Margaret Beissinger, Speranța Rădulescu, Anca Giurchescu, eds., Manele in Romania: Cultural Expression and Social Meaning in Balkan Popular Music, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
This edited volume examines manele (sing. manea), an urban Romanian song-dance ethnopop genre that combines local traditional and popular music with Balkan and Middle Eastern elements. The genre is performed primarily by male Romani musicians at weddings and clubs and appeals especially to Romanian and Romani youth. It became immensely popular after the collapse of communism, representing for many the newly liberated social conditions of the post-1989 world. But manele have also engendered much controversy among the educated and professional elite, who view the genre as vulgar and even “alien” to the Romanian national character. The essays collected here examine the “manea phenomenon” as a vibrant form of cultural expression that engages in several levels of social meaning, all informed by historical conditions, politics, aesthetics, tradition, ethnicity, gender, class, and geography.
What people are saying about it:
„Manele in Romania provides the first comprehensive analysis of one of the most controversial, but also one of the most dynamic popular music genres to emerge on the Romanian music scene during the past thirty years, a genre whose roots extend, however, as far as the 19th century, as several of the contributors to the volume claim. […]For students of post-1989 Southeast Europe and Romania, this volume might well serve as an alternative history textbook, its often specialized terminology notwithstanding. For scholars of the region, as well as for those dealing with broader issues, such as the interrelation between music genres and society, Westernization, Orientalism, national identity deconstruction, the book under review is bound to become an indispensable, or, at least, a highly valuable reference.” (Claudiu Oancea, MARTOR)