From South to East

Exoticism in Polish popular music of the state socialist period


  • Ewa Mazierska University of Central Lancashire



colonialism, Czesław Niemen, Estrada, exoticism, Orientalism, Polish popular music, tourism


This article considers cases when Polish popular music of the state socialist period drew on non-western motifs. It argues that initially the main source of inspiration was South America and its music; in the later period the Middle-East and India moved to the fore, which reflects a wider trend in Anglo-American pop-rock and testifies to the knowledge and experiences gained during travels undertaken by Polish musicians, especially to the eastern part of the Soviet Union. Appropriation of exotic motifs took different forms. In Estrada music of the 1950s and 1960s ‘banal exoticism’ prevailed, based on recycling touristy clichés; in the later periods rock musicians attempted to imitate and rework the sound of non-western musics and even live in tune with Oriental philosophy. There were also cases of playful and ironic appropriation of exotic themes. A special case is the work of Czes?aw Niemen, who was particularly open to non-western cultures. The piece is grounded in the study of Orientalism and tourism.

Author Biography

Ewa Mazierska, University of Central Lancashire

Ewa Mazierska is Professor of Film Studies, at the University of Central Lancashire. She is the author of over twenty monographs and edited collections on film and popular music, including Popular Music in Eastern Europe: Breaking the Cold War Paradigm (Palgrave, 2016), Relocating Popular Music (Palgrave, 2015), edited with Georgina Gregory, and Falco and Beyond: Neo Nothing Post of All (Equinox, 2014).


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How to Cite

Mazierska, E. (2018). From South to East: Exoticism in Polish popular music of the state socialist period. Popular Music History, 11(1), 47–60.