“Songs from the homeland” – popular music performance among descendants of Slovenian refugees in Argentina: The case of “Slovenski Instrumentalni Ansambel”
The article presents an anthropological perspective on the selection, transformation and invention of Slovenian popular musical forms among the Slovenian expatriate community in Argentina. Among many descendants, the wish to continue their ancestors’ cultural practices created a “homeland-oriented” community in which their members felt committed to preserving their roots and social memories, and thus to “musically” enacting their Slovenianness. To illustrate this, I will particularly explore the case of the Slovenian Alpine ethno-pop band “Slovenski Inštrumentalni Ansambel”, analysing how the migration and memory processes of their antecessors influenced the life of these ethno-pop artists, and how these experiences were appropriated in their music and lyrics.
KEY WORDS: Alpine ethno-pop and popular music, appropriation, diaspora, identity, social memory, Argentina
This paper explores the history of the Slovenian political descendants’ band “Slovenski InštrumentalniAnsambel”. The case study serves as a good example for observing that musicis not only an individual everyday practice, but also a collective one. In this case, popularmusic works as a cultural and political construction of an “imagined community” (Anderson1997) in a transnational dynamic context and in the integration and connectionof migrant communities, that mixes and merges the “old” and “new” worlds. Specifically,the performance of Slovenian Alpine ethno-pop music serves the skupnost (community)by establishing a stereotyped form of otherness in Argentina. These musical identities areconstituted within a relationship with the past and politics, through memory, narrative,the myth of the homeland, and the collective commitment to its preservation, restoration,safety and prosperity (Brubaker 2005; Hall 2013). The descendants became involved in musicconsumption and production, and consequently appropriated their ancestors’ culturalpractices, through actualizing music’s mnemonic and identity functions. It combines a“roots allegory” with symbolic/real pilgrimages to “beautiful and beloved” cultural landscapes.It not only inscribes and invokes the real or imagined “homeland”, but also specificevents, memories, emotions, images, pictures and return mobilities.