Ania Senkara

“The Poles”
Series of 6 C-Prints, 30×40 cm

»My work served as an illustration to »The Invisible Minority«, Jagoda Gandziarowska’s paper about Poles who live in Berlin. Through creating diverse characters, but maintaining one actor the photos show the differences and similarities within this group.«
(Ania Senkara, Warsaw 2005)

CV
Born in 1981. She grew up in Warsaw and Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA). Currently studying literature at Warsaw University and sculpture at The Academy of Fine Arts.

THE INVISIBLE MINORITY
by Jagoda Gandziarowska, Berlin

Inconspicuous? I came to Berlin shortly before the EU enlargement. German newspapers were exceptionally full of articles about the eastern neighbours, particularly about Poland and Polish people living in Germany. His wife works for a German company in Paris, they meet every two weeks. Although Marek speaks German perfectly and is not recognisable as a Pole he is not well integrated in the German society in Berlin. The “Transnationalists” Not because he wants to keep his „Polishness“, but because he belongs to the category of people, who on one hand are citizens of the world but on the other they feel rootless and neither integrated in Poland or Germany. Sociologists describe this way of life as transnational integration. A “Polish ability” to integrate? All these examples show, that the Polish population in Berlin is not homogenous. It consists of different generations of immigrants drawn to Germany throughout the recent history by various political or economic factors. To make things more complicated there are differences within every migration generation as far as migration purpose, the socio-economic position and the legal status of immigrants are concerned. Considering such heterogeneity it becomes clear that it is not possible to generalise speaking about a „Polish ability“ to integrate problem-freely.
Every category of Polish immigrants represents different integration attitudes, possibilities and strategies. Polish immigrants living in Berlin do not follow one pattern of integration in the receiving society. Though some of them try to assimilate with the Germans (Danuta), the others integrate within Polish associations (Tadeusz).
And jeszcze inni are parts of the transnational networks and integrate beyond the receiving or sending societies (Marek). What infl uences the will of the immigrants to participate in the German society is among others the length of their stay abroad. Those, who came here 20 years ago, are naturally better integrated, than those, who came here in the late 90s. A further factor is the reason for emigrating from Poland. Of special importance is the differentiation between forced and voluntary migration. When someone is forced to leave his country (for political or economic reasons), he is not as interested in taking up the German way of life as someone who takes a voluntary decision because he doesn‘t feel happy in his own (sending) country. The aim of migration is also an important factor that explains different integration patterns. The labour migrants, for whom Germany is only a place to earn money and who still have their homes and families in Poland, spend every spare moment on the Polish side of the border and do not take root in the German society on purpose. It is worth remarking that this lifestyle would not be possible if Poland were not situated that closely to Germany, particularly to Berlin.
Coming back to the first question: is the polish minority in Berlin invisible because its members are well integrated in the German society? My answer is: NO. If the Poles are really inconspicuous as an ethnic group in Berlin, it is not because of their problem-free integration. One should analyse more carefully the factors making them inconspicuous.
This matter would be the subject of a different article.

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