With over a quarter of a million followers, Jiří Šiftař must be one of the most popular Czechs on Instagram. Going by the name Jeera on the photograph sharing service, he is mainly known for stunning pictures of his adopted home of London. Jiří Šiftař and I met at a restaurant in the city near his workplace at Lloyd’s bank, where he designs web interfaces for customers. I first asked him whether he had been into photography as a child.
From Praha to Prague – Czechs in an Oklahoma Farm Town is an ethnic history by historian Philip D. Smith published this year by the University of Oklahoma Press. As a history, it provides fascinating insight into the life of Czech settlers in the US state of Oklahoma in the late 19th century. During a land run in 1891, they settled in an area they named after the Czech capital and began new lives, assimilating into the dominant culture but never losing their pride in their own cultural identity. The historian told me much more about emigration to
Prague’s O2 Arena is set to see a very special concert next week. One of the most popular Czech bands Chinaski will team up with the Whakaari Rotorua group from New Zealand to perform a traditional Māori dance, called haka, trying to set a new record for the largest-ever haka. Whakaari Rorotua will also mark the visit of the late Czech president Václav Havel to New Zealand in 1995 with a special program at the Václav Havel library.
Barbara Coudenhove-Kalergi was born in Prague in 1932. As a member of the German-speaking minority in Czechoslovakia, she and her family were forced to flee the country at the end of the Second World War. She later settled in Vienna, where she became a journalist and author – ever with an eye on events happening in her old homeland. I joined Barbara at her home in Vienna to discuss her life and work.
Martina Formanová, the wife of the famous Czech director Miloš Forman, was recently in Prague to launch an audio version of her novel, called Případ Pavlína, or Case Pavlína. The book, which was released a few years ago, tells the story of the Czech-born 1980’s super model Pavlína Pořízková and her family’s dramatic escape from Communist Czechoslovakia.
Czechs abroad have always been an integral part of the nation’s identity, but in the years of communism this bond was broken. The cultural and political life of Czech emigrés and exiles, especially in the West, came to be seen as a threat. Nearly three decades after the fall of communism, something of this suspicion still remains, and in the Czech Republic it is surprising how little we know about the Czech diaspora and their contribution both to their host countries and to the idea of what it means to be Czech. The historian and political scientist
United Moravian Societies, a non-profit organization established in 1939, helps expats in the United States connect with their roots and stay in touch with their culture. The annual Moravian Day Festival in Lemont is a highly anticipated annual event that brings together expats from Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia for two days of singing, dancing, good food and merrymaking. I spoke to Roman Bobčík, president of United Moravian Societies, about what is in store for visitors this year and began by asking when the festival was first held.
An exhibition dedicated to the famous shoe designer Manolo Blahnik is now on display at Prague’s Kampa Museum. Entitled Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes, the exhibition explores the nearly 50-year-long career of the visionary designer. The iconic shoes, which many women know from films and TV series, such as the Sex and the City or Marie Antoinette, will be on display at the Kampa Museum until November 12.