During Sara's first contact with Polish language and culture she was engaged in the European Voluntary Service working in a school for the blind close to Warsaw. Since that first encounter, she has worked and studied in Poland whenever possible. During her bachelor studies in European Studies, focusing on language, literature & culture at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany, she studied for a year at the University of Warsaw, Poland. Later on, she completed a joint master’s degree in Intercultural Communication Studies at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) in Germany and the Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań, Poland.
To gather data and input for her masters thesis Sara was fortunate to stay for 10 month as a visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, hosted by the German and Linguistics Department for the master thesis project "English with a German accent − subjectivity in foreign language use". Still drawing from that experience and exchange with other researchers she is delighted to stay at King's as a visiting research student, being kindly supervised by Professor Alexandra Georgakopoulou- Nunes.
The Potsdam Agreement of August 2, 1945 laid the foundation for the development of new language policies in the Oder-Neisse region. In the newly created area administered by the Polish People's Republic, the former German majority language was relegated to the mother tongue of a small number of people. It was not until the final border confirmation in 1990 that the German-speaking minority was officially recognized by the Polish government.
Notwithstanding the favourable conditions for protecting and promoting the German heritage language of the approximately 300,000 members of the German-speaking minority living in Poland today, decades of pressure to assimilate, or even complete denial of speakers’ German heritage have left traces in the language use, mediation, and the identity spectrum of people of minority heritage.
The aim of the project is to investigate the impact of socio-political conditions on the development of German as a minority language, and to examine their effect on the notions of identity and belonging of linguistic minorities across the generations from 1945 onwards. For this purpose, narratives will be analysed, collected in narrative and semi-structured interviews, conducted with families of German heritage in the Opole Voivodeship.
Sara's thesis title is Language and belonging of the German minority in Poland since the Second World War: interdependence of socio-political changes and language use.
Principal supervisor: Professor Alexandra Georgakopoulou-Nunes