Contemporary Southeastern Europe
Special Issue

On Populist Pop Culture: Ethno as the Contemporary Political Ideology in Serbia

  • Irena Šentevska
This study attempts to shift the debate of the contemporary facets of populist ideologies from the realm of institutional politics to the realm of everyday life, popular culture, media and “invented traditions”. My intention is to demonstrate how these realms generate new sources and voices of populism, often downplayed in the academic debates on the subject. The paper stems from comprehensive research on discourses of identity (re)construction in post-Yugoslav Serbia as communicated in pop-cultural media forms (specifically, music videos of all genres), in which I used a sample of 4733 music videos produced between 1980 and 2010 (and later). In this paper, I have chosen to focus on the case of the charity campaign Podignimo Stupove and its music video output. The campaign was launched as a pop-cultural initiative to help the restoration of the 12th century monastery Đurđevi Stupovi in Stari Ras, a site of utmost historical significance and value for the national culture. Against the background of institutional changes that markedly redefined the place of religion in Serbian post-socialist society, the music videos discussed in this paper provide a valuable insight into the combined musical, textual and visual language of communication of some longstanding notions associated with “Serbian populism”.