Global Popular Culture for Local Infrastructures: Migration of Texts and Problems of Transferability (the Polish Case)

Publication year

Here's the abstract:

In this chapter, Malinowska investigates how global popular cultures travel: in particular, the cultural diffusion of Western products into the consumer landscape of Eastern Europe. She explores the intransferability and “ill-adaptability” of certain ideoscapes, including those of gender and sexuality, in present-day Poland. Her reflections help to explain certain culture clashes within Polish society and between Eastern European and Western cultures. While acknowledging the more negative implications of such clashes, she underscores the positive potential of the current situation for cultural change.

Reference is made to romance fiction in a section on "Problems of Transferability: The Case of Popular Erotica." There's not a lot of detail about romance but I felt it might be of interest to those looking at translation or the market for romance in Poland.


My own interest in cultural transfer stems from the instances of inadaptability I have examined through the study of American erotica in the Polish market (Malinowska, 2014). Drawing on sociological and psychological research on sexual culture in Poland that informs discourses on the underdevelopment of sexual awareness of Poles - at institutional, social, and private levels (Filipek & Marcyniak, 2008; Izdbski, 2012), I have compared English and Polish versions of several popular erotica novels with respect to their linguistic correspondence. My analysis focused specifically on the "capacity" of the Polish language for erotic expression and its equivalence with American texts. I have assessed how the Polish language renders the popular vocabulary of erotic intimacy and deals with linguistic explicitness with no history of sexual revolution and limited cultural infrastructure with regard to pouplar erotic fiction. I, specifically, concentrated on solutions for connoting vulgarity contained in the original texts. Although erotically straightforward, the Polish translations do not seem offensive or vulgar, as they rely on the "solid" vocabulary of erotic expression coined and connoted for mainstream cultural practice. (109)


This linguistic incapacity for erotic expression is perhaps best reflected by the offerings in the Polish book market, where the erotica genre is greatly dominated by American and British authors. It is quite strange for a country in which, like almost elsewhere in the world, romance fiction/erotica dominate as readers' number-one choice. Local attempts at producing kinky fiction have brought little success. (110)