Rediscovering the Magic of the Gusle

The first time I heard live gusle singing, a UNESCO-protected Serbian national ritual, was not fortuitous. I was fifteen, and my stern Serbian teacher took our High School class to a local library to hear poems and stories written by fellow high-schoolers. The boredom of this dreary event was somewhat lifted when one guy decided to perform his longish poem, written in traditional decasyllabic verses, … Continue reading Rediscovering the Magic of the Gusle

Going “Down South”

Apart from expressions of admiration for the beauty we were almost constantly seeing, the most common conversation topic within my group touring Serbian heritage sites in Kosovo and Metohija was hushed and almost embarrassed question: „Why did you decide to come here?“.  It was closely followed by an admission, that seemed to unite all of us : “My friends and family thought  that I was … Continue reading Going “Down South”

Beyond Brutalism: Belgrade’s Magical Pre-WWII Architecture

Although best known for socialist modernism and brutalism, Belgrade’s architecture is (in)famously eclectic due to the various political twists and turns that shaped the city’s identity (as I’ve written here). Although through much of the 19th century, Belgrade’s foreign and foreign-educated architects were trying to find their feet by copying architecture of Serbia’s powerful neighbours, in early 20th century and arrival of art-nouveau, which embraced … Continue reading Beyond Brutalism: Belgrade’s Magical Pre-WWII Architecture

Hidden Belgrade (34): Rabbi Alkalai, Zemun and Zionism

Although in the past few decades Zemun is best known for its tough guys (read: mafiosi), great lively restaurants a more chilled vibe than old Belgrade, this ancient town has for centuries been a vibrant melting pot of various cultures, drawing merchants and craftspeople to the border of Central Europe and the Orient, which, for centuries lay on the banks of the Danube. Despite many … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (34): Rabbi Alkalai, Zemun and Zionism

“Bossy”, “butch” and “bitchy”: Three women who shattered the glass ceiling in Serbia

There have always been women who decided to go against the social grain in pursuit of greater freedom and success.  Unfortunately, they were almost alway held back by the patriarchal norms and often cruelly treated by their societies, even if they are eventually allowed a modicum of praise and support. Female entrepreneurs, scientists, activists, journalists, artists, and free thinkers or all stripes still cause a … Continue reading “Bossy”, “butch” and “bitchy”: Three women who shattered the glass ceiling in Serbia

Hidden Belgrade (27): Old headquarters of women’s movement in Belgrade

Although women were not barred from pursuing education in early 19th Century Serbia, in line with the global mores of the day, there was a lot of debate whether education will make them leave the family hearth and neglect their traditional roles, and of course whether mixing with men is at all appropriate. However, in the beginning of modern Serbia, when it achieved an autonomy … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (27): Old headquarters of women’s movement in Belgrade