International Conference:

Folk Culture and Boundaries in the Balkans

Volos, 7-8 June 2008

The concept of the conference Organizers and sponsors The conference programme


Rozita Dimova (Free University, Berlin)
The cradle of "the Biblical Land:" The Ohrid Summer Festival between Folklore, High Arts and Nationalism in the F.Y.R. of Macedonia.

Staged for the first time in 1961, the Ohrid Summer Festival has become one of the most prominent high art festivals featuring best artists from the world in Former Yugoslavia, and after 1991 in the independent republic of Macedonia. The Ohrid Summer festival would draw sharp demarcations between its "high art" character and the folklore content of other events promoting Macedonian "culture." This year's 46th edition of the Ohrid Summer Festival however revealed an unexpected fusion between "folklore" and "high-arts:" the festival has opened up its doors to Macedonian or foreign artists and performers who would promote and celebrate the "biblical" character of the country. By providing a thick description of the festival and the locations spread around the ancient town of Ohrid (also called Balkan Jerusalem), this paper will delineate how this festival has induced construction of boundaries not only between folklore and high culture, but also between Macedonia, its neighbors and the different ethnic groups living in the country. Situating this process of the construction of multiple boundaries through the Ohrid summer festival and other "cultural" events in the recent nationalist surge in Macedonia, I closely examine the slogan "Macedonia, the biblical land" and the representation of nationalism through art and folklore festivals.