Don’t cry “wolf” unless you want him to hear you and eat your sheep, Lauri Õunapuu warned students in a deep and imposing voice during his visit to UW Tuesday. Õunapuu, an Estonian musician, plays traditional folk instruments in a heavy metal band, Metsatöll – the ancient Estonian word for what you should call a wolf if you don’t want him to hear you, Õunapuu explained.
Õunapuu explains the Estonian kannel to students.
This is just one of the ancient traditions of Estonia Õunapuu shared as a guest lecturer in Dr. Guntis Šmidchens’ introduction to folklore class. Õunapuu looked every bit the folk musician turned heavy metal artist, dressed in a vest and shirt reminiscent of a traditional costume and with a long ponytail and beard. Metsatöll makes use of traditional instruments, upgraded to fit with the band’s style. It would be difficult to play an acoustic stringed instrument made of wood and sheep guts against heavy metal instruments, Õunapuu said, showing off his self-made electric hiiu kannel, a lyre-like instrument. Continue reading →
It is expected that an international studies graduate student will have studied abroad, but it is also expected that a mother of three children will not disappear to the other side of the globe for three to nine months. When you are a single mother, a REECAS graduate student, and you have never traveled beyond your own continent, you have some important choices to make. This is why the Early Fall Start Sochi Exploration Seminar was an ideal experience for my first trip to Russia.
Everything about international travel was a novelty to me, from the frustrations of going through multiple security lines to the expectation adjustments required when dealing with multiple languages, currencies, and cultures in the airports. Simply getting to Sochi alongside a dear friend in the same program was an amazing adventure. After two six-hour layovers in Los Angeles and Istanbul, two trips through American security, three in-flight films, and four terrible hours of sleep, I was about to fulfill my life-long goal of traveling to Russia.
Of course, my first experience in Russia was frustrating and perplexing. An older Russian man cut me in the passport line and refused to acknowledge that I had been there first, but I was in no position to argue with him. Then, when I went into the booth, the woman checking my passport sent me back into the line and called security. After my friend spoke to her, we were both sent through to speak to the security guard. He was a very imposing wanted to know everything about our trip, all of our contacts, why we were in Sochi. This was the first time in my life that I had ever felt as though I was under suspicion, and in the wee hours of the night, after my first international flight, I was a little shaken. Continue reading →
In a celebration of family and new contributions to the field of Baltic studies, UW Baltic scholars and interested community members gathered at the Seattle Latvian Center Sept. 28 to honor Prof. Emeritus Gundars Ķeniņš-King and his recently published book, Nation-building in the Baltic States:Transforming Governance, Social Welfare, and Security in Northern Europe.
The program included a musical introduction and talks by co-author David E. McNabb, professor emeritus at Pacific Lutheran University, and Guntis Šmidchens, head of the Baltic Studies Program at UW. The book maps out the transition from Soviet vassals to modern European states for the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It capitalizes on the expertise of its authors, both of whom have spent considerable time in the Baltic region.
Professors David E. McNabb and Gundar Kenins-King in Seattle, 28 Sept. 2014.
Mariusz Brymora was nominated as the Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles in 2013. Previously, he served as the Polish consul in Chicago and the public affairs councillor of the Embassy of Poland in Washington, D.C. He has also worked as the deputy director of the Department of Public and Cultural Diplomacy of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw. He is an experienced diplomat, an educator and author well qualified to address current issues in Poland, as well as Polish-American relations.
Brymora’s presentation on Sept. 4 addressed the significance of the year 2014 for Poland. Twenty-five years ago, the first democratic elections took place on June 4, 1989 resulting in an overwhelming victory of the “Solidarity” movement. This marked the end of the Communist regime and the transition to democracy in Poland and Europe. This year, Poland is also observing the 15th anniversary of joining NATO and the 10th anniversary of joining the European Union. Today, Poland is becoming an increasingly important political and economic player in Europe, and is establishing its place on the geopolitical map of the world.
On April 23, 2014 a Seattle based troupe of self-producing actors their director and a production manager flew to Tashkent, Uzbekistan to present their production of Chekhov’s The Seagull at the renowned Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil. The performances we gave constituted the centerpiece of a two week long “Festival of American Culture: East/West” hosted by Ilkhom and was significantly supported by the US Embassy in Tashkent.As a member of the acting company of The Seagull Project and also a professor in the UW School of Drama having, previously visited and presented master classes at Ilkhom in 2005, 07 and 09, I an eager to share a bit of our experience with the School of Drama and REECAS family.
Agnia Grigas is a risk analyst and energy security expert with a PhD International Relations from the University of Oxford.
“[Energy] matters for economists, it matters from a security perspective, it matters for well-being,” said Agnia Grigas in one of three University of Washington lectures May 6 and 7. Grigas, who served as an adviser to the Lithuanian government, discussed the impact of Russian energy monopolies in Europe during her visit to Seattle.
Grigas, an energy security specialists, focused on the institutional and infrastructural weaknesses of European states when it comes to establishing sustainable and reliable energy sources. The proportion of energy a country imports constitutes its energy dependence; in some cases, high energy dependence can lead to significant security concerns. “[Energy dependence] only threatens the security of a country when there are three factors at play,” Grigas said. That is, when energy sources are not diversified, when countries are dealing with weak institutions and economies, and when the exporting state is seen as a threat.
While the Baltic States import varying levels of their energy, all are 100 percent dependent on gas from Russia, where the gas industry leader, Gazprom, is largely tied up with Kremlin connections. According to Grigas, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania meet the three risk factors of energy dependence and are energy insecure. The Baltic States depend solely on Soviet-era pipelines for their gas. Though now national gas companies own the pipelines, Russian company Gazprom still owns significant shares in these domestic industries. Continue reading →
This article is a summary of Glen Grant’s lectures on European security during his April visit to UW. For a summary of his talk on Ukraine and Crimea, click here.
“Europe is at war.” This is the seriousness with which NATO military specialist Glen Grant described the situation on the European continent in multiple lectures at UW this week. As NATO’s “only guarantor of stability and security,” whether or not the U.S. takes heed of the severity of the situation will be of extreme consequence for future of Europe, he said.
US troops welcomed at Latvian base in Ādaži. | Bnn-News.com
The World Affairs Council Global Classroom; Ellison Center for Russian, East European, & Central Asian Studies; and the Center for Global Studies hosted a special event on April 22, 2014 for educators interested in understanding the current crisis in Ukraine and adapting existing material in the media for use in the classroom.
Our keynote speaker, University of Washington Professor of History and International Studies Glennys Young gave an over of the history of Ukraine with emphasis on their connection to today’s crisis in Ukraine. She discussed not only important developments in Ukraine’s past, but also how Ukraine is economically and strategically important to Russia today. Following Professor Young’s presentation, Christi Anne Hofland helped us “chart the crisis” that began with the emergence of protests against the Yanukovych government in November 2013. Hofland, who is currently a graduate student at the University of Washington’s Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, worked as an instructor at the Ukrainian Catholic University and, prior to that, received a year-long Fulbright Fellowship to work in Odessa, Ukraine.
The 57-page resource packet includes recent articles & analyses from leading foreign policy experts on various aspects of the Ukraine crisis including understanding the historical connections between Ukraine and Russia, analyzing the commitments of various interested “actors” in the crisis, and interpreting how media, both domestic and abroad, portrays the unfolding events.
This piece is a summary of Glen Grant’s April 22 talk. Grant will be speaking April 23, 7–9 p.m. in Savery Hall, 264, on the military security of the Baltic States and Poland. This event is free and open to the public.
“[Crimea] is a mess now,” said Ret. Lt. Col. Glen Grant in a talk Tuesday on the current military developments in Ukraine. Grant, retired from the British Armed Forces, is a visiting lecturer at Riga Business School, and has a varied background as a diplomat, defense attaché, NATO branch chief and sports trainer. Grant said his extensive and diverse curriculum vitae has given him a unique perspective on the situation in Ukraine, which he discussed at length in his hour-long lecture.
According to Grant, the annexation of Crimea has firmly placed the territory in Russia’s hands – only if Russia itself collapses does Grant envision the peninsula returning to Ukraine. On the ground, the situation in Crimea is worsening; shops are empty, businesses are folding and imports from Russia are too expensive for the local population.