2010 with Victor A. Stoichiţă (CNRS – CREM/LESC) : “Musics of the new times. Romanian manele and Armenian rabiz as icons of post-communist changes”

The Balkans and the Caucasus. Parallel processes in the historical destiny, mentality, culture, and future trends on the opposite sides of the Black Sea, New Europe College, Bucharest, April 12-13.


In this joint presentation we propose to compare two musical genres, from two countries, one on each side of the Black Sea. Both genres are linked with post-communist times, deep changes in society, and suggest for local observers an idea of « new times ». In both of them, local observers feel strong national and/or ethnic definitions (seeing them either as « local » products or as « exotic » borrowings). Both of them are at the same time popular, and supposed to be the music of a small minority of newly enriched people. Both genres raise strong controversies amongst local politicians and intellectuals, who tend to argue against their (allegedly) perverted moral values, and to worry about the social impact of these musics. We believe that both these musical genres crystallize more than just aesthetic taste. This is why we want to describe in a comparative manner some key features of the Romanian manele and the Armenian rabiz.

After a short common introduction, our comparison will be structured in two papers. One of them will deal with the rabiz (Estelle Amy de la Bretèque, CNRS/Paris) and the other with the manele (Victor A. Stoichiţă, NEC/Bucarest). Both of them will cover the same topics, some of which will reveal similarities (such as the ones mentioned above), while some others will show contrastive features (such as the ethnic definitions and the ideologies of power which underly each genre). Drawing on textual, iconographic and musical analyses, we will try to understand how manele and rabiz became icons of deep changes on each side of the Black Sea.