Reflecting on our collective research, as a starting point, originally began to identify the spectacle of Serbia conflict by acknowledging its historical past and the manipulation of the government. Serbia’s national identity that previously ought to be constructed was described as an: “unfinished state of an belated nation” (Ristic 2007: 193). This suggests that Serbia’s identity, as a nation is an on going process that is to be identified. This “chapter” will consider the notion of collective responsibility that Serbia as a nation holds from considering previous research and a series of expert interviews that will generate an alternative view of the formalising of identity.
- Is it possible to define collective identity in an ever –evolving space of multiple and cultural identities?
Leggewie (2013:101) identifies that European memory needs to be changed in order to “achieve full integration and collective identity”, Leggewie continues to suggest that a different memory needs to be reformed in order to completely re construct a new collective self-reflection of the state. Therefore emphasising the importance of memory, particularly within spaces of corruption. Correlating to the brief set, media artefacts are thought of as collective memory that emphasise dates, events and individuals, however we are interested in the experiences these individuals have and how this can shape their knowledge of Belgrade. Additionally, Semprun, prisoner at Buchenwald (1945) claimed that, “European enlargement could only succeed culturally and existentially ‘when our memories have been shared and brought together as one’” cited in Leggewie (2013:102-103). This already perceived perception of the “in limbo” Serbian identity is key to identify, because this generates a degree of uncertainty of what should be considered the ‘norm’ within contemporary society.
Issue no.179: “Belgrade Insight” (2015) presents a juxtaposition of articles that represent the corruption of destroying memory, the sacrifice of history for investment. A sense of erasing a context of an era is highlighted with the merging of uncertain identity.
Modules of power of the construction of the representation of the narrative are important roles to consider in order to understand that power is the ability to control narrative. A recent expert (semi structured) interview with Olja Beckovic (2015) provided an insight of the current state of media uncertainty that, in extract 1, can be identified as being the government’s power of the media, generating the voice of the people for them. Beckovic demonstrates in this extract her own role as journalist provides a sense of narrative power that was admired by the people:
- Extract 1:
- Esme Spurling: “So how would you describe the power of the media against the government of Serbia?”
- Olja Beckovic: “I think all medias are under the control of government. So the prime minister is really obsessed with medias. And he controls everything, he watches all TV programmes and society networks and he knows everything what everyone wrote about him and he is all the time in problem and in conflict to discuss with journalists, ‘how dare you to ask the question and do your job’, he does not realise that it is possible to be on the other side of him he is sure that he is the best prime minister ever seen in the world.”
- ES: “But he is surveying what has been said about him? Why do you think that is, that he wants to know about what has been said?”
- OB: “…er because very very long political history and he, he was seeking for powerful 20 years ago. So he wanted to be someone so many years and now when he is he dosnt want to loose that position. He wants to be there until the end of his life or ours lives. So really, it is something I think it is not political he really needs to be loved of everyone, and he has support covered by researches he has of 70% it is support, which no one ever had. But no he wants 100%, or more.”
- OB: “[A] journalist is restricted more than they have ever been! So journalists are frightened because they know that if they say anything that he dosnt like (prime minister) such in my case, then they loose job. And er because, when you loose your job you don’t have any other place to find it so what are you going to do? And he knows that, so when you ask journalists is there a control of media they would say, ‘oh I don’t know I don’t know’ and hes just the guy who makes phone calls personally to journalists every day and he said “how did you say that how did you say that” and then when Ive done one, yes he called me a hundred times, when you ask any other journalist they would say ‘oh no he never called me he never called me’. And he really enjoys that situation he says look at that everyone says I never call so…”
- Beckovic (2015) immediately identifies the position of the Government in relation to the public media. Her identity as journalist and previous television presenter of ‘Impression of the Week’ (1991 until September 2014) should be acknowledged. ‘Impression of the Week’ hosted 3 guests that had the apparent freedom of speech to discuss recent news and provide comical insights, before Beckovic was asked to leave under B92’s instructions. Therefore providing a platform for her audience to actively engage: Hasinoff (2014) points out that there is a certain ‘fear and promise of technology’ (2014:09). This ‘promise’ suggests the freedom of speech through technology that Hasinoff (2014) continues to suggest allows the user to adopt to a more dominant online identity, therefore taking into consideration the younger generation of Belgrade (accessing mobile technology that is more restricted) online technology can offer a ‘utopian democratic promise that users and viewers could become producers’.
- Considering the ‘new’ identity Belgrade is reconstructing the virtual space online works as an advancement and a sense of escapism, as Boyd et al (2008) note the online space can be used in order to explore identities, which should be considered when its suggested that the identity of Serbia is yet to be reformed and is currently an on going process.
- I find specifically interesting is the notion of ‘layers’ and the constant reconstruction process of identity, which can be visually shown through the use of self expression of street art:
- As seen from Mikser House Festival (2014) to recently in 2015 where we documented the same street art. The ‘layer process’ that suggests complete reconstruction because the art is completely different and does not correspond to the 2014.
- Power & Redistribution of Values:
- “The rise of transnational media and globalisation are weakening, in this view, identification with the nation. They are also said to be eroding engagement in national politics since this derives ultimately from a sense of national belonging”. Curran,J. (1981:282)
- It is interesting to consider the convergence to new media within Serbia and how this might produce offline consequences due to the nature in which media becomes (re)produced interaction occurs.
- Those already in power are able to redistribute thoughts and values from their economic backgrounds – in regards to technology. The restriction to only one type of voice that is not marginalised, therefore only one version of events can be listened to online whilst the other is only heard.
- Losonc (60:2014) points out that ‘neoliberalism is projected to manage a complex of freedom and non-freedom’, as previously discussed with Beckovic (2015) who strongly suggested that this was the most restriction journalists in Serbia had ever been in terms of voicing their opinions – despite the advancement of global and public communication online. Influenced by Tellmann’s “Foucault and the Invisiible Economy” (2009:5-24), Losonc (2014) continues to add that the structure of history is always a combination of the ‘visible and the sayable’.
- Tellmann (2009) continues to describe Foucault’s relationship to the silences of the ‘market based truth’ because of the ‘fractal-panopticon- that ceaselessly produces and co ordinates identity in accordance with the governmental rationality – again acknowledging the ability to purchase a voice ‘online’.
- Seaton & Curran (307:1997) comment, “The more wealth an entertainment system has, the more it shows programmes made specifically for its own audiences.” Therefore directly relating to B92, despite the audiences engagement with Olja Beckovic on “Impression of the week” (2014), the state-run institution, with purpose to provide state information to the people, decided to provide Beckovic with a difficult decision to choose to have her programme where she would have low ratings (eg daytime) and moved to a separate channel altogether. Resulting in Beckovic appeared to leave upon her own accordance. “A system unable even to understand its own self-interest, but blindly moving forward nonetheless” (Seaton & Curran 1997:311).
- Leggewie, A et al (2013) European Crisis Belgrade Journal of media and communications pages 101-104
- Issue no.179: “Belgrade Insight” (19.03.2015) (publisher BIRN)
- Hasinoff, A. (2014) “Sexting Panics”