Estonian artist turns ancient instruments into heavy metal

By Indra Ekmanis

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.

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

There’s no substitute for being there: Early Fall Start in Sochi

by Sarah McPhee

Sarah at Rosa Khutor, near Krasnaya Polyana.

Sarah at Rosa Khutor, near Kras­naya Polyana.

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.

IMG_2907Of 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

Authors honored for book on nation-building in Baltics

By Indra Ekmanis

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.

Pro­fes­sors David E. McN­abb and Gun­dar Kenins-King in Seat­tle, 28 Sept. 2014.

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Brymora: Polish perspective on Europe & US

DSC_3081Mar­iusz 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.

Pho­tos by Piotr Horoszowski

The Seagull Project’ turns heads in Tashkent

By Mark Jenkins

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 3As 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.

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More to do’: Grigas speaks on European energy security

By Indra Ekmanis

This arti­cle is a sum­mary of Agnia Gri­gas’ lec­tures at UW on May 6 and 7. To learn more about Gri­gas’ research on energy secu­rity, read her 2013 book, The Pol­i­tics of Energy and Mem­ory between the Baltic States and Rus­sia.

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

Europe at war’: Nato specialist disscusses military preparedness in the Baltic Sea Region

By Indra Ekmanis

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. |

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Understanding Ukraine: A Workshop for Educators

Ukraine Flag

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.

Down­load the resource packet here.
Com­piled by: Steven Tran, Jamie Mar­tin, Christi Anne Hofland, Tese Wintz Neighbor

NATO specialist discusses military state of Ukraine, Russia, Eastern Europe

By Indra Ekmanis

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.

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VIDEO | Ukraine and Russia: Regional and Global Implications

On Thurs­day, April 10, 2014, the Elli­son Cen­ter pro­duced a panel dis­cus­sion on Ukraine and Rus­sia in light of events in Crimea and East­ern Ukraine.

In case you missed the event, or if you want to refer back to some of the points, the indi­vid­ual pan­elists’ dis­cus­sions are below.