Mr Jan Kozdra

Mr Jan Kozdra

PhD Student and Graduate Teaching Assistant

Department of International History

Telephone
+44 (0)20 7955 6121
Room No
SAR.G.05
Office Hours
In-person and on Zoom: Friday, 11.30am to 12.30pm - by email appointment
Languages
English, French, Polish, Russian
Key Expertise
20th Century Polish and Eastern European History

About me

Jan is currently working under the supervision of Prof. Anita Prazmowska. He holds an MA in History from Edith Cowan University. In 2017/18 he was involved in Prof. Prazmowska’s project “The Cold War Jigsaw: Poland’s role in the Angolan Civil War, 1976-1986” as a research assistant.

Provisional thesis title:

Security, modernity and cohesion. Poland’s quest for socialist independence, 1956-1970

Jan’s project aims to investigate how nationalism influenced policy decisions in post-Stalinist Poland. He will aim to prove that the 1956-1970 model of governance was structured around a centrally planned economy and strict social discipline; however, it allowed for ideological flexibility. Collectivisation was abandoned, and elements of private enterprise were permitted. When socialist methods clashed with nationalist goals, ideology was replaced by more pragmatic approaches. Polish leaders believed that they needed to neutralise Soviet influence. Therefore from the outset in 1956 they sought to gain as much autonomy for Poland as possible. Firstly, Soviet influence had to be balanced by closer ties with non-communist countries. Secondly, the Polish economy needed to produce globally desired goods to reduce Poland’s dependence on the USSR. Thirdly, Polish society was to be free of conflicting ethnic interests, which could be exploited by foreign powers, both capitalist and socialist. The nation needed adequate education, housing and food so it could fulfil the task of transforming the Polish economy into one with potentially global reach. Despite these bold aspirations, the USSR’s proximity and power always acted as a warning against trying to implement sweeping changes. The engagement in global affairs allowed Poland to carve out and autonomy within the Soviet camp and gave its nationalist project space to evolve and develop.

Expertise Details

20th Century Polish and Eastern European History; Nationalism; Military History; Intellectual History