Joanna Mishtal

Joanna Mishtal, Associate Professor of Anthropology, College of Sciences UCF Women Faculty Authors

The Politics of Morality:
The Church, the State and Reproductive Rights in Postsocialist Poland.
Ohio University Press

After the fall of the Socialist regime and the end of martial law in 1989, Polish society experienced both a sense of relief from the tyranny of the past and an expectation of the freedom that democracy would bring. After this initial wave of enthusiasm, however, social and political forces that had lain concealed beneath the veneer of official state socialist ideology began to emerge and establish a new social orthodoxy. While Solidarity garnered most of the credit for democratization in Poland, the Catholic Church, to which a large majority of Poles at least nominally adhered, had quietly worked to support the forces of change. As the church emerged as a political force in the Polish Sejm and Senate, it instigated a rapid erosion of women’s reproductive rights, which had been relatively well established under the former regime.

The Politics of Morality is an anthropological study of this expansion of power by the religious right and its effects on the individual rights and social mores. It explores the contradiction of post-Socialist democratization in Poland: an emerging democracy on one hand, and a declining tolerance for reproductive rights, women’s rights, and political and religious pluralism, on the other. The interrelation of gender, health, and religion forms the backbone of this thoroughly researched ethnographic study of governmental and extra govermental assertions of power through both ritual practices and legislative action, in particular with regard to women’s rights.


The Politics of Morality cover

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