Dr
Agnieszka
Kościańska
Associate Professor

Agnieszka Kościańska received her PhD (2007) and habilitation (2015) in ethnology/cultural anthropology from the University of Warsaw, Poland. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, sexual violence, religion, and anthropology of science. Now she also is a senior researcher in a HERA grant (Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures) and a research partner in a POLONEZ 2 grant (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie/National Science Center Poland; Birth control cultures in Poland 1945–1989). She was a visiting scholar at Harvard University (2010-2011, Marie Curie fellowship), the New School for Social Research (2006, Kosciuszko Foundation grant), the University of Copenhagen (2005, Danish Governmental scholarship), Edinburgh College of Art (2017, European Visiting Research Fellowship by the Caledonian Research Foundation and the Royal Society of Edinburgh) and a fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena (2016, 2017-2018).

She is the author of Zobaczyć łosia (To See a Moose. The History of Polish Sex Education from the First Lesson to the Internet, 2017), Płeć przyjemność i przemoc (Gender, Pleasure and Violence: The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland 2014), Potęga ciszy (The Power of silence: Gender and Religious Conversion. The Case of a New Religious Movement, the Brahma Kumaris, 2009) and (co-)editor of several volumes and journal special issues on gender and sexuality – the most recent being ‘The science of sex in a space of uncertainty: Naturalizing and modernizing Europe’s East, past and present’ Sexualities, no. 1-2 2016 (with Hadley Renkin).

 

 

 akoscianska.pl

Area of interest

gender, sexuality, sex education, religion, history of science, history of sexuality, engaged anthropology, Poland, Central Europe

Biography

Agnieszka Kościańska received her PhD (2007) and habilitation (2015) in ethnology/cultural anthropology from the University of Warsaw, Poland. In 2013-2016 she served as Deputy Director. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, sexual violence, religion, and anthropology of science. In her doctoral dissertation and her book The Power of Silence (2009, in Polish) she focused on gender and religious conversion. She conducted her ethnographic fieldwork among members of a Hindu-rooted new religious movement, the Brahma Kumaris in Poland. She shows how identity and agency of Brahma Kumari converts, mostly women, are redefined within the conversion process, and how a woman's new identity, performance and agency, based on silence, meditation, ascetic life-style and spirituality, influence her family kin networks and workplace, and engender new forms of social life. Moreover, she analyses the case of the Brahma Kumaris in relation to the development of feminism in Poland. She shows that for her interview partners, conversion to the Brahma Kumaris and conforming to the strict ascetic discipline are ways of dealing with gender related discontent. She argues that religion is an important element of women's identities in Poland. Her inquiry suggests that lack of spirituality within Polish feminist milieus and feminist emphasis on the liberal agency are main obstacles to the further development of feminism in the country.
Kościańska’s second book (Gender, Pleasure and Violence, 2014, in Polish) is an analysis of the development of expert knowledge of sexuality (especially sexological knowledge) in Poland in the period from the end of the 1960s to present. She takes a constructivist approach to expert discourse (she assumes that expert knowledge is an important factor constructing sexuality: it naturalizes and normalizes certain behaviours and identities, while others are denied the status of normality and naturalness). Therefore this book is also a story about the history of sexuality in Poland under communism and the changes that have taken place within it as a result of the postsocialist transformation. Kościańska shows how experts write about pleasure and violence, and how in relation to these categories the notion of gender is defined. Her newest monograph (To See a Moose, 2017, in Polish) presents the history of Polish sex education in the 20th century.

She is the co-editor of Anthropology against Discrimination (in Polish, 2015, with Kamila Dąbrowska and Magdalena Grabowska), Gender: An Anthropological Perspective (in Polish, 2007, with Renata E. Hryciuk), Women and Religions (in Polish, 2006, with Katarzyna Leszczyńska) and special issues of Focaal (‘The East speaks back: Gender and sexuality in postsocialist Europe’, no. 53, 2009, with Jill Owczarzak) and Sexualities (‘The science of sex in a space of uncertainty: Naturalizing and modernizing Europe's East, past and present’, vol. 19, no. 1-2, 2016, with Hadley Z. Renkin ), and the editor of a volume on anthropology of sexuality (in Polish, 2012).

More: akoscianska.pl

Selected publications

In English:

In French:

  • 2010 “Les groupes de femmes non féministes. Le mouvement Brahma Kumaris.” Ethnologie Française, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 257-265.
  • 2006 "Réinterprétation du genre: Brahma Kumaris en Pologne." Cahier de publications doctorales, Université Marc Bloch, Mai 2006, no. 7, pp. 119-128.

In Polish:

  • 2017 Zobaczyć łosia. Historia polskiej edukacji seksualnej od pierwszej lekcji do internetu (To See a Moose: The History of Polish Sex Education from the First Lesson to the Internet), Wołowiec, Czarne, 2017, pp. 424.
  • 2015 Antropologia wobec dyskryminacji (Anthropology against discrimination) co-edited with  Kamila Dąbrowska and Magdalena Grabowska, Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2015, pp. 246.
  • 2014 Płeć, przyjemność i przemoc. Kształtowanie wiedzy eksperckiej o seksualności w Polsce (Gender, Pleasure and Violence. The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland), Warszawa, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2014, pp. 270.
  • 2014 'Nauka o seksie a płeć. Uwarunkowania kulturowe, społeczne i ekonomiczne seksuologii głównego nurtu w Polsce i Stanach Zjednoczonych.' Kultura i Społeczeństwo", no. 1, pp. 63-77. 
  • 2012 Antropologia seksualności. Teoria. Etnografia. Zastosowanie [Anthropology of sexuality. Theory. Ethnography. Application], Warszawa, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, pp. 521, edited volume.
  • 2012 'Twórcze odgrywanie Matki Polki i Matki Boskiej. Religia a symbolika macierzyńska w Polsce' [Creatively performing the Polish Mother and the Mother of God. Religion and the maternal symbolism in Poland], in: Pożegnanie z Matką Polką? Dyskursy, praktyki i reprezentacje macierzyństwa we współczesnej Polsce, eds. Renata E. Hryciuk, Elżbieta Korolczuk, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, pp. 147-164. Russian translation: Образ польской матери и Богородица: новое использование символики материнства, Государство, религия, церковь в России и за рубежом, no. 3 (34) 2016.
  • 2012 “ „Nie” znaczy „tak”? Dyskurs ekspercki na temat przemocy seksualnej wobec kobiet w prasie polskiej od lat 70. XX w. do dziś’ [“No” Means “Yes”? Expert Discourse on Sexual Violence in Poland from the 1970s to present], Zeszyty Etnologii Wrocławskiej, pp. 37-53.
  • 2012 “Czy onanista to też Polak? Debata o masturbacji 1993–1994” [Is an onanist also a Pole? The debate on masturbation 1993-1994], inter alia. pismo poświęcone studiom queer, no. 7.
  • 2009 Potęga ciszy. Konwersja a rekonstrukcja porządku płci na przykładzie nowego ruchu religijnego Brahma Kumaris (The Power of Silence. Gender and Religious Conversion. The Case of a New Religious Movement, the Brahma Kumaris, in Poland), Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego (University of Warsaw Press).
  • 2007 Gender. Perspektywa antropologiczna (Gender. An Anthropological Perspective), two volumes: vol. 1 Organizacja społeczna (Social Organization); vol. 2 Kobiecość, męskość, seksualność (Femininity, Masculinity, and Sexuality). Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego (University of Warsaw Press), co-edited with Renata Ewa Hryciuk.
  • 2006 Kobiety i religie (Women and Religions), Krakow: Zakład Wydawniczy Nomos, co-edited with Katarzyna Leszczyńska.

Research projects

2016–2019. Senior Researcher: Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) grant, research programme Uses of the Past II; project title: Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures. Project leader: Glyn Davis (University of Edinburgh); principal investigator in Poland: Tomasz Basiuk (University of Warsaw).

2017-2019. Research partner: POLONEZ 2 (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie/National Science Center Poland); project title Birth control cultures in Poland 1945–1989, PI: Agata Ignaciuk.

2010-2012. Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship for Career Development (Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union) -- Harvard University, University of Warsaw; title: Biomedicalizing Gender. The Globalization of Sexual Science and the Redefinition of Gender Roles in Poland.

Conferences and visiting lectures

Selected conference papers and invited lectures

  • An adolescent writes to a sex educator. What does the mail counseling center answer? Dealing with teenage sexuality during late state socialism in Poland. European Social Science History Conference, April 4-7, 2018, Belfast, UK.
  • From ‘treatment is possible and effective’ to ‘homosexuality is neither an illness, nor a sexual deviation’: sexology, homosexuality and emancipation during the long 1970s in state socialist Poland, International Colloquium: “Sexology and Ideology in Institutionalisation Era (1960-2000),” Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, March 21-23, 2018 (invited conference presentation).
  • Tracing sources of recent neo-conservatism. Rights, Reproduction and Care: Gender, intimacy and mobility in the context of hardening borders and new populist nationalisms, workshop organized by Frances Pine and Haldis Haukanes, held at the department of Health Promotion and Development, University of Bergen, 8.12.2017 (invited presentation).
  • An anthropological perspective on the history of sex. Workshop How to do the History of Sex. Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, 26.05.2017 (invited presentation).
  • 'Becoming a Homosexual.' Medicine and Sexual Identities during the Long 1970s in State Socialist Poland, University of Glasgow, 19.04.2017.
  • Does 'Gender Ideology' Pose a Threat to the Polish Nation? Tracing Historical Roots of Current Moral Panic in Central Europe. Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews, 7.04.2017 (invited lecture).
  • “God himself is the author of marriage”: Tracing the development of moral panic over gender and sexuality in Poland, Goldsmiths, University of London, 29.03.2017 (invited lecture).
  • Humanae Vitae, Birth Control and the Forgotten History of the Catholic Church in Poland. Europe's Spiritual '68: Catholics, Contraception and Comparative Perspectives on Humanae Vitae, King’s College London, 12-13.10.2016 (invited conference presentation).
  • 'Gender Ideology': Tracing the Evolution of Sexuality and Gender Panic in Poland, EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures, University of Milano-Bicocca, July 20-23, 2016
  • Moral Panic over Gender and Sexuality in Poland and CE. The Shrinking of Democracy: An un-Conference at the 25th Anniversary Democracy & Diversity Institute in Wroclaw, Poland, Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, The New School for Social Research, July 16-17, 2016.
  • What Happened After 1989: Sex Education and Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health in Poland in the 1980s and 1990s, European Social Science History Conference, Valencia, Spain, 30.03-2.04.2016.
  • Gender on Trial: Tracing changes of legal and discursive practices around sexual violence in Poland. International Gender Studies Centre, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, 28.01.2016 (invited lecture).
  • Forgetting Sexual Violence in Poland. Memory, Discourse, and Diversity: A Research colloquium at the Department of Diversity and Social Conflict, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 20.11.2015 (invited lecture).
  • Anthropology against sexuality and gender based discrimination. Making Anthropology Matter. Seminar of the European Association of Social Anthropologists organised in collaboration with the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Czech Association of Social Anthropologist, October 14-15, 2015, Prague, Vila Lanna.
  • Polish Sex Revolution? Sexuality and Gender in the 1970s and 1980s, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Universität Wien, 22.01.2015 (invited lecture).
  • Sexology in Transition: Polish Cultural Approaches to Sexuality and Sexual Science; Česká Asociace pro Sociální Antropologii/Czech Association for Social Anthropology, Transition 2.0? Anthropology of the world(s) in reform, Prague, 12-13.09.2014, http://www.casaonline.cz/?page_id=791.
  • EASA and Central European ethnology/anthropology; European Association of Social Anthropologists 13th Biennial Conference, Tallinn, Estonia, 31 Jul-3 Aug 2014 (invited plenary presentation).
  • Academic careers and the politics of employment at Polish universities, European Association of Social Anthropologists 13th Biennial Conference, Tallinn, Estonia, 31 Jul-3 Aug 2014.
  • Feminist and Queer Sex Therapy. The Ethnography of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland; Rethinking Anthropologies in Central Europe for Global Imaginaries, 26-27.05.2014, Prague.
  • Against Medicalization and Commodification. Sexology in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s; the Tenth European Social Science History conference, Vienna, 23-26.04.2014.
  • Beyond Viagra: Sex Therapy in Poland; Challenges of 21st Century: past, present and future of medicine and health care in post-socialist world(s). The 3rd Annual Health in Transition Conference, University of Warsaw, 7-8.06.2013.
  • Women in Religious Communities in Poland. The Catholic Church and the Brahma Kumaris Movement; Women and the Maintenance, Growth and Renewal of Religious Communities. Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar. Sigi Feigel Gastprofessur für Jüdische Studien, Universität Zürich, 6-7.06.2013 (invited lecture).
  • Talking about Rape: Discourse on Sexual Violence in Poland; 17th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, “Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds”, Manchester, 5-10.08.2013.
  • The Medicalization of Rape. Regulating Female Sexuality through Expert Discourse and Court Practices in Poland from the 1970s to Present; Sexual Cultures Conference: Theory, Practice, Research, Brunel University, London, 20-22.04.2012.
  • Regulating Sexuality and Gender in Poland through Science and Religion; 8th European Feminist Research Conference. The Politics of Location Revisited, Central European University, Budapest, 18-20.05.2012.
  • Informal Education and Uncertified Therapy: Feminist and Queer Sexual Treatment in Poland; New Socialities and Subjectivities in Health Care in the 21st Century, University of Amsterdam, Medical Anthropology at Home Research, Driebergen, the Netherlands, 22-24.06.2012.
  • Women’s Emancipation as an Obstacle to Good Sex. Gender Roles in Sexological Writings in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s; 12th European Association of Social Anthropologists Biennial Conference, Nanterre University, Paris, 10-13.07.2012.
  • How Sexuality Develops away from the Market: (Post)socialist Accounts; Thought as Action: Gender, Democracy, Freedom, Center for Women’s and Gender Research, University of Bergen, 16-18.08.2012.
  • Sexology in Poland: Emancipating Sex through Regulation of Gender; Connecting Sexual Ethics and Politics, 2nd International Conference of the International Network for Sexual Ethics and Politics, Ghent University, Gent , 29-31.08.2012.
  • Denying Sexual Violence: Sexology, Gender and Expert Witnesses in Poland, Harvard Social Anthropology Program Seminar Series, 28.03.2011.
  • New Sexual Dysfunctions or New Models of Femininity and Masculinity? Therapeutic Responses to Gender Transformations in Poland; The Society for Psychological Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association Biennial Meeting, Subjects and Their Milieux in Late Modernity: The Relevance of Psychological Anthropology to Contemporary Problems and Issues, Santa Monica, CA, 31.03-03.04.2011
  • research presentation, Women, Gender & Sexuality in Eastern Europe and Eurasia: A Research Roundtable, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 20.05.2011 (invited presentation).
  • Researching Gender, Researching Europe; Anthropology of Europe: what is it and how should it be practiced? European Association of Social Anthropologists, Instytut Etnologii i Antropologii Kulturowej UAM, Poznań, 15-16.10.2009 (with Anika Keinz) .
  • Distrust. Negotiating Women’s Agency within a Fundamentalist Catholic Milieu in Poland, Biennial Conference, European Association of Social Anthropologists: Experiencing Diversity and Mutuality, Ljubljana, 26-30.08.2008.

Organized Panels, Conferences, Summers Schools

  • Co-organizer (with Agnieszka Pasieka): panel Gender, far-right, and political radicalization, EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures, University of Milano-Bicocca, 20-23.07.2016
  • Co-organizer (with Anita Kurimay, Bryn Mawr College, Kateřina Lišková, Masaryk University, Hadley Z. Renkin, CEU, Eszter Timár, CUE): Sex and Sexuality in East-Central Europe, Past and Present. An Interdisciplinary Conference at the Central European University, Budapest, October 16-17, 2015.
  • Organizer: Summer school. Rethinking Anthropological Engagement in Central-Eastern Europe, Warsaw, June 3-6, 2010. Partners: Slovak Association of Social Anthropologists, Central European University, Charles University Prague (supported by the International Visegrad Fund).
  • Co-organizer: Summer school. Teaching and Studying Social Anthropology in Central Europe, Modra near Bratislava, Slovakia, September 16-20, 2009. Partners: Slovak Association of Social Anthropologists, Central European University, Charles University Prague (supported by the International Visegrad Fund).
  • Co-organizer (together with Monika Baer, Uniwersytet Wrocławski): Antropologia płci i seksualności. Perspektywy marginalne (Anthropology of gender and sexuality. Marginal perspectives). Wokrshop at I Kongres Antropologiczny, Warszawa, Polski Instytut Antropologii (Polish Anthropological Congress), October 23-25, 2013 (invited session).
  • Co-organizer (together with Hadley Renkin, Central European University): The science of sex in a space of uncertainty: naturalizing and modernizing Europe’s east, past and present. Workshop at the European Association of Social Anthropologists Biennial Conference, Nanterre University, Paris, July 10-13, 2012.
  • Co-organizer (with Jill Owczarzak, University of Kentucky). Westernising gender regimes? Discourses and practices in Eastern Europe. Workshop at the European Association of Social Anthropologists Biennial Conference, Bristol, UK, September 18-21, 2006.

Awards and Scholarships

  • Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena fellowship at the Friedrich Schiller University, October 2017-March 2018, project: Tracing the Evolution of Sexuality and Gender Panic in Central Europe: The Case of Poland.
  • European Visiting Research Fellowship by the Caledonian Research Foundation and the Royal Society of Edinburgh; School of Design, University of Edinburgh, April-August  2017, project: History of European Non-normative Sexuality in the 1970s: Polish Sexology in Comparative Perspective. 
  • Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena fellowship at the Friedrich Schiller University, August-September 2016, project: The History of Sexuality in Socialist and Post-Socialist Poland.
  • Erasmus Plus, visiting lecturer: Goldsmiths, University of London, 28-31.03.2017; University of Oxford, School of InterdisciplinaryArea Studies; Russian and East European Studies, 25-30.01.2016; Universität Wien, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, 19-22.01.2015.
  • 2015. The Clio Award by the Rector of the University of Warsaw for the book Płeć, przyjemność i przemoc.
  • 2010. Fulbright Senior Award (declined).
  • 2010. The Clio Award by the Rector of the University of Warsaw for the book Potega Ciszy.
  • October 2009–September 2010. Award for teaching and research activity from the University of Warsaw, the Modern University Programme (co-funded by Human Capital Programme, EU Funds).
  • Awards from Erasmus Programme (by the European Union) – Teaching Staff Mobility, visiting lecturer: at Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Chair of Comparative Central European Studies (May 2010); Saxo Institute, Department of European Ethnology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (March 2009, March 2013) .
  • September 2006–December 2006. The Kosciuszko Foundation fellowship, host institution The New School for Social Research, New York.
  • April 2005–June 2005. Danish Governmental Scholarship, host institution Saxo Institute. Department of European Ethnology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Democracy & Diversity Graduate Summer Institute, Krakow 11-29 July 2004. Organized by Transregional Centre of Democratic Studies, New School for Social Research, New York (stipend from the Network of East-West Women and the TCDS).
  • 2000. Award of the Ecumenical Foundation of Tolerance for the MA thesis.

Member of scientific organizations

1. European Association of Social Anthropologists.
2. Polskie Towarzystwo Ludoznawcze (Polish Ethnological Society).
3. The Polish Studies Association.

Contact

akoscianska@uw.edu.pl
+48 22 553 16 58
Dyżury 

On sabbatical until March 31, 2018