The Peasant Woman as Trope: Language and Politics in the Polish Women’s and Peasant’s Movement at the Turn of the Century
This article examines the political rhetoric of the Polish women’s and peasant’s movement in Galicia, using as examples the political activism of a protagonist and two periodicals addressing women in the countryside. These periodicals realized through language, images, communication and actions the concept of a new, participatory nation, seeing the countryside as its center. The correspondence between language, ideas and communication enabled the merging of two phenomena: the willingness to make sacrifices for the nation and the claim for an emancipatory scope of action for women. In analyzing this rhetoric, I argue that political language constituted the relationship between conditions of oppression, political demands and political action in a way of its own, and therefore influenced the policy towards women and peasants. The periodicals represent a place where different (sub-)cultures – the women’s and the peasant’s movement – competed for participation in the dominant discourse of the national society. They show the range of power of both their intellectual (female) publishers and their objects: the peasant women.