Serbian Oral Tradition in an Intercultural Code


Full-time employees

Outside collaborators

  • Boško Suvajdžic, PhD (Head of project)
  • Snežana Samardžija, PhD
  • Valentina Pitulic, PhD
  • Nemanja Radulovic, PhD

Oral tradition is an exceptionally complex segment of the history, customs and life of the Serbian people, on account of the fact that it not only represents the oldest form of expressing its world-view but also constitutes an active element of traditional culture, of the complex mechanism of “historical memory” and of specific ways developing poetic language. Within the framework of established oral genres and numerous “simple forms”, the layers of tradition, ranging from pagan and Christianised elements, through ethical norms, rituals, beliefs, to the historical circumstances in which oral creators composed variants in keeping with the demands, expectations and norms of the collective, were reflected and stylised in various ways. Harmonising individual talent and the general principles was the prerequisite for evaluating, recognising and divulging oral works. These dynamic flows did not remain isolated from the broader social and cultural context. Diverse connections were established between oral genres and types, also contributing to the intertwining of the folklore of the indigenous inhabitants with that of newcomers or the neighbouring peoples, and also on the level of overlapping of oral and written texts in all epochs and stylistic formations. Culture is undoubtedly an integrative factor of social identity. When it comes to evaluating the significance of a certain culture, of decisive importance is the category of duration, through which a given culture solely manifests itself as a value or non-value. Since the 19th century, when a systematic gathering of material began in the Serbian and the South Slavic area, and right down to the present day, folk creation has increasingly featured in scientific undertakings, whether in the form of searching for old written texts and evidence of the actual time period that certain creations date from, or when applying certain methods of interpretation, researching into the origin and specific characteristics of forms, reconstructing the circumstances of the creation and duration of oral “texts”, their structure and complex of meanings, etc. Work on the project Serbian Oral Tradition in an Intercultural Code encompasses studying the history and poetics of Serbian oral literature, the intercultural connections of Serbian oral tradition with other countries in the region, the position of Serbian folklore within a Balkan and European framework, and the transposition of oral literature into various forms of artistic manifestation.