguistic and cultural region we nowadays refer to as Central and Eastern Europe. Our university provides an above average expertise in Literary Studies and East European Studies. Think of what you will be able to offer once you are a specialist in Polish and Slavic language and culture.
Interesting aspects of studying Polish culture and language:
1 There are some 40 million native speakers of Polish in Europe, which means it is the fifth largest language in the EU: more than even Spanish!
2 During the last two centuries, Poland did not figure on the maps of Europe as an independent nation. Later it was largely subjected to Russian Soviet rule, which lasted about fifty years. In spite of this, Poland developed strongly in cultural respect even though there was no independent nation state. As a consequence Poland nowadays offers a refined cultural landscape that is both very national as well as emphatically international.
3 Poland was the home to important artists who have been very influential in music, film and literature everywhere in the world: Frédéric Chopin, Roman Polański, Wisława Szymborska to name but a few. For a truly profound understanding and further study of European culture and its history, there need to be experts who can do justice to these key personalities via their own language and present them in the appropriate social and cultural context.
4 Specialist knowledge is also needed of the rapidly growing Polonia - the name used for Polish immigrant communities such as we have in The Netherlands. They are becoming an integral part of Dutch society and also ‘our’ culture. Read some more about this here.
5 Specialist of the Polish language and culture are interesting partners for the Polish embassy in The Hague and the Dutch embassy in Warsaw. They not only represent their respective home countries abroad, but also facilitate and encourage activities to reach out to each other and improve relationships, also in cultural respect. See also: http://polen.nlambassade.org en http://haga.msz.gov.pl/en/
Interesting aspects of studying Polish politics
1 There are 28 nation states within the EU and Poland is the fifth largest after Spain in number of inhabitants. Poland’s former prime minister is currently president of the Council of Europe. Poland’s influence in Europe is considerable. It is expected that this influence will increase further over the next ten years. Source
2 In political respect Poland has always been progressive. It was the second nation after the US to develop a constitution (3 May 1791 [NB. jaartal staat fout op de NLse website!]). Poland was the first Soviet satellite to break off from that regime and also the first to regain its independence through the activities of the famous solidarity movement (Solidarność). In depth knowledge of the Polish example may offer an inspiring reflection on our own political functioning.
3 Poland’s position as buffer state for Western Europe continues to be crucial. Experts in Polish language and culture are able to deepen our understanding of this political situation and as such play a part in providing solutions to specific European problems.