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Illustration: Hannah Göppel

by and with the ensemble


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

19.04.20, 18:50
> performance omitted

25.04.20, 18:50

26.04.20, 18:50


07.03.20, Photo: Joachim Koltzer

22.02.20, Photo: Joachim Koltzer

08.02., Photo: Joachim Koltzer

25.01., Foto: Joachim Koltzer

11.01., Photo: Joachim Koltzer

Past Activities

Looking for Common Ground? Reading Southeastern Europe

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

Panel I. Senka Maric (Mostar), Jeton Neziraj (Pristina)
Moderation: Doris Akrap (taz, Berlin)

Panel II. Lana Bastasic (Belgrade, Barcelona), Rumena Buzarovska (Skopje)
Moderation: Tino Schlench (literaturpalast, Vienna)

A buffer zone in tense times and a melting pot of various cultural and political influences? From the perspective of Southeastern Europe, the cultural and political notions of East and West have always been complex and in a constant state of flux. In a conversation about their literary works, four authors discuss different concepts of East and West—and the recurring question of belonging—from the perspective of Southeastern Europe. To what extent are the perceptions of East and West shaped by different regional, local, and individual contexts? For example, what is the role played by the historical narratives that are being increasingly exploited for political purposes during and after the wars in former Yugoslavia? To what extent are these perceptions influenced by experiences of migration or generational conflicts? Has language become a political issue as a result? Does gender play a role? And how is all of this reflected in literature? Ultimately, how do East and West position themselves in a geographical, political, and cultural space that belongs to both and neither at the same time?

The discussion is followed by a concert of Damir Avdić—a musician and lyricist whose distorted guitar riffs and haunting voice hit all the sore spots precisely and confronts the audience with their own prejudice, comfort and hipocrisy.

Lana Bastašić is a Yugoslav-born writer. She studied English Language and Literature and holds an MA degree in Cultural Studies. She has published two collections of short stories and one of poetry. Uhvati zeca (Catch the Rabbit), her first novel, was published in 2018. She co-founded Escola Bloom in Barcelona and she co-edits the school's literary magazine Carn de cap.

Rumena Bužarovska was born in 1981 in Skopje, Northern Macedonia. She has authored four short story collections, a booklet of flash fiction, as well as a study on humor in contemporary American and Macedonian short fiction. She is a literary translator from English into Macedonian and associate professor of American literature at the State University in Skopje. She is co-initiator and co-organizer of the PeachPreach women’s storytelling event and hosts a radio show under the same name.

Senka Marić is a Bosnian poet, short stories writer, essayist, translator, and editor. She was born in 1972 and has published three books of poetry and her first novel Kintsugi tijela (Body Kintsugi) was awarded the Meša Selimović Prize in 2019. She is editor in chief of the online magazine for literature, art and culture Portal Strane (

Jeton Neziraj is a playwright and the Director of Qendra Multimedia. He has written over 25 plays that have been staged, translated and published widely in Europe and in the USA. The German theatre magazine Theater der Zeit and the German Radio Deutschlandfunk Kultur have described him as ‘Kafka of the Balkans’, while Los Angeles Times called him “a world- class playwright who challenges our complacency at every twist and turn”.

Doris Akrap was born in 1974 Croatia and grew up in Flörsheim am Main. She studied cultural and religious studies in Berlin and works as a journalist and editor at taz. Her articles were also published in The Guardian and Die Zeit. Together with several other journalists, she founded the anti-racist reading show Hate Poetry.

Tino Schlench was Born in Uckermark/Brandenburg and holds a degree in cultural studies and modern German literature from the Humbold University in Berlin. After spending a year as visiting scholar at University of Berkley, Schlench started working as research associate at the Institute for Contemporary History in Vienna. In 2018, he started a literary blog @literaturpalast, focusing on literature from Eastern Europe.

In cooperation with

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Dead-end Jobs: Precarious Work in Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

With: Caspar Dohmen (journalist and author, Berlin), Michal Hába (theater director, Prague), Marta Kahancová (Central European Labour Studies Institute, Bratislava), Apolena Rychlíková (film director, Prague)
Moderation: Gabriele Freitag (German Association for East European Studies, Berlin)

They work in slaughterhouses and industrial laundries, as waste sorters, as cashiers, and on assembly lines. Unregulated working hours, night shifts, wages that barely cover the basics, work that is hazardous and dangerous to health—the everyday life of hundreds of thousands in Eastern Europe, and likewise of migrant workers in Germany. Right-wing populists, of all people, seek to capture votes by declaring themselves protectors of the poor. But what can really be done to improve the working and living conditions of those without whose labors modern societies would not function? What role is played by the making-visible of these abuses via journalistic and artistic means? The investigative journalist Saša Uhlová experienced the illegal working conditions faced by low-wage earners in the Czech Republic by working for several months in various companies while filming with a hidden camera. With her series of articles The Heroes of Capitalist Labour and the documentary The Limits of Work, she and collaborating director Apolena Rychlíková, brought the reality of life for workers to the attention of society. For the transcultural festival POSTWEST, the theatre director Michal Hába brings The Heroes of Capitalist Labour to the stage for the first time.

Following the panel discussion, the film The Limits of Work (Czech Republic 2017) will be shown in original language with English subtitles.


Caspar Dohmen is an economics journalist and author of numerous books about the dark sides of the global economy. His most recent books are Schattenwirtschaft. Die Macht der illegalen Märkte (The Shadow Economy: The Power of Illegal Markets, 2019), Das Prinzip Fair Trade (The Fair Trade Principle, 2017) and Proftigier ohne Grenzen. Wenn Arbeit nichts mehr wert ist und Menschenrechte auf der Strecke bleiben (Greed without Borders: When Work Isn’t Worth It and Human Rights Fall by the Wayside, 2016).

Michal Hába is a Czech theatre director, working in both independent and state run-theatres. He focuses on political topics, using Brechtian principles. Michal graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague(direction) and is the artistic director of Lachende Bestien. Productions include Sezuan based Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller’s Mission, An Enemy of the People based on Henrik Ibsen and Pornogeography by Werner Schwab for which he received the Josef Balvin Award in 2016 (Best German Language Play of the Year).

Marta Kahancová is the managing director of Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI) in Bratislava. Her research interests are in sociology of organizations and work: she studies work practices and social interaction in multinational firms, industrial relations and work-related migration.

Apolena Rychlíková is a Czech documentarist, publicist and journalist. She has long been interested in social issues, particularly inequality, poverty and social exclusion. As the author of several movies she cooperates with the Czech TV and Czech Radio. Her feature length debut The Limits of Work (2017) was awarded Czech Joy at IDFF Jihlava 2017, audience Award and the award of the Czech film critics in the category Best television title and it was screened at numerous international festivals.

Gabriele Freitag is executive director of the German Association for East European Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Osteuropakunde / DGO) in Berlin. Previously she was as research associate at the Research Center for East European Studies, University of Bremen, programme director at the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft) and managing director of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin.

In cooperation with

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Photo source: Pixabay. Credit: anaterate

Upcoming Activities:
Der Weg aus der Nische? Belarussische Literatur und ihre Zukunft, 18.02.
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.

Platform East: Fragmente meiner Heimaten. Russischsprachige Migration in Deutschland

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: An Unholy Alliance? “Christian Values” and Anti-Gender Politics in Central and Eastern Europe

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

With: Regina Elsner (ZOiS, Berlin), Radoslav Stoyanov (Bulgarian Helsinki Commitee, Sofia)
Moderation: Patricia Hecht (taz, Berlin)
Input: Elżbieta Korolczuk (Södertörn University, Stockholm), Kristina Stöckl (University of Innsbruck)

Today, right-wing populist movements and authoritarian governments worldwide use “Christian values” to promote conservative social policies. They proclaim to represent what is supposedly “real" civil society, as opposed to the elites. In countries such as Russia, Poland or Bulgaria in particular, the anti-gender and pro-family agenda of right-wing parties strengthens those who are nationalist and critical of Europe. However, these movements are also part of international ultraconservative Christian alliances that view Eastern Europe as a new bastion for the defense of their values. For instance, these links are clearly evident at the World Congress of Families (WCF), where ultraconservative Christian groups and individuals gather to defend a traditionalist understanding of the family.

What are the driving factors behind this “unholy alliance” of religion and politics, in which gender is equated with demoralization? What role do the Catholic and Orthodox Churches play in this process? How do the different denominations of the Christian church position themselves and engage in this conflict of values?

Regina Elsner is a theologian and a researcher at ZOiS. Through the project Morality instead of peace, Regina Elsner is investigating the dynamics of Russian Orthodox social ethics since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Elżbieta Korolczuk is a sociologist, commentator and women’s and human rights activist. She works at Södertörn University in Stockholm and teaches at the American Studies Center at Warsaw University. Her research interests involve: gender, social movements and civil society. She published numerous texts, e.g. on the women’s movement and its relation with neoliberalism, on new forms of citizenship, politicization of reproduction and anti-gender mobilization in Poland and abroad.

Radoslav Stoyanov is a Bulgarian human rights activist with a focus on LGBTI issues. As a gay activist, he litigated many cases before the national equality body regarding public hate speech against sexual minorities. He is acting as a watchdog for right-wing conservative activities in Bulgaria. He is currently working as an expert in the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and is pursuing a master’s degree in law.

Patricia Hecht worked for radio and print in Germany, Mexico and Colombia, before she joined taz in 2012. She was editor on the Berlin desk and for the front page and is now gender editor on the politics desk, working for example on reproductive rights and antifeminism. She was part of the international research team Europe's Far Right, reporting on strategies and networks of European far right politics.

In cooperation with

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

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.

Platform East: Urban Activism in Eastern Europe

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

With Alexander Formosov (Dekabristen e.V., Berlin), Zuzanna Hertzberg (artist and activist, Warsaw), Sasha Kurmaz (artist, Kyiv), Lela Rekviashvili (Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde, Leipzig)
Moderation: Tsypylma Darieva (ZOiS, Berlin)

One often hears people speaking of weak civil societies in the Eastern European context. The image of citizens intimidated into political passivity still persists all too stubbornly. Yet anyone taking a closer look is bound to notice that resistance to neoliberal and authoritarian structures has been stirring up in many Eastern European cities. This resistance is expressed in creative forms of protest, artistic interventions, and the (re)appropriation of urban space. Using photos and video material, activists, artists, and social scientists will show how diverse and dynamic contemporary urban activism in Eastern Europe is: from grassroots actions in Russian Murmansk and the mobilisation of street protests against construction projects in Tbilisi, through to artistic interventions in Ukrainian and Polish cities. They will discuss the various forms and effects of urban activism in Eastern Europe, while also assessing their regional specificities and global connections.

Alexander Formozov studied History, European Ethnology and Political Science in Moscow and Berlin. Alexander's main focus is on transdisciplinary projects and international exchange in the areas of urbanism, culture, non-formal education and civil society in Eastern Europe. He is currently working at the Dekabristen e.V. as a project coordinator of the educational project ACT|UP.

Tsypylma Darieva is a social anthropologist and a senior researcher at ZOiS, Berlin. Together with Carola Neugebauer she edited the forthcoming volume Urban Activism in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Practices and Strategies, DOM Publishers.

Zuzanna Hertzberg is a painter, author of installations, performative actions and artivist. She deals with subjects of memory and body, as well as issues related to a broad sense of identity and geopolitics. Zuzanna earned her PhD degree at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (2018) and participated in a number of exhibitions in Poland and abroad. She is member of Antifascist Coalition as well as co-founder of Jewish Antifascist Block.

Sasha Kurmaz is a post-conceptual multi-disciplinary artist with a graffiti background. In his artistic practice, he uses photography, urban intervention, and performative situations through which he analyzes the social and political interrelationships that address themes both poetic and political. His work is at once direct and open to interpretation.

Lela Rekhviashvili is a post-doctoral researcher at Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig. She is interested in political economy of post-socialist transformation(s), urban informality and mobility, and social movements. Her publications theorise intersection of marketization, social embeddedness and informality. Her upcoming research project will look into counter-hegemonic thought and practice of civil societies in former Soviet peripheries.


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.

In cooperation with

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Platform East: (De)constructing Stereotypes. Media Images in the European Press

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

With: Alice Bota (ZEIT), Dóra Diseri (n-ost), Tamina Kutscher (dekoder), Dariya Orlova (Mohyla School of Journalism)
Moderation: Gesine Dornblüth

The media shapes our perception of political events, people, public debates, countries – and the stereotypes associated with them – within society. When we think about Eastern Europe our judgments are also inevitably influenced by imagery constructed by the media through pictures and texts. But how accurate are these images and between what tensions are they created?

This event focuses on the representation of Eastern Europe in Western European media outlets and vice versa: What ideas does Germany have about Eastern Europe and how do they view “us” there? To what extent do reports in the media influence our perception of East and West and the construction of the stereotypes associated with them? What role do political and economic factors play? What level of responsibility do foreign correspondents have with regard to the dissemination and maintenance of stereotypes and what new challenges are they facing?

In this discussion, journalists and media experts use these questions to approach the status quo of the media landscape in Europe. Against the background of a perceived East-West divide, they identify influential factors and talk about possible future scenarios and the conditions they would require: What would media coverage that's free of the continuous construction and reproduction of stereotypes look like?

Dóra Diseri is a Berlin-based Hungarian journalist and project lead of the European cross-border grant program “Reporters in the Field” at n-ost (Network for Reporting on Eastern Europe). Until October 2018, she was the Berlin correspondent of the Hungarian news channel HírTV. She studied journalism, cultural and Eastern-European studies in Budapest, Leipzig and Berlin. Before moving to Berlin in 2012, she worked as a multimedia journalist and reporter in the news department of the Hungarian Public Television (MTVA) in Budapest.

Gesine Dornblüth is a journalist and was the Moscow correspondent for Deutschlandradio from 2012 to 2017. With her doctorate in Slavic Studies, Dornblüth has reported primarily for radio reports and features from Russia and other former Soviet countries since the 90s.

Tamina Kutscher is a trained journalist, historian and Slavonic studies scholar. In 2016, she became dekoder’s editor-in-chief. dekoder is an online platform that connects the public spheres in Russia and Germany: It publishes translations of articles and reports in the other country’s language and also provides context and expertise from universities. For this combination of journalism and scholarship, dekoder was honoured with the 2016 Grimme Online Award.

Dariya Orlova is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director for Research at the Mohyla School of Journalism (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine). She holds a PhD degree in Mass Communications from Autonomous University of Barcelona. Her major academic interests include: media transformations in transition countries, political communication, journalism culture, media and national identity. She has also served as an independent media expert and researcher with NGOs and international development agencies and worked as a journalist prior to her academic career.

In cooperation with

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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