'Whose Is This Song?' Nationalism and Identity through the lens of Adela Peeva


  • Eleni Elefterias-Kostakidis University of Sydney



Whose is this Song is a palimpsest of overlapping cultural layers that explore the imagined cultural and ethnic stereotypes of the Balkan community through this well-known shared tune. It is a documentary film about this hybrid folk tune that is common throughout the Balkan region, but which is the cause of much dissension and the incitement for the events portrayed in the film. Many have commented on, or tried to trace the archetype of, the song ‘On the road to Uskiindar’ (Turkish version) or Alto £evo TOJCO / From a foreign land (Greek version). Adela Peeva is on a quest for the truth. As she says in the film, she is on a quest for “the discovery and communication of truth.”1 Though an interesting topic in itself, this paper is more concerned with the “documentary voice”2 created by the director through the scenery and the subjects she chooses to interview. How she uses her camera lens, and its synchronous focus on the background, or backdrop, not only adds to the mystery of the film, but more importantly to
the greater issue of cultural similarity and perceived diversity: nationalism and identity within the Balkans.