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HadžiMuhamedović, Safet (2014) The Epic Unconscious: Affective Residues of an Embodied Grammar. In: Why Discourse Matters? (Panel: The Embodied Discourses: Discursive Positioning in Narrations), 17-18 Oct 2014, Goethe University, Frankfurt. (Unpublished)

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Gusle, a peculiar one-string instrument traditional to the Dinaric mountain range, is an apt heuristic device for the unravelling of some spatial, temporal and discursive Balkan intersections. The instrument’s inception is tied to epic poetry and its mytho-historical accounts which abound with local cosmologies, images of sacred landscapes and old Slavic rituals shared by Muslim, Christian and Roma communities. Gusle is also an instrumentalised instrument, deeply implicated in the ‘genocidal turn’ of the Yugoslav nationalisms. Its melodic narratives were appropriated as the par excellence propaganda tool for the proliferation of ‘Serbian’ ‘heroic past’. Milman Parry and Albert Lord, who proposed the Oral-Formulaic theory, based upon their study of Yugoslav epics in the 1930s, recognised that certain narrative units (themes, rhythms, and arrangements) come to be repeated as the unconsciously habituated ‘grammar of poetry’ (cf. Parry 1971, Lord 2000). This paper interrogates their argument through the ‘affective turn’ in anthropology, particularly Yael Navaro-Yashin’s (2009) discussions on the affective potential of ‘remnants’, ‘residues’ and ‘ruins’. I look at the sacral geography of Gacko, a small town in south-eastern Bosnia, as located in epics and narratives of my interlocutors, to argue that the ‘nationalist discourses’ promulgating in the area destabilise themselves through the affectivity of these particular remnants – embodied themes, images and compositions. Crucially, I seek to understand how it happens that the guslar sings about ethnic cleansing, yet, paradoxically, his intended positionality ruptures with shared traditions. This paper thus also raises questions on human and non-human agency in the understanding of discursive reifications. Based on four years of ethnographic research, it is part of my wider attempts at understanding Bosnian ‘syncretic’ and ‘anti-syncretic’ landscapes.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Keywords: Bosnia, Gacko, gusle, epics, affectivity, residues, anthropology
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2019 08:37
Related URLs: https://daconfe ... -in-narrations/ (Organisation URL)

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