About this podcast

In English

Österled (or Eastwards as it's translated from Swedish) is a podcast on a journey across time and space in the Russian-speaking world. It is the personal travelling story of me, Josef Lilljegren - a history buff, Slavophile, and language nerd once again on the road eastwards. The purpose of the podcast is to communicate the special brand of magic through which I once fell in love with this general part of the world.

This magic is, however, irreparably dirtied by the ongoing crimes of Russia's war against Ukraine, its people, culture, and democracy. Most of the podcast has been recorded and edited during the years leading up to the war of 2022.

Episodes are predominantly in Swedish, and intertwine each leg of my journey with appropriate literary or historical figures like Afanasy Nikitin, Dostoyevsky, or Lermontov. I talk about Russian, Soviet and post-soviet societies as I journey through them, and mix deeper topics with the day-to-day pragmatic encounters of a traveller like getting on the right night train, avoiding the worst taxi guys, or finding and eating the best plov.

I try to connect my travelling experiences to larger narratives in social and political history. The canon of Russian literature is also ever-present. I have intended for the listener to come with me, not only in my backpack as a companion of my geographical journey, but also on the journeys of my thoughts as I reflect on my encounters from nearly a full year of travelling in the countries that were the Soviet Union.

I who make this podcast, am an economic historian, and long-time traveller. I finance and produce the podcast on my own, but have asked and received donations to finance server costs. Since 2022, however, and until the end of this shameful war, all donations are funnelled to the Ukranian war efforts. Upon going eastwards, I sold my stuff, cancelled my apartment, and left my native Sweden for good. *Poyekhali*

Brussels, March 2022.