New Projects Seminar Series at the GSSR

The GSSR announces the third in our new series of seminars addressed both to doctoral students and academic staff. The seminars aim to bring together students and established researchers working in the same field, thus promoting closer interaction and future collaboration between them.

During the seminars doctoral students present for discussion well-advanced research projects, with experienced scholars from various academic centres in Poland and abroad invited to take the role of commentators.

The seminars take place on the Zoom platform and are open to all.

This next seminar is scheduled for March 16th  at 15:00 Warsaw time (CET) with Gabriel Klimont presenting the topic, “The Origins of Biopolitics in Poland? Transformations of Power over Vagabonds in 18th Century Warsaw”.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 880 0435 6887
Passcode: 585867

Further seminars are planned for March 30th at 16:00, and April 20th at 16:00.


15:00  Murat Kök – Chair of the seminar – Welcome address

15:05  Szymon Wróbel – Biopolitics in Poland: What could it be? 

15:10  Gabriel Klimont – The Origins of Biopolitics in Poland? Transformations of Power over Vagabonds in 18th Century Warsaw

15:40  Marta Bucholc (Warsaw University) – Commentator

15:55  Aleksandra Derra (Nicolaus Copernicus University In Toruń) – Commentator

16:10  Discussion

14:45  Closing remarks

Gabriel Klimont

The Origins of Biopolitics in Poland?Transformations of Power over Vagabonds in 18th Century Warsaw


The aim of my paper is to critically examine the practices of the first Polish police institutions in the second half of the 18th century. I argue that the ongoing “fight against vagabonds” was highly ineffective (both at the logistical and economical level) and should be understood in biopolitical terms.  

My main argument is based on both qualitative and statistical analysis of 90 interrogations from Warsaw (1787-1794).  The usage of biographical methods (D. Bertaux) enables to reconstruct the life-cycles and highly heterogeneous identities of the people usually referred to as a “social margin”. On the other hand, the statistical interpretation of the main correlations in my database (between age, gender, social origin, number of migrations and conflicts with law) allows me to draw a conclusion that the people caught by the early modern penal institutions in Poland did not differ significantly from a normal population. Furthermore, I will also briefly discuss the main institutional projects that aimed at using vagabonds as an asset (Warsaw’s prison and a couple of the manufactures supported by the state). I argue that these projects had a biopolitical character.

The paper will contribute to a more detailed understanding of the “modernization” process in the peripheral context, as my analysis will hopefully prove, that the Polish police institutions were not fighting against “social margin” – they were in fact actively producing it.

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