Balkan.Perspectives #23

Pop Culture and Dealing with the Past in the Western Balkans

 This edition of the Balkan.Perspectives magazine examines a broad and diverse area: pop culture and Dealing with the Past in the Western Balkans. On one hand, this edition elaborates on the manifested and latent connections between pop culture, its different products, and its actors through various periods, the different fields of Dealing with the Past and the wars in the Western Balkan region in the 1990s and early 2000s. Thus, the editorial team acknowledges that pop culture provided – and in certain contexts still provides – a platform for the normalisation of nationalistic, one-sided, and authoritarian ideologies and ambivalently at the same time connect us through the common music, theatre play, movies, or TV series.

Vesna Andree Zaimović writes for this edition “musical [However, the articles in this Balkan.Perspectives edition cover other pop cultural products as well] affinity is a powerful means of identification and connection with a collective. Cultural products are often used to affirm belonging to a nation, as a mass collective that is heavily promoted in the countries that emerged after the breakup of Yugoslavia.”

On the other hand, this edition includes considerations on how pop culture enables reflections on the scars that the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia inflicted upon the region on the individual and collective level. In her contribution, Aurela Kadriu paraphrases Berthold Brecht “In dark times we sing to dark times.” Hence, we seek with this compendium of discussions, articles, interviews, and podcasts to understand how the current formats of entertainment, cultural references, singing and joking are deeply embedded in the traumas of those dark times. At the same time, pop products may provide spaces for discussion and insights into a peaceful common future by countering emerging authoritarian, reversionistic, and nationalistic tendencies in the region.

We are happy to invite you to explore the 23rd edition of the Balkan.Perspectives magazine on pop culture and Dealing with the Past in the Western Balkans. From Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mirza Skenderagić writes how movies are part of a dealing with the past process, whereas Vesna Andree Zaimović looks at the music genre “domestic music” and how it is represented on Internet services like Spotify and YouTube. The contributions from Kosovo include an interview by Latif Mustafa with Shkëlzen Maliqi – the latter was the curator of the 1997 exhibition “Përtej” presenting contemporary art from Kosovo in Belgrade. Aurela Kadriu writes in her article about the impact the DIY production company LABIA has on current formats of entertainment in Kosovo. From North Macedonia we have two articles that tackle preconceptions and prejudice in the context of TV, music, theatre, and cinematography. In an interview with Dragana Gunin, we discuss questions on prejudice of the past through TV, theatre, and music. Toni Cifrovski writes on the question of sexual diversity in North Macedonia and how gender roles are being discussed in the Macedonian pop cultural industry. From Serbia we have a contribution from Milena Kvapil who discusses Yugoslav TV series and their perception in post-Yugoslav times. Tomislav Marković discusses the song “It’s Only 12 O’clock” by the dance group E.T. (Electro team) from Zagreb and how it became a hit in Serbia in 1993.

We also have a new Balkan.Perspectives Podcast series for you. As usual, you can listen and download the podcasts via our website or via your preferred streaming service like Spotify, Google Podcast, or Apple Podcast. We would like to thank our partners, the production team behind and in front of the microphones and our guests who contributed to the podcasts. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we thank Đorđe Krajišnik, Marija Simanić Arnautović and Minel Abaz. In Kosovo, we thank Latif Mustafa from Sbunker and Shkëlzen Maliqi. In North Macedonia, we thank Radio MOF and Erzana Berisha. In Serbia, we thank Liceulice and Bojan Marjanovic, as well as Milena Kvapil.

The Balkan.Perspectives editorial team wishes you an enjoyable reading and hearing experience.

On behalf of the Balkan.Perspectives editorial team.

Alexander Vojvoda


Impressum 23 – 06/2023

Editor in Chief: Alexander Vojvoda

Editorial Team: Sunita Dautbegović-Bošnjaković, Martin Filipovski, Ana Pejović

Authors: Toni Cifrovski, Dragana Gunin, Aurela Kadriu, Milena Kvapil, Shkëlzen Maliqi, Tomislav Marković, Latif Mustafa, Mirza Skenderagić, Vesna Andree Zaimović

Podcasts: Bosnia and Hercegovina: Đorđe Krajišnik, Marija Simanić Arnautović and Minel Abaz Kosovo: Latif Maliqi and Shkëlzen Maliqi North Macedonia: Radio MOF and Erzana Berisha Serbia: Liceulice, Bojan Marjanovic and Milena Kvapil

Design (Cover page): Envinion

Translation: LBG Communications (Albanian), Luna Đorđević (BHCS), Martina Kimovska (Macedonian)

Proofreading: LBG Communications (Albanian/English), Zinaida Lakić (BHCS), Zanet Ristoska (Macedonian)