The Balkans, a region in Eastern Europe, should be understood as a specific transnational space. My concept of the Balkans is especially concerned with this unique positioning, defined by some as marginality, but by others as a crossroads – I see the Balkans as historically a region that represents transnational crossroads of cultures. The Balkans are not only a passive recipient of cultural-imperialist global media, but also a space of active cultural production and reception. I'm interested here in exploring how transnational processes of globalization are gendered and furthermore, adapted and appropriated in specific and unique ways to local conditions. I will explore how certain icons, or identities ‘travel,’ and how they are embedded in local political, cultural and social negotiations of power.
Using a case-study of Ceca – a Serbian turbo-folk singer – I will explore issues connected to the ways that Balkan turbo-folk singers are produced and consumed in a transnationally networked, mediatized environment.
The first part of this paper will focus on Ceca and her music, which is a mix of high camp, kitsch, consumerism, turbo-folk music, and Serbian nationalism. Ceca's music and career are known to be entangled in the corruption, ethnic cleansing, and destruction wrought by Serbian nationalism. Ceca, in many accounts, is seen as the embodiment of a real Serbian woman, a sexy femme fatale, a divinely seductive siren, a loving mother, and a widow of a Serbian warlord. Ceca, the diva / Serbian femme fatale – as she's been called – adopts the image of a figure whose origins are located in the received repertory of images and themes from ‘decadent’ novels and films. I will explore historical descriptions of the notions of femme fatales / divas. Also, I will address both the questions of how she is represented in the media and how she uses media.
In the second part of the paper, I will look at the reception of the Serbian diva Ceca in the specific local, Slovene context. On the basis of in-depth interviews with young women, I will explore their ‘reading’ of Ceca… and address questions such as ‘what does Ceca represent to them? How do they ‘read’ her? Why does she continue to be popular and admired in Slovenia?’