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Stories and ideas

In Macedonia it takes tourism to raise a dying village

Many of the 1,733 villages of rural Macedonia face a grave fate. Over a quarter have fewer than 50 residents. More than 150 have been entirely depopulated, according to official data. As families and the youth move to cities, these areas are destined to become little more than a memory. However, for these dying villages, tourism could breathe new life into them.

The sun is high in the sky while the 74-year-old Petko Tošeski toils away. The thudding of his axe echoes throughout the red-roofed village, punctuated by the odd crack of success. Log after log splits, ready to eventually nestle in the stone hearth indoors. Tošeski is the only sign of life in a place that seems to have been petrified for decades. The village of Bonče in southern Macedonia appears on the verge of abandonment.

February 26, 2018 - Fieke Snijder and Samantha Dixon

Becoming the promised land once again

The city of Łódź was once touted as the Promised Land of Poland. But in 2004, it was the fastest depopulating city in the country. After the modernisation of Poland and a revitalisation of the city which saw old factories turned into hip shopping malls and cultural centres, Łódź is back on track to living up to its old epithet.

Our Uber driver takes us through the city of Łódź (pronounced woodge) as he happily tells us about life in Poland. “Not bad,” he says. “Things have gotten much better over the last couple of years.” At one point, he turns around and asks if we know an old movie called The Promised Land (Ziemia obiecana in Polish). “It’s about Łódź, you know,” he tells us. The movie depicts the story of Karol Borowiecki, Max Baum and Moritz Welt’s struggles with building a factory during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. The film, which takes place in Łódź, was adapted from the 1899 novel written by the well-known Polish writer Władysław Reymont. The 1975 film was directed by Andrzej Wajda and depicts greed, lust and dreams during the industrial high.

February 26, 2018 - Emil Staulund Larsen and Emily Jarvie

Coming out in Minsk

The start of this year was an important moment in the socio-political history of Belarus. In late December 2017 a local feminist and anti-discriminatory group of activists called MAKEOUT published a unique LGBT magazine in Belarus. The journal bears the same name as the organisation and was already presented to the public in Minsk. Its content is a summary of the last 20 years of the Belarusian LGBT movement.

Why I am writing about this magazine here and why should we regard it as something significant? First and foremost, MAKEOUT is a professionally-printed publication which deals with a very sensitive topic, especially in a socially conservative post-Soviet country. When considering the regional context it is also quite remarkable that the publication does not come from Russia or Ukraine, but from Belarus, a country that was the least likely to allow such a publication, mainly because of the amount of negatives stereotypes and attitudes towards non-heterosexuals that still exist there. Against these odds, MAKEOUT has succeeded in creating something without precedence.

February 26, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Kraków’s smog free project

Daan Roosegaarde's Smog Free Tower in Park Jordana in Kraków, Poland, works like a giant air purification vacuum cleaner. Such towers may in time dot the landscape, both rural and urban, just as solar panels and wind farms that are continuing to spread and provide cleaner energy across the world.

February 26, 2018 - Jim Blackburn

Azerbaijan’s ongoing crackdown on democracy

Interview with Arif Hacılı, the leader of the Musavat opposition party in Azerbaijan. Interviewer: Malgosia Krakowska.

February 23, 2018 - Małgosia Krakowska

Georgia: Ideas and struggles of the “workshop generation”

Interview with Nugzar Kokhreidze, head of the Georgian NGO Dialogue of generations (RICDOG). Interviewer: Yulia Oreshina.

February 22, 2018 - Yulia Oreshina

Polish Memory Law: When history becomes a source of mistrust

The changes to the Law on the Institute of National Remembrance foster a tremendous mistrust within Poland, provoke memory wars amongst states and halt reconciliation processes between nations. The memory war also puts even more spotlight on the recent political changes in Poland.

February 19, 2018 - Uladzislau Belavusau and Anna Wójcik

Kielce pogrom: The battle over memory

Interview with Michal Jaskulski, co-director of the documentary "Bogdan’s Journey". Interviewer: Paul Toetzke.

February 15, 2018 - Paul Toetzke

Doctor Love

"Sztuka kochania. Historia Michaliny Wisłockiej" (The art of lovemaking. The story of Michalina Wisłocka). A film directed by Maria Sadowska. Warsaw, Poland, 2017.

February 14, 2018 - Iwona Reichardt

Kazakhstan’s new secularity

The upcoming congress of religious leaders  may offer the Kazakh government insights into better ways of fighting national security threats related to religion. If not, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation built in 2006 especially for inter-confessional conferences may itself become a threat to Astana’s new definition of secularity.

February 13, 2018 - Boiko Hristov

We needed to create an archive of our experiences

Full interview with Nick Antipov, Nasta Mancewicz and Milana Levitskaya, activists with the Belarusian MAKEOUT project. Interviewer: Maxim Rust

February 12, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Russian: Between re-ethnicisation and pluricentrism

A more peaceful and stable world is possible. A de-ethnicised pluricentric Russian language – thus transformed into a colorful multiethnic and multicultural multitude of world Russians – could be a versatile means to this end.

February 9, 2018 - Tomasz Kamusella

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