Playing It Dangerously: Tambura Bands, Race, and Affective Block in Croatia and Its Intimates

Playing It Dangerously: Tambura Bands, Race, and Affective Block in Croatia and Its Intimates

by Ian MacMillen


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Playing It Dangerously questions what happens when feelings attached to popular music conflict with expressions of the dominant socio-cultural order, and how this tension enters into the politics of popular culture at various levels of human interaction. Tambura is a genre-crossing performance practice centered on an eponymous stringed instrument, part of the mandolin family, that Roma, Croats, and Serbs adopted from Ottoman forces. The acclamation that one is a "dangerous player" connotes exceptional virtuosic improvisation and rapid finger technique and, as the highest praise that a musician can receive from his peers. Tambura has served as a site of both contestation and reconciliation since its propagation as Croatia's national instrument during the 1990s Yugoslav wars. New sensibilities of 'danger' and of race (for instance, 'Gypsiness') arose as Croatian bands reterritorialized musical milieus through the new state, reestablishing transnational performance networks with Croats abroad, and reclaiming demilitarized zones and churches as sites of patriotic performance after years of 'Yugoslavian control.' This study combines ethnographic fieldwork with archival research and music analysis to expound affective block: a theory of the dialectical dynamics between affective and discursive responses to differences in playing styles. A corrective to the scholarly stress on music scenes saturated with feeling, the book argues for affect's social regulation, showing how the blocking of dangerous intensities ultimately privileges constructions of tambura players as heroic male Croats, even as the music engenders diverse racial and gendered becomings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819579010
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 08/26/2019
Series: Music / Culture
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

IAN MACMILLEN holds a PhD in the anthropology of music from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught widely in ethnomusicology and slavic studies programs. He currently directs the Center for Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies at Oberlin College & Conservatory.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Pronunciation Guide Introduction: Dangerous Playing and Affective Block Chapter 1: Tamburaši and 'Sacral Buildings' on a Balkanizing Peninsula Chapter 2: Whiteness and Becoming among Tambura Bands of the American Rust Belt Chapter 3: Feeling and Knowing Race in Postwar Croatian Music Chapter 4: Young Men, Rituals of Power, and Conscription into Intimacy's Assemblages Chapter 5: Metaphysics, Musical Space, and the Outside Epilogue: Musical Affect and the Political Beyond Notes Bibliography Discography Index

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