Item Details

Manele, symbolic geography and music cosmopolitanism in Romania

Issue: Vol 11 No. 1 (2016) Special Issue: Crossing national borders in Eastern European popular music

Journal: Popular Music History

Subject Areas: Popular Music

DOI: 10.1558/pomh.36189


<i>Manele</i> has become the most successful Romanian music genre to emerge after 1989. Combining Southern Balkan, Turkish and Middle Eastern sounds, but also Euro-American pop and hip-hop influences and sung by mainly Roma musicians, manele are a symbol of the transition to democracy, with its re-examination of social and cultural values and its refashioning of national identities and ethnic hierarchies. This article investigates whether this hybrid musical genre has the potential to connect the Roma to a larger transnational network and, in so doing, offer the Roma a path towards fairer representation and equality and the opportunity for new cosmopolitan engagements. This, I argue, would benefit an ethnic minority for whom more traditional paths towards empowerment seem to remain closed. To this end, I explore media and public debates and conduct analyses of manele music and video clips to show how the genre challenges both Eurocentrism and localism and could be seen as a sign of democratization and an opportunity for those culturally and ethnically marginalized to force their way out of a subaltern position.

Author: Ruxandra Trandafoiu

View Original Web Page

References :

Achim, Viorel. 2004. Roma in Romanian History. Budapest: Central European University Press.

Alege Muzica website. 2017. (accessed 28 June 2017).

Baxter, Richard L. et al. 1985. ‘A Content Analysis of Music Videos’. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 29/3: 333–40.

Beck, Ulrich. 2006. Cosmopolitan Vision. Cambridge: Polity.

Beissinger, H. Margaret. 2005. ‘Romani (Gypsy) Music-Making at Weddings in Post-Communist Romania: Political Transition and Cultural Adaptation’. Folklorica X(1): 39–51.

—2016. ‘Romanian Manele and Regional Parallels. “Oriental” Ethnopop in the Balkans’. In Manele in Romania: Cultural Expression and Social Meaning in Balkan Popular Music, ed. M. Beissinger, S. Rădulescu, S. and A. Giurchescu, 95–138. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Beissinger, M., S. Rădulescu and A. Giurchescu. 2016. Manele in Romania: Cultural Expression and Social Meaning in Balkan Popular Music. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Brubaker, Rogers. 1995. ‘National Minorities, Nationalizing States, and External National Homelands in the New Europe’. Daedalus 124/2: 107–132.

Buchanan, Donna A. 2006. Performing Democracy: Bulgarian Music and Musicians in Transition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

—2007. ‘Bulgarian Ethnopop along the Old Via Militaris: Ottomanism, Orientalism, or Balkan Cosmopolitanism?’. In Balkan Popular Culture and the Ottoman Ecumene: Music, Image, and Regional Political Discourse, ed. Donna A. Buchanan, 225–67. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Calhoun, Craig. 2002. ‘The Class Consciousness of Frequent Travelers: Towards a Critique of Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism’. In Conceiving Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context and Practice, ed. S. Vertovec and R. Cohen, 86–109. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dragoman, D., S.-A. Luca, B. Gheorghiţă and A. Kádár. 2012. ‘Popular Music, Social Capital and the Consolidation of Public Space in Post-communist Romania’. Sociologie Românească X(2): 113–33.

—2013. ‘Popular Music and Social Marginality during Severe Economic Change. Evidence from Post-communist Romania’. Romanian Political Science Review XIII(2): 259–71.

Feraru, Tudor. 2010. ‘“Manele”—a Musical Genre Selling the “Romanian Dream”’. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai—Musica 2: 101–107.

Fonseca, Isabel. 1996. Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and their Journey. London: Vintage.

Garfias, Robert. 1984. ‘Dance among the Urban Gypsies of Romania’. Yearbook for Traditional Music 16: 84–96.

Giurchescu, Anca, and Speranţa Rădulescu. 2016. ‘Music, Dance, Performance: A Descriptive Analysis of Manele’. In Manele in Romania: Cultural Expression and Social Meaning in Balkan Popular Music, ed. M. Beissinger, S. Radulescu and A. Giurchescu, 1–44. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Haliliuc, Alina. 2015. ‘Manele Music and the Discourse of Balkanism in Romania’. Communication, Culture & Critique 8: 290–308.

Hannerz, Ulf. 1990. ‘Cosmopolitans and Locals in World Culture’. Theory, Culture and Society 7/2: 237–51.

Hipper, Anitta M. 2010. ‘“Return to Europe” Revisited: The Role of Manele and Chalga in Constructing Norms and Counter-elites in Romania and Bulgaria’. Der Donauraum 50/3-4: 297–311.

Jurnal. 2012. ‘Mandinga, printre favoriţi la EUROVISION 2012. “Zaleilah” are şanse să devină hit şi în SUA’. 22 May. (accessed 29 June 2017).

Korzenszky, Tamás. 2015. ‘Traditional Hungarian Romani/Gypsy Dance and Romanian Electronic Pop-Folk Music in Transylvania’. Acta Ethnographica Hungarica 60/1: 43–51.

Levy, Claire. 2002. ‘Who is the “Other” in the Balkans? Local Ethnic Music as a Different Source of Identities in Bulgaria’. In Music, Popular Culture, Identities, ed. Richard A. Young, 215–29. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

ProTV. 2012. ‘Mandinga la Eurovision 2012: Cronica unui dezastru anunţat’. 27 May. (accessed 29 June 2017).

Qing, Luo et al. 2010. ‘Representing the Opening Ceremony: Comparative Content Analysis from USA, Brazil, UK and China’. International Journal of the History of Sport 27/9-10: 1591–633.

Rădulescu, Speranţa. 2016. ‘Epilogue’. In Manele in Romania: Cultural Expression and Social Meaning in Balkan Popular Music, ed. M. Beissinger, S. Radulescu, S. and A. Giurchescu, 259–69. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Silverman, Carol. 2013. ‘Global Balkan Gypsy Music: Issues of Migration, Appropriation, and Representation’. In The Globalization of Musics in Transit: Music Migration and Tourism, ed. S. Krüger and R. Trandafoiu, 185–208. New York: Routledge.

—2014. Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Song, Geng, and Tracy K. Lee. 2012. ‘“New Man” and “New Lad” with Chinese Characteristics? Cosmopolitanism, Cultural Hybridity and Men’s Lifestyle Magazines in China’. Asian Studies Review 36/3: 345–67.

Statelova, Rosemary. 2005. The Seven Sins of Chalga: Toward an Anthropology of Ethnopop Music. Sofia: Prosveta.

Stoichiţă, Victor A., and Estelle Amy de la Bretèque. 2012. ‘Musics of the New Times: Romanian Manele and Armenian Rabiz as Icons of Post-Communist Changes’. In The Balkans and the Caucasus: Parallel Processes on the Opposite Sides of the Black Sea, ed. Ivan Biliarky and Ovidiu Cristea, 321–35. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Szeman, Ioana. 2009. ‘“Gypsy Music” and Deejays: Orientalism, Balkanism, and Romani Musicians’. The Drama Review 53/3: 98–116.

—2013. ‘“Playing with Fire” and Playing It Safe: With(out) Roma at the Eurovision Song Contest?’ In Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, ed. K. Fricker and M. Gluhovic, 125–41. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Tipurita, Liviu. 2016. ‘The New Gypsy Kings’ (documentary). This World, BBC Two, 12 July.

Todorova, Maria. 2000. Balcanii şi balcanismul. Bucharest: Humanitas.

Trandafoiu, Ruxandra. 2013. ‘Music in Cyberspace: Musical Transitions, Translations and Adaptations on Romanian Diasporic Websites’. In The Globalization of Musics in Transit: Music Migration and Tourism, ed. S. Krüger and R. Trandafoiu, 298–317. New York: Routledge.

Udrea, Alexandra. 2014. ‘Folklore Music on Romanian TV: From State Socialist Television to Private Channels’. VIEW Journal of European Television History & Culture 1/5: 35–49.

Voiculescu, Cerasela. 2005. ‘Production and Consumption of Folk-Pop Music in Post-Socialist Romania: Discourse and Practice’. Ethnologia Balkanica 9: 261–83.