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Turbofolk reconsidered : some thoughts on migration and the appropriation of music in early 1990s Berlin

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Thaden, Matthias; Praetz, Alexander

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Abstract This paper’s aim is to shed a light on the emergence, meanings and contexts of early 1990s turbofolk. While this music-style has been exhaustively investigated with regard to Yugoslavia and Serbia, its appropriation by Yugoslav labour migrants has hitherto been no subject of particular interest. Departing from this research gap this paper focuses on “Ex-Yugoslav” evening entertainment and music venues in Berlin and the role turbofolk possessed. We hope to contribute to the ongoing research on this music relying on insights we gained from our fieldwork and the interviews conducted in early and mid-2013. After criticizing some suggestions that have been made regarding the construction of group belongings by applying a dichotomous logic with turbofolk representing the supposedly “inferior”, this approach could serve to investigate the interplay between music and the making of everyday social boundaries. Drawing on the gathered interview material we, beyond merely confirming ethnic and national segmentations, suggest the emergence of new actors and the increase of private initiatives and regional solidarity to be of major importance for negotiating belongings. In that regard, turbofolk events – far from being an unambiguous signifier of group loyalty – were indeed capable to serve as a context that bridged both national as well as social cleavages.
Keywords labor migration; migrant; refugee; Yugoslavian; Berlin; Federal Republic of Germany; music; national identity; cultural identity; popular culture; identification; Serbia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia
Classification Migration, Sociology of Migration; Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature
Free Keywords Turbofolk
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 92-125
Journal Südosteuropäische Hefte, 3 (2014) 1
Issue topic Das (post-)jugoslawische Berlin
ISSN 2194-3710
Status Primary Publication; reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike