photo: Michał Petryk







Agnieszka Kościańska

official website

Read online:

- Humanae Vitae, Birth Control and the Forgotten History of the Catholic Church in Poland

Sexualities Feb 2016 (Special Issue)

Sex on equal terms? Polish sexology on women’s emancipation and ‘good sex’ from the 1970s to the present 

The spirit of an “open church” has faded in Poland

Beyond Viagra: Sex Therapy in Poland

Violence Against Women In Poland 

„The ordinary recklessness of girls…”: Expert witnesses and the problem of rape in Poland

Who Can be a True Pole? On Gender Panic

Churches and religious communities in view of LGBT persons

Focaal: The East speaks back

The “power of silence”: Spirituality and women's agency beyond the Catholic Church in Poland

On Celibate Marriages

New Religious Movements and the State in Poland 

Watch online:

EASA2014 Plenary A: Agnieszka Koscianska, "EASA and central European ethnology/anthropology" 

The Shrinking of Democracy Unconference – Panel 2: Moral Panic over Gender and Sexuality in Poland and Central Europe (TCDS New School)



Cruising the 1970s

Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw

The statement of the Polish Ethnological Society on expressions of xenophobia and intolerance in Poland

Special Meeting of Polish Ethnologists and anthropologists. ​Anthropology against Discrimination, Poznań, Nov 23, 2016

Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism


I completed my Ph.D. and my habilitation in cultural anthropology at the University of Warsaw, Poland. I am an associate professor in the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw and a senior researcher in a HERA grant (Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures, CRUSEV). So far, my CRUSEV research resulted in a performance: You, dear Doctor, are my only rescue! / Jest Pan, Panie Doktorze, jedynym ratunkiem! (Edinburgh, August 2017); performed also in Exeter in March 2018:


In the past, I was a visiting fellow at Harvard University (2010-2011, Marie Curie fellowship), the New School for Social Research (2006, Kosciuszko Foundation grant), the University of Copenhagen (2005, Danish Governmental scholarship), the Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena (2016, 2017-2018) and Edinburgh College of Art (2017, European Visiting Research Fellowship by the Caledonian Research Foundation and the Royal Society of Edinburgh). My research interests include gender and sexuality studies, religion, alternative spirituality, sexual and reproductive rights, post-socialism, history of sexuality, sexual violence, sexology and sex education. I believe in public and engaged anthropology.    

Zobaczyć łosia. Historia polskiej edukacji seksualnej od pierwszej lekcji do internetu (To See a Moose: The History of Polish Sex Education from the First Lesson to the Internet), Wołowiec, Wydawnictwo Czarne, 2017.

This history of struggles against ignorance and double standards starts towards the end of the 19th century, when men learned sex from prostitutes, and when the prevalence of shameful diseases was an open secret. Kościańska guides readers through developments in the field of sex education throughout the 20th century. How did it come to be, that at the beginning of this new age storks suddenly ceased to deliver babies and stories about the birds and the bees no longer satisfied curious girls and boys? What does intercourse have to do with spotting moose? How was sex described in a school textbook scrapped by the communists for fear of offending religious sentiment? Finally, could folk songs convey more information than progressive self-help books? Among Kościańska’s protagonists are women and men who had the courage to change how sex was written about. Yet readers will be urged to keep their critical hats on in assessing the contributions of the cult figures of Polish sexology. This work is the first to critically examine Polish sex education in the 20th century.


Płeć, przyjemność i przemoc. Kształtowanie wiedzy eksperckiej o seksualności w Polsce (Gender, Pleasure and Violence. The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland), Warszawa, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2014.

The book is an analysis of the development of expert knowledge of sexuality in Poland in the period from the late 1960s to present. I assume that expert knowledge naturalizes and normalizes certain behaviours and identities, while others are denied the status of normality and naturalness. Therefore, the book is also a story about the history of sexuality in Poland under communism and the changes that have taken place within it as a result of the postsocialist transition. I  argue that expert knowledge of sexuality is a product of the interactions between different groups of patients and physicians, as well as other milieus such as women’s movement  From these interactions emerges a picture of good sex and bad sex, and of the specific gender roles associated with them.



Antropologia wobec dyskryminacji [Anthropology Against Discrimination], Warsaw: University of Warsaw Press, 2015, pp. 246. Co-edited with Kamila Dąbrowska and Magdalena Grabowska (edited volume). 

Antropologia wobec dyskryminacji

Antropologia seksualności. Teoria. Etnografia. Zastosowanie [Anthropology of sexuality. Theory. Ethnography. Application], Warszawa, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2012, pp. 521 (edited volume/textbook). 

Potęga ciszy (The Power of Silence. Gender and Religious conversion. The Case of a New Religious Movement, the Brahma Kumaris, in Poland), Warszawa, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2009.
Read more about the book


Gender. Perspektywa antropologiczna - Gender. An Anthropological Perspective (2 volumes)
Description of the volumes in English

Kobiety i religie - Women and Religions, eds. Katarzyna Leszczynska, Agnieszka Koscianska
Description of the volume in English