G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Contemporary music festivals as micronational spaces : articulations of national identity in Serbia’s Exit and Guča trumpet festivals in the post-Milošević era

List of Authors: Gligorijević Jelena
Publisher: University of Turku
Place: Turku
Publication year: 2019
Number of pages: 437
ISBN: 978-951-29-7594-5
eISBN: 978-951-29-7595-2


In this study, I address issues of national identity articulations in post-Milošević Serbia (i.e. from 2000 onwards) using two major Serbian music festivals as case studies – the Exit and Guča trumpet festivals. The Exit and Guča festivals are particularly instructive for this line of inquiry because of fundamental aesthetic and ideological differences they are said to embody; namely, the two festivals are often narrated domestically as representing Two Serbias, thereby evoking the recurring West-East hermeneutic and its familiar taxonomy of binaries. 

The study first documents in detail the various ways in which Exit and Guča both reflect and construct the perceived schisms in Serbia’s national identity imaginary. Second, the study challenges the polarized representations of Exit and Guča by pointing to internal contradictions inherent in each festival. To achieve both objectives, I develop a new approach to festival research on national identity – one which arises from the idea of contemporary music festivals as micronational spaces. Informed by the larger framework of critical cultural theory and using rich research material from a wide variety of sources (including ethnographic evidence), the study ultimately illuminates the discursive practices underpinning the social production of Exit and Guča as particular types of micronational spaces, specifically, as a counter- and as an organic space respectively. Of special analytical interest is also the perception of each festival, both native and foreign, within the symbolic geographies of Serbia and the world beyond. 

The study concludes with a discussion on the transformation of Exit and Guča into (national) brandscapes and the effects this conceptual change has produced on the local perception of each festival as well as of the interrelated fields of popular music and national identity more generally. The final argument of the study is that the branding talk in two Serbian festivals ultimately recasts the earlier Balkanist discourse on Serbia’s indeterminate position between the West and the East, but in a way which provides little hope for alternative visions of the nation’s future. One solution to this problem is arguably the key concept of the study – specifically, the ideas of the festival microcitizenship and coming community – which may be used as an alternative perspective for exploring the political function of music festivals as much in Serbia as elsewhere.

Last updated on 2019-19-07 at 19:49