Introduction: Gender and Geopolitics in the Eurovision Song Contest

  • Catherine Baker
From the vantage point of the early 1990s, when the end of the Cold War not only inspired the discourses of many Eurovision performances but created opportunities for the map of Eurovision participation itself to significantly expand in a short space of time, neither the scale of the contemporary Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) nor the extent to which a field of “Eurovision research” has developed in cultural studies and its related disciplines would have been recognisable. In 1993, when former Warsaw Pact states began to participate in Eurovision for the first time and Yugoslav successor states started to compete in their own right, the contest remained a one-night-per-year theatrical presentation staged in venues that accommodated, at most, a couple of thousand spectators and with points awarded by expert juries from each participating country.

Queer to be kind: Exploring Western media discourses about the “Eastern bloc” during the 2007 and 2014 Eurovision Song Contests

  • Alexej Ulbricht,
  • Indraneel Sircar,
  • Koen Slootmaeckers
This article examines the voting results and Western European media coverage of the 2007 and 2014 Eurovision Song Contests. The Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst (the alter ego of an openly gay man) won in 2014, whilst Serbian entrant Marija Šerifović, portrayed in Western European media as lesbian at the time, won in 2007. We first explore the extent to which there was an East-West voting divide in both contests. In 2014, while there was some elite hostility against Conchita in Eastern Europe, the popular support was on a similar level to that in Western Europe. In 2007, we find no significant geographic divide in support for Šerifović. However, when we examine mainstream UK and German media coverage during and after both contests, we find strong anti-Eastern European discourses that are at odds with the similarity in the public voting.

Skirting the issue: finding queer and geopolitical belonging at the Eurovision Song Contest

  • Jessica Carniel
This article examines how the ideological boundaries of East and West are built, maintained and challenged through the performance of sexual and other politics in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). It argues that the contest is a useful prism through which to examine and understand contemporary European debates about sexual politics, and the role that this plays in defining the borders of modern Europe and its conditions of belonging. The contest itself offers an important site for belonging to the European community both to states on the eastern margins and to queer communities throughout Europe. It examines examples of performances that have challenged sexual politics, such as the Finnish entry from 2013, as well as state responses to the queer dimensions of the contest, such as those from Russia and Azerbaijan.

From Ruslana to Gaitana: Performing “Ukrainianness” in the Eurovision Song Contest

  • Paul Jordan
This article considers how the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) has come to be used as a platform for the politicisation of national identity in Ukraine. Ukraine can be described as an amalgam of regions with different ethno-linguistic, economic, cultural and political profiles. The rhetoric concerning some Ukrainian Eurovision entries illuminates these complexities and as such sheds light on the construction of Ukrainian nationhood in a post-Soviet context. In particular this paper uses interviews with key decision makers involved with the Ukrainian selection process in the Eurovision Song Contest and examines the rhetoric surrounding four Ukrainian Eurovision entries which have generated considerable interest and controversy both in the country itself and within the wider context of the European media.

National Promotion and Eurovision: from Besieged Sarajevo to the Floodlights of Europe

  • Neven Andjelić
The Eurovision Song Contest, as an important part of the entertainment industry, has offered European countries a platform for national promotion. The original format has developed over 60 years and has come under scrutiny and criticism as allegations of block voting, politics and nationalism have been raised. It has also been argued that similarity of cultures, linguistic connections, and close national identities, rather than national interests and politics, are what actually bring countries together in this competition. This study has two focuses in an attempt to determine what role the contest has had for participating countries and how they have used it. The first focus is on analysing historical incidents at the competition when countries have attempted to politicise the contest.