Basic information
5 September 2011 at 11:00 until 5 September 2011 at 13:00
Mala dvorana, ZRC SAZU

Institute of Culture and Memory Studies

Balkan gypsy music between local and global

prof. Carol Silverman, Head of the Department of Anthropology, Oregon University

In the last twenty years the popularity of Balkan Gypsy music has exploded, becoming a staple at world music festivals and dance clubs in the United States and Western Europe. At the same time, thousands of East European Roma have emigrated westward due to deteriorating living conditions, and entrenched stereotypes of thievery have arisen amidst deportations and harassment. In this heightened atmosphere of xenophobia, Roma, as Europe’s largest minority and its quintessential “other,” face the paradox that they are revered for their music yet reviled as people. Balkan Gypsy music is simultaneously a commodity, a trope of multiculturalism, and a potent in-group symbol in cosmopolitan contexts. Drawing from multi-sited ethnography, this presentation will document musicians in their Balkan neighborhoods and follow them to their American communities and on their tours. Focusing on the music of Roma both for each other and for non-Roma, the lecture explores contexts such as weddings, festivals, and media. Music is intimately related to issues of Romani representation because it is an important in-group badge of identity; it is also an essential service to sell to outsiders and it figures prominently in cultural and political organizing. Situating music in relation to individuals, to communities, to states, to policy, and to markets, the presentation confounds the simplistic assumption that music starts out “pure” or “authentic” in bounded communities and becomes hybrid when it moves to non-Romani markets. Innovation, hybridity, and market forces all operate within communities and between communities in the diaspora. Romani musicians travel creatively among these sites.