Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Engaged past: social-anthropological analysis of transformations of popular music in the area of former Yugoslavia

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.03.02  Humanities  Anthropology  Social and cultural anthropology 

Code Science Field
S220  Social sciences  Cultural anthropology, ethnology 

Code Science Field
5.04  Social Sciences  Sociology 
social anthropology, popular music, former Yugoslavia, socialism, post-socialism, capitalism, women
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (7)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  31588  Tina Glavič  Humanities  Technical associate  2013 - 2016  15 
2.  29339  PhD Ana Hofman  Musicology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  425 
3.  30648  PhD Miha Kozorog  Anthropology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  290 
4.  14294  PhD Rajko Muršič  Anthropology  Head  2013 - 2016  1,869 
5.  27738  PhD Tanja Petrović  Anthropology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  549 
6.  29978  PhD Martin Pogačar  Culturology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  190 
7.  30673  PhD Urša Valič  Ethnology  Researcher  2013 - 2016  88 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  97,945 
2.  0618  Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts  Ljubljana  5105498000  62,962 
The proposed social- and cultural-anthropological, historical-anthropological and ethnomusicological research aims to rethink current cultural processes in the area of former Yugoslavia, focusing at that the Yugoslav and socialist pasts of the countries which emerged in its territory.  The project aims to demonstrate and analyse the existence of historical continuity of social development in different socio-economic systems and offer a new consideration of the relationship between socialism, capitalism and everyday life (in light of the current socio-economic crisis), which can develop quite independently from social system. The central theoretical problem of the proposed research project is the relationship between the dominant social order (and ideology), especially socialism and its later transformations into a capitalist system, and the development of popular music from the perspective of its margins, taken through its everyday cultural aspects of aesthetic preferences, daily use and systematic resistance to dominant trends. The proposed research project reflects on transformation processes in popular music and through these processes follows wider social process in the studied area. Through music we “read” and analyse the transformation of national and transnational life in the area, identities, and actualisation of the past practices in the present. The main aim of the proposed project is to critically examine socio-cultural shifts in the region of former Yugoslavia, simultaneously taking into account the development of its popular music. Popular music, usually considered a trivial phenomenon, is taken as a starting point in analysing the fundamentals of spontaneous (not only cultural) creativity, which can be used to offer an alternative reflection on finding a way out of the current all-encompassing crisis of the entire society. The research team will employ ethnographic, historiographical, musical-analytical and comparative methods. With regard to existing global and local studies of the uses of Yugoslav popular music genres in the present, dominated by popular literature, the research team will focus on so far almost ignored fields and topics: nationalisation and internationalisation of popular music, the position of minorities and the situation of women and youth through the development of local variations of popular music, its transnational, festivalised and digital life, and the relationship between popular music and social system (socialism and capitalism). Interrogating the emerging facets and historical traces of Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav popular music, the research team will employ classical anthropological methodology to provide three analytic clusters. The first will engage in deep historical study of the development of Yugoslav popular music, through its selected genres and local creativity. The second will deal with specific aspects of its development, e.g., position of women in popular music, issues of minorities, freedom of expression, nationalism, youth, migrations related to music or underground networks. In the third part, the analyses will address issues of political and economic system, Yugoslav socialism and post-socialist transition to capitalism, in specific relation to its popular music. Researchers expect to reveal deeper social contradictions and ambivalences which can be traced in societies that emerged after the fall of Yugoslavia. The research team expects that some practices we aim to follow will prove more rationalist than those which dominate the public discourse and politics in the studied area. Importantly, research results will be applicable in shaping respective national public policies, particularly in the spheres of youth and gender policy, common festivals, relationship between the countries and their diasporas, and, nonetheless, in development of culture and policies in general.
Significance for science
The research project contributed new empirical and theoretical knowledge in the field of humanities and social sciences, more precisely, in the fields of anthropology, ethnomusicology and cultural studies. It established new trans-disciplinary cooperation in the frame of Slovenian humanities and social sciences. Furthermore, it connected research in the region and reached into international space. In the first hand, it broke with the practice of looking at popular culture, and within its frame as well popular music as something inferior, trivial and thus unworthy of research. It was proved the contrary: especially at international conferences, where the members of the project team presented their research, some knowledge and insights that contrasted the predominant notions of the development of socialist Yugoslavia and its popular music, surprised the audience, which brought series of important publications. In empirical sense, the project for the first time joined various views and ways in dealing with ideas, memories and feelings of the characteristic Yugoslav production in at least part of its popular music and their responses in the present. Among important ethnographic achievements are thorough following of the songs of resistance, which refer to otherwise almost forgotten partisan songs, but its current singers who revive them are especially women. The project group emphasised importance of women in the development of Yugoslav popular music and will with planned thematic issue on women in the Balkan music fulfil the dark spot in studies of culture and popular-cultural creativity in the region. Worth mentioning is synthetic understanding on the role of popular music in integration activities for the refugees in the local environments where they find themselves. Equally important is analysis of variously revived traditional music practices in popular music, e.g., sevdalinka songs in after-war Bosnia and Herzegovina and among the refugees in Slovenia. With overview of digitalized older popular music, the research project revealed some previously unnoticed ways in actualization of past genres and social phenomena in current production of popular music. In the initial phase of the project, researchers studied impact of music from socialist times at protests provoked by economic and political crisis. They realised that, in terms of mobilization and affection, the most effective were almost forgotten songs that survived in memory and collections of engaged individuals. Analysing economical and political aspects of the production of popular music in socialist Yugoslavia, the project broke new ground, so, stemming from other revived aspects in domestic production of popular music in former Yugoslavia, it will definitely continue. In theoretical sense, the project confirmed the development of contemporary humanities and social sciences in inter- and trans-disciplinary cooperation, but only after fundamental empirical work is done. Using affect theories and developing more classical analyses of music production in historical, political and social perspective, the group adjusted its theoretical models with currently dominant global tendencies. It stressed that the field of memory and experience in popular culture is very wide and complex, so in the future it will demand the development of even more courageous theoretical models. Until the end of the project, the project group published a monograph, more than a dozen research papers and equal number of chapters in monographs, as well as presented more than 60 papers at domestic and international conferences. Nevertheless, they plan to publish more.
Significance for the country
The main socio-economic aim of the project was related to the cultural sphere in its widest sense. It dealt with Yugoslav part of cultural industry (nowadays we use the term creative industries; they comprise the fastest growing part of Slovenian and European economy), creativity, social impact of cultural activities, freedom of speech, collective and social memory, through art-related activities expressed affects and sentiments, as well as international communication on the field, which was not studied, with only some exceptions, in the times of its emergence. In that sense the project importantly contributed to the development of Slovenian ethnomusicology, ethnology, anthropology and cultural studies, implicitly as well economics and sociology. The members of the project team continuously presented their acquired new knowledge to the public, especially media, which showed exciting interest for the challenges of the project. Research of Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav popular music legitimated those social and cultural practices that were once taken as trivial, while today they are considered as core elements of the social development. More precisely, with acquired knowledge and collected archival and ethnographic material, whish will be stored in institutions, the project team provided grounds for further exploitation of experiences, information and the development of new expertise in production and distribution of music material, as well as with the use of well-functioning production models in popular-cutlrual creativity from the past. The project group, using new knowledge and insights, simultaneously enrich pedagogical process at all levels of university studies; with their publications, especially in popular press, interviews in media as well as with other public interventions, including workshops in youth and other cultural centres, contribute to further development of domestic creativity and popular music production based on past experience. It is worth mentioning indirect impact in activities related to festivals, development of local tourism and stimulations for independent cultural creativity among the youth, who might develop potentials to enter international space. Among the most important effects of the project is publically presented view that creativity, consummation and sharing of traditions in popular music from the former Yugoslavia enriches national cultural heritage and essentially rise quality of life, especially with those impacts that confront xenophobia, stereotipes and prejudices. Important indirect developmental impact of the project should become development of social activities, especially among the migrants, refugees and other vulnerable social groups, starting with the youth, especially descendants of immigrants. Equally important is its contribution to the development of civil society and sustainable development in “softer” area of economic life in Slovenia.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2013, 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2013, 2014, 2015, final report
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