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The Battle of Eurovision: A case study of Russia and Ukraine’s use of the Eurovision Song Contest as a cultural battlefield


  • Julia Orinius Welander

Summary, in English

This study aims to explore and analyze how Eurovision Song Contest functioned as an alternative – cultural – battlefield in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict over Crimea. With the use of soft power politics in warfare as the root of interest, this study uses the theories of cultural diplomacy and visual international relations to explore how images may be central to modern-day warfare and conflicts as the perception of. The study has a theory-building approach and aims to build on the concept of cultural diplomacy in order to explain how the images sent out by states can be politized and used to conduct cultural warfare. To explore how Russia and Ukraine used Eurovision Song Contest as a cultural battlefield this study uses the methodological framework of a qualitative case study with the empirical data being Ukraine’s and Russia’s Eurovision Song Contest performances in 2016 and 2017, respectively, which was analyzed using Roland Barthes’ method of image analysis. The main finding of the study was that both Russia and Ukraine used ESC as a cultural battlefield on which they used their performances to alter the perception of themselves and the other by instrumentalizing culture for political gain.

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Social Sciences


  • cultural diplomacy
  • visual IR
  • Eurovision Song Contest
  • Russia
  • Ukraine


  • Fredrika Larsson