How are country branding and nationalism different?
“Country branding,” as described by Mijatovic in “The Musical (Re)branding of Serbia,” is the concept of adjusting the public image of an entire country. This article specifically looks at the way Serbia used music to help soften and rejuvenate their image as a people, rather than the desolate, violent reputation projected onto them. National identities are very delicate. On the world stage, there are countless interweaving narratives and conflicts that make it hard for any country to be deemed the ‘good guy’ in every situation. When it comes to a country plagued with a violent nationalistic history, this becomes even harder. Serbia, like every other country and ethnic group, did not form its politics and identity independently; many cultural exchanges occurred to come to its place in history. Mijatovic described Serbian identity as “formed through hard work shared with neighbors, a communal spirit of celebration, love relationships, and shared customs and beliefs.” Nationalist leaders will try to muddy this history, and take advantage of people’s pride in their country. They will attempt to “propose a different understanding of tradition,” by promoting intolerance and the “glorification of violence.” In this way, nationalist politics is a country branding of itself by advertising a dangerous version of national identity. Cultural rebranding attempts like that of the Srbija: Sounds Global compilations are instead peaceful and encouraging. Music is a universal method of connecting with others, regardless of the source of the music.