BalkansBurekBoozeBooks — The Appeal Lies in Nostalgia
Author: Hana Tiro
The concept of your community is based in London but focused on Balkan. How did you start this idea?
Tamara Vujinović: The idea for the event started out quite spontaneously. I originate from the ex-Yugoslav region and have always had a strong relationship with the Balkans, from annual visits to the area to a borderline obsession with its music, film, food, etc. During the pandemic, I began to write articles on different themes in regard to the Balkans and became involved with platforms such as ‘Balkanism’ and ‘Asfar’. This period of time really piqued my interest in the region (in a much broader manner) and I began to think of the richness of our culture, the immense Balkan diaspora in London, and how great it would be if there were more opportunities for us to come together. With the collaboration of Morocco Bound Bookshop in Bermondsey, I organised my first event, advertised quite simply as ‘Balkans, Burek, Booze, Books.’
What kind of events are you focused on?
Tamara Vujinović: Our first event was the result of bringing together a variety of guest speakers to speak on their work as well as issues pertinent to the Balkans past, present, and future. This included Ksenija Kadic; who spoke on her journey of migration and her work within the mental health sector and Enna Kebo; who spoke of the importance of environmental/ecological preservation in Montenegro and the wider region. We were also joined virtually by Selver Ucanbarlic from Mahala Magazine, a DIY publication filled with stories about the people living in Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond. As well as guest speakers, we had a photography exhibition of Tom Barlow Brown’s work, readings of Balkan literature and poetry, and burek provided by the incredible Spasia Dinkovski (the face of MysticBorek.) The general idea is to bring people together in discussions of prevalent issues faced by the region alongside a celebration of its cultural diversity and creativity.
Is there a certain nostalgic vibe towards Balkan, or are the people just wanting to hear and see more Balkan content?
Tamara Vujinović: I would say it very much depends. I think for many, the appeal lies in nostalgia whether that be someone who is directly from the region and misses a sense of home or a second-generation immigrant who seeks ways to strengthen their knowledge or enjoyment of Balkan culture. I know that for me and for many of the attendees it is the latter- creating a sense of community and enjoyment for all was therefore really important to me. Not all of the attendees were of Balkan descent either so I think mainly people are just interested in the region and want to find out more! Our mission for the events is therefore to provide a means of platforming Balkan creativity, inciting healthy discussion, and forging community.
What are you planning next for Balkans Burek Booze Books?
Tamara Vujinović: The future will see many different types of events divided along alternative types of engagement (rather than trying to fit it all in on the same night!) This could mean events dedicated solely for music/dancing/eating purposes or more sit-down discussions of important themes and issues but you will have to wait and see! We have some exciting news coming up so be sure to follow @balkansburekboozebooks on Instagram to stay updated with future events.