Accepted Paper:

Mountain area of Žumberak (Croatia): individuals' lifestyle choice or "destiny"  

Authors:

Melanija Belaj (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)
Ana-Marija Vukušić (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation we will try to investigate new forms of social and cultural Otherness which occurs in the encounter of young strangers who came to live in Žumberak and the old people who already live there and their different narratives and imaginaries about living in this mountain area.

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation we will pay attention to the mountain area of Žumberak, a range of hills and mountains at the border of Croatia and Slovenia. Selecting Žumberak highlands as the location of our research was primarily associated with the fact that this very region often comes up in everyday discourse as the most depopulated one, as well as spatial and social periphery. It is an area characterized by a large number of small and scattered villages and a range of hills and mountains without any urban settlements. Demographic data provide good insight and show that during the 20th century the population in Žumberak area continuously declined, over the course of 40 years the population slumped by 74 per cent. The last census of 2011 showed that the area of Žumberak was populated by less than 3,000 persons (in the area of 430 square kilometres) mostly aged from 70 to 79. For most of them, staying in Žumberak was not a matter of choice, but "destiny". Žumberak has become unattractive and repulsive to the domicile population. However, during recent years we have witnessed the "discovery" of Žumberak by foreigners (mostly young people from Central and Western Europe). They regard life there as a possibility to live in harmony with nature, fascinated by the wildness and freedom that Žumberak provides. A Dutch family that lived in Žumberak for a few years, has inspired us to investigate new forms of social and cultural Otherness that recompose the mountain population nowadays.

Panel Rur02
Tracking changes in the mountains: imaginaries, mobilities, narratives