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The Songs We Love to Sing and the History We Like to Remember: Tereza Kesovija’s Comeback in Serbia

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image of Southeastern Europe

Less than a decade after the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, some of the popular music stars from its former republics began giving concerts in new post-Yugoslav spaces, provoking divergent receptions, especially in Serbia and Croatia. Taking as a point of departure recent developments in the sociology of the body, sociology of emotions, and affect theory, I discuss here the political implications of enjoyment in these concerts, particularly by showing how they engage in the construction of multifarious emotional reactions concerning the sentimental remembrance of the past. Drawing on Sara Ahmed’s discussions of ‘collective feelings’ and the argument that emotions are not a private matter, I will show how the concerts’ spaces offer channels for ‘emotions to work’, securing collectives via the process of reading the bodies of others. Using Tereza Kesovija’s comeback in Belgrade as a case study, I discuss the narratives of the past, according to which the concerts have been either just a continuation of the ‘perfect past’ in Yugoslavia, or a way of creating distance from it. I specifically focus on the issue of how the seemingly neutral concept of love is embedded in the memory practices of the Yugoslav past. I also discuss the refusal of nostalgia evident in the tendency of certain concert-goers to distance themselves from the past by claiming that this music is transcultural, transnational, and transtemporal. In both cases, I will point to the multifarious and ambiguous meanings of the concept of love as understood in the post-Yugoslav musical space.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade


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