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To See a Moose: The History of Polish Sex Education

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Volume 9

European Anthropology in Translation

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To See a Moose

The History of Polish Sex Education

Agnieszka Kościańska
Foreword by Frances Pine
Translated from the Polish by Philip Palmer

382 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-060-1 $145.00/£107.00 Hb Not Yet Published (May 2021)

eISBN 978-1-80073-061-8 eBook Not Yet Published

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Kościańska produces a solid—and at the same time extremely readable—history of sex education in contemporary Poland. She navigates through the early twentieth century, the interwar period, the years of state socialism, and three decades of democracy in search of sites of the production and reception of sexual knowledge.” • Aspasia. The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History

“The Author places her analysis in the context of today’s debates on sex education in Polish schools. It appears that the history of these debates is more complicated than one might think based on widespread narratives of progress: it does not lead from the backwardness of the early 20th century to conservatism and censorship of state socialism and to the wind of liberalism that came from the West during the postsocialist transformation.” • Etnografia Polska (Polish Ethnography)


Guiding the reader through the development of sex education in Poland, Agnieszka Kościańska looks at how it has changed from the 19th century to the present day. The book compares how sex was described in school textbooks, including those scrapped by the communists for fear of offending religious sentiments, and explores how the Catholic church retained its power in Poland under various regimes. The book also identifies the women and men who changed the way sex was written about in the country, and how they established the field of Polish sex education.

Agnieszka Kościańska is Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw. In 2021, she is Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. She is the author and (co)editor of several volumes on gender and sexuality, including Gender, Pleasure and Violence (2021, Indiana University Press).

Subject: Anthropology (General) Gender Studies and Sexuality History (General)
Area: Central/Eastern Europe


Frances Pine

Preface to the English Edition

Introduction: Puberty and Politics

Part I: Behind and Beyond the School Gates

Chapter 1. Poland Bids Farewell to the Stork: The First Class and First Handbook
Chapter 2. Masturbation: Not Harmful, but…
Chapter 3. The First Time
Chapter 4. How (Not) to Get Pregnant
Chapter 5. The Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Abstinence, or Maybe Mutual Masturbation?
Chapter 6. Is Pornography a Form of Education?
Chapter 7. Queerness: Is Treatment Possible and Effective?
Chapter 8. 'Don’t Rape!': The Sexual Violence Prevention Campaign That Never Existed

Part II: The View from the Pulpit

Chapter 9. Sinful and Unhealthy: Sex Education the Catholic Way

Part III: Country Matters

Chapter 10. 'Come Get your Acorns, Boys': Sex Education in the Countryside

Conclusion: A Culture of Emancipation, a Culture of Dialogue


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