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Studia ethnologica Croatica, Vol.21 No.1 Prosinac 2009.

Prethodno priopćenje

Symbols and Ritual Practices of Conflict and Coexistence. Some Italian-Slovenian Discourses

Jurij Fikfak ; Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Institute of Slovenian Ethnology, 1000 Ljubljana, Novi trg 5/2, Slovenia

Puni tekst: slovenski, pdf (4 MB) str. 355-387 preuzimanja: 507* citiraj
Fikfak, J. (2009). Simboli in ritualne prakse spora in sožitja. Nekateri italijansko-slovenski diskurzi. Studia ethnologica Croatica, 21(1), 355-387. Preuzeto s

In the last twenty years in particular, the Slovenian (as well as Croatian) and Italian ritual practices that refer to, celebrate, or commemorate events or persons from the period dealt with in the joint report by the Slovenian-Italian historical committee – that is, from the end of the nineteenth century to the 1950s – have been characterized by a problematic relationship and intertwining of various discourses of different branches of authority on both sides of the border, discussions by historians of various ethnic backgrounds and orientations (e.g., negationist, revisionist, realistic, etc.), numerous Partisan and Italian exile organizations, neo-fascist and other subcultures, Internet forums, and so on. Based on an analysis of individual cases in Slovenian-Italian contacts, the author outlines some constants of discourse that assigns ethnic qualities, and occasional internal disagreements or ambivalences, and at the same time reveals the options for a more reflective relationship towards the past that have already been applied before.
On 10 February, just over a week after commemorating the millions of Holocaust victims, the Italians annually commemorate the exodus of over 200,000 Italians (among these were also Slovenians and Croatians that opposed communism) from Yugoslavia, and especially the victims disposed of in karst shafts - foibe when the Yugoslav Army drove the German army out of Trieste and ruled it for 40 days until the beginning of June 1945, when it had to relinquish it to the Anglo-American allied forces. In February 2007, the exodus and the victims were also commemorated by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, a former communist, who gave a speech at Quirinal Palace on the barbarism, Slavic expansionism, and bloodthirsty rage of Tito’s army. He repeated the content of this speech again a year later, and then partly mitigated his views in 2009 by mentioning the fascist crimes that occurred before the tragic exodus and killings connected with the karst shafts. Napolitano’s words had a great impact in Slovenia and Croatia; the Croatian president saw elements of racism, revisionism, and the like in them. The European Commission disregarded the speech, but rebuked Croatian President Stjepan Mesić for reacting "inappropriately" to Napolitano’s speech.
This official Italian position raises the question of the extent to which subcultural productions (especially graffiti, YouTube videos, and other video production) find their roots and a haven in the dominant discourse of certain official branches of authority. Is it possible that the graffiti on the memorial to the Slovenian victims of World War II in Bagnoli della Rosandra-Boljunec near Trieste and on the atmospheric Partisan monument in the village of Trnovo, and the video Trieste – ultima frontiera (Trieste: The Final Frontier) on YouTube, which revives the ideological discourse of a great Italy as the last outpost of civilization, apply certain similar or even identical elements (e.g., the Slavs as barbarians, loss of memory of the fascist violence from 1919 to 1943) as the discourse of the authorities?
However, in addition to these options that reproduce the continuation of a conflict treatment of critical historical periods, there are also other options, especially at the local level. On the one hand, this involves the discourse of municipal authorities (e.g., between the mayors of and Gorizia at the towns’ joint Europe Square/Transalpine Square) and the efforts of certain groups, such as Concordia et pax, which seek the harmonious coexistence of all ethnic communities in this territory. Together with the mayors, they commemorate all of the victims from this critical period, clean the monuments that the members of certain far-right parties such as the Tricolor Flame Social Movement (MS FT) and New Force (Forza Nuova) daub with fascist symbols, try to understand this tragic period by organizing dialogue, and seek opportunities for new views. Among the successful campaigns, one needs to be highlighted in particular: the discussion between Lucio Toth, the former president of the Venezia-Giulia and Dalmatia National Association (ANVGD) exile organization and a former senator, Miloš Budin, a former Italian senator and ethnic Slovenian. This discussion was attended by all of the mayors from the Karst region; by stressing the grievances of and injustices against individuals and ethnic communities from the 1920s to the 1950s, the following thought in particular stood out: "We cannot build a common past, but we can build a common present and future."
In addition, there is an effort to build a common memory, especially in the Nova Gorica-Gorizia/Gorica region. The Concordia et Pax association is particularly active in this regard: in 1995, they erected a joint memorial commemorating all victims, fallen soldiers, and others on Sveta gora (Holy Mount), raising the question of what to write on this sign. Among various options, the phrase "Concordia et Pax" (Harmony and Peace) proved to be the best choice.

Ključne riječi
ritual; symbol; social poetics; Slovenian; Italian; partisan; neofascism; discourse; graffiti

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