On October 1, 2018, Jarosław Gowin, the Polish Minister of Science and Education, signed a new law known as the Constitution for Science (Konstytucja dla Nauki), which declares that ethnology and anthropology are no longer independent disciplines. The new law places the disciplines into a new field of scientific inquiry: the study of culture and religion.
The attack on anthropology is part of a broader attempt to reform Polish academia in which the democratically elected university presidents will be replaced by rectors nominated by university councils. According to Elżbieta M. Goździak and Izabella Main, two anthropology professors at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, the wider reform is part of “the so-called ‘good change’” (dobra zmiana) promoted by the conservative Polish government and reminiscent of US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”
Polish anthropologists are strongly protesting Minister Gowin’s new law. The Committee of the Ethnological Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Ethnological Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Ludoznawcze) have demanded that the decision regarding ethnology and anthropology be revoked immediately. On November 20, 2018, Section 38 (Social Anthropology and Comparative Study of Contemporary Societies) of the National Committee at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) in France submitted a letter objecting to the elimination of anthropology as an academic discipline in Poland.
The signatories of the protest letter also reminded Minister Gowin that ethnology/anthropology are among the main disciplines of the social sciences and humanities both in Poland and in the world.
Please find the letter here.