New Agora Wroclaw

The 2007 New Agora was slated for Wrocław, the capital of the Polish region of Lower Silesia, which survived many of the 20th-century tragedies connected to the crisis of European multiculturalism. As an outcome of WWII, Wrocław, a city of Polish, Czech, Austrian, and German roots, witnessed dramatic population shifts. The German population of the city was expelled between 1945 and 1948, and Wrocław became the main frontier city of the “Wild West” – the newly acquired territories of Poland. The populations of Lvov and the other former cities of the eastern borderlands of pre-war Poland, which, because of the reconfiguration of the European map found themselves in the Soviet Union, made their way to Wrocław – the capital of the “new Poland.” The city and the surrounding region briefly became the gathering point for displaced Jews from destroyed communities from all over Poland. However, by the end of the 1960’s most of the Jews had emigrated to Israel, United States and other countries. 

Wrocław is unique among Polish cities because the consciousness of its contemporary inhabitants is founded on the frontier mentality that dates from the immediate post-war period. Today’s Wrocław is a dynamic, rapidly developing metropolitan center that takes advantage of its rich heritage, including its multicultural past. Wrocław has 650,000 permanent residents and includes a large student population (130,000). At the same time, as an outcome of European Union enlargement, the city is experiencing a brain-drain of its college graduates, who are now free to work in many countries of the EU. This outflow of well-educated citizens is happening concurrently with a major influx of foreign investment and a steady stream of immigrants from the eastern side of the new border of the EU. As a borderland frontier city of the New Europe, Wrocław offers an ideal setting for an international debate on the challenges and the future of cosmopolitan urban spaces. 



Borderland Foundation, Sejny, Poland 
International Institute for the Study of Culture and Education, University of Lower Silesia in Wrocław, Poland


Official Partners 

The Ford Foundation 
The City of Wrocław 
Topics and speakers 

Cosmopolis. Heritage, modernity and bridge-building: 
Strategies for a multicultural city (July 5, 2007) 

The processes of globalization, which have increased the movement of people across national and regional borders, have introduced new opportunities and challenges to urban centers worldwide. Due to higher concentrations of diversified cultural, financial and human capital, cities are often the spaces in which the need for the resolution of intercultural conflict and the launching of a dialogue are most pressing. While borders between many countries are becoming increasingly permeable, the borders within urban spaces based on the affiliation to different cultures, classes, religions, ethnic groups, as well as the borders of public and private spaces, are becoming more pronounced. Such issues of urban borderlands are no longer limited to traditional capitals of world resettlement, such as New York, Paris or London, but touch smaller regional centers worldwide. 

The participants of our debate on these issues were: Eva Hoffman, Elżbieta Matynia, Ivana Bursíková, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Rafał Dutkiewicz and Ashok Bhalotra. 

Religion versus civil society: 
The role and place of religion in multicultural societies (July 6, 2007) 

In many places in the world, we are witnessing the return of religion into the public sphere, no longer hearing so much about the “politicization of religion” as about the “religionization of politics.” Most immigrants who are currently moving to Europe come from cultures in which religion plays an important role and they remain religious in their new places of residence. Studies have shown that places with high concentrations of immigrants which have previously been rather religiously passive are experiencing an increase in the religious activity of their citizens. Young generations in some European countries seek engagement in religion (in Poland, for example, we are witnessing the phenomenon of the John Paul II Generation) while at the same time demanding active participation in political life. In contrast to the generation of their parents, young people do not strive to keep the religious and the political spheres separate, but search for their common denominator. We were asking whether such a connection is possible. Is the secular model of society no longer valid? Should it be defended? 

These questions are of special importance for the future model of a multicultural society. The cultural tensions and conflicts in Europe with a Muslim population of over 20 million (more than 15 million living within the borders of the EU) are likely to be increasingly rooted in religion. Can religion be helpful in neutralizing these conflicts? If so, then how? What role can religion play in the building of civil society? 

The participants of the debate were: Zygmunt Bauman, Konstanty Gebert, Fr Maciej Zięba, Nicholas Stavroulakis, Edwin Bendyk and Isabella Thomas. 

“What has happened to us?” The rise of national sentiments and xenophobia in the new EU member states of Central and East Europe (July 7, 2007) 

During the democratic revolutions of 1989, few of us probably imagined that our Central European societies would so soon be characterized by predominantly populist governments, obsessive accounting for the past, low election turnouts, the disappearance of social solidarity, a growing xenophobia and the revival of the old patterns of nationalism and religious extremism. Is this all just a peculiarity of the Central-European model of transition, or rather a reflection of the changing face of Europe? Is it possible to revive the past positive patterns of Central European societies with their strong tradition of intercultural tolerance and the culture of dialogue? If so, how should it be done and by what means? The question is the more urgent since the countries of our region are about to face similar problems that are now on the agenda of Western European countries: incoming waves of immigrants, growing cultural conflicts, terrorist threats, and the psychosis of “Islamophobia.” The way that Central European countries will deal with these challenges will either deepen the crisis of multiculturalism in Europe or contribute to its resolution. 

The participants of this debate were: Gabriela Adameşteanu, Aleksander Kaczorowski and Leszek Koczanowicz. 

Symposium Format 

The New Agora is not a typical scholarly conference, but a forum for debate and exchange that is open to the public, especially students. More than 20 speakers met for three days in Wrocław’s Museum of Architecture to engage in a discussion on three key issues. In addition to their formal contribution during sessions, all speakers and participants took an active part in the discussions during all three days. The speakers’ contributions were treated as an introduction into a free, open and informal debate. 

Every day, we presented several documentary movies from the series, My favorite poem, by the journalist and writer Ewa Zadrzyńska. In her short film essays made between 2006 and 2007, she made portraits of Poles living in Poland and abroad who spoke about their favorite poems. The discussion about poetry unveiled the heroes’ experiences and feelings, their daily problems and hopes, as well as their connections to the places in which they lived. 

An integral part of the New Agora in Wrocław were site visits, exhibitions and cultural programs, which took place in the Industrial Park Wrocław, Centennial Hall, the Museum of Architecture and the White Stork Synagogue in Wrocław. 


The debates were moderated by: 
Hana Červinková, Krzysztof Czyżewski, 
Chris Keulemans and Elżbieta Matynia. 


The official language of the New Agora was English. Polish translation was provided on an individual basis. 


In total, more than 60 persons took part in the symposium. In addition to more than 20 speakers, the participants included leaders of intercultural projects, especially those who are involved in joint initiatives with the Borderland Foundation or the International Institute for the Study of Culture and Education. They participated actively in the symposium and provided, along with local organizations, presentations of their intercultural projects. There were also intellectuals and cultural animators from Wrocław and the region, representatives of local government, students, and journalists. 


5-7 lipca 2007 - Nowa Agora - Wrocław

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Darowizny uzyskane przez Fundację Pogranicze

W związku z otrzymaniem darowizn, na podstawie art. 18 ust. 1f, pkt 2 ustawy z dnia 15 lutego 1992 r. o podatku dochodowym od osób prawnych (Dz. U. z 2011 r. Nr 74, poz. 397, ze zmianami), Fundacja Pogranicze podaje do publicznej informacji, że łączna kwota uzyskana z tego tytułu w okresie od 01.01.2019 r. do 31.12.2019 r. wyniosła 58.155,28 zł.

W 2019 roku Fundacja uzyskała również kwotę 8.846,30 zł w formie wpłat z 1% podatku oraz 10.212,62 z tytułu zbiórki publicznej nr 2018/2901/OR.

Otrzymane darowizny Fundacja Pogranicze w całości przeznaczyła na realizację działań statutowych.

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