This article examines Polish urban travelogue literature and reportage concerning the industrial city of Łódź in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Łódź, a rapidly growing textile production center, was one of the few places which paved the way to real industrial, capitalist modernization in the Russian-controlled Kingdom of Poland. It was inhabited by large non-Polish populations and came to be perceived as alien, hostile and even savage. We investigate the anti-urban discourse on Łódź from the background of the broader Polish debates and compare it with urban travel writing on England. Łódź, although located in Europe, was subjected to an almost touristic gaze and virtually orientalized. Drawing from concepts of orientalization and nesting orientalism and the strong program in cultural sociology, we argue that in this situation an unusual reversal occurred in the modernization debate. What was orientalized and excluded from the broader civic community, even denied civilization status, constituted precisely the components connected with industry, capitalism and modernization.
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Michał Buchowski, “The Specter of Orientalism in Europe: From Exotic Other to Stigmatized Brother,”Anthropological Quarterly79, no. 3 (2006): 463–482; Tomasz Zarycki, “Orientalism and Images of Eastern Poland,” in Endogenous Factors in the Development of Eastern Poland (Lublin: Innovation Press Wydawnictwo Naukowe Wyższej Szkoły Ekonomii i Innowacji, 2010).
Clare Cavanagh, “Postcolonial Poland,”Common Knowledge10, no. 1 (2004): 82–92; Kresy-dekonstrukcja, Prace Komisji Filologicznej/Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk, Wydział Filologiczno-Filozoficzny 48 (Poznań: Wydawn. Poznańskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk, 2007); Jan Sowa, Fantomowe ciało króla; Tomasz Zarycki, Ideologies of Eastness in Central and Eastern Europe (Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2014).
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Kristi Siegel, ed., Issues in Travel Writing: Empire, Spectacle, and Displacement (New York: Peter Lang, 2002), p. 2; Julia Kuehn and Paul Smethurst, eds., Travel Writing, Form, and Empire: The Poetics and Politics of Mobility (New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 5; Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing (Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002).
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Derek Offord, Journeys to a Graveyard: Perceptions of Europe in Classical Russian Travel Writing (Dordrecht: Springer, 2005); Wendy Bracewell and Alex Drace-Francis, eds., Under Eastern Eyes: A Comparative Introduction to East European Travel Writing on Europe (Budapest and New York: Central European Univ. Press, 2008); Wendy Bracewell, Orientations and Anthology of East European Travel Writing, ca. 1550–2000 (Budapest and New York: Central European Univ. Press, 2009).
Ibid., p. 39. However, recent estimations are less dramatic, pointing to the fact that the weakness of local intellectual elites was not that different from comparable situations in other similar-sized cities. See Marzena Iwańska, “Garść refleksji i postulatów badawczych w związku ze stanem badań nad inteligencją Łódzką w dobie Zaborów,” Rocznik ŁódzkiLIII (2006): 89–113.
Helen Carr, “Modernism and Travel (1880–1940),” in The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing(Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002), p. 75.
Stefan Gorski, Łódź spółczesna: Obrazki i szkice publicystyczne (Łódź: Nakładem Rychlińskiego i Wegnera, 1904), 5. The publication consists of a set of observations and remarks about Łódź made by a Polish journalist and editor.
Zygmunt Nowakowski, Geografia serdeczna (Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolf, 1931). This was a set of reportages from Nowakowski’s journeys through Poland. The author was a Polish journalist, writer, actor and philosopher.