Contemporary Southeastern Europe
“Stop the War in the Name of Children”: Children and Nation Building Through Croatian Patriotic Music (1991-1992)
While histories of ethnic conflicts and nationalism focus mainly on adult actors, this study seeks to shed light on the importance of children and their centrality to post-socialist nation-building through popular culture. Looking at what in Croatia is known as the War of Independence (or Homeland War), the project focuses on a particular, so far almost completely unexplored, aspect of Croatian nation-building: the role of children in the production, dissemination, and impact of Croatian patriotic music. During the war in Croatia, musicians of all genres joined the effort of “defending the homeland through music,” and their songs and videos were incessantly broadcasted on national television and radio stations. Existing studies analysing Croatian patriotic music in this period consider it mostly from the perspective of a cultural and regional identity marker, while the interest to explore music as a political tool has become a nascent field only in the past two decades. Although a few works have attempted to explore depictions of male and female gender within this discourse, no studies have so far researched the role of children as an impact factor via this type of art. Through a media analysis of music production materials, this article shows that numerous patriotic songs and videos included children, whether as singers or background participants, who became actively involved in promoting the Croatian cause at home and abroad, and were therefore one of the essential agents of creating a distinctively Croatian national identity.