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Stories and ideas

The Thalerhof internment camp and its legacy for the Rusyns of Eastern Europe

Lemko-Rusyn intellectuals, community leaders, and villagers would perish at the camp established by Austrian authorities on the site of the modern-day Graz Airport.

September 15, 2021 - Starik Pollock

A female voice from Sarajevo

In post-war Sarajevo a war is waged to win the future which had been taken away by the living ghosts of the past. The frontlines are nonetheless changing and now different people are pushed underground, stigmatised and treated as if they do not belong to the community. The ethnic and religious war has been replaced by a new culture war.

Some time ago, when the bloody Balkan war was still raging in Sarajevo, poet Izet Sarajlić, editor Čedo Kisić and professor Zdravko Grebo were explaining their world to me. None of them is alive anymore. Neither is Isak Samokovlija, a prominent Bosnian Jewish writer, whose stories took me to the most hidden corners of Sarajevo’s historical centre, Baščaršija, as well as the Grbavica and Bentbaša districts. I was listening to the stories of the writers and artists who had left Sarajevo, but who were still under its influence. They included Dževad Karahazan in Graz, Josip Osti in Ljubljana, Miljenko Jergović in Zagreb, and Nino Žalica in Amsterdam…

September 12, 2021 - Krzysztof Czyżewski

The living and the dead

A conversation with Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, a Polish poet, and Trupa Trupa, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist. Interviewer: Jacek Hajduk

JACEK HAJDUK: During the 2019 SXSW Music Festival you dedicated the performance of your group, Trupa Trupa, to the memory of the late Gdańsk mayor, Paweł Adamowicz. Let us then start with Gdańsk. How much of this city is with you today? And how was it before? Which faces of this multi-layered urban centre are close to your heart?

GRZEGORZ KWIATKOWSKI: Today, Gdańsk is a big part of me, unlike in the past. Back then I was more interested in self-isolating myself and creating a kind of enclave in one of its districts – Gdańsk Wrzeszcz. This actually is still my ideal, but now I also understand the impact that this city has on me and my poetry. This is mainly because of my family stories.

September 12, 2021 - Grzegorz Kwiatkowski Jacek Hajduk

Supolka – Belarusian diaspora in Italy

Supolka is a diaspora group that operates in Italy. The group was born as a consequence of the political crisis and along with the democratic movements rising in Belarus. It aims to inform the Italian public about the situation in Belarus.

September 7, 2021 - Antonio Scancariello

Education on prejudice today and during the interwar period

How far along have we really come in tackling discrimination and ‘othering’ since the interwar period?

June 30, 2021 - Sára Bagdi

Female drug addicts in Volhynia – vulnerable and exposed

In Volhynia, women experience more stigma regarding substance abuse than men.

June 24, 2021 - Iryna Musii

Odesa’s growing mismanagement

Odesa has faced many challenges in recent years. However, the ongoing pandemic and the reduction of land available for construction have brought the issue of ineffective management back. It is linked to the lack of an adequate response from the authorities as well as corruption.

On Saturday morning, several dozen people picketed the construction of an alleged yacht club and residential complex being built on the sea coast in Odesa. The protests were led by Vitaliy Ustimenko, an activist from Odesa who is the leader of a grassroots organisation called the AutoMaidan. “We will not allow dumb and insolent oxen capture the sea coast of Odesa,” Ustimenko said as he was speaking into a microphone.

June 23, 2021 - Maxym Przybyszewski

Streamlining soft power

Over the last five to seven years, there has been a growing understanding in the West that engagement in the post-Soviet area needs to be differentiated. As much as we need to keep communication channels open in order to prevent the emergence of new divisive blocs, we must not forget about our values and what stands behind them. Therein lies the potential to build, to improve and to unite. A positive agenda is all the more important given what the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed.

We will all remember 2020 as the year when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. The rapid spread of the virus brought significant changes to our lives: closed borders, businesses closing and limited social interactions. More importantly, it forced us to rethink the present and the future – an exercise that is increasingly needed as the scale of challenges continues to overwhelm us. At the dawn of 2021, the world’s attention has been drawn to the first steps to sort things out – namely, the vaccination process.

June 23, 2021 - Miłosz Zieliński

Lennart Meri. Statesman and prophet

Estonia is today a secure and prosperous European country also thanks to the legacy of Lennart Meri who passed away 15 years ago. As president, Meri successfully punched above Estonia’s weight and put his beloved state on the fast track of reform after regaining independence. His testament is being fulfilled today as his country is a successful member of NATO, the EU and the United Nations.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Lennart Meri’s death, the first President of the again independent Estonia – a great statesman, visionary and patriot, who successfully led Estonia through the first decade of regained independence at the end of the 20th century. To this day he is remembered as a leading European politician who contributed not only to the independence and territorial sovereignty of Estonia, but also to the security of the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland. According to a 2018 survey, Meri was listed as “best-loved Head of State” by almost two-thirds of Estonians among all demographic groups.

June 23, 2021 - Grzegorz Kozłowski

The mutilated world

In Paris Adam Zagajewski, one of Poland’s most distinguished contemporary poets, penned many of his most important works, including the poem To go to Lvov. This poem is often regarded as his most distinguished piece of work – a story of death and destruction, but also about life.

On September 11th 2001, the day of the terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon building in Washington, DC, the editors of the New Yorker gathered in the evening to decide how their magazine should ade-quately react to the tragic events of that day. The editor-in-chief, David Remnick, suggested the best way to commemorate the victims in the next issue – the now famous for its pitch black cover – would be through the publication of a poem. He was convinced that only poet-ry had the power of expression in the aftermath of such a tragedy. The editors thus started their search for the right poem to express the gravity and sorrow of the event, and at first they could not find anything that was adequate.

June 23, 2021 - Jacek Hajduk

How Ukrainian female drug users are fighting against stigma and abuse

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated the lives not only of large communities, but also of those who are mostly ignored. This is particularly true in the case of female drug addicts. Violence against this group, as well as various new problems regarding access to medicine, have only increased in recent times. Despite this, it is clear that the usual problems of stigmatisation, discrimination and rights violations have not disappeared in Ukraine.

June 22, 2021 - Vladyslav Kudryk

Make yourself at home

The German city of Görlitz on the border with Poland is learning the challenges of integrating migrant communities. Thanks to the help of local activists, a lot of progress has been achieved in the last several years. Yet, the effects of the pandemic and rising social tensions has threatened to undo some of the important achievements.

June 22, 2021 - Joanna Urbańska

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