Sharovarshchyna: Sonic Contestations of Ukrainian Wildness


Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:15pm


YouTube (public); Zoom (registration required)

Maria Sonevytsky, Assistant Professor, Department of Music at UC Berkeley 
Moderated by Emily Channell-Justice, Director, Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program

Register for the Zoom session (space is limited) or watch live on YouTube.

Ruslana Eurovision


This presentation considers the spatial, temporal, and sonic dimensions that mark the discourse of sharovarshchyna in Ukraine. I define sharovarshchyna as a hotly contested conceptual zone grounded in territorialized regional cultural symbols of affiliation, rurality, and authenticity. By first historicizing this discourse within the Soviet regime of state-sanctioned folklore, I show how sharovarshchyna feeds on ideas of what I have previously termed “Wildness”—that is, the vital, exoticized, rural, or unknown sounds and expressive forms of Ukraine. I then examine the discourse of sharovarshchyna that intersects with two prominent Ukrainian cultural-musical exports—Ruslana, the 2004 Eurovision champion who rose to prominence with her “Wild Dances”; and DakhaBrakha, darlings of the “world music” industry. I argue that this conceptual zone of sharovarshchyna underscores Ukraine’s geopolitical liminality, and therefore serves as a useful analytic to unsettle trendy frameworks of the “Global South.” 

About the Speaker

Maria SonevytskyMaria Sonevytsky is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her first book, Wild Music: Sound and Sovereignty in Ukraine (2019, Wesleyan University Press), received the Lewis Lockwood First Book Award from the American Musicological Society in 2020. She is currently working on a short book about Vopli Vidopliassova's _Tantsi_ (for the 33 1/3 series on Bloomsbury), and developing a longer project on Soviet children's music in the Ukrainian SSR. 

Wild Music: Sound and Sovereignty in Ukraine is our March 2021 TCUP Book Club selection. Learn more about Book Club here.

Emily Channell-Justice is an anthropologist and the director of HURI's Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program.


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