Home Institution

Bowdoin College

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo: Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans


Turbo Folk is often associated with the ultranationalism and violence of the Wars of Yugoslav Succession in the nineties. Working from the perspective of people who enjoy this music and/or frequent establishments where Turbo Folk is played in contemporary Sarajevo, I investigate the narratives employed by both listeners and detractors of Turbo Folk. What attributes or values are projected on the genre, in present day Sarajevo? Have these values changed from how the genre was perceived during the war in the 1990s? Is Turbo Folk political or politicized? Based on ethnographic field research conducted over the course of one month in Sarajevo, my project seeks to explore political aspects of cultural life in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina. I frame my research in the context of post-socialist post-conflict cultural studies, and post-conflict transformation issues; specifically if and how behaviors in consumption of culture are affected by the past. Findings suggest that the division between admirers of Turbo Folk and the genre's opponents is not as definitively demarcated as academic literature presents. Instead, the division between listeners and non-listeners is often dependent on the social context in which an individual finds him or herself.


Eastern European Studies | Ethnomusicology | Politics and Social Change


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