Performing nation on the move: Travels of the Srpsko akademsko pjevačko društvo ‘Balkan’ (Serbian Academic Choral Soceity ‘Balkan’) from Zagreb, 1904-1914


  • Srđan Atanasovski


In this paper I will examine the early activities of the Srpsko akademsko pjevačko društvo Balkan (Serbian Academic Choral Society ‘Balkan’), from its foundation in 1904 to the outbreak of World War I, in the light of issues of nation and homeland. As a Serbian music society active in the Croatian capital, the Choral Society Balkan was in the midst of contested issues of national identities and territories, shaped by the virulent political stage in which interests of the Dual Monarchy, Hungarian kingdom, Croatian administration, and Serbian community collided. I will show how the activities of the Choral Society reflected the new policy adopted by the leading Serbian party in Croatia, the Srpska samostalna stranka (Serbian Independent Party), including their modernist, political understanding of a nation. From the aspects of mobility and space representations, I will argue that the Choral Society Balkans tours were particularly important, given their extent and intensity, in producing the sense of shared homeland and national collective in the Serbian community in Croatia under Austria-Hungary. I will discuss the experience of travel from the vantage point of the Choral Societys members, as well as the representations of their travels, the reports and travelogues published in contemporary journals. With this discussion I will attempt to approach the issues of nation and homeland as performative assemblages dependant on creating communities of shared affective ecologies.