Ruslana, Serduchka, Jamala: national self-imaging in Ukraine’s Eurovision entries

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Rules governing the lyrics and stage appearance of Eurovision Song Contest entries prohibit ‘lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature’. But Eurovision songs are subject to interpretation for the overt or implicit political messages that they carry. Three of the most successful Ukrainian Eurovision entries-Ruslana’s ‘Wild Dances’ (winner, 2004), ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’ by Verka Serdiuchka (runner-up, 2007) and Jamala’s '1944' (winner, 2016)-generated extensive commentary in Ukraine itself and in the international media. This chapter proposes two reasons for this: their status as contributions to a debate within Ukraine over national identity; and the geopolitical context within which such statements became politically provocative: explicitly or in subtext, all three rejected the perpetuation of the colonial cultural hierarchies of the Soviet past.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEurovisions
Subtitle of host publicationIdentity and the International Politics of the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956
EditorsJulie Kalman, Ben Wellings, Keshia Jacotine
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789811394270
ISBN (Print)9789811394263
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Eurovision Song Contest
  • Jamala
  • National identity
  • Popular culture
  • Ukraine

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