Starting from Zero – MindMap#2

Narratives: Is everywhere, which generates more confusion when parts of information or representations are neglected, as researchers we need to consider why this is and for what reason and who’s benefit.

The narratives, that are often expected within a country such as Serbia, as a commodity culture, can become fragmented that can develop and maintain a constant state of mis information interpreted. Resulting in the country from starting again from ‘zero’.

Considering a critique of a political economy: the way it is studied in terms of contemporary institutions and practises who controls the resources is important to consider as researchers. Who owns and controls them? Who owns the resources of the political economy and decides the interest of the people who are in power and will this investment be returned? In terms of Serbia’s current narrative they continue to speculate a desire to attain that on the surface everything is fine. However the reason for this is the forgone closure of a fragmented past. The media continues to form part of what is controlled in the news of the world and what does not get distributed shapes and defines our understanding of the world and space around us, including those spaces we have not yet explored.

Here, we consider our positionality as researchers. Well cultured, though still ignorant to the entire Yugoslavia history when considering at a young age in Serbia, English is learnt and developed. The politics of how this is controlled and represented is also determining on our understanding and knowledge as prosumers of media content in which we produce. Therefore, we should continue to consider theories of agency and theories of consent within the media and provide very finite media controls that can still progress even though we are digitally processing the use of media news at our own convenience (Zoric). Journalist Olja Beckovjk reports directly on the media break downs and black outs Serbia has experienced which is key to our own understanding of what their own journalists see worthy as published news report material. We are constantly re recreating new images and viewpoints. A cycle of narrative to fragmented narratives. Which enables us to comment on the media security of Belgrade and how reporters feel when reporting sensitive issues of their own narrative space.

Considering Zizek, (The last utopia dies with commodity culture) we begin to focus on how Belgrade has managed it’s mediation of celebrity and the political economy of the sign as a celebrity. This narrative that formulates its idea around the concept of a celebrity is important because it pulls in freedom of expression and to with free choice (hegemony) lifestyle and consumer choice. Here, again the idolised reporter Beckovjk can be highlighted: once supporting B92 radio station and entertainment her programme was ‘axed’ – Impression of the Week – a political programme that begun in 1991. Beckovjk now focuses on the current state of the media in Serbia. What future does it have and what kind? Does media still matter and in what form, she asks. How can journalists improve the situation – or narrative – that they are already in? when considering these meta narratives we can begin to consider surveillance culture (Foucault) and gender representations (McRobbie 2006). This alternatively relates into structuralism and understanding Serbia’s culture as a change in their previously established routine (pre Yugoslavia conflict – Utopia Socialism – Engles 1880). An ideologically driven system that can provide hegemony and attempt to provide (similarly to Beckovjk) a solution to a perfect vision and ‘new world’. Why and how has this narrative form become so powerful? As media students we will need to untidy these narratives through our understanding and progressing knowledge of Serbia. People want certain things that will make their world represented as more simplistic but they are also trying to shut the world off by an opposing reflection that everything is ‘fine’ in order to provide a positive identity.

Utopian Socialism can be expanded by the understanding of the lure of the marginal (the 3 temptations). Continue to consider power, Engles points out that extreme revolutionists did not recognise any external authority of any kind whatsoever – therefore reason became the sole measure of everything. Revolutionary uprising of class begun in Serbia after their Utopia was broken and a fragmented narrative expanded during the conflict. It is interesting to consider the future for Serbia and how the culture maintains its sole independent collaboration with countries they foresee as ‘powerful’ and useful for future engagement. Curran (2009) considers that the higher levels of news consumption contributes to a smaller within-nation knowledge gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged – Curran will be interesting to consider further when understanding the wider processes in society that take over the power of the media in determining how much people know about public life. Especially gaps between generations.

Here the West is introduced: capitalism and hegemonic ideas of freedom that can be conflicted with Serbia’s idea of freedom. The ‘Human Drift’ (1894) and ‘the will to power’ leading back to Utopian Socialism. Architecture and inter connections become considers (industrial revolution and post modernism) – adapting and integrating for productivity, in which Serbia is progressing to achieve, from zero.

serbia mind map

serbia mindmap

Starting from Zero – MindMap#2

380MC Methodology: The Lure of the Marginal

  • The three temptations on how we approach this international research project: The local, the marginal and the cosmopolitan.
  • Considering this will enable us to position our mind set in a specific way of thinking about the research we will be carrying out: what exactly will we focus upon and why? Will these interests determine what is priority?
  • Each temptation is problematic, it is only a mere thought process in order to begin an objective thought process but not to be given into.
  • The Local:
  • What is the reason why we are studying and researching Serbia ?
  • What is at our disposal in Serbia such as museums but what can we uncover ourselves? Such as already we have been able to uncover not only a student who lives locally to Novistad but also an academic who has worked and research and lived in Belgrade : both will provide huge assets to our growing understanding of Belgrade and Yugoslavia countries.
  • The local will remain to be “a subject of sympathy” as their voices are ultimately de valued or ignored/ subordinated under regimes of (often) political power. This is the centre has pushed the local voice into the margin, the question of the local cannot be separated from the question of cultural translation itself.
  • The best way of thinking of contextualising these issues is to turn to Fritz Fanon have pointed out to the psychic mutilations and self mutilations of the local voice. (post colonial identity). Giving space to the local voice, we are drawn to the voices that have suffered. Colonial past of oppression. The notion that this voice of the oppressed once liberated in a post colonial space is not a liberated voice; it is common for the discourse of the oppressed to still talk in the register of the oppressor and to consider themselves in that voice.
  • Fanon identifies going to a post colonial country that has been under post colonial force and then to discuss the local and discover the people after the oppressor has been forcibly removed.
  • Temptation of the Marginal:
  • Post modern condition, strategies for resisting the master discourses, scientific and legitimated. Lyotard has framed the research for post modern conditions. Central to his proposition here, drawing upon the proposition of the post colonial spaces as interesting spaces for identity, is this strategy: resisting the master discourses.
  • This proposition that there are legitimate truths that govern and competently dominate our way that we think about the world eg the way in which we are taught about Serbia (historically we are not educated formally about Yugoslavia and certainly not in depth) but what we know about Serbia has been told for a reason what has been left out (and un mediated) is for a more specific reason.
  • These master discourses for Lyotard are hugely problematic so the focus should be on the marginal. Not his ‘story’ but we should look into the marginal for local knowledge and narratives in order to form grounding. These certain discourses, acc to Lyotard are occupied by the privileged. Colonial past is absent in educational history. The frame work for Lyotard is what he is putting forward in a variety of research methodologies in a variety of disciplines: focusing on the margins, the purpose and position of the researcher.
  • The issue of who will (and has been) targeted to be interviewed –
  • Marginality is avant-garde romance of researchers. How is it defined who is marginalised? Thus hugely problematic.
  • Baudrillard (1982) suggests the Beauborg Effect: implosion and deterrence. 
  • By focusing on the margin the centre can acknowledge and thus diffuse the marginal, we as researchers run the risk of acknowledging the marginal as a mere token, by labelling it we are simply conforming to a social construction. The margin is in some way an oppositional voice to the centre which has been presumed that there will be something different – why wouldn’t it be the same? These presumptions have become culturally and socially constructed.
  • Baeauborg Effect : a form of deterrence that re confirms the centre as the centre, not a form of resistance or movement elsewhere – Baudrillard suggests that this movement is not progressing but is debilitating and that the marginal is stuck in stagnation, therefore the argument remains in stationary until progressive position. To stagnate the margin.
  • Temptation of Cosmopolitanism:
  • Drawing upon the work of Hannerz (1990) who distinguishes the cosmopolitan from the tourist – a state of mind, an interest and toleration for otherness.
  • An interest and toleration of the other, Hannerz suggests that we live within a age of “one world culture. The issue with this is that it is slightly ambiguous. Hannerz suggests this one world culture is marked within a cosmopolitan space.
  • For example a cosmopolitan space: New York. 
  • Universalism sees all culture in one in a utopian assertion of equality. World culture (globalism) is not the same as one culture. The cosmopolitan space is the most attractive. This proposition that it is the most tempting of all that we start form a space where we believe that we are in some way part of the local and part of the marginal because we have already previously encountered it. The cosmopolitan could typically be “bag packer”. Who becomes more than a tourist because they have engulfed their selves into the culture and welcomed it by adapting to it by remaining their own culture.
  • Gibbon – the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
  • A critique on writing history. Gibbon identifies the a “falsifier”, the tourist and a nationalist, they focus upon the post colonial. Sometimes things that are at the centre can be very difficult for these (people) to identify and to see. These things are not always made the most of.
  • Additional: Gillette – 
  • The inventor and pioneer of the safety razor (America) ‘King Camp’
  • The Human Drift (1894) Gillette contrasted this in order to describe his position and world view
  • Utopian Socialism : term by Marx and Engles in “The Comunist Manifesto” (1848) Gillette has been pigeonholed as a utopian socialist. The Razor  Represents the ideology of Gillette – progress and making life better for the citizens and the people the drive, easier. Architecture and inter connected, contextualised by modernity of looking to the future – this is how the razor has been designed. Integrated for productivity and for speed.


The Human Drift
The Human Drift
  • Futurism- 
  • Originally found in Italy at the turn of the 20th C. Which is completely connected to the work of Gillete – a social, political and artistic movement.
  • The cityscape replaces the landscape as a space for artistic movement, design and invention. Each subsequent generation is expected to build their own city rather than inheriting the architecture of the past. Futurism suggests machine culture and efficiency, that everything should be progressing and now stagnate. Rejected the romanticism of the past.
  • Future led directly to Fascism (Italy).
  • Russolo (1911) ‘The Revolt’ – Fascism is a mass movement of the bourgeoisie that serves the interests of imperialism and monopolies. Though in order to enlist the support of the masses it must disguise itself with radical and socialist demagogy.
  • The effects and influence becomes progressive in a style that becomes represented in art but can also be seen in an alternative way – workers become abstract. Faceless with no identity and no individualistic tendencies. The worker is glorified as an ideal machine. The worker itself becomes a machine. But can it really be viewed as that? Similar, in a way, to Hasinoff (2012) research suggesting sexting as a media production and how we become more dominate upon having a ‘faceless’ identity online. Projecting ourselves, perhaps, in a misunderstood way.
  • This proposition of futurism and utopian socialism linking into Fascism can be seen how it places through the space within a city – through architecture and the way in which individuals engage socially. Aesthetic within the future. As researchers we must approach what the ideology is behind this.
380MC Methodology: The Lure of the Marginal

Institutional Ignorance

Despite its significance in European history, the Yugoslavian wars and the subsequent formation of the independent nations is severely overlooked and misinformed in Western culture. Perhaps due to the historic ties with the Soviet states, our understanding of the history is limited. Personally I was never taught about it in school, and I heard even less about it on the news; looking back at the media coverage of the time and considering my somewhat renewed understanding, I’ve started to deduce the possibility that the Western World’s depictions of the Yugoslav crisis were framed in such a way that the violence and international tensions surrounding the conflict were larger than the countries themselves, effectively presenting the people’s struggle as a spectacle for the rest of the world to observe.

This transcending idea of war and violence has, in American culture especially, become a source of distraction and entertainment, with Hollywood directors and game designers casting this faceless, vague, Eastern-European identity as a war-mongering antagonist, the cultural industries gain a new genre to export. Taking for example the 2001 ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ blockbuster, which featured the Yugoslavian crisis as a violent, albeit subdued background in which an all-American protagonist can be the hero.

Beyond that comes the recycling of the East-Block identities in video-games that simulate ‘Modern Warfare’. One of the most poignant titles would be Criterion’s 2006 release ‘Black’. Again, Yugoslavia is constructed as a drab, repetitive playground for the western gamer to indiscriminately commit their own war atrocities without consequence, destroying buildings and murdering countless faceless enemies.

I intend to explore this institutional fascination with Yugoslavian representations further, and will be incorporating similar examples in future posts.

Institutional Ignorance

An introduction.

Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia. A collection of independent nations that were both formulated and directly affected in the midst of the 1990’s Yugoslav wars. Considered to be the last major historic event of the 20th century, the immensity of this dissolution is still felt even today in the new independent states, all of which have had to establish new identities. As a grand narrative, the nation of Yugoslavia and its new successor states is steeped in a legacy of post-conflict rearrangements to the country’s imagined boundaries: From the exchange of ownership through the hands of early twentieth century empires, to the Nazi invasion of the 1940’s, right up to Soviet occupation during the Cold War, time and time again, the Slavic people have undergone profound changes to their political and social environment at the hands of others.

One particular nation in this collection has found itself in the mediated spotlight time and time again throughout the past two decades. In some instances it is depicted as an aggressor and instigator of conflict, whilst in other it is regarded as bastion of the Slavic republic. Under the dictatorship of President Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia has been at the forefront of war-crimes, oppression and ethno-nationalistic violence up until his overthrowing at the turn of the millennium. After that the country spent the next eight years undergoing constitutional changes, civil unrest and negotiated reintegration within the rest of Europe, all whilst (to a certain extent) having to face up to the atrocities their people had committed.

Much like the axis forces who were defeated in the Second World War, the people of Serbia soon realised their national memory had been effectively tarnished by their involvement in the war, it would be up to the culture makers and artistic communities to retell their story under a new light, perhaps even through new mediums, in an attempt to re consolidate their national identity and thus their place in the Western World.

As a research group, our objective is to explore cultural sites and major social spaces within the country of Serbia, specifically the country’s capital city, Belgrade. Belgrade has been consistently regarded as an epicenter of the Slavic states, especially considering its previous position during the era of former Yugoslavia. This blog space is dedicated to archiving our research as well as constructing a narrative of our academic and personal progress during this project.

‘Belgrade is the world’

An introduction.