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Platform East:
Fragmente meiner Heimaten. Russischsprachige Migration in Deutschland

Performance, Discourse
In German

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

I. Performance

Sarah Maria Sander: Die Geschichte meines Vaters (My Father’s Story)

In 1946, Ibrahim Nadzhafow was born in Kharkov. His mother, a young Jewish woman, leaves her father, an Azerbaijani officer, after the birth and refuses him any contact with the son. He grows up longing for a father and gives himself the name Aleksander. In a distant country beyond the Soviet Union, he promises himself a future, a different, better world. Aleksander is stuck between eras and cultures, between searching and not-finding. Russia becomes alien, Germany remains unfamiliar even after years. Home becomes a utopia.
Many years later, Sarah grows up in Germany. She too is haunted by the question of home and identity. For her 18th birthday, her mother gives her an old wooden box. Inside are letters, postcards, and telegrams from Alexander’s confidants, telling his story from their point of view.

II. Panel with Tatiana Golova (ZOiS), Svetlana Müller (PANDA Theater e.V.) and Sarah Maria Sander (Volksbühne Berlin)

Russian-speaking migrants in Germany are often perceived as a homogenous group. Their places of origin, their routes, and the status they received upon arrival in Germany differ considerably. Their stories and memories appear in artistic forms of expression. Are these passed on to the next generation as part of identity? What do cultural and meeting places mean for migrant communities? How do new cultural projects beyond nostalgia emerge and how far do they involve people outside the community? Building on the performance Die Geschichte meines Vaters by Volksbühne ensemble member Sarah Maria Sander, sociologist Tatiana Golova explores these questions in a conversation with the artist and with Svetlana Müller of PANDA Theater. In doing so, she examines the political dimension of migrant identity projects and the role that entanglements with countries of origin still play today.

Tatiana Golova is a sociologist at the Center for Eastern European and International Studies (ZOiS) and works on transnational migrant networks on social media.

Svetlana Müller chairs the non-profit association PANDA nicht nur russisches Theater e.V., which has developed into an interdisciplinary art, political, and cultural platform in recent years.

Sarah Maria Sander is an actress at the Volksbühne. She grew up in Germany and Russia. In 2015 she was a guest student in the master acting class at Semen Spivak Theatre Academy Saint Petersburg, Russian State Institute of Performing Arts. From 2015 to 2019 she studied at the Ernst Busch Drama School in Berlin.

In cooperation with

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Platform East
Which forms of civic engagement exist in Eastern Europe? Which agents are participating in the restructuring of public space? How has collective memory changed in the post-Soviet era? The new series Platform East will raise these questions and many others as part of the transcultural festival POSTWEST. Academics, artists, and activists from Central and Eastern Europe as well as various experts on Eastern Europe will address the socially relevant issues that affect their everyday lives: the freedom of art and media, the politics of memory and the construction of identities, generational relationships and conflicts as well as protest against political systems. Bringing together these different professions will produce mental collages that expand epistemic horizons and serve as the starting point for diverse future scenarios and a collective utopia of POSTWEST.

The series Platform East is a collaboration between the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) and the Volksbühne Berlin. Through panel discussions, films, lecture performances, and other formats, the series will function as a platform in the truest sense: at the intersection of art and science, it moves past the existing homogenous images of Eastern Europe and offers space for political, societal, and cultural diversity.

18.03.20, 19:00
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Past Activities

Der Weg aus der Nische? Belarussische Literatur und ihre Zukunft

Russian with translation into German

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

A way out of the niche? Belarusian literature and its future

With: Julia Cimafiejeva (poet and translator), Andrej Januškevič (historian and publisher)
Moderation: Alexander Chertenko

Since the 1990s, Belarusian writers who do not belong to the official, pro-government writers' union and write in Belarusian have found themselves in a precarious position: due to a lack of support and systematic marginalization in public discourse, they are destined to a niche existence, both culturally and linguistically. Belarusian is regarded as secondary to Russian by the state, which is the main reason why language is regarded by many Belarusian authors as a medium of resistance—even including those who write in Russian themselves, such as Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich. Publishers dedicated to Belarusian-language literature are also faced with a double challenge: they must hold their ground against the dominance of Russian-language publications, most of which come from Russia. In addition to this their work is also shaped by cultural, political, and administrative restrictions.

Set against this difficult situation, a lively literary scene has developed in Belarus over the last two decades, with its own publishing houses, journals, literary critics, and prizes, and it is even gaining recognition beyond national borders. What conditions are the independent authors and publishers working under there? Who are their readers and how do they market their publications in a (linguistically) Russian-dominated book market? If language is a political issue, what does it mean to write and read in Belarusian? And what ultimately needs to happen in order to liberate their literature from its niche?

Julia Cimafiejeva is a Belarusian poet and translator. She has published two volumes of poetry so far: Kniha pamylak (The Book of Errors, 2014) and Cyrk (Circus, 2016; German translation, 2019) . Cimafiejeva is the co-founder of the online literary magazine PrajdziSvet (discontinued in 2018). In 2017 she curated the Znak rounasci (Equal Sign) literature festival. She also presented the television programme Remarka (Commentary).

Andrej Januškevič is a historian and proprietor of the independent publishing house in Minsk of the same name. He is also the founder of, a literature distributor that disseminates and promotes contemporary Belarusian literature.

Alexander Chertenko is a German-Ukrainian literary and cultural scholar, Slavist, and comparatist, and is currently working at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. In 2019 he was a visiting scholar at ZOiS (Center for East European and International Studies).

In cooperation with

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Upcoming Activities:
Platform East: An Unholy Alliance? “Christian Values” and Anti-Gender Politics in Central and Eastern Europe, 26.02.
Platform East: Fragmente meiner Heimaten. Russischsprachige Migration in Deutschland, 18.03.
Dead-end Jobs: Precarious Work in Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond, 31.03.


An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

As a prelude to POSTWEST Festival in May 2020, the ensemble will thoroughly yet sensitively explore the world of POSTWEST and present artistic contributions on (un)familiar subjects and figures, their own ideas and approaches to the festival’s theme. Get to know our ensemble in a completely different way, and let this snapshot for your mind and senses guide you around the evening performance and to POSTWEST Festival.

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Ivan Krastev: The Light That Failed – A Reckoning

Book premiere
English with consecutive translation into German by Johannes Hampel

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

Susan Neiman (director of the Einstein Forum, Potsdam) talks with author Ivan Kastev about sources for the current global crises, on the occasion of the German-language release of his book The Light that Failed - A Reckoning.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the model of liberal democracy was supposed to be the only alternative. Today the liberal world is breaking apart before our very eyes. Populism, nationalism and a departure from liberal democratic values are accompanying its downfall. The West won the Cold War, and yet it has lost its political relevance. How could it come to this?

In the political analysis presented in The Light that Failed, Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes argue that the supposed “end of history” turned out to be the beginning of an “Age of Imitation”. For almost three decades the imperative for the East was: “Imitate the West”! Through this imperative, the life of the imitators was increasingly dominated by feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, dependence, and the loss of identity.

Ivan Krastev, born 1965 in Bulgaria, is a political scientist. He is the chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and permanent fellow at the The Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, where he is head of the Democracy in Questionprogramme. Krastev writes for the international edition of The New York Times. His essay After Europewas published in 2017.

“Ivan Krastev is one of the great European minds of today.” Timothy Snyder

“Reading Krastev is a pleasure, because a love of literature, political realism and the beauty of thought all flow together in the art of his style.” Elisabeth von Thadden, DIE ZEIT

“Ivan Krastev is one of Europe's leading intellectuals.” Madeleine Albright

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

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