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Since the early twentieth century, "balkanization" has signified the often militant fracturing of territories, states, or groups along ethnic, religious, and linguistic divides. Yet the remarkable similarities found among contemporary Balkan popular music reveal the region as the site of a thriving creative dialogue and interchange. The eclectic interweaving of stylistic features evidenced by Albanian commercial folk music, Anatolian pop, Bosnian sevdah-rock, Bulgarian pop-folk, Greek ethniki mousike, Romanian muzica orientala, Serbian turbo folk, and Turkish arabesk, to name a few, points to an emergent regional popular culture circuit extending from southeastern Europe through Greece and Turkey.
While this circuit is predicated upon older cultural confluences from a shared Ottoman heritage, it also has taken shape in active counterpoint with a variety of regional political discourses. Containing eleven ethnographic case studies, Balkan Popular Culture and the Ottoman Ecumene: Music, Image, and Regional Political Discourse examines the interplay between the musicians and popular music styles of the Balkan states during the late 1990s. These case studies, each written by an established regional expert, encompass a geographical scope that includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Serbia, and Montenegro. The book is accompanied by a VCD that contains a photo gallery, sound files, and music video excerpts.
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Donna A. Buchanan is associate professor of music at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she is also the Director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center. She is the author of Performing Democracy: Bulgarian Music and Musicians in Transition (2006).Review:
The articles included in this book provide valuable insights which show how the Ottoman imperial past continues to exist as a social variable in the Balkans, working within a complex interplay of cultural issues and political contexts. This is an important collection depicting the continuous process of constructing images of the self and the other. (Huseyin Oylupinar, University of Alberta Folklorica)
This book should interest those who want to understand how popular music and culture affect, reflect, register, and satirize ordinary people's experience of political and economic life. The use of the book and its chapters for classroom lectures is greatly facilitated by the accompanying CD. (Timothy Rice Slavic Review, Summer 2009)
At the heart of Donna Buchanan's study of Bulgarian ethnopop is a well-documented history of the place of Romani performance practice and aesthetic sensibilities in the development of the much disputed, post-socialist dance/music genre chalga. This volume offers a wealth of solid information concerning Balkan history and culture that is viewed through the lens of theoretical constructs such as orientalism, balkanism, and cosmopolitanism. The accompanying figures and tables are extremely useful as is the CD-ROM that offers numerous plates, sound and video recordings. (Ethnomusicology, Summer 2009)
This excellent collection compares and contrasts the musical lives of peoples of the Balkans....This is the first volume devoted to the subject and its complexities. A sophisticated work...it is directed largely at scholars but it speaks to numerous disciplines in the arts and the social sciences....Recommended. (CHOICE)
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