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hajde • хајде • ajde • ајде • haydi • hadi • haide • άιντε

Hajde is one of those great and necessary words; once you learn it, you can’t live without it. Found primarily in the everyday speech of those who live or have heritage in the Balkans and Turkey, hajde (also spelled ajde) and its cognates tend to interject (or exclaim) transition, movement or encouragement: “let’s go!”, “come on!”, “go on!”, “alright”, “we’ll see”, “yeah right!”

Due to its particular emotive quality, hajde is also often found in song lyrics from across this region. It can be used in contexts anywhere from a party—let’s all dance and sing and drink rakija!—to a lover’s plaintive plea—please, come away with me!

Words like hajde and the music that carry them know no borders. They catch on when they’re good, when they resonate, when they help us to express our inexpressible feelings, when we enjoy them, when they simply roll off our tongue or we can’t get them out of our head.

In effect, over time, music has helped to build linkages and spheres of connection between geographically, linguistically and otherwise diverse peoples. These linkages and spheres extend beyond sharing songs: they build communities. Nevertheless, various forces have also tried to assert boundaries around music and to attribute belonging to it, sometimes with destructive consequences.

Hajde is a word of the Ottoman ecumene. In my favorite book, Balkan Popular Culture and the Ottoman Ecumene, the book's editor Donna Buchanan writes that the idea of the "Ottoman ecumene" should replace orientalist and balkanist conceptions of the Balkans and its culture. “Ecumene” has been used by scholars of globalization to refer to regions of “persistent cultural interaction and exchange” or places of “durable cross-societal bonds [serving as the basis for]... permanent traffic in ideas of peoplehood and selfhood” (Buchanan, 2007, p. xxi). Buchanan uses the term in her work to imply a space where historically intentional sharing occurred, and one in which contemporary individuals are currently operating upon this historical basis to reimagine and redefine culture and identity. To refer to the Balkans as the Ottoman ecumene implies that the intentional sharing that occurred within this space was done and continues to be done due to a long history of interaction, not defined by national identity or orientalist/Balkanist constraints but rather facilitated by a network of political and economic relationships.

Inspired by Buchanan and her colleagues, this blog is an attempt to explore the linkages and ruptures between popular musics and the people that make and enjoy them, both in the Balkans, and indeed the broader world; for seeing behind the curtain of politics to better understand how art is entwined with real, lived experience.

With that as our goal, we start from the premise that popular music is an art form, worthy of being evaluated and taken seriously.  

There is so very much about this topic that I haven’t yet learned. As I live in and travel through the Ottoman ecumene, I'd like to learn more. Through posts, essays, music highlights, reviews, field notes, and interviews, I hope to spark conversation and generate even more knowledge and understanding from others who know a great deal more than I do.

I hope that through this blog, I can be a loving, thoughtful witness to the music I love and to the people who have shown it to me.



As a singer with an interest in social movements and political change, I have been studying politics and culture in the Balkans for several years. I created this blog as a place to ask questions, to learn, and to collaborate with other musicians and writers. 

I sing and write from Belgrade, Serbia. 


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