Many non-profit organisations and music bands are emerging as important hubs that provide a neutral space for ethnically diverse musicians to share their passion for music with each other. One of them is Fetterforeningen, (the Cousin Association), a group of dedicated Balkan-born and Norwegian-based musicians that seeks to bridge cultural divides using Balkan humour and rhythms. The members of Fetterforeningen have relatives spread across the Balkans with profound ties particularly to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. Last year they recorded their new album at Mostar Rock School, which was supported by the Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo. Fronted by Igor Dunderovic, the band interpret traditional Norwegian folk music with a distinctive Balkan sound.
“The essence of our project is the unconditional informal brotherly love beyond cultural and ethnic differences. The name itself is based on our humoristic perception that everyone from the Balkans, whether they are Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, or Montenegrin, are related. We believe that these countries should have good ties and that is exactly what our work strives to emulate and reflect” Igor explains. Whereas they normally sing in Norwegian, they have another on-going project running simultaneously, called Udruzenje Rodjaka. “Aimed at the ex-Yugoslavian audience, we put up the same show and it is based on the same vision of reconciliation and friendship”, Igor adds.
There are many ways to promote equality and cooperation across cultural, ethnic and religious divides. Fetterforeningen is unique in the sense that they use music to develop relations and to strengthen multi-cultural and multi-ethnic cooperation. They have showed that music is increasingly becoming a powerful tool to connect people and promote inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation.