Government and Music during the Bosnian War

By Kassie Phillips

Faculty Mentor: Professor Brooks Kuykendall

The purpose of my research is to survey music as it was deliberately used as a means to an end during the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995, particularly as it applies to the state promotion of certain music by Serbian and Croatian leadership at the time. Investigation of popular music commonly heard during the war reveals that while Serbian music was often directed at both a domestic and enemy audience (for the purpose of demoralization), called on traditional musical styles and instrumentation, and featured lyrics promoting bold and aggressive messages, Croatian music was meant to appeal to an international audience, and thus relied upon modern, western musical genres and lyrics that emphasized peace and elicited sympathy. Less is consistent about the war music of the Bosniaks, which is difficult to single out because of the diversity in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the exodus of Bosnian Muslims from the area that occurred both before and during the conflict, but Western portrayals of the music scene in besieged Sarajevo definitely played a large role in creating the city’s images as the capital of Bosnian resistance.