This essay discusses the music style of turbo-folk as the vanishing mediator between two kinds of nationalism in Serbia: anti-Yugoslav nationalism and pan-Balkan regionalist nationalism. Using Slavoj Žižek's account of the concept of the vanishing mediator, I suggest that the nationalism of turbo-folk created the ground for its benevolent successor of “apolitical” pop. Far from being merely a phase in the longer trajectory of the evolution of music, turbo-folk is the condition that made possible the apolitical transnational contemporary pop folk. The nationalism of turbo-folk was a necessary mediator, and its very nationalist “excess” established the “normal” popular music today. As the “new” Serbia attempts to purge the nationalist and criminal elements of the nineties, turbo-folk “vanishes” and is positioned into the nationalist pathology of Serbia in the nineties. I argue that this shift is nowhere more apparent than in the most recognizable and popular performer of turbo-folk, Svetlana Ražnatović Ceca, whose musical popularity has been rivaled only by her political notoriety. Yet Ceca's popularity has grown throughout the region, presenting an exemplary case study of turbo-folk's representation of nationalism.

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