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Farewell to Professor Wojciech Burszta

Farewell to Professor Wojciech Burszta

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Wojciech Burszta, an acclaimed cultural anthropologist, cultural critic, and essayist, whose work on the condition of the Polish contemporary culture has been recognized in Poland and internationally. Professor Burszta’s passing is a great loss for research and for the arts and culture community. It is a great loss for our university. We have lost a renowned researcher, a great academic teacher, but most of all we have lost an extraordinary person, a kind and generous man who loved sharing knowledge with his students and colleagues. Professor Burszta, we will never forget you.

Academic Teacher

Wojciech Burszta was born in 1957. He studied ethnography at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. In 1984 he received his doctorate in ethnology, which a few years later was followed by a post-doctoral degree (habilitacja) in sociology.

Professor Burszta established a Department of Contemporary Cultural Studies at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, which he led for close to 20 years. He began his cooperation with SWPS University in 2003. There, he was a member of the Scientific Council at the Institute of Humanities and the Department of Cultural Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in Warsaw. He taught classes in cultural anthropology, theory of nationalisms, and on researching contestation, race and colonialism. Remembering Professor Burszta, Mariusz Czubaj, Associate Professor, wrote: He was a Teacher with a capital T. He taught us modern understanding of culture, and without a doubt, we can place him among the greatest Polish scholars in the field of humanities, such as Stefan Czarnowski and Antonina Kłosowska.

Additionally, up to 2018, Professor Burszta worked at the Department of Nationality Studies at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) in Warsaw.

Researcher of Culture and Anthropologist of the Present

Professor Wojciech Burszta was interested in the theory and practice of contemporary culture, including pop culture and pop nationalism. His research interests included anthropology of the present, in particular myths and symbolism, contestation and anarchy in liberal societies, cultural racism, and the theory that he called ‘the pretext nomadism’.

He was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and a Kosciuszko Foundation Fellowship. He held positions of Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, École Pratique Des Hautes Études in Pairs, Yale University, and the University of Illinois.

He was also a President of the Oskar Kolberg Institute, a founding member of the Polish Institute of Anthropology, and the Jerzy Kmita Institute Foundation, a Chair of the Cultural Sciences Committee, and a member of the Ethnological Sciences Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN).

With the passing of Professor Burszta, the community of cultural researchers has lost an important contributor, an extraordinary thinker who could see further than many of us, and an icon of cultural studies and cultural anthropology. But this loss is of a more ordinary, human significance. We have learned so much form Wojtek, for many of us he was a wonderful colleague, and for some – a dear friend. We are sad that he won’t write any more articles or books, but the thought of not hearing all his jokes and opinions about music or sport is even more painful.

Mirosław Filiciak, Assoicate Professor
Director of the Institute of Humanities
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Author of over 400 publicaitons

Professor Wojciech Burszta authored over 400 publications on contemporary culture, including a popular handbook Antropologia kultury – tematy, teorie, interpretacje (Cultural Anthropology: Themes, Theories, Interpretations” (1998), and several books, such as: Sferyczne fantazje. Roger Dean w świecie rocka (Spherical Fantasies. Roger Dean in the World of Rock )(with Maria Fiderkiewicz, 2020), Preteksty (Pretexts) (2015), Sequel. Dalsze przygody kultury w globalnym świecie (Sequel. New Adventures of Culture in the Global World) (with Waldemar Kuligowski, 2012), Kotwice pewności. Wojny kulturowe z popnacjonalizmem w tle (Anchors of Certainty. Cultural Wars with Pop-Nationalism in the Background) (2010), and Od mowy magicznej do szumów popkultury (From Magical Speech to Pop Culture Static) (2009).

He was a member of scientific boards of numerous Polish and international journals, including: Kultura i Historia (Culture and History), Autoportret (Self-Portrait), and Contradictions. He was the Chair of the Scientific Board of Przegląd Kulturoznawczy (Cultural Studies Review), and an Editor in Chief of a bi-annual publication Sprawy Narodowościowe. Seria Nowa (National Matters. A New Series).

Master in His Field

Professor Wojciech Burszta emphasized that the word “master” is disappearing from the everyday language. “The essence of being a Master is that one cannot be recalled or dismissed from this position, because Master is an archetype, someone unapproachable, heroic, regarded as otherworldly. A Master is not an expert, despite contemporary efforts of replacing the former with the latter, because experts are interchangeable,” explained Professor Burszta in an interview with Newsweek Psychologia, a Polish magazine devoted to psychology.

Professor Burszta was nothing like that. He was very approachable, kind-hearted, always found the time to talk to his students and colleagues, and he gladly shared his knowledge with others. However, we can undoubtedly say that Professor Burszta was and will remain a Master in the field of cultural studies and anthropology of the present. This claim is supported by the highest honors bestowed on him for significant contributions to arts and culture, such as: the Silver Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis granted by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and the Gold Cross of Merit awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland.