»BALKAN CULTURE« IN SLOVENIA AFTER 1991
In Slovenian music shops, the items (CDs, MCs) are classified not only according to music genres (pop-rock, ethno, jazz, classic music etc.) but also according to the provenance of the music. So, there is Slovenian, »domestic« music (in Slovenian language domača), then »foreign« (tuja ) music (predominantly of course from the Anglo-Saxon world); but there is also a curious third category, which is neither »ours« neither »theirs«, but between the two: in a paradoxical sense both »ours« and »theirs«.
»BALKAN CULTURE« IN SLOVENIA AFTER 1991
Dr Mitja Velikonja
Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
INTRODUCTION: FROM RED TO YELLOW STAR
It is classified as »ex-home« music (bivša domača) and it comprises music from the other former-Yugoslav republics. In other words, Croatian, Serbian, Bosniak, Macedonian, and Montenegrin music until and after 1991 still has some kind of special and ambiguous status in our music shops. I think that this tiny and somehow marginal example – not an isolated one - is symptomatic and reveals a very specific attitude of the Slovenes toward the cultural production of the nations with which Slovenes lived for decades in a common state. This cohabitation left not only traces but also stroke roots in Slovenian cultural preferences and also in every-day life in a very specific way.
Geographical position makes Slovenia a point of juncture of the Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean; the crossroad of Romanic, South Slavic, Hungarian, and German cultural and linguistic areas. Willingly or unwillingly, its cultural life has always been and still is plural and many-sided: not only historically or ideologically, in regards to dialects or geography, but also ethnically. As elsewhere, cultural preferences and orientations change throughtout the time and were/are not equally appreciated, valued, respected, and present in Slovenian cultural mainstreams. In this presentation I intend to show some aspects of one very particular cultural phenomena - among many - in present-day Slovenian cultural life (which, however, has not been adequatly analysed yet ): the so-called »Balkan culture«. Although it has history that goes back for decades, it gained specific characteristics and elements in the last decade, that is since Slovenia's declaration of independence in 1991.
In contemporary Slovenian dominant political, cultural and media discourses and in their rhetorics, terms like Yugoslavia and Balkans have – together with some other like East, Communism, Byzantinism – conspicuous negative connotations. They are most often synonyms for disorder, deception, laziness, wildness, irrationality, backwardness etc. In short, they are perceived as the diametral opposites if not antagonisms of what Slovenians - in their view – are already, are returning to or are longing for. Using the present-days most popular catchwords, this means Europe, developed world, prosperity, democracy, order, freedom etc. The logic of mythology of the transition from »one unbearable level to the higher one« - from Socialism to democracy, from poverty and exploitation to rapid development and prosperity, from the Balkan powder keg to the European welfare etc. - appeared in a most clear Eliadean way: as a passage »from chaos to cosmos«. As Tismaneanu (1998, 12) states, »political mythologies are thus part and parcel of the collective imagination of fin-de-siecle East and West.«
And yet, researches carried out throughout the nineties show that Slovenian citizens are – faced with ambiguities of post-Socialist transition, new political and cultural challenges, and restructuration of economic life - surprisingly favourable to the past Yugoslav times. According to “Slovenian Public Opinion” (Slovensko javno mnenje, SJM) surveys in 1995 (SJM 95/3), 34,1 per cent of the respondents had mostly positive personal experiences and memories on Yugoslavia and only 6,8 per cent mostly negative; three years later, the shares were even more benevolent: 36,9 per cent and 5,4 per cent respectively (SJM 98/2) (Toš, 1999, 565, 871). 88,1 per cent of the respondents considered their life in Yugoslavia as good and very good comparing to only 7 per cent which responded bad and very bad (SJM 95/3): in 1998, the shares were 88,2 per cent and 5,5 per cent (SJM 98/2) (Toš, 1999, 565, 872).
BALKAN CULTURE, »THE SLOVENIAN WAY«
Cultural nationalism is one of the forms of a broader phenomena, »sociocentrism«, i.e. the conviction about the superiority and exclusivity of a certain group. As such, it favours the cultural oneness instead of recognizing and respecting differences: culture is perceived as something monolithic, absolute, conservative, unchangeable, strictly defined: practically untouchable. The predominantly benevolent attitude of the Slovenes towards their »Yugoslav« past inverts when there are culture and language in question: here the Slovenes seem rather sensitive, reserved and cling to the notion of being the nation, decisively shaped by its own culture, art (predominantly literature), and language which must be adequately protected. According to SJM 94/2, mass immigration in Slovenia would render cultural life certainly and probaly more interesting for 37,1 per cent, but probably not and certainly not for 46,6 per cent respondents (Toš, 1999, 357). “Mixophobic” elements can be found in responsens to the thesis that mixing of people from different nations and cultures brings only problems: 45 per cent completely and mostly agree while only 28,7 per cent mostly and completly disagree with this statement (SJM 93/1) (Toš, 1999, 260).
One of the Slovenian cultural specificies is the coexistence and simultaneity of the senses of cultural inferiority towards those nations which seem to have developed a higher level of culture (West European, but predominantely towards Germans) and on the other side a sense of cultural superiority toward those on the lower cultural level (Balkan and Eastern European nations) (Velikonja, 2000). Cultural distance between the Slovenian majority and the ex-Yugoslav immigrant minorities living in Slovenia derives in large degree from this ambiguity. Latent also in the times of common state, it became more exposed in the nineties. Process of differentiation brought forth the process of homogenization, with which the »'the problem of the other' becomes collective again« (Bielefeld, 1998, 114).
In Slovenia in the nineties, a special proper noun was invented and popularized for the members of ex-Yugoslav nations (Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, Montenegrins, Macedonians, and Albanians): they are all named with one name, non-Slovenes (Neslovenci). Nivelization of this most heterogeneous group - widely used in media and political discourse - follows the binaric mythic logic, according to which the people are divided only between »Us« and »Others«, an »A« and a »non-A«. So, the alleged uniformity of the term and the group of non-Slovenes itself is defined »from outside«, from the discourse of the majority and not from within. In reality, the national, cultural, religious, linguistic and other differences between different groups within this category are of course striking (and in many respects closer to those within Slovenian population). The only distinctive and at the same time uniting point, their »lowest common denominator« is their ethnic »non-Slovenianism«.
In recent years, this cultural distance towards the non-Slovenes developed also in the Slovenian popular-culture mainstream. In TV serials, shows, and movies, a stereotyped figure of uneducated, untidy non-Slovene, who speaks poor Slovene, is symptomatically tied to low-valuated, poorly payed or criminal activities (see picture). For example, in Branko Djurić's Teater Paradižnik (1994-1997), Vojko Anzeljc's TV Dober dan (1999-2001), Boris Jurjaševič's Blues za Saro (1998), Janez Burger's V leru (1999), Damjan Kozole's Porno film (2000) etc. - they are cleaners, porters or gangsters. In clear contrast to this, the only non-Slovenian character in TV serial Naša krajevna skupnost from the beginning of the eighties had an important social position for a small town: he was a local barkeeper.
There are several reasons for its specificies. Firstly, there are linguistic, historical, social, and cultural diversities between Slovenes and other ex-Yugoslav nations; second is that Slovenian citizens of ex-Yugoslav origins are a minority group in Slovenian society (according to some estimations, they present cca. 10 per cent of almost two millions citizens of Slovenia) ; thirdly, they have preserved if not strengthened their connections with their relatives and compatriots from other parts of ex-Yugoslavia during last ten years; fourthly, the process of Slovenian national emancipation was relatively peacefull and did not lead to large scale or open conflicts within Slovenian society; and finally, in comparison ex-Yugoslav republics which went through the catastrophic warfare, Slovenia achieved significant political, social, and economical progress in the past decade.
In this conditions, a specific »Balkan culture« developed in Slovenia in the nineties. As any other cultural production it consists of three elements which are – of course - in reality more or less closely connected and merge one into another (and therefore cannot be easily distinguished): first, inertion (or tradition), second, inovation and self-identification, and third, fun, provocation/subversion, and revolt. I will limit my elaboration exclusively to popular-cultural (and for being excluded from Slovenian cultural mainstreams one may say even - sub-cultural) phenomena and leave undone other aspects which would deserve a special analysis.
I'm well aware that the term »Balkan culture« in Slovenia is not a very accurate one : first, there is no such thing as »Balkan culture« in general ; secondly, it does not include the elements of the cultural production of all Balkan nations, but only of the ex-Yugoslav ones; thirdly, it is a specific urban culture within Slovenia and not merely imported from the South or from down there (as it is the Balkans often named in Slovenian ethnocentric discourse); and fourthly, it is fragmented in respect to different factors (social classes, age, cultural preferences etc.). »Balkan culture« »in the Slovenian way« is one of the Slovenian cultural particularities and as such does not exist in any other part of ex-Yugoslavia.
»BALKAN CULTURE« AS INERTION
“Balkan culture” in Slovenia is most often wrongly treated as, first, only the culture of the immigrants from other Yugoslav republics who have lived in Slovenia now for some decades; and secondly, as merely cultural remnant of the past Yugoslav times. This is only partly true: I belive that »Yugonostalgy« in a cultural sense is indeed strong among older, »Yugoslav« generations, but the whole phenomena of »Balkan culture« in contemporary Slovenia can not be attributed only to it. I will discuss other elements of it later (in subsequent two points), but first I would like to concentrate myself to this inertial, traditional, »nostalgic« element. In other words, to the popular culture from »the good old times«...
Cultural choices of the older generations – I repeat, not only of those of non-Slovenian origins in present-day Slovenia – are of course also nostalgical and centred around certain popular-culture artefacts of the past times: music, cinema, sport, political iconography, elements of everyday life etc. Some Yugoslav oldies-goldies movies and serials remain extremly popular and enjoy a cult-status (and are for this reason often broadcasted by different Slovenian TV programes), like for example Ko to tamo peva and Maratonci trče posljednji krug by Slobodan Šijan, Sjećaš li se Dolly Bell (1981), Otac na službenom putu (1985), and Dom za vješanje (1989) by Emir Kusturica, so-called »Partisan-movies« like Veljko Bulajić's Bitka na Neretvi (1969) or Stipe Delić's Sutjeska (1973); then also TV serials like Srdjan Karanović's Grlom u jagode, Miljenko Smoje's Naše malo misto, or Aleksandar Djordjević's Otpisani and Povratak otpisanih from the seventies; TV shows like Top lista nadrealista (similar is with some strip cartoons such as Alan Ford, Zagor, Veliki Blek etc. and the domestic one Mirko i Slavko).
Quite the same is in field of the pop and alternative music: in last decade, there has been many well attended concerts by the old ex-Yugoslav rock and punk bands like Atomsko sklonište, Partibrejkers, KUD Idijoti, Disciplina kičme, Zabranjeno pušenje, Time (After Time), individual performers like Goran Bregović, Vlatko Stefanovski, Djordje Balašević, Vlada Divljan (with Old Stars Bend) etc. and so-called »Yugo-pop« bands and singers like Parni valjak, Plavi orkestar, Crvena jabuka, Prljavo kazalište, Josipa Lisac, Tereza Kesovija, Zdravko Čolić, Mišo Kovač, Oliver Dragojević, Vlado Kalember and others. Their songs, concerts, and video-clips were/are regularly presented also by all Slovenian radio and TV programes: albums and different compilations (bearing titles like Legends of Yu-rock, The Best Pop hits /from the Seventies, from the Eighties/, Yugo-rock Ballads etc.) or video-casettes with popular theater plays (like Radovan treći or Policijska stanica) from all ex-Yugoslav republics are well-sold articles.
Many people well remember the successes of the golden Yugoslav national teams and clubs , personalities and elements of the political life of the Socialist Yugoslavia , and other aspects of mass culture and the »mythology of everyday life« from that time . In some Slovenian towns and localities the names of the streets, squares and institutions preserved the names, connected with the »Yugoslav era« of the Slovenian history: they still bear the names of Tito, Strossmayer, Frankopans, fraternal towns from ex-Yugoslavia or the donators from the times of elementary disasters etc. Monuments and huge stone-made inscriptions on the hills dedicated to Tito, other post-war political personalities and episodes from the Second World War experienced different fate: from their removal to preservation.
»BALKAN CULTURE« AS INOVATION AND SELF-IDENTIFICATION
But the »Balkan culture« in present-day Slovenia is not only nostalgic, oriented towards the »golden era« of Yugoslav popular culture, not only a kind of escapism in the past, and it is not limited only to older, »Yugoslav« generations. If I would limit »Balkan culture« in contemporary Slovenia only to Yugonostalgy, I would neglect the important new cultural production and reception, which grows out of these bases. Yugonostalgy is more present among older generations while the »new« »Balkan culture« is developed by younger, even teen-age generations (students, young alternatives, pupils, e.i. among those without the »Yugoslav« experience); the first is entertained more discretly, privately while the latter is more explicit and public.
Beside the nostalgy, the “Balkan culture” exists also as inovation, new cultural reception, self-identification, and autochthonous production. First about the reception of the new popular culture production coming from ex-Yugoslavia. It is amazing how some of its artefacts are accepted and well-sold in contemporary Slovenia. New (mostly Serbian) movies – like Srdjan Dragojević's Lepa sela lepo gore (1996) and Rane (1998), Goran Marković's Tito i ja (1993), Milčo Mančevski's Before the Rain (1994), Goran Paskaljević's Bure baruta (1998), Ljubiša Samardžić's Nebeska udica (1999), Emir Kusturica's Underground (1995) and Crna mačka, beli mačor (1998), Raša Andrić's Munje (2001) - became commercial successes in Slovenian cinemas, comparable to those from Hollywood.
Newer bands and musicians (which began their career in late eightees and nineties) from ex-Yugoslav republics were regulary performing in the concert and dance halls throughout Slovenia. In pop and dance scene, they came predominantly from Croatia, like Magazin, Psihomodo Pop, Danijela, Jasmin Stavros, ET, Vanna, Toni Cetinski, Severina, Dino Dvornik, Peter Grašo, Cubismo, Ritmo Loco (and Davor Radolfi), Leteći odred, Jinx and others; they were also frequent guests on Slovenian TV and radio music shows. In ethno scene, Ljubljana hosted artists like Ferus Mustafov. There were many concerts - even small festivals – of the Serbian and Bosnian folk and turbo-folk music bands and singers. Slovenian rock and alternative halls and clubs were visited by the newer bands like Majke, Messerschmit, Overflow, Let 3, The Spoons, Kazna za uši, Djeca loših muzičara, Goblini, Play Boy, Boye, Urban, Dogma, Grasshoppers, Forces, Bleeding, Rambo Amadeus and others.
But we cannot speak only about the reception of the new cultural production of the ex-Yugoslav nations in Slovenia, but also about the new »Balkan« creativity in Slovenia itself. For example, Tito's figure is presently elaborated in many new popular-cultural products: in some TV comics it was performed by the actor Ivan Godnič (accompanied by an actress disguised as his wife Jovanka); pop singers and entertainers Korado in Brendi released album Pa je šel tovariš Tito (2000). Among the Slovenian pop, rock and alternative bands and musicians in the nineties who directly or partly allude on Yugoslav (or wider Balkan) tradition we find Zaklonišče prepeva/Sklonište pjeva, Magnifico, U redu, Ali En, Druga liga, The Drinkers, Rodoljubac, 2227, the band Tito in ekšn by its name, and etno-bands like Dertum band. Some hits from Yugoslav times were remade (theme from Ko to tamo pjeva by the Drinkers), some got new, Slovenian lyrics (like Od Vardara pa do Triglava by Brendi), in some Slovenian songs lyrics are sung with Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak accent (Magnifico, Res Nullius), some were translated to Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak language from the original in English (like AC DC's classic Let there be rock by the Rodoljubac), while other were simply composed and sung in Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak language.
The most outstanding example in this regard is the rock band Zaklonišče prepeva from Nova Gorica. Its music is inspired and resembles to that of the classics of so-called »Yugo-rock« like Riblja čorba, Zabranjeno pušenje, Buldožer, Drugi način or Bijelo Dugme, while the lirics combine in a quite ironic way topics from ex-Yugoslav times (one of their first successes was a remake of the Balašević's pop anthem from the seventies Računajte na nas /You can count on us/), epic tradition, history and recent developments in the Balkans (for example war in Kosovo and NATO bombardment), and ex-Yugoslav and Partisan ideological rhetoric and Socialist political phraseology (like drugovi /commrades/). This controversial combination is present also in their attractive video-clips and in their image and decorations on live shows which consists of ex-Yugoslav national or Communist flags, coat-of-arms, red stars, clenched fist, hammer and sickle, army shirts or parts of the »Yugoslav Popular Army's« uniforms, etc. (see video-clip).
Another example is Slovenian pop-singer Robert Pešut alias Magnifico who unites elements of Slovenian and Balkan ethno, pop and techno music in most efficient combination. He touches the »Balkan issues« in some of his songs and videos, for example Kdo je Čefur? (Who is Čefur?) or Ausländer (Foreigner). In the video-clip for the latter, parts of the movie Neretva (and that from Sutjeska with Richard Burton in the role of Tito) are remixed with his portrait, that of a female singer and the lyrics of the song (see video-clip).
The linguistic aspect of the “Balkan culture” is also interesting. Ten years after the independence, Slovenes still master the once called »Serbo-Croatian« language more than any other: 38,5 per cent actively and 37,1 per cent passively. Even if there were many Serbo-Croatisms in Slovenian colloquial language throughout the post-war decades, the post-1991 young generations adopted – beside of course English – also many Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak words in their slang, like valjda, svašta, kao, evo, gde si, džabe, rasturati, uturiti, šetati, zabušavati, car, budala, gužva, urnebes etc., not to mention some other, more »juicy«. Some of them began to decline according to Slovenian grammatical rules: for example, able and strong woman is named carka (tsarina), and not grammatically right cárica or caríca. And vice-versa: Slovenian words or names are declined on Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak grammatical way (for example, instead v Domžalah /in Domžale, which is small Slovenian town/ - u Domžalama).
So-called »Serbo-Slovenian« slang (srboslovenščina) became a kind of »official« language in some specific branches like football and construction-building which were throughout the post-war period a traditional domain of the immigrants from other Yugoslav republics. It is a very particular combination, even fusion – and as such, needless to say, a living nightmare for Slovenian as well for Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak grammarians! – of Slovenian and Serbian / Croatian / Bosniak words, their meanings and syntax, and includes also the pronunciation of the hard L from the Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak language (which is practically unknown in the Slovenian).
Appurtenance to the “Balkan culture” can be understood also as a way of cultural self-identification. Names with originally pejorative connotations from the chauvinistic discourse achieved affirmative, positive connotations among some »Balkan« youth which began to self-identify as Čefurji, Čapci, Dizelaši, etc. To paraphrase black power slogan from the times of the emancipation of the Afro-American in the United States, they are Proud to be Čefur! For example, graffiti in Šiška quarter of Ljubljana goes Welcome in Šiška – Zone of the Čefurs (Welcome in Šiška – Območje čefurjev). The successes of the national teams of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia or Croatia are loudly celebrated with the bangs of the petards.
An interesting phenomena was the radio-show Nisam ja odavde (I'm not from here) presented on alternative Radio Študent in Ljubljana every Sunday at noon from mid-1992 to October 1997. Conceived and conducted by Aida Kurtović and broadcasted in Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak language, it was a kind of open tribune of non-Slovenian population – including the refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina - with live-transmissions, thematic discussions, interviews with personalities from ex-Yugoslav estrade, public and political life, information about the displaced persons and families (and about their return to the safe zones), news from the war-zones and reports from the other parts of ex-Yugoslavia, and »flavoured« with humour and »Yugo-rock« and »Yugo-pop« songs and ethno music.
»BALKAN CULTURE« AS JOKE, PROVOCATION/SUBVERSION, AND REVOLT
Atavisms and neologisms, new and old zests: but “Balkan culture” in Slovenia can be treated and understood also as a fun, then as a very specific provocation, and also as a kind of sub-cultural revolt against prevalent cultural preferences and values in present-day Slovenia. It is one of the reactions against discourse of Slovenianism »at any cost« and against its only (Central) European cultural orientation which sometimes degenerates in cultural self-sufficiency and even in hate-speech.
In this respect, “Balkan culture” in Slovenia takes different forms. First, as irony: a good example are so-called Slobo songs, a collection of samples of parts of Milošević's early and most notorious speeches (when performed in the alternative clubs in the late eightees, the crowd shouted Slobo, Slobo and Ne čujem dobro! /I don't hear you very well!/ or Hoćemo oružje! /We want arms!/) . Then, one-line assertions - from strip cartoons (such as Attention, Mirko, the bullet! – Thanks, Slavko, you saved my life! /Pazi metak, Mirko! – Hvala ti Slavko, spasio si mi život!/ from Mirko i Slavko or Hallo Bing, how is your brother getting on?/Halo Bing, kako brat?/ from Alan Ford) or movies (such as Prozor must be conquered tonight /Prozor mora noćas pasti/ and Typhus patients, forward! /Napred tifusari!/ from Neretva, Drive, Miško! /Vozi Miško!/ and My son, father would like to do this, too... /I tata bi, sine.../ from Ko to tamo peva) – are used as a funny complements in every-day conversations.
Second, cheerful and sybaritic aspects of the “Balkan culture” are particulary exposed in so-called »Balkan parties« (Balkan žuri). There, live or recorded music is played, sometimes Partisan and ex-Yugoslav songs are sung and Balkan folk round-dance kolo is danced; in some occasions, table-dance of the participants is allowed; flayers, advertising posters, and invitation slogans also combine Balkan or ex-Yugoslav components (see picture) etc. Balkan parties were first organized on the alternative scene and in underground clubs in the beginning of the nineties, but they were soon widely popularized and commercialized. Sometimes, the logic of the organizers of such events is extremly non-selective: for them, everything that comes from the ex-Yugoslav space seems compatible: evergreen »Yugo-pop« hits are played in the midst of some »Yugo-rock« classics and combined with contemporary turbo-folk music or traditional folk music. But most often these parties are well profiled as regards music genre, age and life-style, social status etc. Some bars and restaurants all over Slovenia are informal meeting places of the non-Slovenes in which Balkan food and drinks are served, service is for the regular non-Slovenian clients in Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak language and Balkan ethno, folk or turbo-folk music is played.
And finally, “Balkan culture” appears also as a specific cultural subversion or political provocation. For example, Balkan party was organized in one of Ljubljana's youth alternative clubs on the eve of the declaration of Slovenian independence on the June 25, 1991 (see Ceglar, 1999, 76, 77; Stankovič, 1999, footnote 6 on page 46). One of the first such parties was organized on November 29, 1990, the »birthday« of Socialist Yugoslavia. Radio Študent broadcasted ex-Yugoslav music even during the difficult period in June/July 1991 and immediatelly after it, when such music almost dissapeared from other Slovenian radio and TV stations. The banners of the AVNOJ Yugoslavia and those red of the »League of Communists« were carried during the student demonstrations in Ljubljana in June 2001. Red metal stars from the ex-Army caps, military shirts and belts, small military rucksacks, so-called »transport bags«, durable military boots – all parts of the equipment of the ex-JNA – are often part of the image of Slovenian youth alternative and subcultures, punks, anarchists etc. On the cover of the record of Rambo Amadeus Koncert v KUD France Prešeren (1997), his eyes and nose are incorporated on the portrait of national bard France Prešeren (1800-1849), most important Slovenian poet from the time Romanticism, a kind of mythical figure of the Slovenian national and cultural history (see picture).
A specific aspect of most urban (sub)cultures are graffiti, which are characteristical also for the Slovenian “Balkan culture”. Estetically for te most part poor and non-attractive, they bear very clear, provocative, ironic – in one word - powerful messages: self-identifying (Čefurji, Čefurji so kul /Čefurs are cool/, Serbian Orthodox Cross, Islamic Crescent, Croatian »chessboard« coat-of-arms, Srbija, Bosna, Vojvodina, Balkan zauvjek /or even in English Balkan forever/, BIH zakon /Bosnia-Herzegovina is the best/, Muslim Power, Viva Bosna, Cigo Bronx /Gypsy Bronx/ etc.), on war subject (Srbija do Tokia /Serbia to the Tokio/, Srbija do Niša /Serbia to the Niš/, Ustasha symbol U, Srbi zločinci/Serbs Criminals/), about Slovenes (Mir Slovenci /Slovenes, Stay Calm/, Slovenija je govno /Slovenia is shit/, Spalimo slovensko đubre /Let's burn Slovenian shit/), Tito (Bolje Tito nego Trefalt Mito /Better Tito than Trefalt Mito/ or just his name), sport fan (Delije Sever /Delije North/, Dinamo Forever, Bad Boys Blue /or only the initials BBB/ , Mrzim Zvezdu /I hate Zvezda/), etc. Some of them are written in Cyrillic alphabet. Interestinglly, graffiti that do not have any connections with the Balkans are often also written in Serbian/Croatian/Bosniak language (like for example Razumijem jer je bez smisla /I understand because it is senseless or Budi luđi /Be more crazy/ or Nacionalizam prestaje sa smrću države/Nationalism ends with the death of the state/).
CONCLUSION: »BALKAN CULTURE« BETWEEN OPPOSITION AND COMPLEMENT
As Bielefeld (1998, 66) states, »national state propagates homogeneity, but along this also produces heterogenity«. As in any contemporary culture, also in Slovenian most different and contradictory currents co-exist: they extend from multiculturally oriented, open, tolerant, and inclusive on one side, to monoculturally oriented, self-sufficient, exclusive, and reserved towards the novelties, on the other. But whether the cultural mainstreams and institutions like to admit it or not, »Slovenian Balkan culture« is a significant and bold contribution to and important part of its cultural pluralism. It is not only the passive, nostalgic remnant of the past times, but also active, inovative cultural paradigm, a productive mixture of different traditons and values. »Balkan culture« hardy brings and presents opposite – and for this reason complementary – views and practices on the stereotyped values and cultural preferences that seem to prevail in contemporary Slovenian mainstream discourse: it resists workaholic orientation with easy-going attitude; restraint with lascivity; productivity with the leisure and ironic distance; seriousness with gallows and black humour; to paraphrase Nietzsche, Apollonian with the Dionysian: Euro- and Sloveno-centrism with the Balkan-centrism.
Cultural preferences, family ties, old friendships, and memories of the past times cannot be forgotten by political and ideological turnabouts or new borders. The above-mentioned phenomena are limited to the realm of culture, personal choices and everyday life: Yugoslavism as reconstructive ideological platform and Yugoslavia as political reality are the matter of past history. Without any practical political or ideological ambitions, »Balkan culture« »in the Slovenian way« is heterogenous and fluid combination of cultural inertion and sentimentality, of cultural inovation, creativity and self-identification, and of course of fun, cultural and provocation/subversion at the same time (I repeat, all these elements are of course closely interacted, incorporated one into other!). As such, »Balkan culture« presents a perfect example of cultural ecclecticism and syncretism, combining some most different elements in an intruiging, interesting, and controversial totalities. Followers of the »Balkan culture« in Slovenia are not a homogeneous group whatsoever (in view of social status, age, sex etc.): the only determinante is the considerable share of the non-Slovenes among them. They come together mostly at various occasions like cultural and social events. For this reason it is very difficult to estimate the extent and popularity of the »Balkan culture« in independent Slovenia: it can be indirectly infered from the number of the concerts, movies and parties, from the number of visitors at these events, from the number of the sold records and MC's, etc.
I'm well aware that I analysed only one part of the »Balkan culture« in present-day Slovenia: the popular-cultural and the »grass-roots« one. Namely, the cultural phenomena and elements in question are not organized, sponsored or stimulated by the official cultural institutions of the ex-Yugoslav states, their diplomatic missions, religious institutions, or organized cultural and religious societies of Slovenian citizens of the other South Slav origins . Neither is this culture limited only to the ex-Yugoslav »non-Slovenes« living in Slovenia, i.e. to those who immigrated to Slovenia in »Yugoslav« decades or to their children, but it is also popular among the Slovenes themselves. I belive that the cultural preferences and phenomena presented above are more the matter of choice than of fate; more the matter of cultural preferences than of the (ethnic, social etc.) innateness. “Balkan culture” is one of the legitimate cultural options of the Slovenian citizens, regardless their nationality, social and economic status, age and sex etc. More than in hands of official, state-sponsored institutions from ex-Yugoslav states it is in hands of cultural (music, cinema) promoters and distributors, owners of the clubs, and of course developed in every-day spontaneous practices and willfull cultural choices of the number of anonimous individuals and groups.
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