Tuesday, 16 September 2014 00:00

On the Brink: An Introduction

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Photo: Christian Diemer
Morning in Goshiv, near Ovruch, Zhytomyrs’ka region, Central Ukraine, back in 2010


Ready to get to grips with the real situation in Ukraine? E&M is launching a special series of on-the-ground reports that go far beyond the geo-political struggles that have been grabbing the headlines in Europe.

"Isn't it dangerous there?" "Mustn't it be very unpleasant at the moment?" "Why on earth Ukraine?!"

E&M author Christian Diemer regularly hears such questions when asked about his current whereabouts. And it is certainly true that Ukraine is unlikely to be topping many people's holiday destination lists any time soon. But while the conflict in Ukraine has been dominating the daily news for more than half a year and has long become a war of propaganda, the actual atmosphere and goings-on in the country remain vague and largely undifferentiated to much of the western European audience. Though not for any longer, thanks to Christian's on-the-ground reports from Ukraine, written especially for E&M’s Sixth Sense.

Christian has been working on his PhD about traditional music and national identity in Ukraine since 2012. He started travelling through the country when it was still unimaginable that the spectre of war would be seen again so close to Europe. Back then, Yanukovych was was firmly in the saddle and, despite some people’s frustration, the prospect of another revolution seemed remote.

Photo: Christian Diemer
Construction workers last summer in Chernivtsi, western Ukraine

However, as we all know, the situation was soon to change drastically and Christian has found himself doing field research in different parts of the country, including some close to current war zones. Two weeks ago, he also took part in an international delegation led by the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, meeting international organisations and representatives in Kyiv. Over the course of the following weeks, he will share his observations and adventures, as well as the sentiments and wonders he has witnessed, as part of an exclusive series here on the E&M blog.

Meet lonely post-Euromaidan activists, unecclesiastical priests, internationals who know every trick in the book. Listen to the tales of drivers, nationalists and local politicians. Continue on to long-legged beauties and drunken philosophers, bumpy roads and decaying palaces, vast landscapes and songs so intense that only unfiltered life could write them. Get lost in a realm of mystical fate and erratic slapstick, of blatant sexism and heart-breaking stories, of brittle and succulent beauties, where sadness and joy lie closer to one another than anywhere else in the world.

Fall in love with a country and people that – even on the verge of war with Russia – have not stopped drinking, dancing, singing, falling in love, laughing, crying.

Articles in this series:

Streets of Gold, Streets of Rubble

The Silent Independence Day

Pray for Ukraine, Strive for Ukraine

V for Villainy

The Forsaken Paradise

The Hippie Bandits

Between Lenin, Putin and Shevchenko

The Country of Limited Possibilities

Last modified on Friday, 05 June 2015 08:18

If the Editorial team had an actual office it would have to stretch from the corner of Britain to the edges of Spain, Sweden, Germany and beyond. (With frequent trips to America too) .  The term 'from the editorial office' then, is very much a figure of speech. 

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