Being Goral

Identity Politics and Globalization in Postsocialist Poland

By Deborah Cahalen Schneider

Subjects: Anthropology
Series: SUNY series in National Identities
Paperback : 9780791466568, 220 pages, June 2006
Hardcover : 9780791466551, 220 pages, March 2006

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Table of contents

1. The Day the Pope Came to Town

2. A Political and Economic History of the Zywiec Region

3. Elite Class Struggles and Authority

4. Nonelites, Family Netowrks, and Identity

5. The Community, the Nation-State,and Globalization

6. Politics, Culture, and Modernityin Postsocialist Poland


Examines the Góral, a little-studied ethnic group in Poland.


The Góral ethnic identity has been at the center of political machinations in Poland for centuries. The late Pope John Paul II, for example, was a Góral. This is the first book-length study of the Góral identity and one of the few studies in English to discuss Górals. Through personal interviews, local manuscripts, and academic histories of the region, author Deborah Cahalen Schneider shows how important the Góral identity has been to Poland's history. The conflict over the Góral identity in the community of Zùywiec, Poland serves as a lens through which Schneider views national identity issues and class conflict in Poland at large. The Góral identity not only gave this community a sense of togetherness under the Habsburg Empire, but also was a symbol of Polish identity for Polish nationalists during that time. Schneider shows how the Góral identity has spanned the rise and, arguably, the fall of nationalism as the primary discourse of political identity in the post–Cold War, European Union–dominated Eastern Europe.

Deborah Cahalen Schneider is an independent scholar living in Virginia.