Representations of Africans in Polish Press Photography 1955-1989

  • Bartosz Nowicki

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores post-war photographic representations of Africans in the Polish People’s Republic (1955 - 1989). It focuses on the statecontrolled press photography (although is not limited to it). It brings attention to a historical discourse, which is highly relevant in the light of current questions of integration and inclusion. It contributes to debates on the representation of Africans in Europe and is the first to exclusively raise issues of photographic representations of Africans (and People of African Descent - PAD) in communist Poland.
The thesis is divided into four main chapters, in which I have discussed five principal discourse themes that emerged from the collated data.
‘Delegates’ concentrates on images taken during the 5th Festival of Students and Youth that took place in Warsaw in 1955 and was the first occasion for the Polish society to engage on a larger scale with Africans and People of African Descent. It explores the theme of ‘exoticism’ in 1950s Poland.
‘Revolutionaries and Comrades’ focuses mainly on photographs taken at two rallies of support of Patrice Lumumba that took place in Warsaw at the turn of 1960-1961 and photographs of African presidents visiting the PRL in the years following the year of Africa (1960).
‘Students’ focuses on images relating to ‘educational migrants.’ It opens the discussion to vernacular and semi vernacular photography.
​​​​​​​‘Citizens’ concentrates of images published in ‘The Polish Journal’ a Polish produced propaganda magazine designated for distribution in various countries of the African continent. It discusses representations produced by the press and compares them with representations produced by foreign students in order to bring a better understanding of the social realities of the time.
Date of AwardNov 2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKen Grant (Supervisor) & Paul Seawright (Supervisor)


  • Vernacular photography
  • People of Colour
  • African Diaspora
  • The Polish Review
  • Africans in Poland
  • Afro-Polish
  • Afro-Poles
  • Afro PRL
  • Representation of race
  • Internationalism
  • Racism
  • Polish People’s Republic
  • Propaganda
  • Press propaganda
  • Censorship
  • Communism,
  • Eastern Europe
  • Decolonisation
  • Iron curtain

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