ArticlePDF Available

“WE ASKED FOR WORKERS. WE GOT BUREKS INSTEAD” Meanings and Material Significance of the Burek in Slovenia

Authors:
72 ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2
The Unleashed Burek
In the first open-source online dictionary of spoken
Slovene, Razvezani jezik (The Unleashed Tongue),
the burek – an important, frequently prepared and
eaten dish among many immigrants and their de-
scendants in Slovenia and also Slovenia’s popular
fast food – is described as follows:
In the vernacular a burek also means an idiot
or an incompetent [person]. Example: “You’re a
bunch of complete bureks! ” Of course this pejo-
rative use contains slightly veiled chauvinism or
racism; a burek in this sense implies a stupid and
incompetent southerner, a person from the Bal-
kans or the Orient. (Razvezani jezik 2012)
The large majority of users of this phraseme are
probably not aware of this “slightly veiled chau-
vinism or racism”. In some cases, for instance
among certain (secondary-school) peer groups, it
can even be a term of endearment. However, it is
clearly not a term of endearment in the song “Ti
si burek” (“You’re a Burek”) by the national folk-
music group Trio Genialci. In the popular video
(at least judging by YouTube views),1 a well-heeled
Slovenian businesswoman comes home to find her
immigrant husband (ostensibly a Bosnian) on the
couch wearing a singlet and track suitbottoms,
with a beer and a remote in his hands, his feet on
the table, football on the telly, a baby in the cor-
ner needing its diaper changed and her husband’s
brother also on the couch, also with a beer in his
The dish burek was brought to Slovenia by people from the other republics of the Socialist Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in the 1960s. It is now the handiest and most frequently used signi-
fier in Slovenian popular culture, media, vernacular language etc. for immigrants from the former
republics of the SFRY, the Balkans, the SFRY itself and the phenomena associated with it. This
paper addresses why and how this semantic hyperinflation occurred to precisely this fast food. The
burek is a product of Slovenian nationalism par excellence and cannot be understood without tak-
ing into consideration the material conditions of the object. The paper shows that the burek plays a
significant role in the formation and reproduction of identities.
Keywords: material culture, meanings, nationalism, burek, Slovenia
“WE ASKED FOR WORKERS.
WE GOT BUREKS INSTEAD”
Meanings and Material Significance of the Burek in Slovenia
Jernej Mlekuž, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Jernej Mlekuž 2017: “We Asked for Workers. We Got Bureks Instead”. Meanings and Material Signicance of the Burek in Slovenia.
Ethnologia Europaea 47:2, 72–86. © Museum Tusculanum Press.
ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2 73
hand. As she throws him out of the house, she sings
the following refrain:
You’re a burek, a burek squared
And instead of me, put a rope around your neck
You’re a burek, a burek squared
But why was it me you fooled that time
Get your stuff and get out of here.
(Trio Genialci 2008)
The burek has therefore made its way into not just
Slovenian hands, mouths and streets, but the Slo-
vene language as well. And in no small measure:
“Burek? Nein, danke” – probably Slovenia’s most
well-known and frequently reproduced graffito (in
this and the following statements the burek again
signifies, connotes, stands for immigrants, the Bal-
kans etc.); “Burek? Ja, bitte” – the title of at least two
articles in prominent Slovenian newspapers; “Anti
Burek Sistem” (or A.B.S.) – the name of a project
by the skinhead group SLOI; “I’ll have a burek, but
not a mosque” – another popular Slovenian graf-
fito; “you don’t have enough for a burek” – a very
frequently used slang expression meaning “you have
no idea” or “you’re clueless”, similar to “you’re a
burek” or “you’re a burek squared”; my own book
Burek.si!? (Mlekuž 2008a) an academic work which
owing to the “triviality” and probably also the “sig-
nificance” of the object of study triggered numer-
ous discussions and vehement responses among the
general public. These examples are only a few of the
more noticeable media and pop-culture roles played
by the rolled or folded dish, filled with all sorts of
fillings, and having the status of an increasingly
naturalized “immigrant” from the Balkans. And
it is precisely its immigrant status which has to the
greatest extent formed its current meaning in Slo-
venia. Slovenia was the most industrially developed
republic of the former Socialist Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia (SFRY), and therefore attracted the high-
est proportion of immigrants from the other Yugo-
slav republics (see Josipovič 2006, 2012). This led to
heated nationalism in the decade before and after
Slovenia gained its independence (1991), which was
in great measure focused on immigrants from the
SFRY, who had formerly been fellow countrymen
but were now “foreigners” (see Pajnik 2002). But
why and how did the burek inspire so much seman-
tic richness, so many different meanings – however
predominantly attached to nationalism and its need
for a culinary Other?
In seeking an answer to this question, this article
starts with the fundamental idea of modern studies
of material culture: that materiality is an integral
part of culture and society, and that culture and so-
ciety cannot be understood outside of materiality.
To focus more closely: the meanings of objects can-
not be understood (solely) as a product of discourses
and signifying practices, but must be looked at (also)
as embedded in the objective, material domain, in
numerous complex ways. The investigation of mean-
ings does not entail the negation or elimination of
materiality.
Thus, the article does not deal with the meaning
of things in general, but specifically with the mean-
ings of material culture, of objects. As Daniel Miller
(1994: 397) says: “the phrase the ‘meaning of things’
(…) tends to implicate something beyond the nar-
row question of semanticity by which artefacts, like
words, might have sense and reference. Rather, the
notion of meaning tends to incorporate a sense of
‘meaningfu l’ closer to the ter m ‘significance’.” When
we speak of the meaning of objects, continues Miller
(1994: 397), the main emphasis is more connected
“with questions of ‘being’ rather than questions of
‘reference’.” This article explores how the meanings
of the burek, the question of its semanticity, is con-
nected or intertw ined with the question of its signifi-
cance. It argues that when investigating the mean-
ing of the burek, questions of “reference” should be
dialectically confronted with questions of “being”.
Thus, the sense and reference of the burek will be
observed through the optics of its significance.
The question of the “being” or significance of ob-
jects leads to the central idea of a “material turn”.
According to the key theorists, objects are signifi-
cant in relation not so much to what they mean (the
semiotic) as to what they do (cf. Gell 1998; Miller
1987, 1998, 2010). Such an approach, following Al-
fred Gell (1998: 6) could also be called an “‘action’-
74 ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2
centred approach”, that is “preoccupied with the
practical mediatory role of (…) objects in the social
process, rather than with interpretation of objects
‘as if’ they were text.” Thus the article also argues
that the burek not only represents or reflects mean-
ing, but also intervenes, makes a difference, and al-
ters people’s minds.
The article is based on a very wide range of ma-
terials (50 conversations with burek consumers and
other people associated with bureks, such as burek
stand owners and specific burek consumers, mostly
youth groups in the past and present), periodicals
and websites, (pop-)cultural and other products,
participant observation with some selected groups
(e.g. secondary-school peer groups consuming “ul-
tragreasy bureks” (see Mlekuž 2017), collected pri-
marily in the years 2005–2007 for a Ph.D. thesis,
as well as less intensively collected newer materials
(mostly periodicals and websites), that have not
been part of any specific research project.
On the Dining Table and on the Street
The burek – a pastry made of phyllo dough with
various fillings, well-known in the Balkans, in Tur-
key2 (bürek) and under other names in the Near East,
came to Slovenia with immigrants from the repub-
lics of the SFRY in the 1960s (which according to the
1981 census made up 5.4%, and according to the
1991 census 7.6% of the population of Slovenia, and
the large majority of whom came to Slovenia as mi-
grant labourers [Josipovič 2006]). Slovenia, the most
industrially ambitious republic in the SFRY, needed
a workforce. And with that workforce – with immi-
grants from the former republics of the SFRY – came
the burek. To paraphrase Max Frisch’s well-known
epigram: We asked for workers. We got bureks in-
stead.3
The burek was and still is frequently prepared
and eaten by immigrants from the former republics
of the SFRY and their descendants in Slovenia. But
what stands out is its vital role in the manifestation
and constitution of the society and culture of Mus-
lim immigrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and
to a somewhat lesser extent among other i mmigrants
of the Muslim faith, in Slovenia. The differences ap-
pear first of all in appellation. While the great major-
ity of ethnic and other communities f rom the former
SFRY use the word burek to signify a dish made of
phyllo dough filled with various meat, cheese, veg-
etable and fruit fillings, the inhabitants of Bosnia
and Herzegovina are not inclined to use the word
burek so broadly. They use the word burek to sig-
nify a dish made of phyllo dough filled (only) with
meat. And this dish is a part of a group of pies which
also includes the sirnica (cheese filling), krumpiruša
(potatoes), zeljanica (spinach), kupuspita (cabbage),
pita sa tikvom or tikvenuša/masirača (squash), etc.
Furthermore, the burek and the other pies are ir-
replaceable elements of various religious, life- and
other events, such as iftar, “an evening meal during
the fasting month of Ramadan”, Bosnian Muslim
holidays, weddings, etc. The burek is therefore an
important companion to rites of passage. And here
it should be mentioned that the majority of t he nega-
tive connotations that the burek has in the stylistic
figures of the Slovene language, and with which
I introduced this text, are in direct contrast to the
meanings the burek has in Bosnia and Herzegovina
– the land of the burek “numero uno” – where it is
associated with homeliness, warmth, safety and so-
ciability. The place of the burek in Bosnia and Her-
zegovina was explained quite nicely by Bosnian pop
star Dino Merlin when asked why he had called his
album Burek:
I wanted to show the burek on the symbolic level
as one of our culturally valued objects, but similar
to a man who walks past his wife every day with-
out seeing her beauty, we are not aware of its value.
So we have all of this, but we don’t know it. Some-
thing that has been verified as good for centuries
is defined as high-quality, classic and art. That
is, only those things that survive for centuries
are worthy of appreciation and epithets such as
“classic” and “art”. The burek is both an authenti-
cally Bosnian and an anti-globalist phenomenon.
(Cited in Bikić 2004: 10)
Immig rant families in Slovenia treat the burek not as
a mere commodity; it is eaten by people who make
ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2 75
it themselves and serve it to family and friends. The
participants in the exchange of a homemade burek
see it as a gift or an expression of hospitality. The
circulation of homemade bureks and on the other
hand the production and consumption of indus-
trial, bakery-made and street bureks demonstrates
the difference between a gift economy and a market
economy (see Gregory 1982; Mauss 1954) or, to use
Appadurai’s (1986) definition, “regimes of value”,
between which there is very little common dialogue.
Also more than obvious is the conceptual and
contextual difference between making and eating
bureks and other pies within immigrant families,
that is bureks which elude the market, and bureks
which were given life by the market economy. In the
majority of immigrant families, bureks are prepared
and eaten as the main daily meal, either lunch or
dinner, and thus support the traditional and most
likely also still the dominant family meal structure.
Commodity bureks – at least street bureks, that
is fast food bureks – in the majority of cases resist
this traditional dominant meal structure. They are
usually eaten “on the run” – more subordinate to
hunger than to a seated meal – and unlike in im-
migrant families, where bureks or pies are served
on a plate and eaten with utensils, always wrapped
in paper and eaten with one’s hands. In immigrant
families bureks are a relatively traditional dietary el-
ement, closely connected with the cultural tradition,
while commodity bureks, at least on urban streets,
in Slovenian bakeries and shops, are something of a
novelty, which the majority of ethnic Slovenes have
known for no more than three or four decades. The
space, distance, and limited communication be-
tween these two economic spheres or contexts are
also borne witness to by the fact that the great ma-
jority of immigrants, primarily of the Muslim faith,
from the former SFRY with whom I had conversa-
tions and who make bureks and other pies several
times a week, had never in their entire lives in Slove-
nia tried a bakery-made, industrial or street burek.
And most probably, if burek stands run by Albani-
ans from Macedonia had not appeared in Slovenia in
the 1960s and if bureks had not been introduced by
local bakeries and industrial food producers in the
1990s (nowadays the majority of bureks produced in
Slovenia are made in “Slovenian” bakeries and in-
dustrial food plants), the majority of less adventure-
some Slovenes would never have heard of the burek.
At least not in Slovenia.
Following Raymond Williams (2005: 4041), I
could say that among immigrant families, the burek
is a part of a residual culture which is significantly
removed from the dominant culture. By “residual”,
Williams (2005: 40) means that “some experiences,
meanings and values, which cannot be verified or
cannot be expressed in terms of the dominant cul-
ture, are nevertheless lived and practiced on the ba-
sis of the residue – cultural as well as social – of some
previous social formation.” The emergent meanings
of the burek, however, stand to a large degree in op-
position to these residual meanings, particularly
those that are employed in the dominant culture. On
the level of meanings there are two more or less op-
Ill. 1: Fast food burek. Photo by the author, Ljubljana 2015.
76 ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2
posite positions with respect to the burek, with very
little common dialogue : the unincorporated residu-
al culture (the burek among immigrants) and t he in-
corporated emergent culture (the burek among non-
immigrants, subject to various discourses, primarily
nationalistic, about which more will be said below,
and healthy-lifestyle discourses, about which more
has been said elsewhere [Mlekuž 2008a, 2017]).4
Today, the burek has worked its way deep into the
Slovenian dietary mainstream. According to a news-
paper survey from 2005, it ranks among the most
popular fast foods or street foods in Slovenia, and
in urban areas it is even the most popular fast food.5
It is also probably the champion, at least among
fast foods or street food, with respect to quantita-
tive growth in production and consumption, and
in the category of expansion into numerous new
areas and institutions. Nowadays the burek can be
found not just on the streets of Slovenia’s towns or
hiding in immigrant (and increasingly non-immi-
grant) kitchens. In fact, it is stealing shelf space from
other deep-frozen items in the freezers of Slovenian
(super)markets (it is produced in both frozen and
non-frozen form by Slovenia’s two largest industrial
bakeries), eaten by the Slovenian Army, enjoyed as a
snack in Slovenian schools (but no more than once
a month), appears at numerous formal and informal
parties and events, is served on certain flights of the
Slovenian national airline, is delivered in trucks car-
rying Slovenian-made goods to foreign markets etc.
Which again does not mean that doors everywhere
are open to bureks, much less wide open. For in-
stance, they are almost completely ignored by gener-
al, broad-format “Slovenian” cookbooks written for
or adapted to Slovenian cooks. In a survey of thirty
cookbooks, only one of them contained a recipe for
burek. This disavowal of burek-recipes in the “sa-
cred”, highly selective and controlled world of books
is all the more striking in contrast to the plethora of
recipes found in the “profane” periodical press and
above all on websites. On Slovenia’s most popular
culinary website Kulinarika.net can thus be found a
full 44 recipes for burek, which places it among the
most popular dishes in Slovenia (of course it is very
difficult to compare the relative popularity of differ-
ent dishes, but if we compare it just with its fast-food
rival the hamburger, the latter falls far behind with
just 9 recipes).6 This will also be touched on below.
But first it is worth discussing how the burek became
a part of this, what Williams calls incorporated
emergent culture and what its place is within that
culture.
Calories and Symbols
According to interviews with burek producers and
consumers, and newspaper articles, street bureks
were eaten primarily by immigrants all the way up to
the 1980s. At that time, the burek started being eaten
by non-immigrants, usually those who, according
to Peter Stankov (2005: 36), were not drawn to
nationalist “euphoria” and the “Yugophobia” asso-
ciated with it.7 In the 1980s, after the death of Tito
(1980), Yugoslavia found itself in a serious crisis,
which was a consequence of economic difficulties,
emergent nationalisms and in-fighting amongst the
communist elite. The causes and driving forces of
the Yugoslavian crisis have been explored elsewhere
(Ramet 1999; Pavković 2000). However, the crisis
led to new thinking about national identity among
Slovenes, particularly in relation to the “southern
brother nations” and to Western Europe. This think-
ing relied on assumptions about lazy, corrupt, dirty,
Oriental foreigners, who were alleged to be leech-
ing Slovenia’s economy dry, whereas without them
Slovenia could already have caught up with Western
Europe (Žižek 1990: 55). Thus a period of intensive
differentiation between Slovenes and other Yugosla-
vians began, a movement that has ideologica l, politi-
cal and economic dimensions and which resulted in
Slovenia’s gaining of independence in 1991.
These “non-immigrant” burek eaters in the 1980s
were primarily college students, punk rockers, and
urban youths in general. At the level of meaning,
as Stankovič adds, this means that the burek soon
was not signifying only ethnic differences (between
“Slovenes” and “non-Slovenes”), but also those Slo-
venes who did not have any major problems with
the presence of immigrants from other republics of
former Yugoslavia (Stankovič 2005: 36). However,
according to conversations with the protagonists
ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2 77
of urban subcultures (and urban vagabonds) in the
1980s, in those times the burek was not a sign or a
symbolic object within various subcultural groups,
nor was it a significant, important part of subcul-
tural consumption. One prominent member of the
generation of punk rockers from the late 1970s and
early 80s (who were to play a significant role in Slo-
venia’s liberalization and independence movement,
see Lovšin, Mlakar & Vidmar 2002) says that food
was not a part of subcultural expression among the
punks – as opposed to punk cuisine in the USA,
where it is a complex subcultural food system, with
its own grammar, logic, and symbolism (Clark
2004). “Part of the subculture was drinking alcohol,
mainly in the form of beer.” One representative of
the generation “which was politically and cultur-
ally socialized around the time of the first Novi rok
(New Rock) concert (1981)”, has this to say: “This
whole thing with bureks in my opinion is more of
a coincidence than anything else. Anyhow, at one
in the morning the only thing open was a burek ki-
osk and nothing else. So once in a while I had a bu-
rek. […] I didn’t usually do that. If some kiosk had
been serving something else at one in the morning,
I might have gone for polenta.” And it was no differ-
ent even outside of Ljubljana. One informant recalls
the “punk times in the mining town of Idrija”: “At
least in the circle of people whom I hung out with at
the time, I didn’t have any kind of ‘food-fetishism’,
of course as long as you don’t count alcohol, which
I wasn’t too selective about, as food. The only im-
portant thing was price-performance.” So the great
majority of people who ate (or did not eat) bureks
in the 1980s did not understand it as an explicitly
political gesture. The burek was not (yet) politicized
in the first half of the 80s. For urban youth, as well as
everyone else who occasionally ate bureks, it was, as
the conversations indicate, a source of calories, not
symbols. However, this simplistic, plastic division
is highly problematic. Semanticizing, according to
Roland Barthes (1969: 12), is unavoidable: “as soon
as there is a society, every usage is converted into a
sign of itself”. Thus, the purpose of a burek is to be
filling, and that purpose cannot be separated from
a sign for food. And I could go on and on. A burek
is intended to be filling in a hurry, and this purpose
cannot be separated from a sign for fast food. A bu-
rek is intended to be filling when everything else is
closed, and this purpose cannot be separated from a
sign for food for night-owls, etc.
At any rate, the burek made it possible to get
something warm to put in an alcohol-laden stom-
ach, something cheap for shallow pockets and some-
thing that was available even at the most impossible
hours in the already very modest “socialist” range
of products and services available in the 1980s.
Again, in those times in the majority of the larger
Slovenian towns, with a few exceptions (primar-
ily hot dogs and chips), bureks were the only warm
food available late at night and in the early morning
(for more on consumption patterns in socialist Slo-
venia and Yugoslavia see Luthar 2010; for more on
the “culture of everyday life” see Luthar & Pušnik
2010; for more on the disconnect between the social
liberalization of the 80s and socialist consumption
see Hyder Patterson 2011). And this is probably the
crucial – though not the only significant – impetus
in the burek’s march onto this stage of signifying,
discourses and nationalism.
The essential point of this early burek narrative of
consuming “calories without symbols” is therefore
that the “immigrant”, “Balkan”, “southern” burek
found its way onto Slovenian streets, and worked its
way to “non-immigrants”, that is Slovenes. The fact
of this “non-Slovene”, “immigrant”, “foreign” burek
being in the hands and mouths of Slovenes bothered
some people – those who, to use Stankovič’s word s,
had problems “with the presence of immigra nts from
other republics of the former Yugoslavia”. It is from
this point on that the story of the burek and nation-
alism starts to become more complicated, to grow in
increasingly interesting and complex ways. To make
slight ly free use of Thomas’ (1991) syntagm, when the
burek’s presence bothers someone, it becomes a “so-
cial ly entangled object”. It is therefore very i mportant
to the burek’s semantic genesis that the burek was a
visible object, or better an object of observation – one
of the rare (food) objects of observation on Slovenian
streets at that time, when there were no kebabs, pizza
by the slice, hamburgers etc., that is “western fare”, in
78 ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2
urban areas. The burek thus becomes an object of the
nationalistic gaze, it is noticed and talked about in
nationalist discourse, which treats it as a some kind
of representative of anything “foreign”, “Balkan”,
or “southern”. Food, as was probably most convinc-
ingly demonstrated by Pierre Bourdieu (1984), struc-
tures our lives in a very complex manner, most often
completely subconsciously. Furthermore, as Richard
Wilk (1997: 183) argues, “distaste and rejection is
often more important than taste and consumption
in making social distinctions”. And the burek in its
early “semantic years” made a good case for this as-
sertion – it was more significant in forming identities
for those who did not consume it than for those who
did (cf. Savaş 2014).
Thus the dominant meanings which defined the
burek throughout the 1980s and 90s (and in the pre-
sent day) were not produced in their primary, orig-
inal forms by burek eaters. What was at work was
(and still is) a nationalist discourse which did not
accept the burek as its own, that is “ours”. In other
words, it was bothered by the presence and visibility
of the burek on Slovenian streets, in the hands and
mouths of youths and al l others who occasionally ate
bureks. The nationalist discourse thus focused its at-
tention on the burek, and the burek was no longer
just food, but also a signifier, a symbol, or a meta-
phor. It didn’t fill Slovenes with just calories, but
with symbols as well.
The graffito “Burek? Nein danke”, which ap-
peared in a street in the capital city of Ljubljana in
the second half of the 1980s and has occasionally
reappeared on the town’s walls since then, is one of
the earliest and most explicit nationalist “uses” of
the burek.
Another probably less explicit but earlier nation-
alist reference – of which countless examples could
be listed – is found in the 1986 song Jasmina by the
group Agropop – one of Slovenia’s most popular pop
bands in the 80s. A female voice (Jasmina) sings the
refrain in Serbo-Croatian over a distinctly Balkan
melody, which speaks of the love of an immigrant
and/or a Balkan person for the Slovenian Jasmi-
na:
He was truly, a real man,
He smelled strongly of horse.
He has a really hairy back.
He got me with a cheese burek.
While it is possible to ask whether Agropop’s song
is at all politically or nationalistically motivated,
there is no ambiguity in the case of a project called
Ill. 2 : Graffito in a Ljubljana street. Photo by the author.
ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2 79
Anti Burek Sistem (A.B.S.)” by the skinhead group
SLOI, which recited its texts in verse at pub counters.
The project, by a group from the early 1990s, which
played without instruments, is most likely a very
explicit, highly motivated, dutiful nationalist bu-
rek statement. According to Arjun Appadurai (1981:
494), food is “a marvellously plastic kind of collec-
tive representation” with the “capacity of mobilizing
strong emotions”. Thus, a nationalist assault against
the burek began in the second half of the 80s and
flared up during breakup of Yugoslavia (for more on
this see Mlekuž 2015). It is worth taking a moment
to seek an understanding of how this assault func-
tioned.
The process of self-definition, as was masterfully
shown by Edward Said (1978[2003]), includes the
dramatization of differences with others. It should
be noted here that on the territory of present-day
Slovenia, before the arrival of immigrants during
the time of the SFRY, there was already a dish or sev-
eral versions of a dish that was very similar to the
burek in both form and manner of preparation. But
it was not called a burek.8 For the “Slovenian” burek
therefore it is a case of the “narcissism of minor dif-
ferences”, as Freud (1905[1991]: 279) called it, where
“minor differences in people who are otherwise a like
[...] form the basis of feelings of strangeness and
hostility between them”. But it would probably be
wrong to view and define the Slovenian “anti burek
sistem” solely as an attack. As stated above, t he burek
is becoming increasingly more naturalized or incor-
porated into Slovenian society and culture. This in-
corporation or inclusion, according to Dick Hebdige
(1979), proceeds on two levels, via two processes:
(a) via the conversion of alternative or oppositional
signs – that is signs which stand in opposition to the
dominant culture – into mass-produced products,
which Hebdige (1979) called the commodity form,
and (b) via the labelling and redefining of practices,
styles, behaviour, and things which are annoying to
the dominant culture by dominant groups, so that
they conform to and belong within their conceptual
frameworks – what Hebdige called the ideological
form. In this process of ideological and concep-
tual inclusion, these non-conformist practices and
things which are annoying to the dominant culture
can be (b1) on the one hand trivialized, natural-
ized, and domesticated – thus differentness is trans-
formed into equality, and difference is denied, and
(b2) on the other hand, as Hebdige (1979: 97) shows,
this differentness can be turned into a spectacle, a
clown show, or a scandal – thus difference is empha-
sized or manufactured. Probably the most bizarre
product of this incorporation, which simultaneously
offers varying interpretations (a clown show or de-
nial of difference), the Carniolan burek – as read on
the manufacturer’s website – is “a Slovenian version
of the most popular dish in the Balkans!” Carniola
was the central Slovenian (and the most Slovenian)
region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the ad-
jective continues to be used today to adorn numer-
ous items considered to be Slovenian par excellence,
including the flagship of Slovenian cuisine, the Car-
niolan sausage. The Carniolan burek was launched
onto the market in 2013 by the industrial food pro-
cessing company (and Slovenia’s largest producer of
baked goods) Žito, whose website states the follow-
ing about their new product: “Slovenia’s most popu-
lar quick snack has finally arrived with a traditional
Slovenian taste” (Žito 2013). The “traditional Slove-
nian taste” of “Slovenia’s most popular quick snack
is provided by pieces of Carniolan sausage and cab-
bage which are added to a cottage cheese filling. The
Slovenian colonization of the (Carniolan) burek is
further demarked by the Slovenian flag, which is
stuck into this “Carniolan” or “Slovenian” product.9
However, the integration process of immigrant
and foreign food in general can be highly varied
and complex. For example, the doner kebab, which
was brought to Germany by Turkish immigrants,
played a central role in the recognition of that mi-
grant group. At the places where Turks first sold
doner kebabs as an exotic ethnic food (which was
mainly bought by Germans) and was used as a posi-
tive symbol of cultural connection in multicultural
discourse, the effects of the changing attitude to-
wards foreigners led to a loosening of the association
between “Turkishness” and the doner kebab. Stands
and chains appeared with names like McKebap and
Donerburger. At the same time, “doner” became a
80 ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2
sobriquet for Turks. A multicultural youth festival
in Berlin in 1987 was called “Disco doner”, and the
following slogan appeared in controversies about
immigrants (Ausländerfrage): “Kein doner ohne
Ausländer!” (“No immigrants, no kebabs!”) Amidst
this political chaos the doner kebab sold better than
ever. But for Turks the continued association with
it means a further denial of their increasing social
mobility. The final irony is that in their attempts to
loosen and move away from the association with the
doner kebab, the sellers of this food moved into sel-
ling Italian food (Caglar 1995).
But let’s go back to the beginning, to the cause of
this nationalist interest in the burek. The appear-
ance of the “Balkan”, “Turkish”, “southern” burek
on Slovenian streets, and its increasing popularity
and visibility, undoubtedly engendered nationalis-
tic sentiments. But it is probably an exaggeration,
if not actually wrong, to lay all of the blame for the
parasitizing of the burek by nationalism on the ap-
pearance and visibility of the burek alone. There
could also be other impetuses, though they are
significantly less important, if they are important
at all. As an example of such an external impetus,
I might mention the silver medal won by Slovenian
skier Jure Franko at the Olympics in Sarajevo in
1984 – Yugoslavia’s first medal at a winter Olympics.
The wordplay “Volimo Jureka više od bureka” (“We
love Jurek more than burek”, in Serbo-Croatian),
which appeared at the time and is still remembered
by many Slovenes, can still occasionally be found in
humorous contexts in Slovenian media, pop culture
and everyday speech, and undoubtedly brought the
burek closer to Slovenes.10 For example, in 2002 an
article about a round-table discussion entitled “Slo-
venes and the Balkans: On the Europeanization of
Slovenian society and the flight from t he Balkans” in
the newspaper Več carried the headline: “From Jure
to the burek and other stories” (Stepišnik 2002: 5).
And I could continue to list factors which brought
the burek into the sphere of Slovenian nationalism.
One of them, to continue in this vein, is probably
that burek does not just rhyme with Jurek (a di-
minutive of the Slovenian name Jure), but also with
Turek (Slovene for “Turk”). Turk, in the Slovenian
(and to a great extent the European) popular im-
agination, (still) connotes a threatening Other (see
Muršič 2010; Jezernik 2010). And this is even reflect-
ed in the titles and descriptions of burek recipes: “So
that the burek will not be a Turek”, or “a little more
SLO[venian] and veggie, mushrooms for a change”
(Šalehar 2004: 57).
The discussion of how the burek and nationalist
discourse became intertwined also touches on Slo-
venia’s independence in 1991. This event brought
about the end of the official Yugoslav policy and
ideology of brotherhood and unity. But nationalism
clothed in popular discourse was already at work in
the 1980s and earlier. The burek did not become a
victim of nationalism because of Slovenia’s inde-
pendence, but independence – with all of its atten-
dant changes and shocks to society and culture – un-
doubtedly draped the burek in much more diverse
and colourful clothing.
Objects and Subjects
After Slovenia’s independence, the burek decidedly
becomes an object of alternative or oppositional
praxis, which is easiest and most simply interpreted
within the framework of the burek’s important and
visible semantic place in Slovenian culture and soci-
ety – that is, as a response or even resistance to the
(growi ng) nationalism (on nationali sm in independ-
ent Slovenia see Pajnik 2002; Mlekuž 2008b). But
this probably would not have happened to the burek
if it had not had a special place within the available
range of products and consu mption at that time, and
thus (again) it is also necessary to understand the
socially conditioned rationalities (vis-à-vis the bu-
rek). Conversations with youths in the 1990s testify
to how the burek very quickly became a popular and
even revered part of the diet primarily among young
urbanites, college and secondary-school students.
Although it is difficult to shed sufficient light on the
complex relationship between this “burek-loving”
discourse and the consumption of bureks, it is not
hard to identify the socio-cultural background to
this relationship.
Peter Stankovič (1999: 46) says that a rebellious
spirit began to spread pr imarily a mong urban youths
ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2 81
who expressed ambivalence towards the project of
Slovenia’s independence. A s an example of the initial
manifestations of this rebellious spirit, Stankovič re-
fers to a party which occurred completely spontane-
ously at the cult club B-51 in Ljubljana on the exact
day of the declaration of Slovenian independence,
June 25, 1991: “At the moment when all of Slove-
nia was celebrating its secession from Yugoslavia, a
crowd of young people danced and drank beer until
morning to the nostalgic sounds of Yugo rock, and
at the end they were partying to the wild rhythms of
Serbian turbo folk”11 (Stankovič 1999: 46). This re-
bellious spirit manifested itself in a love of all things
“Balkan” and “southern”. This was not in fact a po-
litical movement, Stankovič continues, but brought
about or constituted an interesting cultural reversal,
in which for part of the urban youth (primarily col-
lege students, alternative types, secondary-school
students etc.), everything Balkan changed from a
symbol for the bad into a symbol of the good. Thus
it was a deviation which stood in opposition to the
“official”, dominant nationalistic discourse:
In an instant, so-called Ba lkan parties were ever y-
where, pop and rock music from the former Yugo-
slavia became “the law”, even for those who were
too young to have grown up with their sounds, t he
use of Serbo-Croatian in vernacular speech in-
creased to truly unbelievable proportions, bureks
and baklava became the height of fashion, famous
Serbian comedy films (Who’s Singin’ over there,
The Marathon Family, Balkan Spy, The Fall of
Rock and Roll etc.) became references to be cited
as often as possible, in short, a certain nostalgic
sentiment spread among the urban youth which
probably more than anything else reflected a cer-
tain fear that life in independent Slovenia would
become too “Austrian”: closed, cold-hearted, but-
toned-down and provincial. (Stankovič 1999: 46)
Or as one of my informants historically analysed his
love: “[...] at the beginning of the 80s, when nobody
even dreamed that the country would break apart, I
also couldn’t have Yugonostalgia, which was prob-
ably responsible for my later love of bureks”. Thus,
the love of the liberated youth and other love for the
burek is associated with a certain nostalgia, which at
least in certain segments and cases can also be un-
derstood as a sort of implicit rebellion against the
dominant popular and also the multitude of official
nationalist discourses in the newly formed country
(for more on anti-nationalism in the Yugoslav con-
text, see Bilić & Janković 2012). So the burek is con-
sistently encoded as non-Slovenian, by nationalists
and rebels alike.
According to Stankovič (2005: 36), primarily
among the younger urban population, among col-
lege and secondary-school students, the burek be-
gan to function increasingly as a sign for something
cool, and also began to affix other meanings to the
concepts of the South and the Balkan. These alterna-
tive political meanings, which were more or less in
diametrical opposition to the nationalist discourse,
were probably more of an alternative than an oppo-
sitional discourse (the line between them, as Ray-
mond Williams pointed out, often being blurry).12
One of the first articulations of this alternative
discourse was the bureks that were handed out at the
entrances or used as entry tickets to various “Bal-
kan parties” in various clubs in Ljubljana at the be-
ginning of the 1990s. At the first Balkan party, on
May 24, 1991 at the B-51 club, upon purchasing their
tickets at the entrance, guests received a shot of ra-
kia and a burek, filled with Serbian cheese, onions
and bread. But in fact, the most frequent articula-
tion or statement of this alternative discourse was
simply eating a burek. As conversations with college
students in the 90s (as well as my own memories)
testify, the merrymaking at so-called Balkan parties
and other student parties at which Yugo music was
an important element, often ended with a burek.
Eating bureks was a kind of ritual conclusion to a
night of partying.
“Burek eating” was also often accompanied by
other “burek-loving” activities. Consumption, par-
ticularly the consumption of such meaning-laden
things as the burek, is not a solitary, unique phe-
nomenon, but is embedded in a network of other as-
sociations and activities. The burek is thus frequent-
ly found in youth and student magazines, groups,
82 ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2
songs etc. For instance, in the name of the first an-
thology of an original comic from Eastern Europe,
Stripburek, in the name of the acting troupe Burek-
teater, in the song “Burek, oj, oj, oj” by the garage
rock band Kripelbataljon – to give just three more
or less random examples from this unmanageably
long list. In short, the burek becomes a very popular
object, used frequently and in various ways, and of-
ten even an object of veneration among urban youth,
which furt her provokes and motivates nat ionalists to
aim their arrows at it more often. So the burek helps
to create a special and distinctive national/transna-
tional sense of belonging (that does not exclude the
shared experience of the former Yugoslavia) in what
Appadurai (1996) has called new “ethnoscapes”.
However, at least from the mid-90s on, the back-
ground to this anti-nationalistic discourse cannot in
any way be reduced to nostalgic commemoration of
the former SFRY and/or worshipping of the South,
the Balkan, brotherhood and unity. If I said that the
initial, original meanings of the burek among the
young urban population, among college and second-
ary-school students, were more or less diametrically
opposed to the nationalist discourse, but that they
could probably only rarely be labelled as an explicit
rebellion against nationalism – that is, it was more
likely an alternative rather than an oppositional dis-
course – from the mid-90s on there were increasing
numbers of explicit, politically engaged statements
which touched on the burek in one way or another.
And if I said that this alternative, implicit discourse
at least to a certain extent coincides with a type of
“burek-loving” discourse which is to a great extent
formed and represented by burek-eaters, it rarely if
ever appears or is reflected in utterances, in contrast
to the explicit, oppositional practice of eating bu-
reks. Thus in this explicit, oppositional discourse,
the burek is not an object of veneration in and of it-
self, but is merely a signifier. This signifier occupies a
subordinate position in the existing power relations,
which indicates a lack of strength. Of course, such
a division can be problematic, as the line between
the explicit and the implicit, between oppositional
and alternative, as noted above, is often blurred or
erased. One example of an explicit, oppositional
discourse is the aforementioned graffito “I’ll have a
burek, but not a mosque”, which touches on the long
and heated debate over the (non-)construction of a
mosque in the Slovenian capital (Ljubljana is prob-
ably one of the few European capitals that still does
not have a mosque), or the title of the article “Burek?
Ja, Bitte” (Stankovič 2005), a paraphrase of another
aforementioned graffito, in which the response to
the burek is primarily a defence of immigrants and
their culture: “[T]he burek [can] also be seen com-
pletely differently as a symbol. Not as a symbol of
backwardness and a lack of civility, i.e. ‘the Balkans’,
but exactly the opposite, as a sy mbol of the contribu-
tion of the culture of immigrants from former Yu-
goslav republics to the civilizing of Slovenia itself
(Stankovič 2005: 36). The burek thus becomes or is
a distinctive, powerful “intertextual” object in the
sense that the meanings that are imputed to it are in-
Ill. 3: The cover of “Stripburek: Comics from behind the
Rusty Iron Curtain”, a special edition of the comic Strip-
burger. Courtesy of Stripburger, Forum Ljubljana.
ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2 83
fluenced by printed, broadcast and other statements
(cf. Hebdige 1979: 80–84).
Let’s return to the youth and their adoption and
consumption of the burek, to the material level of
production of meaning, where it is necessary to un-
derstand – and this needs to be emphasised – the
place of the burek among the fast foods available at
that time and in particular the food that was availa-
ble at the most “impossible” hours. I believe that it
is taking a very narrow view to see the burek merely
as a symbolic object which students and other youth
in the 1990s chose solely due to its symbolic weight,
its symbolic position – that is because of its semantic
associations with immigrants, the Balkans, the SFRY
and related phenomena. One first has to ask what
was even available at that time at an affordable price,
anytime, anywhere, and with at least a minimal pos-
sibilit y of choice (i.e. cheese, meat or apple). Students
and other youths in the 90s did not eat bureks pri-
marily because they were “Balkan” or “southern”, or
because it represented a rebellion against the domi-
nant nationalist discourse. They did so mainly be-
cause they were cheap, filling, very accessible at least
in urban areas, and because, as several of informants
stated, “it sat perfectly in an alcohol-laden belly”. If
it was primarily about symbols, then the students
would have chosen čevapčiči, which at least through
the 1980s were a more symbolically laden food than
the burek – and they were frequently called upon
when people were look ing for a signifier of the South,
the Balkans, and southerners. For example, in the
provocative, nationalistically galvanizing and highly
influential article by Slovenian critic, essayist and
editor Bojan Štih entitled “That’s Not a Poem, That’s
Just Love”, published in Slovenia’s leading cultural
magazine Naši razgledi (Our Views) in 1982, as well
as the fiery polemics which that article provoked in
nearly all of the major Yugoslav print media of the
time, there is no mention of the burek – but we do
find čevapčiči (Mlekuž 2015).
However, this “banal”, pragmatic, material fact
does not invalidate the role played by the burek
among youths. To put it more ambitiously, the prac-
tices associated with the burek and its transforma-
tion significantly informed youth culture in the 90s
(cf. Hebdige 1979). The burek externalized mean-
ings and values, made them visible and intelligible
for further actions by subjects. The burek “provides
the basis on which subjects [youths] come into be-
ing, rather than simply answering their pre-exist-
ing needs” (Myers 2001: 21). Or in Miller’s words:
the burek “represents culture, not because [it is]
merely there as environment within which we oper-
ate, but because [it is] an integral part of the pro-
cess of objectification by which we create ourselves
as an industrial society: our identities, our social
affiliations, our lived everyday practices” (Miller
1987: 215). The burek was the very medium through
which the youth made and knew themselves. It did
not simply reflect pre-existing meanings and social
distinctions but actively participated in the repro-
duction and transformation of these meanings and
social distinctions. It did far more than just express
meaning. Bureks and youths – objects and subjects
– are inseparably connected in a dialectical relation-
ship of creating each other.
Conclusion
On the level of meanings, two more or less opposite
positions can be identified with respect to the bu-
rek, with very little common dialogue. The burek
in immigrant families is a part of a residual unin-
corporated culture which is significantly removed
from the dominant culture. The fast food burek
from Slovenian streets is, on the other hand, part
of the incorporated emergent culture and subject
to various discourses, particularly the nationalistic
one. It is probably the handiest and most frequently
used signifier in Slovenian popular culture, media,
vernacular language etc. for immigrants from the
former republics of the SFRY, the Balkans, the SFRY
and the phenomena associated with it.
The crucial importance to the burek’s semantic
inflation was the simple and banal fact that in the
1980s the burek was one of the rare products availa-
ble late at night, that it was warm and cheap and
that it was probably one of the very few visible die-
tary objects – objects of observation – on Slovenian
streets. The burek’s presence bothered some people,
it became an object of the nationalistic gaze, it was
84 ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2
noticed and talked about in nationalist discourse,
which treated it as a some kind of representative
of anything “foreign”, “immigrant”, “Balkan”. In
this case, the burek was more significant in form-
ing identities for those who did not consume it than
for those who did. So, the burek attracted meanings,
and made them visible and intelligible so that they
could be further employed by subjects. Its meanings
turned out to be significant.
After Slovenia gained its independence in 1991,
the burek became a popular and even revered part
of the diet primarily among young urbanites, college
and secondary-school students, an object of alterna-
tive or oppositional praxis associated with a positive
attitude towards immigrants, the Balkans, the SFRY
and related phenomena, and even an object of ado-
ration and worship. But students and other youths
in the 90s did not eat bureks primarily because they
were Balkan or southern, or because it represented
a rebellion against the dominant nationalist dis-
course. They did so mainly because they were cheap,
filling, very accessible at least in urban areas, and be-
cause they “sat perfectly in an alcohol-laden belly”.
However, this “banal”, material fact does not reduce
the role that bureks played among young people.
Bureks actively participated in the process through
which the youth made and knew themselves. Its ap-
propriation enabled a highly creative and productive
process of (re)production of subjectivities, identi-
ties, and groups. The burek does not just reflect or
represent meaning, but intervenes, makes a differ-
ence, and alters people’s minds.
Notes
1 From February 20, 2008, to January 24, 2017, it had
353,167 views, which is undoubtedly a huge success on
the Slovene market of just over two million people.
2 Bureks were served at the Sultan’s table at least as far
back as the 15th century, and a recipe for burek first
appears in a Turkish legal text (kanun) in 1501/02
(Zirojević 2014).
3 In the original: We asked for workers. We got people
instead.
4 Despite it s relative dist ance from the dom inant cult ure,
a residual culture can be incorporated into it through
concrete activities. “By ‘emergent’ I mean, first, that
new meanings and values, new practices, new signifi-
cances and experiences, are continually being created.
But there is a much earlier attempt to incorporate
them, just because they are part – and yet not a defined
part – of effective contemporary practice” (Williams
2005 : 41).
5 In a telephone survey by the daily newspaper Delo it
took second place (14.3%) behind the winner, “pizza
by the slice” (27.1%) and ahead of hamburgers (11.1%),
sandwiches (8.6%), French fries (7.1%), hot dogs
(4.4%) and kebabs (4.2%). In urban environments
there are significantly more burek, hamburger and
kebab fans, while in rural areas pizza and French fries
enjoy above-average popularity. The proportion of bu-
rek lovers also increases with the level of education of
the respondents. Among people with higher education
the burek even trumps pizza and takes first place at
23.3%, with pizza in second place at one percent lower.
The telephone survey asked : “Which of the following
is your favourite type of fast food?” They also asked
what kind of burek was the respondents’ favourite. The
most popular was the cheese burek (47.3%), followed
by meat (16.7%), apple (10.6%) and pizz a burek (4.7%).
The telephone survey was conducted on February 25,
2005, on a sample of 406 people (Pal 2005: 13).
6
See https://www.kulinarika.net/iskanje/?splosno_besede
=klobasa+&imageField.x=0 &imageField.y=0.
7 Nationalism was also present before the 1980s in the
form of popular and other discourses. For instance
Gorazd Stariha (2006), through an analysis of docu-
ments kept in the archives of the Petty Offences Mag-
istrate in Radovljica and the Radovljica District Court,
demonstrated that as early as the 1950s in upper
Gorenj ska there were several cases of expressions of
intolerance, chicaner y, and even physical violence di-
rected at immigrants from other republics of the SFRY.
8 Various types of flatbreads and cakes made of phyllo
dough which were similar to the burek in appearance,
preparation and content were known primarily in the
south-western and south-eastern parts of Slovenia (e.g.
prleška oljovica, presni kolač, pršjača, belokranjska po-
vitica, prosta povitica). These were prepared primarily
as holiday and ritual dishes and dishes prepared at the
end of major agricultural jobs. However, technical and
other similarities still do not constitute an argument
for one or another kind of influence or even a common
origin of the dishes.
9 The Carniolan burek is an example of a so-called hy-
brid dish – dishes created on the basis of cultural mix-
ing and creolization, and which in the long historical
perspective are probably the rule rather than the ex-
ception (cf. Delamont 1995). The question that arises
(and which was posed to me in numerous inter views
and conversations) is whether the burek can become a
“Slovenian dish ”, that is a Slovenian dietary icon. The
ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2 85
answer is affirmative, as the biographies or histories
of numerous dishes bear witness to the fact that such
conceptual changes or transitions can occur in a rela-
tively shor t period of ti me. For instanc e, up to the 1970s
the donut, today a Canadian icon, was presented in the
Canadian media as American food (and was in fact
imported from the United States). In the 70s several
restaurants began to advertise donuts, mainly in order
to attract American tourists, and by the 80s it had ap-
peared as a powerful sy mbol of Canadian life (Penfold
2008).
10 The g raffito “Burek, nein dan ke” would probably never
have appeared at all if not for the famous European
anti-nuclear slogan from the early 1980s, “Atom, nein
danke”.
11 Turbo-folk is a musical genre – a mi xture of Serbian
folk music with modern pop music elements. Having
mainstream popularity in Serbia, and although closely
associated with Serbian performers, the genre is widely
popular in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Macedonia, Bulgaria and Montenegro.
12 The difference between the alternative and the opposi-
tional is a dif ference, to use Wil liams’ words, “ between
someone who simply finds a different way to live and
wishes to be left alone with it, and someone who finds
a different way to live and wants to change society in
its light” (Williams 2005 : 41–42). So the alternative
reflects political passivity, while the oppositional is
about political engagement in practices which repre-
sent a form of competition against or deviation from
the dominant forms.
References
Appadurai, Arjun 1981: Gastro-Politics in Hindu South Asia.
American Ethnologist 8, 494–511.
Appadurai, Arjun 1986: Introduction. In: Arjun Appadurai
(ed.), The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural
Perspective. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press, pp. 3–63.
Appadurai, Arjun 1996: Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimen-
sions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minne-
sota Press.
Barthes, Roland 1969: Elements of Semiology. London: Cape.
Bikić, Jasna 2004: Ja sam živi dokaz protiv riječi nemoguče.
Ljiljan, June 11, p. 10.
Bilić, Bojan & Vesna Janković (eds.) 2012: Resisting the Evil:
[Post]-Yugoslav Anti-War Contention. Baden-Baden: No-
mos.
Bourdieu, Pierre 1984: Distinction: A Social Critique of the
Judgement of Taste. London & New York: Routledge.
Caglar, Ayse 1995: McDoner: Doner Kebap and the Social
Positioning Struggle of German Turks. In: Janeen Arnold
Costa & Gary J. Bamossy (eds.), Marketing in a Multicul-
tural World: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Cultural Identity,
pp. 209–230.
Clark, Dylan 2004: The Raw and the Rotten: Punk Cuisine.
Ethnology 43:1, 19–31.
Delamont, Sarah 1995: Appetites and Identities: An Introduc-
tion to the Social Anthropology of Western Europe. London:
Routledge.
Freud, Sigmund 1905[1991]: On Sexuality: Three Essays on
the Theory of Sexuality and other Works. London: Penguin.
Gell, Alfred 1998: Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory.
Oxford: Clarendon.
Gregory, A. Christopher 1982: Gift and Commodities. Lon-
don: Academic Press.
Hebdige, Dick 1979: Subculture: The Meaning of Style. Lon-
don & New York: Methuen & Co.
Hebdige, Dick 1988: Hiding in the Light: On Images and
Things. London: Routledge.
Hyder Patterson, Patrick 2001: Bought and Sold: Living and
Losing the Good Life in Socialist Yugoslavia. Ithaca & Lon-
don: Cornell University Press.
Jezernik, Božidar 2010: Imagining ‘the Turk’. In: Božidar
Jezernik (ed.), Imagining ‘the Turk’. Newcastle upon Tyne:
Cambridge Scholars, pp. 1–16.
Josipovič, Damir 2006: Pregled strukture selitvenih tokov iz
BiH v okviru notranje-jugoslovanskih migracij v Sloveni-
jo. Annales: Series historia et sociologia 16:2, 285–306.
Josipovič, Damir 2012: Social Solidarity in Post-Socialist
Countries. In: Marion Ellison (ed.), Reinventing Social
Solidarity across Europe. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 157–190.
Lovšin, Peter, Peter Mlakar & Igor Vidmar (eds.) 2002: Punk
je bil prej: 25 let punka pod Slovenci. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva
založba.
Luthar, Breda 2010: Shame, Desire and Longing for the
West: A Case Study of Consumption. In: Breda Luthar &
Maruša Pušnik (eds.), Remembering Utopia: The Culture
of Everyday Life in Socialist Yugoslavia. Washington DC:
New Academic Publishing, pp. 341–378.
Luthar, Breda & Maruša Pušnik (eds.) 2010: Remembering
Utopia: The Culture of Everyday Life in Socialist Yugoslavia.
Washington DC: New Academic Publishing.
Mauss, Marcel 1954: The Gift: The Forms and Functions of
Exchange in Archaic Societies. London: Cohen and West
Ltd.
Miller, Daniel 1987: Material Culture and Mass Consump-
tion. Oxford & New York: Blackwell.
Miller, Daniel 1994: Artefacts and the Meaning of Things. In:
Tim Ingold (ed.), Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropol-
ogy. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 396–419.
Miller, Daniel 1998: Why Some Things Matter. In: Daniel
Miller (ed.), Material Cultures: Why Some Things Matter.
London: UCL Press, pp. 3–21.
Miller, Daniel 2010: Stuff. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Mlekuž, Jernej 2008a: Burek.si?! Koncepti/Recepti. Ljubljana:
Studia humanitatis.
86 ETHNOLOGIA EUROPAEA 47:2
Mlekuž, Jernej 2008b: Čapac.si, or on Burekalism and its
Bites: An Analysis of Selected Images of Immigrants and
their Descendants in Slovenian Media and Popular Cul-
ture. Dve domovini / Two Homelands 28, 23–37.
Mlekuž, Jernej 2017: When the Grease Runs through the
Paper: On the Consumption of Ultragreasy Bureks. In:
Jürgen Martschukat & Bryant Simon (eds.), Food, Power
and Agency. London & New York: Bloomsbury Academic,
pp. 169–190.
Muršič, Rajko 2010: On Symbolic Othering: ‘The Turk’ as a
Threatening Other. In: Božidar Jezernik (ed.), Imagining
‘the Turk’. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, pp.
17–26.
Myers, R. Fred 2001: Introduction: Commodities and the
Politics of Value In: Fred R. Myers (ed.), The Empire of
Things: Regimes of Value and Material Culture. Santa Fe:
School of American Research Press, pp. 4–64.
Pajnik, Mojca 2002: Xenophobia and Post-Socialism. Ljublja-
na: Peace Institute.
Pal, Nejc 2005: Mesni ali sirni? Sirni. Več, March 4, p. 13.
Pavković, Aleksandar 2000: The Fragmentation of Yugoslavia:
Nationalism and War in the Balkans. London: Macmillan.
Penfold, Steve 2008: The Donut: A Canadian History. Toron-
to: University of Toronto Press.
Ramet, Sabrina 1999: Balkan Babel: The Disintegration of
Yugoslavia from the Death of Tito to the Insurrection in Ko-
sovo. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Razvezani jezik 2012: Burek. Available at: http://razvezani-
jezik.org/?page=burek (accessed June 19, 2014).
Said, Edward W. 1978[2003]: Orientalism. London: Penguin.
Šalehar, Matevž 2004: Da burek ne bo Turek. Ve č, January
23, p. 57.
Savaş, Özlem 2014: Taste Diaspora: The Aesthetic and Ma-
terial Practice of Belonging. Journal of Material Culture
19:2, 185–208.
Stankovič, Peter 1999: Rokerji s konca tisočletja. In: Peter
Stankovič, Tomc Gregor &Velikonja Mitja (eds.), Urbana
plemena: Subkulture v Sloveniji v devetdesetih. Ljubljana:
Študentska založba, pp. 43–52.
Stankovič, Peter 2005: Burek? Ja, bitte! Dnevnik, Zelena pika,
January 15, p. 7.
Stariha, Gorazd 2006: Dvigam to čašo za bratstvo in enot-
nost naših narodov. Zgodovina za vse 13:2, 83–114.
Stepišnik, Matija 2002: Od Jureta do bureka in druge zgodbe.
Več, November 25, p. 5.
Thomas, Nicholas 1991: Entangled Objects: Exchange, Ma-
terial Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press.
Trio Genialci 2008: Ti si burek. Available at: http://www.
youtube.com/results?search_query=ti+si+burek (accessed
January 24, 2017).
Wilk, Richard 1997: A Critique of Desire: Distaste and Dis-
like in Consumer Behaviour. Consumption, Markets and
Culture 1:2, 2.
Williams, Raymond 2005: Culture and Materialism: Selected
Essays. London: Verso.
Zirojević, Olga 2014: Burek. Available at: http://www.me-
diantrop.rankomunitic.org/olga-zirojevic-burek?fb_ac-
tion_ids=10152453028704274&fb_action_types=og.likes
(accessed June 11, 2014).
Žito 2013: Kranjski burek. Available at: http://kruh.zito.
si/2013/05/kranjski/ (accessed June 19, 2014).
Žižek, Slavoj 1990: Eastern Europe’s Republics of Gilead.
New Left Review 183, 50–62.
Jernej Mlekuž is a research fellow at the Slovenian Migration
Institute at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of
Sciences and Arts. His research interests are migration theo-
ry and methodology, cultural aspects of migration processes,
popular culture, media, nationalism, food studies, material
culture, epistemology, and epiphenomena. Currently, he is
finishing research on the sausage kranjska klobasa. He is the
author of the prize-winning book Burek: A Culinary Meta-
phor (also published in Slovenian, Serbian and Albanian).
(Mlekuz@zrc-sazu.si)
SIEF membership package
www.mtp.dk www.mtp.dk
Museum Tusculanum Press
Dantes Plads 1
1556 Copenhagen V : : Denmark
In December 2014 the membership of SIEF, the Société Internationale d’Ethnologie et de Folklore,
voted in favour of making Ethnologia Europaea its ocial journal, after SIEF, the editors and the
publisher of Ethnologia Europaea, Museum Tusculanum Press, had prepared the ground for a mu-
tually agreeable association between organization and publication. SIEF was founded in 1964, Eth-
nologia Europaea in 1966, and as recent historiographic research makes quite evident, there was no
love lost between the actors founding the two respective institutions. Some five decades later, it is
safe to say that cooperation rather than particularization is the major coin of scholarship. Both part-
ners share a profound interest in nurturing and promoting scientific research and communication
within our field(s), in extending international collaboration among European ethnologists as well as
in disseminating new ethnological knowledge to a wide readership.
Membership
SIEF gathers every two years for its international congress, where colleagues engage with one another’s
work and enjoy each other’s company. The SIEF congress is an intellectual festival that showcases the
state of the art in our fields and a ritual time in the academic calendar, crucial for building professional
networks, a number of collaborative projects, finding inspiration, and cultivating friendships. Between
congresses, SIEF’s numerous working groups provide platforms for critical debate, networking, and
exchange of information; they organize their own meetings and sponsor publications.
SIEF has two professional journals: Ethnologia Europaea, a printed subscription-based journal
that all members receive by mail twice a year, and Cultural Analysis, an Open Access journal pub-
lished online. In addition, SIEF communicates with members through its website and with two
newsletters sent out every year.
The annual membership fee is 35. Opting for a two-year membership in one go qualifies for
a discounted price of € 67. Membership will support SIEF to grow as a strong professional organi-
zation, while allowing members to participate in the SIEF community and shape the future of the
academic fields.
The membership package offers a great host of benefits, including a subscription to the lively and
interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal Ethnologia Europaea. Members will receive printed copies of
the biannual journal as well as electronic access to available backlist issues.
See more and apply for membership now at www.sieome.org.
... Tudi priseljenke in priseljenci vplivajo na razvoj znanosti, kulture, gospodarstva v sprejemni državi, k temu prispevajo s svojim znanjem in delovanjem, pa naj gre za slovenske izseljenke, izseljence v tujini ali za priseljenke, priseljence v Slovenijo (prim. Mlekuž, 2017;Kajzer et al., 2019;Grdina & Zajc, 2022). ...
Article
Full-text available
Prenovljena osnovno- in srednješolska zakonodaja predvideva intenzivni začetni tečaj slovenščine ter individualno spremljanje napredka vključevanja. Na voljo je vedno več didaktičnega gradiva za različno starostno stopnjo otrok, a izzivi ostajajo. Še več jih je pri izvajanju medkulturnega dialoga v okviru pouka. Učni načrti in učna gradiva bi morali odsevati družbeno raznolikost, a so priseljenke in priseljenci, pripadnice in pripadniki manjšin v njih največkrat nevidni ali prikazani pristransko. To je treba spremeniti in tudi njim samim omogočiti, da se predstavijo ter spregovorijo o izzivih vključevanja, o sestavljeni identiteti in o svoji vlogi v družbi.
Article
The article discusses the contemporary reconstruction of the Kranjska sausage as a national dish by exploring different actors in this process. This representative culinary object played a significant role in the formation and development of Slovene national consciousness from the Spring of Nations onward, faced devaluation in socialist era and experienced a renaissance in the new millennium, when it was also given a role in the project of the construction of the nation‐state. The modern rebirth of the Kranjska sausage is presented as an interrelated and complex process due to many factors: the efforts of an influential ethnologist, the role of an institution dedicated to the Kranjska sausage, and other persons, groups, and institutions with different objectives, ideas, and understandings. The article conceptualizes nationalizing as an everyday practice, as a network, or collection of people, practices, places, institutions, ideologies, objects, technologies, and ideas that define people's subjectivity and shape their actions and imaginations.
Article
Full-text available
This paper argues that what we do not want to consume is often as personally and socially important as what we desire. Are desire and distaste really two separate bodies of knowledge; do we keep separate mental lists of good and bad, of things to be sought out and things to be avoided? Or are the positive and negative aspects of goods always intimately related to each other, so that we learn a series of relationships between desire and disgust, or desired and detested objects?This inquiry was prompted by a long term study of consumption in the Central American country of Belize. Survey data show that distastes, aversions, and dislikes are much more socially diagnostic than positive desires. I argue that dislikes and distastes are not the mirror images of tastes and desire, but instead provide very different ways for people to express identity and difference, to create senses of self, space, and personal and social time.
Book
In Canada, the donut is often thought of as the unofficial national food. Donuts are sold at every intersection and rest stop, celebrated in song and story as symbols of Canadian identity, and one chain in particular, Tim Horton's, has become a veritable icon with over 2500 shops across the country. But there is more to the donut than these and other expressions of 'snackfood patriotism' would suggest. In this study, Steve Penfold puts the humble donut in its historical context, examining how one deep-fried confectionary became, not only a mass commodity, but an edible symbol of Canadianness. Penfold examines the history of the donut in light of broader social, economic, and cultural issues, and uses the donut as a window onto key developments in twentieth-century Canada such as the growth of a 'consumer society,' the relationship between big business and community, and the ironic qualities of Canadian national identity. He goes on to explore the social and political conditions that facilitated the rapid rise and steady growth of donut shops across the country. Based on a wide range of sources, from commercial and government reports to personal interviews, The Donut is a comprehensive and fascinating look at one of Canada's most popular products. It offers original insights on consumer culture, mass consumption, and the dynamics of Canadian history.
Article
A particular ‘Turkish taste in Vienna’, which has been formed through experiences of migration from Turkey and resettlement in Vienna, serves as a significant aesthetic and social medium for constituting a collective sense of belonging. This article explores how Turkish people in Vienna constitute, perform and enunciate belongings through practices and discourses around travelling forms and spaces of material culture. Underpinned by an ethnography founded on a repertoire of Turkish objects in Vienna, this article addresses the relational constitution of a particular taste and a diasporic belonging within a specific context of displacement and relocation of both people and material objects. ‘Taste diaspora’ refers to a certain diasporic sphere that is formed through a collective taste in material objects and enunciated in the aesthetics of the everyday.
  • Arjun Appadurai
Appadurai, Arjun 1981: Gastro-Politics in Hindu South Asia. American Ethnologist 8, 494-511.