As part of the East-West competition that characterized the Cold War era, both sides of the political divide offered various kinds of assistance and modernization programs to their allies in the ‘developing world’. Within this framework, Polish People’s Republic signed several cultural and educational programs with the ‘friendly’ regimes of Africa and the Middle East, thanks to which, among others, thousands of students came to Poland to complete their education. At the same time, alike other countries of the Eastern Bloc, Poland actively sought to export its technology and expertise. If initially presented as a means of political support to allies in the developing world, the export contracts hold economic significance for the state and allowed Polish experts to gain new experiences that could later be brought back home.
The dominant discourse on this cooperation assumes the logic of assistance and transfer that implies a unidirectional character of the global East-South knowledge flows, where the ‘foreign’ is meant to replace the ‘local’. Instead, participants of this Lelewel talk will trace the knowledge relations that developed between individuals, groups and/or institutions engaged in these exchanges. Rather than unidirectional flows, such an approach allows to speak of cross-cultural references and interactions between different actors and objectives, both local and foreign.
Organization, introduction and commentary: Dorota Woroniecka-Krzyżanowska