Title: Whose is this Song? On shared heritage and nationalist feuds in the Balkans and the Mediterranean
Title documentary film: “Whose is this Song?”
Director: Adela Peeva
Duration documentary: 70 mins
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Maria Boletsi, Marilena Laskaridis Chair of Modern Greek Studies, University of Amsterdam
Location: Podium Mozaïek, Bos en Lommerweg 191, 1055 DT Amsterdam
Date & time: April 6, 2019, 6.00 – 8.00 p.m.
What Turkish people call “Turkish coffee” and Greek people call “Greek coffee” are the same thing, but if you call Greek coffee “Turkish” in Greece or vice versa, you will probably attract annoyed looks. Mediterranean and Balkan nations share so many traditions and cultural practices as a result of long processes of cultural exchange, yet they often insist on having exclusive ownership of those things they share with other groups or nations. Thus, the cultural objects that connect neighbouring nations are sometimes precisely the things that divide them and intensify nationalist sentiments. This talk explores this seeming paradox by following the travels of a popular song in the Balkans and the Mediterranean through Bulgarian filmmaker Adela Peeva’s documentary film Whose is this Song? (2003). The song’s presence in so many regions betrays the cultural commonalities of Balkan and Mediterranean peoples. In the documentary, however, people tend to cover up cultural similarities and project them as differences. The film’s journey across Balkan nations becomes an occasion for exploring ideological borders in the Balkans, as well as the hostility that shared objects, such as this song, arouse when they cross borders and unsettle nationalist narratives. What happens when ‘our’ song proves to be the song of our neighbours too? What happens to the ideas of ‘self’ and ‘home’ when what we consider unmistakably ‘ours’ proves to carry traces of foreignness and migration?