Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ideological exploitation of landscape 2
Ukraine is a huge and disputable area with diverse landscapes - forests, massive river systems, steppes and grasslands, Carpathians, Crimea. South-Western Ukraine used to be part of Austro-Hungarian empire, the rest under Russian tzar. Correspondingly to the landscapes, there are Ruthenian Ukraine, Cossack Ukraine, Tatar Ukraine, Hutsuli Ukraine, etc. And mainstream Ukraine, of course, the nation state, signified with the flag, which officially refers to wide wheat field and blue sky above it. Pesonally, i consider it the most beautiful flag in the world, and one of the most beautiful landscape concepts - an endless grassland (that the landscape used to be before agricultural exploitation) and a constantly clear sky above it.
It`s questionable, if the yellow color refers to wheat only. Ukraine is the world`s biggest producer of sunflower oil. Sunflower derives from European colonization, it was discovered in America, but bred and commercialized in Russian empire, so after that it was brought back to America again and introduced to agriculture. Thereby sunflower not only signifies the colonization, but also refers to one of the early stages of globalization. Ukrainian flag shows the economical and agricultural identity of Ukraine. 
According to some American authors, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova are considered to be accidental nation states, side-effects of the collapse of the USSR. I would ask, which nation state is not accidental? All nation states are accidents, taking place on landscapes, which are balkanized in favor of dominant ideology. Estonian dominant ideology sets up the coastal landscapes - the Baltic Sea, islands, West-Estonian flatlands - , and marginalizes all the other areas, especially in the East. Nordic identity corresponds to western areas of the country and follows the ideology of Western capitalism - to create a singular, very authentic Estonian identity, and serve it as a product among others. Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves has several times made public announcements that Estonia is not a Baltic, but a Nordic state. Latvia and Lithuania also apply for the Nordic identity, and in official level, all the Baltic states (plus Poland) have been announced to share the identity of the Baltic Sea. Well, the national consciousness of Poland has been said to be quite far from the identity of the Baltic Sea. It is mainly an inland country, and i would also rather point out the East-European inland paradigm, where all the states from Estonia and Russia to Poland, Ukraine and Moldova belong to.
Some weeks ago i happened to fly from Kiev to Tallinn, over Chernobyl, which is situated inside a very interesting landscape. It`s a huge area between Belarus and Ukraine, the natural border zone, created by Pripyat river and its subsidiaries, swamps and forests. People, who used to live in the neighbourhood of Chernobyl, had a very personal and close relation with nature - it is very well documented in the book "Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster". Some people, who had to abandon their homes, returned later and started to live in radioactive environment. Just because of homesickness and the place itself. I`ve noticed before that Belarus/N-Ukrainian identity has been reflected by specific relation between people and nature, which reminds me my own childhood in South-Estonia, Soviet Union,  and those elderly people, who lived in countryside in these times. That kind of relationship, which, according to Estonian author Valdur Mikita, reaches to Neolithic Era, is going to die out (at least in Estonia) with last generation (people now in their 80s), mainly because of the victory of global capitalism in 1989. 

PS: There is smoke coming out of a chimney in Chernobyl, as you can see in the picture. Any ideas, what is going on there?