Ana Petrov. Jugoslovenska muzika bez Jugoslavije: koncerti kao mesta sećanja. Beograd: Delfi, 2016.

Publisher’s Description

[Via link above.]

How did Yugoslavian popular music survive the country in which it originated and how has it experienced its second posthumous life without Yugoslavia? Can we talk about political reconciliation through music, or does our music confirm that post-Yugoslav divisions are real?

The book’s aim is to point out the political implications of concerts in Belgrade after the fall of Yugoslavia.

Particular focus is on how the (seemingly neutral) concepts of love are networked in the fear of the Yugoslav past, and in some cases they transformed into nostalgia and Yugonostalgia, while in others they are integrated into music discourses as a universal language, or, conversely, help further the construction of the borders in post-Yugoslavian space.

“Predstavljanje knjige “Jugoslovenska muzika bez Jugoslavije.” Muzej Jugoslavije, 11/29/2016

Interviews, Reviews, and Analyses

“Jugoslovenska muzika bez Jugoslavije,” Stepenik, a program of RTS Serbia, 11/19/2016

[Interview with Ana Petrov, author of Jugoslovenska muzika bez Jugoslavije, analyzing, among others, the return concerts of former Yugoslav stars to Belgrade.]

  • Johnny Štulić is one of the symbols of former Yugoslavia and can serve for people as a trigger of remembering Yugoslavia. Which he often does that on his own. He is symptomatic because he refused to accept the country’s partition. He doesn’t have the passport of any of the successor countries. He considers himself as belonging to  the culture of a country which, though it no longer exists, cannot be taken away from him.
  • For the book, I selected artists who said they would never again perform in Serbia after the war because they considered Serbia to be responsible for the dissolution of Yugoslavia, incl. Tereza Kesovija (HR), Dino Merlin (BIH), Doris Dragović (HR).
  • The 2010-2014 concerts weren’t just music events but emotive/emotional events of political significance, launching or encouraging the accounting of or dealing with the past.
  • I look at Yugonostalgia as an emancipatory, positive phenomenon.
  • Some scholars view Yugonostalgia positively (Velikonja, Petrović, Hofman): the remembering of the past, which has often been subject to recontextualization, rejection, and revision, takes place as everyday practice as well as at events like concerts, protests where Partisan songs are sung, and represents a way of reconstituting the collective destroyed with the breakup of Yugoslavia.
  • Critics of Yugonostalgia (Volčić) point out Yugonostalgia’s consumerism, banalization, industrialization of entertainment.
  • The returning performers highlighted songs about and discussed in interviews/promotions love, nostalgia, and other universal themes to blunt the problematic nature of their return after the war. Another part of the discourse was reconciliation.
  • These performers and songs (music) are experiencing a second life.
  • The performers serve as symbols of good quality music and the value of institutions that helped spawn it.
  • People attending these concerts, regardless of the reasons they give for attending (nostalgia, remembrance, or just music), make political statements.
  • Yugonostalgia isn’t a desire for the return of Yugoslavia and its system, but rather a reaction to the present and a desire for a new beginning.
  • Those who wish for the system to return, especially Titonostalgics, may yearn for the return of the old times, do not attend these concerts.
“I posle Jugoslavije – jugo muzika.” Politika, 12/30/2016

Ana Petrov:

  • Music ws an essential part of Yugoslavia’s cultural policy of Yugoslavia since 1948, when politicians realized it would be an important link in the development of national unity. The project was intensively developed from the 1950s to the end of the 1980s, with music festivals and record production.
  • In addition, this is a unique cultural-linguistic space and most people experience that music as their own. We speak the same language, we share the same past, and we have the same culture. And when in the 1990s musicians from neighboring states were banned, we bought pirated records on the black market because we were used to listening to this music.
  • Yugonostalgia is an important factor in understanding our love for this music. As the years go by, we remember the good moments more and fall back in love with that kind of music. And with the departure of popular singers such as Kemal Monteno, Dino Dvornik, Vlada Divljan and Arsen Dedić this music becomes immortal and even more popular.
  • The reason why most of us like to listen to Dalmatian music is that Dalmatia is an important “trigger” for remembering the former Yugoslavia. The region was a Yugoslav project, with workers and youth tourism, summer vacations… Dalmatia is one of the most beautiful and most exciting “packages” in the bag of our memories and for this reason we are happy to hear [music from there] even though its performers are past their prime.
  • Musicians were the first who crossed the borders after the wars.
  • After Tudjman and Milošević were gone, concerts by artists from other former republics proliferated, with some of the stars becoming transnational.
  • Not all listening to Yugoslavian music is nostalgia, but it testifies to this being a unique cultural and linguistic space, no matter what politicians say to the contrary.
Teofil Pančić. “Ana Petrov – Jugoslovenska muzika bez Jugoslavije [Knjiga dana].” Fenomeni, 1/17/2017.

The author shows that in every nationalist narrative there is always a kind of envy for somebody else’s pleasure.

Any discussion today about Yugoslavia is also a talk of “post-Yugoslavia”, of “where we live” since we do not live in that country, but only in its territory. And among her ghosts. And among them we all live without differences, from the staunchest Yugophiles to the worst Yugophobes. Because, Yugoslavia (especially this “post-mortal” kind) is only one form, albeit somewhat pathological, of a firm, obsessive attachment to Yugoslavia as the most important reference framework of our lives.

The three performers were selected because they were Yugoslavian megastars who maintained their status after the breakup and because in the 1990’s they were patriotically and politically engaged in the conflicts [each in their own way declared or considered Serbia the enemy]. Their return to Serbia was viewed with suspicion or even open hostility.

Psychoanalytically, the attendance of these concerts is a transgression as a symbolic exit from the national body through a subversion of its collective memory. Such memory is then framed by critics as a misremembering, because only that makes sense in their world, consider it as they do an irresponsible, immoral enjoyment for which they rejected their own culture and collective.

Yugoslavian music is part of the cultural identity of all those who live here. Yugoslavia is dead, in fact it was murdered, and perhaps its high culture died with it. But popular, mass culture survived, faring perhaps even better than during Yugoslavia. The identity amalgam of Yugoslav music and culture is something that simply no politics, army or ideological brainwashing can destroy. Can it be any different? With all the common history, cultural references, and even the language?

Lada Stevanović. “Afterlife of Yugoslav Popular Music (Afterlife of YU-POP). Book Review: Ana Petrov, Jugoslovenska muzika bez Jugoslavije.” AM Journal, No. 13 (2017): 189-192 [pdf]
  • “Yugoslav culture outlived the state that created it.”
  • “…in spite of the fact that tradition and heritage are constructed, they may have afterlife, continuing
    their independent existence even after hegemonic structure stops producing them. The tastes of the Yugoslav popular music audience were cultivated for many years and, thus, impossible to modify overnight.”
  • “individual and collective memories always exist in correlation, and that both phenomena should be regarded as processes. Therefore no individual memory is completely independent from the dominant politics that create collective memory, even when it opposes hegemonic narratives. As a process that always starts in the present moment which is transitional, the memory is directed towards the past and exactly this relationship points to the conclusion that it may not be fixed.”
  • “the emotions of love or nostalgia, revealing that, as much as it appears to us, these emotions are personal (and for those who experience them, they definitely are), they are produced and provoked.”
  • “it is exactly these concerts that have a therapeutic effect on the audience. The author, indirectly, points to the emancipatory potential of nostalgia that, despite being trapped by the view to the past, bears the potential for reconciliation and the active attitude towards the future, even in the frame of popular culture.”