Music of the Others. Locating the (Turbo-) Folk Critique

  • Marina Simić
In this paper I address dominant critical discourses of turbo-folk music in Serbia. I suggest that we see music and music related practices as constitutive rather than reflective of identification in order to find a more nuanced ways to understand common discourses of (turbo-) folk critiques and its roles. To that aim, I draw from my long-term fieldwork research in the northern Serbian town of Novi Sad to show how public discourses are played out in private spheres, and also how they are created in and through everyday life. I identify the “anti-folk scene” based on univocal aesthetic exclusion that encompasses people from various social backgrounds and social strata. In conclusion, it could be said that despite its huge popularity and public visibility, turbo-folk remains one of the most important examples of aesthetics of others/other aesthetics in contemporary Serbia.

Europe’s Diplomacy on Public Display: The EU and the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue

  • Katarina Ćuković
The European Union’s (EU) role in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina can be assessed in two different periods. The first period can be described as ‘increased mediation activity’, where one highlight was the signing of the ‘Brussels Agreement’ in 2013 under the supervision of the EU High Representative (HR) Catherine Ashton. By not referring to Kosovo’s status and softening disputed parties’ attitudes towards each other, the HR and the newly-created European External Action Service (EEAS) managed to prove both internally and externally that the EU is a capable and effective mediator. The following period can be labelled as ‘decreased mediation activity’, representing the translation of the Brussels Agreement into reality. During this phase, the dialogue was challenged not only by disagreements between Belgrade and Pristina, but also by disagreements from within the EU.

Absurdity and/or Reality: Grotesque and Tragicomic Realism in Balkan Spy (1983)

  • Julija Pešić
This article explores the forms and functions of grotesque realism in the play Balkan Spy (1983) (Balkanski špijun) by Dušan Kovačević. The analysis is focused on the mechanisms of grotesque that the author uses in order to create a tragicomic version of reality, and on the effects of this aesthetic choice. The analytical approach to the dramatic text shows that Kovačević employs elements of both conventional and modern theatre. In other words, contemporary grotesque realism, caricature, irony, bitter/dry and subversive humour are the most dominant dramaturgical techniques that the author brings in order to create his characters as well as the absurd world caused by political paranoia.

Theatre, City and Crisis: Some Aspects of Performing Arts in Serbia in the 1990s

  • Irena Šentevska
This paper discusses a specific point of response by Serbian theatre production to the social, political, economic and moral crisis of the 1990s (which includes Serbia’s involvement in the armed conflicts in former Yugoslavia) – namely, different modes of engaging with urban spaces as performance venues. The analysis is based on an in-depth study of the theatre production in Serbia (and Montenegro) in the 1990s, especially as a medium of artistic reflection of the social reality. Against the background of a state of permanent social crisis, which may be traced back to the late 1980s (the late socialist period in Yugoslavia), this study explores the points of closest encounter between the theatre and the city, identifying four basic models of such interaction in this particular social context.

The Image of the Stranger in Post-Yugoslav Films

  • Renate Hansen-Kokoruš
Films produced during the last two decades in the post-Yugoslav states often deal with the subject of these states’ recent history, focusing on the war and its consequences for human beings, as well as the consequences of political and economic transition, such as an increasing wealth gap, criminality, lack of perspectives, unemployment etc. The methods of presentation and modality range from the serious to the comical and grotesque. As these films reflect in special ways people’s new situation in the new post-Yugoslav countries, questions of self-image, understanding of oneself and of the cruel experiences of war are of utmost importance.

Sex and Uncivil Disobedience: Girlhood and Social Class in Transitional Post-Yugoslav Cinema

  • Dijana Jelača
In recent post-Yugoslav cinema, trope of troubled youth in films as diverse as Skinning (Stevan Filipović, 2010, Serbia), Children of Sarajevo (Aida Begić, 2012, Bosnia-Herzegovina), Spots (Aldo Tardozzi, 2011, Croatia) and Quit Staring at My Plate (Hana Jušić, 2017) allows for an inspection of the links between youth rebellion, post-conflict trauma and social class. These cinematic depictions of youth-in-crisis, which I refer to as transitional films, offer insights into locally produced ethno-national identities as challenged by the proliferating transnational networks of connectivity. In this essay, I highlight one provocative example of transitional film – Clip (Maja Miloš, 2012, Serbia).

Rectification of Racial Discrimination during WWII: the Case of Restitution Laws in Serbia

  • Maja Davidović
Restitution for the mostly Jewish property and assets that were confiscated by the Nazis during World War II (WWII) in various European states has been a highly debated issue ever since the end of the war. Countries that adhered to the ideas of communism and nationalisation of property in the immediate aftermath of the war failed to address this issue until very recently. Serbia, too, has only began to consider remedying the incredible damage done to its rather small Jewish community. More specifically, in the past decade, Serbia has been trying to repair the damage by passing a series of restitution laws which eventually led to separate legislation on heirless property. This paper explores the substance and application of these laws, as well as the history of discrimination based on which the Serbian Jewish community was persecuted by German occupiers and their collaborators.

Protiv Nenormalnog: An analysis of the #protivdiktature Protests in the Context of Memory Politics of the 1990s in Serbia

  • Orli Fridman,
  • Srdjan Hercigonja
April 2017 saw a wave of large demonstrations in cities and towns all across Serbia, following the victory of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić in the first round of the presidential elections, held on 2 April. With the largest demonstrations taking place in Novi Sad, Niš and Belgrade, with simultaneous protests in smaller towns as well, thousands of students (referred to as “the Facebook generation”) gathered in the streets marching against the “dictatorship” (Protiv diktature). This slogan spread first as the hashtag for the demonstrations on social media networks, and later in general reference to the events.

The Potential of Popular Culture for the Creation of Left Populism in Serbia: The Case of the Hip-Hop Collective “The Bombs of the Nineties”

  • Jovana Papović,
  • Astrea Pejović
The focus of this article is to highlight the potential of popular culture to become an agent of leftist populist politics in contemporary Serbia. The authors observe the hip-hop collective “The Bombs of the Nineties”, whose music tackles topics from recent history, and who subvert the fashion style of the 1990s “Dizel” subculture, which is often connected to Serbian nationalism and war profiteering. The paper analyses the relationships “The Bombs of the Nineties” create between their practices, class warfare and leftist discourses, aiming to show the potentials and threats those relationships introduce.

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.