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Accepted Paper:

Between mute memories and "rootless" majority: urban heritage after population transfers on the Slovenian Mediterranean coast  
Katja Hrobat Virloget (University of Primorska)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyses the reasons for the decay of urban heritage of coastal towns of Slovenia, ex-Yugoslavia, where the population has almost entirely changed after WWII due to population transfers. The decaying of heritage is ascribed to mute memories of the minority and “rootless” majority.

Paper long abstract:

When Yugoslavia gained the nationally mixed territory of Istria after WWII 90% of mainly Italian-speaking population emigrated, while the "ghost" towns were settled by people from Slovenia and ex-Yugoslavia. Today, the majority of population, encompassing the newcomers have barely any memories or emotional link to the places they inhabit and they live in them with feelings of rootlessness. As the majority, belonging to the dominant Slovenian national identity, these inhabitants do not identify with the local heritage which is often left to decay. A great part of the population in the historic centres derives from totally different environments and thence have hardly adapted to the Mediterranean way of living. Moreover, after the Slovenian independence the people originating from other Yugoslav republics became second class citizen, marginalised with their memories.

These cities are perceived as heritage mostly by the Italian-speaking inhabitants who remained - despite the new dominant national identity - so to become a (officially recognized) Italian minority. In the dominant Yugoslav memory they were marked by collective guilt for war crimes and as such marginalized with their memories and heritage silenced. In their former home environment, which became foreign to them due to the changed social-political circumstances, their "spatialized" memory is wounded with the many interventions in the historic built environment.

The presentation will be part of a self-critical ethnological analysis of a nation's (intentionally) ignored past focusing on the "rootless" or/and marginalised inhabitants with their "wounds" remaining in the form of places left to decay.

Panel P076
Empowering the silenced memories: grassroots practices in urban revitalization politics
  Session 1