Dear Reader, welcome to the first issue of Contemporary Southeastern Europe! This peer-reviewed journal is published as an open-access academic journal, by the Centre for Southeast European Studies. We are firmly committed to the highest standards of academic publishing, including rigorous, double-blind, peer review and making research available, free of charge, to an interested audience. As subscription costs rise and many libraries have to save resources, we are committed to making high quality research available for researchers without cost.
The focus of this article is to highlight the potential of popular culture to become an agent of leftist populist politics in contemporary Serbia. The authors observe the hip-hop collective “The Bombs of the Nineties”, whose music tackles topics from recent history, and who subvert the fashion style of the 1990s “Dizel” subculture, which is often connected to Serbian nationalism and war profiteering. The paper analyses the relationships “The Bombs of the Nineties” create between their practices, class warfare and leftist discourses, aiming to show the potentials and threats those relationships introduce.
Local elections for municipal and city councils and municipal and city mayors were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on 2. October 2016. These were the sixth local elections since the Dayton Peace Agreement. There was generally not much expectation for significant change in BiH politics, and the elections were seen as a test on to what extent the major political parties are familiar with citizens’ concerns, especially at the local level. A change in the Electoral Law a few months ahead of the elections had increased the importance of party structures and party leaders in determining the allocation of seats among candidates from party lists, while decreasing the influence of voters. Coupled with an electoral system that favors small parties, this could potentially result in further fragmentation of the party system.
In this text, I approach Serbian experience of the refugee crisis by referring to three statements taken both as a reference and point of departure: first, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić’s claim that Serbia was “more European that some European states”; second, the former Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović’s claim that Serbia ought to “spread it [the refugees] around a bit”; and, third, Angela Merkel’s statement that the closure of EU borders could cause another war in the Balkans. These three statements, it is argued, provide convenient access to the official’s claims regarding the refugee crisis in Serbia and its echo in the region and abroad. In addition, in order to identify the views held by common people in Serbia, in the last section I will also briefly discuss popular reactions in Serbia to the issue of refugees in the last several years.
When the future or, more specifically, a redirection of South-East European studies is discussed in a series of essays in this journal, one has to have in mind that this is not the first discussion of this kind – and for sure not the concluding one. In an increasingly globalizing world, area studies are under permanent critical observation. What can particular findings related to an area contribute to the understanding of the whole, the global, and how is the global represented in the particularities of an area? However, this kind of critical self-reflection that can sometimes result in self-deprecation was not always the case in the long history of the study of South-East Europe.
Two recent books on Kosovo offer some compelling insights and answers as to why international state-builders stumbled in Kosovo: Elton Skendaj’s, Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions and Andrea Lorenzo Capussela’s State-Building in Kosovo: Democracy, Corruption and the EU in the Balkans. Both books are welcome additions to the growing discourse on state-building and touch on some of the more important themes that have recently dominated the literature, including the principle of local ownership, the limitations of technocratic approaches to state-building, and the dilemmas of political corruption and state capture in postwar societies.