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36 CES Open Forum Series

Aspirations of imperial space. The colonial project of the Maritime and Colonial League in interwar Poland

Oct 17, 2019 Marta Grzechnik


The paper discusses the case of an organizationcalled Maritime and Colonial League, and its idea of colonial expansion that itattempted to promote in interwar Poland. It studies the colonial aspirations in two dimensions: the pragmatic and the symbolic.In the pragmatic dimension, acquiring colonies was supposed to remedy concrete economic and political problems.Overpopulation and resulting unemployment, as well as ethnic tensions, were to be alleviated by organizedemigration of the surplus population;obstacles to the development of industries and international trade were to be removed thanks to direct access to raw resources and export markets overseas. In the symbolic dimension,strong Polish presence in Africa and South America was to guarantee Poland’s standingin global hierarchies.Poland’s participation in research and exploration was to secure its place as a modern, European nation, equal to its Western neighborsand higher than peoples who, and whose territories, were subjects of this research.Its transformation from a land to aseafaring nation was to make it a global player, and innovative and enterprising “conqueror of seas and oceans."