“This Is a Country for You”: Yugonostalgia and Antinationalism in the Rock-Music Culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Zlatko Jovanovic
Part of the Modernity, Memory and Identity in South-East Europe book series (MOMEIDSEE)


Merkel criticizes the omnipresent understanding of Ostalgie as a nostalgic remembering of a presumably idealized socialist past of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). She argues that Ostalgie is a form of identity politics that is better understood as a protest against the dominant interpretations of the history of the GDR. These interpretations serve to legitimize the new social order and seek to strip the GDR’s socialist past of its subversive potential (Merkel 2008, 324). In other words, Ostalgie seeks to keep the subversive potential of the GDR’s past alive.In the rock-music culture of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, the idea that the rural-oriented nationalist elites have since the early 1990s colonized the urban cultural space has become an almost obligatory song theme. By addressing this issue, rock bands position themselves against present-day nationalist elites. Letu štuke does this in their song by contrasting “primitivism.”Such Bosnian identity was favored by those who were searching for an alternative to the narrow ethno-national identities (as either Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs), and their non-ethnic Bosnian-ness made an appearance as an important emergent social force in the ethnically divided Bosnia and Herzegovina.A screenshot from the video of HZA’s “Dear Tito” reading an excerpt from “the Pioneer Oath,” saying that “I will cherish brotherhood and unity and the ideas for which Tito was fighting.” This text appears at the sequence of the song right after we have heard HZA rapping “I have heard that we have exchanged brotherhood and unity for used ideals and goals in a jar. And where are we now? Just there, where we deserve to be, since we haven’t rebelled.” This leaves an impression of certain self-blame for not rising up against the destruction of culturally integrated, multi-ethnic, Socialist Yugoslavia. Yet, at the same time it invites for a struggle against ethnic division and nationalism in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina (Copyrights: Jasmin Dervišević HZA/FmJam“From Triglav to the Vardar,” or in a reverse order “from the Vardar to Triglav,” was and still is a common reference to Yugoslavia as an entity demarcated on the basis of its historic-geographical territory and not ethnicity, as the Vardar is a river in Macedonia and Triglav is the highest peak of the Julian Alps in Slovenia. This reference was easily recognizable by every Yugoslav because the phrase “From the Triglav” was also used in the 1970s folk song “Yugoslavia!” In fact, it is not an exaggeration to claim that “Yugoslavia!,” which was commonly called “From the Vardar to Triglav,” was Yugoslavia’s unofficial national anthem, most probably preferred by the majority of the Yugoslav population to the more ethnically defined “Hey Slavs.” Starting with the verse “From the Vardar to Triglav,” the song was very much in the spirit of the ideological axiom of “brotherhood and unity,” stressing unity among Yugoslavs across national, religious and linguistic boundaries.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zlatko Jovanovic
    • 1
  1. 1.The Saxo InstituteUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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