Author Archives: Zara

Inspiration!

Ursäkta ett inlägg på svenska.

Till er nya eurasienkursare, om ni fortfarande använder bloggen.

Jag vet att ni redan är inne på det forna Sovjet, annars skulle ni inte gå kursen, men här kommer lite inspiration och kanske lite pepp i form av några fina klipp. Har ni egna favoriter så posta gärna ett svar med en länk, för denne forne eurasiastudent och evige rysslandsälskare kan aldrig få nog!

Sovjets historia till tetrismelodin

Kazaker som sjunger Changes

Finaste discolåten av kaukasisk popsjärna

Ryska federationens hårdaste killar

Och så bara världens gulligaste krokodil som sjunger födelsedagssången

Ha det superbra på era framtida resor och hoppas ni lär er mycket nyttigt och onyttigt!

Hälsningar

Zara Moberg, student läsåret 09/10

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A postcard from Dushanbe

Hello everyone!

I’m having a great time here in Tajikistan! Yesterday I took a trip with some friends to se the mountains and they were breathtaking. I felt like I was in a fairytale! Later in the evening I was at a birthday party and talked with a family of (almost) all doctors and talked about the bright future of the country and even had a toast in my honor. Dushanbe is an increadible beautiful town with lots of trees and even more friendly people! Hope you all are having a great time, whereever you are!

Zara

(And no, I haven’t started on my paper yet…)

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Journey to Istanbul

I and the other students of Eurasia studies are getting ready for our field trip. Like true vikings we are heading to the historical metropol of Istanbul to get information and to get new cultural experiences. It’s our first stop before we go further west to the Caucasus. 

On the 12th we’ll gather up with our course director and one of our teachers, Ove Eriksson, to have a look around in the city. The days after we will be attending meetings with different organizations, for example IOM – International Organization for Migration.

My flight leavs tomorrow morning and like all days before a big journey, for me at least, it’s notnig special. I guess it’s because it’s to big and to exciting to imagine (activists, plov, hookas, gigantic mountains!). I guess my stomac will start to tingle as the flight takes ground in Istanbul.

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Analasyis of Ukrainian ESC contributions

Last semester Helena and I discussed whether we should make an analysis of the songs contributed to the Eurovision Song Contest by eastern European countries. This was supposed to analyze the quality, style and score of the performances from a political point of view. 

Our main focus was Ukraine who has gone through a big change in recent years. The part of my and Helena’s analysis of the scores that Ukraine has received in the last couple of years is hard to do as it mostly depends on the quality of the performances in comparison to those of the other competing countries. That’s why I will leave it out of this ‘report’.

Here is a summary of all Ukrainian contributions to the Eurovision Song Contest from 2003 to 2009: 

If you compare all the acts with one another the trend is pretty clear. First of all, the styling of the performers have improved and moved from the almost embarrassing white suit and bad hairdo of Olexander Ponomaryov in 2003 (that looked bad and hopelessly out of date even then) to something in the same class as other southern European singers 2008 and 2009. The southern European style in costume, hair and makeup in this competition  is for me defined as very short skirts, glitter, lots of colour, high heels and that big, wavy hairdo that all female singers from Iceland to Turkey have worn the last couple of years. 

The southern European trend is also visible in the general sound of the songs who tend to be as flaming and colourful as the singers clothes and also tend do have an eastern Mediterranean sound to it, much alike the contributions of Greece and Turkey and not at al like the performances contributed to the competition by Belarus and some of the Baltic states during the same period. This marks Ukraine’s will to define itself as a southern European country more than it wants to be associated with its former siblings in the Soviet family.

One thing that is also clearly noticable is the language. All contributions have been performed in english (except from the song form 2005 which I will come to later) and in pretty bad english too. The worst example of bad english is that of Ruslana in 2004 but since then things have improved greatly. Another fun example of Ukraine trying to define itself as more belonging to the ‘old Europe’ than to the former Soviet states is the performance from 2007, performed by Verka Serduchka.

The singer and drag show artist Verka Serduchka normally perform his songs in russian. For this performance though he sings in two other big European languages – english and german. This for me is a clear statement of how Ukraine sees itself, or more how the country wishes to se itself.

To bring up the question about the Orange Revolution that took place in late november 2004 – january 2004, I have to say that it has clearly put it’s marks on the songs Ukraine sent to the competition in those years. 2004 was the year Ukraine took its first steps towards sending more western European songs. The song then was ‘Wild Dances’ performed by Ruslana and as most of you remember it actually won that years Eurovision Song Contest. The year after, in 2005, the theme for everyone was obvious. That years number was a rap song (does it get anymore western than that?) performed by the band GreenJolly, the singer dressed in a t-shirt with Che Guevara’s face on it and dancers in handcuffs. The song was partially sung in ukrainian, partially english and has a clear revolutionary motive.

It will be interesting to se what kind of song Ukraine will send to the competition this year in Oslo, mostly because of the quite recent presidential elections where the more Russian oriented candidate Viktor Yanukovych won. Hopefully this will show in the style of the performance sent, that way my theory is confirmed. The tendency towards a more Russian style could be hard to prove though, as Russia’s contributions have been excellent and anything from those of for example Latvia and Belarus.

These kind of analyses may seem silly, and at first I thought about doing this as a joke, but I then realised that the Eurovision Song Contest is a really good instrument to use as a contributing countries send what they think is a good song, but also what they think that they can be proud of in an international context.

I would be happy to receive a comment of this text by you, dear reader. What do you think about my analysis? And what do you think of making political analyses in popular culture?

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The new president of Ukraine

Ukraine has elected it’s new predsident. Viktor Yanukovych, who can’t even spell his wife’s name in Ukranian, won with 49 percent of the votes, vs. 45.5 percent for his opponent, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko claims Yanukovych cheated, just like he did the last time, but even though some manipulation has been reported by observers monitoring the elections, it has not been to an extent that it has affected the results. The new, Russian-friendly president, who’s party is connected to United Russia, not surprisingly got most of his votes from the eastern districts of the country.

Yanukovich has said that he wants to put the discussion on NATO membership on hold, but still wants to continue to develope the ties to Europe and the EU aswell as keeping good relations with Russia. One of his great aims as president is to reduce poverty and lead Ukraine out of the financial crisis.

Personally I don’t know what to think of the new president of Ukraine. It’s apparent that the Ukrainian people has not fallen for the almost artificial nationalistic image of Yulia Tymoshenko (the braid, the lessons she’s taken to learn proper Ukranian) but have instead gone for the other, maybe stronger profile of Viktor Yanukovych. Maybe the thought of a president with good realtions with Russia is a safer choise in these times of economical hardships. (Allthough, Ukraine, as one of the poorest countries of Europe, allwasys seemes to be in economical hardship.)

Al Jazeera has a good, and short, article on Viktor Yanukovych here.

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Great expectations

This week is now coming to an end, study wise, and it has really been an inspiring one. It has arisen some strange longing for the sight of poppy fields, mountains, and mosques and a curiosity for Georgian drinking habits.

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Ingmar Karlsson at Österlens Folkhögskola

Yesterday, on the 20th of January, our little class of eurasiastudents got visited by Sweden’s former consul-general in Istanbul, Ingmar Karlsson. He’s also the author of various books on the subject of the relationship between Europe and the Islamic world and also on the Kurds of Turkey. 

He talked about the complexity of the conflict between Kurds and Turks, and about the fact that there might be as many conflicts within the Kurd society as between the two groups.  He also talked about today’s political life in Turkey. A really interesting day which gave some answers but also raised a lot of new questions.

We talked about Turkey as a candidate for joining the EU, something Ingmar Karlsson also has written about in his books, and about its hardships, many of which are legitimate, but some seem based on the sometimes islamofobic views of the member states.

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