Populism, Trauma, and Polish Democracy with Karolina Wigura


In this fortnight's episode, Ivan Vejvoda welcomes Karolina Wigura to the podcast for an in-depth look at Poland's political trajectory. With parliamentary elections looming on 15 October, Karolina analyzes the state of Poland’s democracy amidst the rise of populism. She explains how the ruling Law and Justice party manipulates the media and campaign finance to maintain power and explains how – while Poland has backed Ukraine – democratic backsliding has created tensions with the country's Western allies. Karolina discusses the complex outlook for the opposition and the importance of the Polish-German relationship and provides insights from her research on historical trauma and emotions in politics. As Poland stands at a crossroads between reclaiming liberal democracy or descending into autocracy, this is a necessary examination of the ideas and conflicts that are shaping Poland’s future.

Europe's Futures Fellow Karolina Wigura is an acclaimed Polish intellectual shaping debates on democracy, historical memory, and emotions in politics. As a historian of ideas, sociologist, and journalist, she brings an interdisciplinary perspective to examining the forces threatening liberal democracy. Wigura is a board member of the Kultura Liberalna Foundation in Warsaw and a senior fellow at the Center for Liberal Modernity in Berlin. She lectures at the Warsaw University Institute of Sociology, focusing on 20th century political philosophy, transitional justice and collective trauma. Published extensively in outlets like The Guardian, The New York Times, and Gazeta Wyborcza, Wigura's award-winning book "The Guilt of Nations" explores forgiveness as political strategy, while her latest book "The Invention of the Modern Heart" examines emotions in philosophy. She is a leading voice on safeguarding democracy amidst the rise of populism in Poland and Europe.