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Popular Music in Communist and Post-Communist Europe

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Edited By Jan Blüml, Yvetta Kajanová and Rüdiger Ritter

Through selected topics, the book presents an up-to-date and comprehensive view of the popular music of communist and post-communist Europe. The studies introduce new sources, discuss transformations of the institutional background of popular music of the given geopolitical sphere, its social, cultural-political, or artistic conditions. Thanks to the time span of nearly thirty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the authors have in many ways revised or supplemented traditional post-communist perceptions of the issues in question. This is being done with respect to the genres such as jazz, rock, pop, singer-songwriters, hip-hop, or White Power Music, as well as across the whole region from the former Yugoslavia through Central European states to the countries of the former Soviet Union.

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Popular Music and Identity Constructions of Young Belarusians: ‘Popsa’ as the Phenomenon of ‘Anti-identification’

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Eti serie lica ne vnushayut doveriya

Teper ya znayu, komu poyet pevica Valeriya1

Abstract: Across the post-Soviet space, the pejorative term ‘popsa’ is widely used to refer to Russian (or global) pop as well as to the entertainment stage music known as ‘estrada’. Underrepresented in academic discourse, popsa remains an integral and controversial phenomenon of post-Soviet popular music culture. In my research, based on in-depth interviews and focus groups, I analyse, among other topics, the phenomenon of popsa music and its role in young Belarusians’ identity constructions. Representing a phenomenon of anti-identification for many young people, popsa as an antipode of ‘good music’ reinforces the sense of difference and the sense of self. Particularly in Belarus, anti-identification with Russian popsa arguably contributes in the construction of Belarusian identity.

Keywords: Belarus; post-Soviet; identity; discourse; anti-identification; popsa; popular music

Methodological Framework. This paper emerged in the framework of a dissertation project, ‘The Role of Popular Music Forms in the Construction of Cultural Identities in Post-Soviet Belarus: Discourses and Practices of Young Belarusians’,2 and is based on research involving twenty-one semi-structured ←211 | 212→guided interviews, two focus groups, and participant observation, conducted in 2013 and 2014 in Minsk, Belarus. The participants of the interviews and focus groups were young adults aged 17 to 30 years, living in Minsk, and expressing different music preferences—from various rock styles to rap and reggae.3

Regarding popular music as ‘a key to identity’,4...

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