'Manele', symbolic geography and music cosmopolitanism in Romania


  • Ruxandra Trandafoiu Edge Hill University Author




manele, turbo-folk, Romania, Roma, cosmopolitanism, democratization


'Manele' has become the most successful Romanian music genre to emerge after 1989. Combining Southern Balkan, Turkish and Middle Eastern sounds, but also Euro-American pop and hip-hop influences and sung by mainly Roma musicians, manele are a symbol of the transition to democracy, with its re-examination of social and cultural values and its refashioning of national identities and ethnic hierarchies. This article investigates whether this hybrid musical genre has the potential to connect the Roma to a larger transnational network and, in so doing, offer the Roma a path towards fairer representation and equality and the opportunity for new cosmopolitan engagements. This, I argue, would benefit an ethnic minority for whom more traditional paths towards empowerment seem to remain closed. To this end, I explore media and public debates and conduct analyses of manele music and video clips to show how the genre challenges both Eurocentrism and localism and could be seen as a sign of democratization and an opportunity for those culturally and ethnically marginalized to force their way out of a subaltern position.

Author Biography

  • Ruxandra Trandafoiu, Edge Hill University

    Ruxandra Trandafoiu is Reader in Communication at Edge Hill University, Lancashire, UK. She has had a long-term research interest in post-1989 democratization processes in Eastern Europe and European Union politics. Her research has primarily focused on the role of new media technologies in the development of new forms of political engagement by migrant groups and national minorities. She is the author of Diaspora Online: Identity Politics and Romanian Migrants (Berghahn, 2013) and the co-editor of The Globalization of Musics in Transit: Music Migration and Tourism (Routledge, 2013) and Media and Cosmopolitanism (Peter Lang, 2014).


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How to Cite

Trandafoiu, R. (2018). ’Manele’, symbolic geography and music cosmopolitanism in Romania. Popular Music History, 11(1), 61-79. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.36189