Public against our will? The caring gaze of Leviathan, “pink files” from the 1980s Poland and the issue of privacy

Ewa Majewska

Uniwersytet Warszawski



In my article I attempt to decipher the logic of a large police and secret services operation conducted by means of surveillance and direct control of the gay men in the late 1980s in Poland. LGBTQ+ activists claim that some 11000 men were involved in it, and yet, this action has never been properly researched, summarized and no justice procedures have been undertaken after 1989. This article combines the “archive activism” of Howard Zinn and his followers in the queer activism and theory, certain elements of theories of the public sphere and counterpublics (Kluge and Negt, Warner etc) and the critical deconstructive and feminist research on the archive and the private (Derrida, Berlant, Gatens) in order to build a discussion of how to queer the scattered state archives of the state police and services without petrification, nostalgia or resignation. It investigates the large spectrum of implications of “being public against our will”, depicting forms of resistance and insubordination as well, as “archivizing against their will” in the institutional context avoiding responsibility.


Keywords: archives, Operation “Hiacynt,” surveillance, homosexual men, police