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By John Thieme

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50. The People’s Eastern Kitsch 35 relaxation of laws to allow foreign investment and borrowing, which led to greater investment in the entertainment industry. The resulting disparity between the slow economy of Yugoslavia and the explosive rise of the entertainment industry can at least partly be explained by the fact that Yugoslav citizens were spending more than they could afford by using credits and loans. While this culminated in the deep economic crisis of the eighties, it also established a cultural code of expression steeped in hedonism and indulgence that became associated with music.

As Chapter 2 will show, in some instances, the mediator vanishes or drops off once the change takes place. However, as Chapters 4 and 5 will show, in some instances, the mediator remains in various cultural forms after the change. Thus, as Žižek points out, crucial to this understanding of the mediator is the gap between form and content, in which content can change within the parameters of the existing form and then emancipate itself of the old form, to reveal a new one. Both ‘turbo’ and ‘folk’ can be understood as terms that describe the intersection of political and cultural mediation in turbo-folk.

Building on the insights from previous chapters about the gradual ‘de-nationalisation’ of turbo-folk, this chapter demonstrates the way Dragojević invokes the emotionally charged expression of identity in turbo-folk as a signifier of ‘new Balkanness’. By elucidating the way that turbo-folk music has been taken up in art, sculpture and film, Turbo-folk Music and Cultural Representations of National Identity in Former Yugoslavia provides a more nuanced reading of the often misunderstood, misrepresented and sensationalised ‘turbo-culture’ that has been developing in the Balkans in recent decades.

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