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Journal Articles

Helbig, Adriana. 2011. "On stage, everyone loves a Black": Afro-Ukrainian Folk Fusion, Migration, and Post-Socialist Race Relations in Ukraine. Current Musicology - Special Issue "Post-Socialist Pop, Music, and Sound Cultures 91:7-24.

Certain African performance groups have become widely popular as fusion musicians who draw on Ukrainian folk elements to draw awareness to African experiences in Ukraine. They use their popularity as folk musicians to familiarize non-African audiences with the African minority living in Ukraine and to share their personal stories as migrants in a country that is unwelcoming of them. Folk music offers a point of departure for analyzing the numerous and complex discourses that Afro-Ukrainian folk fusion music calls forth. These include transnational notions of citizenship, the political potential of folk music idioms, and intersections of racial and ethnic identity in post-socialist migration discourse. Taking such context-based factors into consideration, this article focuses its analysis on two Afro-Ukrainian performance groups, Chornobryvtsi (Black Browed) based in Kyiv, the capital, and Alfa-Alfa, based in Kharkiv, a university city in eastern Ukraine. Both performance groups have achieved a relative level of national recognition and fame through a wide variety of media exposure. By delineating African musical involvement in Ukraine's music scenes to folk music, this article analyzes the emotional charge that folk fusion genres have in Ukraine and how they reflect and influence race relations in the post-socialist sphere.
Helbig 2011 Current Musicology 91.pdf


Helbig, Adriana. 2011. "Brains, Means, and Lyrical Ammunition": Hip-Hop as Empowerment Among African Students in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Popular Music 30/3: 315-330.

In the last decade, multi-racial hip-hop scenes in Kharkiv, a predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainian city close to the Russian border, have fostered the development of socially-conscious hip-hop among African students. Drawing on musical elements from their respective home countries, the US and local hip-hop traditions, African male youths use Ukrainian-, Russian- and English-language lyrics to express concerns about socio-economic status, personal struggle and racial inclusion. This study analyses how African musicians use hip-hop as a social means through which to fight the escalating violence against dark-skinned foreigners and migrants. It draws on ethnographic data to identify several ways in which African-performed hip-hop has influenced contemporary public opinions regarding 'black' identity in eastern Ukraine.
Helbig 2011 Popular Music 30.pdf


Helbig, Adriana. 2009. "All Connected Through the Gypsy Part of Town": The Gypsification of East European Immigrant Identity in U.S. Gypsy Punk Music" Romano Dzaniben (Jevend 2009): 85-101.

This essay analyzes the emergence and popularity of Gypsy punk music in New York through the prism of the genre's most popular band, Gogol Bordello and the group's front man Eugene Hütz. It argues that Gypsy elements and those elements perceived as being "Gypsy" function as marketing tools intended to draw listeners into a musical sphere that is perceived to be on the fringe of popular music but in reality is a centrifugal force through which white American cultural hegemony is brought into focus and turned in on to itself. Through an analysis of Gogol Bordello's music and performance style, it shows the ways in which Gypsy punk music focuses in and inverts a power dynamics between East European immigrants and the broader American public.
Helbig 2009 Romano Dzaniben(1).pdf


Helbig, Adriana. 2009. "Managing Musical Diversity within Frameworks of Western Development Aid: Views from Ukraine, Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina" Yearbook for Traditional Music 40: 46-59

This article positions music within intra-national discourses that work hand-in-hand with the political and cultural economics of Western cultural initiatives and aim to promote an understanding of pluralism in countries throughout Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted by Nino Tsitsishvili, Erica Haskell, and Adriana Helbig in Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ukraine, respectively, this study juxtaposes the perspectives of policy makers and grant givers in Western Europe and the United States with the views of people in post-socialist conflict zones for whom such initiatives are intended. It analyses the political and cultural implications of UNESCO's declaration of Georgian polyphony as a masterpiece of intangible cultural heritage of humanity, the local effects of internationally sponsored music projects in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the role of Romani music festivals sponsored by Western philanthropic organizations in nation-building processes in Ukraine. Because the three countries in question have a history of ethnic conflicts, expressed most violently in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war in the 1990s, the case studies identify various political, ideological, and socioeconomic tensions within which national and international development initiatives are formulated. In so doing, they shed light on how the economics of culture influences identity politics in the post-socialist sphere. Furthermore, they recognize marginalizing processes couched within philosophically, methodologically, and politically influenced discourses regarding Western-sponsored cultural initiatives in countries positioned as Second World in relation to more economically advanced Western neighbors.
Helbig 2008 YTM 40(1).pdf


Helbig, Adriana. 2007. "Ethnomusicology and Advocacy Research: Theory in Action among Romani NGOs in Ukraine." Anthropology of East Europe Review: Special Issue on Roma and Gadje 25/2: 78-83.

Debates on the nature of the relationship between advocacy and scholarship have been longstanding in ethnographically based disciplines such as anthropology. Scholars have questioned how social and cultural engagement with with interlocutors in the field informs academic inquiry and how scholarly research benefits advocacy projects. This essay acknowledges that the boundaries between scholarship and advocacy blur according to how scholars conduct fieldwork and apply research results to benefit the people with whom they work. Moreover, it delineates increasingly common fieldwork situations in which activist agendas play a substantial role. I identify how processes of research production and knowledge construction are shared between the researcher and the research population. Local institutions and actors play a powerful role in determining the parameters, orientation, and outcomes of the research process. How do researchers' engagements with social movements influence ethnographic inquiry? And to what degree do resulting research outcomes reflect the agency of the researcher in relation to the agenda of activists among whom the research conducts fieldwork? I base my arguments on ethnomusicological fieldwork conducted among Romani communities in Transcarpathia in 2002-2004. Transcarpathia, Ukraine's western-most region, is home to the country's largest compast Romani settlements and a significant number of Romani NGOs founded since Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. At the time of my fieldwork, many such NGOs were participating in projects funded by the Open Society Institute in Budapest, the International Renaissance Foundation in Kyiv, and the International Organization for Migration. My own involvement in such NGO projects stemmed from my willingness to assist my Romani interlocutors and to work on topics important to them, with the hope that this would allow me to better integrate with local Romani communities. The resulting ethnographic analysis brings understanding to the ways relations of knowledge and power are produced, perpetuated, and challenged by minority groups in post-socialist society and by those who conduct research in their midst.
Helbig 2007 AEER 25(1).pdf


Helbig, Adriana. 2006. "The Cyberpolitics of Music in Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution." Current Musicology 82: 81-101.

This article analyzes the relationship between political activism and what the author terms 'cybermusicality'—an engagement with Internet music and its surrounding discourses that enables musical creativity both online and off. By looking into cybermusical phenomena in a non-Western context, this study moves beyond geographically and culturally limited analytical approaches that privilege web-based music in the West and promote an uncritical celebration of the Internet as a technology of only the developed world. Music and the Internet played crucial roles in Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution when nearly one million people protested against election fraud, mass government corruption, and oligarchic market reforms. Prior to 2004, media outlets in Ukraine such as television, radio, and newspapers were government-controlled and censored. In contrast, the Internet grew in popularity as a technology that people could trust and helped activate the masses in anti-government protest. The article analyzes the revolution's music and recordings disseminated on the Internet and examines the representative power of political song. This repertoire functioned as a particularly salient expression of citizen empowerment through the interpretation and evaluation of truth (pravda), a concept understood in the rhetoric of the revolution as the public's 'right to know' what is at the core of post-Soviet Ukrainian government propaganda.
Helbig 2006 Current Musicology 82(1).pdf