On Air: Talking Decolonisation from Kazakhstan to Ukraine

Application deadline: 
August 14, 2023

Our pop-up podcast studio on the sidelines of Unlock 2023 provided a space for content creators and civic activists to share ideas.

UNLOCK 2023 is still bearing fruit! Our pop-up podcast studio on site allowed for spontaneous colabs among content creators from across the region.

In this episode, Ainel Amirkhan (Kazakhstan) interviewed Mariam Naiem (Ukraine) for her Kazakh language podcast OY-DETOX, which focuses on politics, society and other big ideas. Mariam, who has gained a huge following on social media with her writing aimed at educating the English-speaking world about Russian imperialism, discussed with Ainel decolonisation in the Ukrainian and Kazakh contexts.

The episode was recorded in Russian and published with Kazakh subtitles. Listen to the original here. Below are some key quotes from Mariam in English.

On switching from the Russian language to Ukrainian:

• It was unbelievably hard for me to switch to Ukrainian. In my work, language is the primary tool. Russian was my first language, and it was really hard to translate all I knew into Ukrainian. Even the classic philosophical books we read at the university were in Russian; they were not translated into Ukrainian.

• Even though we usually received education of all levels in Ukrainian in my generation, speaking Ukrainian daily was still unusual. We would not learn spoken Ukrainian; instead, we would learn its academic or official variants. That being said, people got used to speaking Ukrainian quite fast.

On the specific features of Russian imperialism:

• All the small things, like a menu in a restaurant in Kazakh or Ukrainian instead of Russian, are a part of the social construction of reality. If a part of your reality is the Russian language, you live in the Russian reality.

• For over two hundred years, Russia has been destroying the Ukrainian language. Already in the 18th century, it became apparent that the main factor for separating Ukraine from Russia was language.

On decolonisation:

• Because decolonisation starts from loving what is yours, there can be no force. The best one can do is to become genuinely curious and find what interests them about their culture. It can be language but also art, music, film, etc.

• To decolonise oneself, it is essential to admit without shame that one has Russian culture ingrained in them but without cultivating Russian culture as a result. Instead, we cultivate an interest in Ukrainian culture. One thing is ignoring Russian literature, and another - reading Ukrainian literature.

• Once a week, you could turn off the TV and read Kazakh poetry instead. This is a small personal step in decolonising yourself, but it goes a long way.

Related Articles

No items found.

Don’t miss a beat.
Follow us on Facebook, Telegram and Instagram for the latest updates, calls for applications and  opportunities.