In her ethnography, Balkan Fascination, ethnomusicologist Mirjana Lausevic seeks to understand why so many Americans take part in Balkan music and cultural activities to which they are not connected either by family or ethnic affiliations. The ethnography is divided into four main parts. In the first part, she looks at the ethnography of the Balkan music and the dance scene.
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Folk dancing and turn-of-the-century of America are discussed in part two. Part three deals with International folk dancing between the period 1930s and 1950s. Lastly, part four deals with the period after the 1950s. Balkan fascination deals with the dancers, music artists, the gatherings and seminars that together make up the Balkan music scene.
Members of the so-called ‘Balkanites’ are white in the urban areas who are professionals in different fields. The professionals are of non-South East European heritage. They attend the summer Balkan music and seminars regularly.The book is written from the real Balkan view of the cultural import by the American people. This is so because the writer is an authority in Bosnian music.
He is an outsider to the seminars earlier described. The writer is biased basically from the fact that he is not a part of the seminars or one of the ‘Balkanites’ so to say. However, as a researcher, the bias is quickly covered since she even uses such tools as questionnaires in her quest to know the relation between the ‘Balkanites’ and the Balkan itself. She relies on earlier researches done on the same line.
Over and above, she relies on statistical data to prove her case as seen in her classification of the different ways of classifying the members. Dancers hold hands as they look smile at each other as they form circles that move anti-clockwise around the dance hall. The members grow closer to each other as the cultural days’ progress. Also, the author believes that Balkan music offers realness that is wanting in the American culture.
In other words, the experience gives the American people a feel of peasant traditions. For instance, in one of the seminars, the author describes how students, as well as the teachers, would gather in small groups and break into dance without a schedule. Balkan music also offers a chance to get a glimpse of the Balkan culture.
For those who cannot travel to the Balkan countries, the Balkan dance offers a sample of the Balkan culture through the music, dances and seminars or scenes as they are commonly called. The book has enabled me to understand the community of ‘Balkanites’ better. The author has classified different members of the community using various criterions. These include the ethnic background, gender, age, location of living, education, and occupation.
For instance, she has shown that the composition of the ‘Balkanites’ is so diverse with members from as far as Israel, East Europe, and West Europe. Regarding gender, they are being able to understand that women are usually more than men. When we come to the age of the members, the average age is around forty-two, and male participants are usually older than the female participants.
Most participants, in fact, 96 percent, have been brought up in urban areas. Even for those in rural areas, they once inhabited the urban areas. The level of education among the participants was extremely high considering that 44% of the participants were graduates and only 3% reported high school as the highest level of education. Most participants are professionals in fields such as engineering, education, administration as well as law among others.
I have also understood the community better because the author informs us that the Balkan music and lovers of the dance are mostly white who inhabit urban areas. Also, they are highly educated and professionals in various fields. In a nutshell, the scenes are not for idlers.