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.
Remember the Nineties? Turbo-Folk as the Vanishing Mediator of Nationalism
Uros Cvoro lectures in art history and theory at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney. He received his PhD from the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics at the University of New South Wales. His book on the representations of Australian nationalism at the National Museum of Australia will be published in 2012.
Uros Cvoro; Remember the Nineties? Turbo-Folk as the Vanishing Mediator of Nationalism. Cultural Politics 1 March 2012; 8 (1): 121–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-1572021
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