The Challenge of the Heritage of Protest Movements

Collecting, Documenting and Preserving the “Women’s Rebellion”


  • Ewa Manikowska Institute of Art Polish Academy of Sciences



Rapid Response Collecting, Digital Heritage, Memory Institutions, Women’s Rights, Global Movements


This article analyses the challenge of collecting the heritage of present-day global protest movements, which are shaped and influenced by digital practices. In focus of the analysis are the mass-street demonstrations which took place in cities all over Poland in 2020 and 2021 to denounce the ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal imposing a near-total ban on abortion (the “women’s rebellion”). Considered as the largest social protests since the fall of communism in 1989, they have engendered several spontaneous documenting and collecting initiatives. The aims and outcomes of such projects, launched by Polish museums, NGOs, artistic collectives, etc. will be juxtaposed in this article with similar ventures aimed at collecting and archiving the global social movements of the twenty first century and examined as the first Polish examples of Rapid Response Collecting (RRC). This article, by analysing the recent RRC projects of the 2020/21 protests against the abortion ban in Poland, aims to inscribe them in the current discussions on the preservation of digital heritage. While pointing out definitional issues with digital heritage, my analysis also demonstrates the need to integrate and interrelate digital heritage within the wider framework of cultural heritage, its preservation and institutionalisation.


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Digital Heritage In Cultural Conflicts