A Clash of Narratives: Studies on Slovene Collective Memory

The book offers a representative, though diverse, picture of the narratives shaping the identity of present-day Slovenes, captured from the perspectives of both Slovene and Polish scholars. Their case studies illustrate two complementing but at the same time contradictory mechanisms that form collective memory. The first mechanism has to do with canonizing and popularizing images of the past, the second – with contesting the past, with a conflict of memories. Taken as a whole, the volume constitutes a comprehensive overview, ranging from the actualization of myths and recalling the sources of identity to the newest initiatives aimed at vindicating the meritorious yet forgotten ones.


Slovenia, collective memory, cultural memory, literary canon, history.

Printed version of the books is available in bookstores:

Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego

and in Open Access:

Starcie narracji. Studia o słoweńskiej pamięci zbiorowej 


A Clash of Narratives. Summaries





Lilla Moroz-Grzelak

The Slovenian fate of the Jesuits in the light of Yugoslav encyclopaedic materials. Between pride and damnation

On the basis of materials taken from Yugoslav encyclopaedias, this text presents ways of showing knowledge about the Jesuit Order and its presence in the Slovenian lands. Attention was paid to the way encyclopaedic entries were constructed – the description of the general history of the Order was in line with the propaganda image, reproducing the black legend of the Order, while in parts devoted to the activities of the Jesuits in the Slovenian lands, their positive impact on the development of education, culture and language was noted. The analysed encyclopaedic entries were confronted with studies devoted to the Order, which allowed for complementing the knowledge about the Jesuits operating in Slovenia. The analysis of the material showed the importance of the Protestant movement in the Slovenian tradition and that the active participation of the Jesuits in the Counter-Reformation became one of the reasons for the atmosphere of hostility built around them. The positively assessed role of the Order and its Slovenian members in editions of Yugoslav encyclopaedias was balanced out by phrases that negatively described the Jesuits as enemies of progress, repeating the propaganda image which reproduced the black legend of the order that existed throughout Europe.

Keywords: Jesuits, Protestantism, Counter-Reformation, encyclopaedia, Slovene language 

Marko Juvan

The Prešerenian structure between literature and literary studies

Dušan Pirjevec’s concept of the Prešerenian structure explains the esthetic limitations of Slovene literature as a consequence of its national function as a substitute for the politics and ideological superstructure of a nation without statehood. Coined in response to the unique historical circumstances of 1968, this concept is derived mainly from the self-perception of nineteenth-century Slovene writers and overlooks the broader comparative context. The Prešerenian structure is not a Slovenian peculiarity, but merely a peripheral variant of European cultural nationalism under the conditions of the world literary system. The Slovenian national and comparative literary history stem from the same ideological matrix, as well.

Keywords: Slovene literature, cultural nationalism, comparative literature, world literary system, national function of literature

Andraž Jež

Anton Fister: revolutionary priest between Slovenian cultural memory and collective amnesia

Why, despite his extraordinary biography, is Anton Fister (1808–1881) hardly remembered today? This progressive Catholic priest from Radovljica, an acquaintance, in different periods of his life, of France Prešeren and Matija Čop, was a pioneer of animal rights activism, one of the central figures of the bourgeois revolt in Vienna, and a co-signatory of a political appeal also signed by Karl Marx. Fister spent over 30 years in exile in the United States and was almost completely forgotten, both by Slovenian society  in general and by most experts. While pondering his present-day oblivion, we should bear in mind that Fister, though never a universally known figure, was nevertheless an object of interest for some experts decades ago – and it is solely in this context that we can discuss the development of notions about this unique historical figure. In the paper I examine the evolving reception of Anton Fister and attempt to find the reasons for his disappearance from the Slovenian collective memory.

Keywords: Springtime of Nations, progressive priests, Slovenian emigrees in USA, national cultural memory, science in SFR Yugoslavia

Mitja Velikonja

Heroes from the walls – images of Gavrilo Princip and Rudolf Maister in political graffiti and street art

The chapter deals with contemporary images of two heroes from the recent history celebrated nowadays in the form of political graffiti and street art. The first one is Gavrilo Princip (1894–1918), a Bosnian Serb, member of the pro-Yugoslav youth organization Mlada Bosna, who shot the Archduke and successor to the Habsburg throne, Franz Ferdinand; the second is General Rudolf Maister (1874–1934), a Slovene commander of the South Slavic forces in Lower Styria and Carinthia in the years 1918 and 1919. The author analyzes and interprets in a comparative way about fifty examples of graffiti and street art pieces of different formats (stencils, stickers, murals etc.) dedicated to the two as they appear on the walls of different Balkan cities and towns. In terms of theory, his research combines graffiti and street art studies with a critical analysis of the cult of personality of political leaders and the new ideologies of post-socialist transition.

Keywords: political graffiti, street art, Rudolf Maister, Gavrilo Princip, nationalism

Božidar Jezernik

Jože Jurančič’s journey through the labyrinths of remembering and forgetting

It has already become a cliché that life writes the most beautiful stories. One of the most amazing and multifaceted stories is certainly that of the journey of a teacher, Jože Jurančič (1902–1998), through the labyrinths of remembering and forgetting in the mythical world of the “bright future”, where all people were meant to be equal, like brothers and sisters. Jurančič belonged to the generation that studied pedagogy during the First World War. By that time, nationalism had already strongly permeated the Slavic population of Austria-Hungary, and in 1918 he joined General Rudolf Maister as a volunteer in the battles for the northern border. Aft er the war, he trained as a teacher in Maribor. Jurančič was “accepted” into the then illegal Communist Party of Yugoslavia by Prežihov Voranc on 1 May 1925. His guiding principle as a communist was an enlightened desire to improve the lives of workers and peasants. With his teaching activities and his striving for a better quality of life for the rural population, he won over many people wherever he taught. The peak of his activity was the period of his internment in the Italian concentration camp on the island of Rab. There, he was the main organizer of the Liberation Front, an organization that in September 1943 accomplished a feat unparalleled in world history: about 2,000 former internees disarmed the entire garrison of Italian soldiers and carabinieri, which numbered about 2,200 men. In the first years aft er the end of the Second World War, Jurančič held several important posts. However, after the dispute between Stalin and Tito, he was arrested in 1949 and initially imprisoned in Ljubljana under a false name, as he enjoyed immunity as a federal deputy. He was subsequently sentenced to six years in prison. He served his sentence, among other places, on the notorious island of Goli Otok, where in 1953 he was forced to participate in the construction of a monument to the former Rab internees, that is – to himself.

Keywords: Jože Jurančič, Italian concentration camp on Rab Island, Liberation Front, clash between Stalin and Tito, Goli Otok

Miran Hladnik

Database of monuments to the Slovene partisans at Geopedia

The database of 7,548 partisan monuments that a group of volunteers have collected, described and mapped on the Geopedia interactive map from 2013 until now demonstrates how deep the traumatic period of the national liberation (1941–1945) is anchored in Slovenian collective memory. Since Slovenia gained independence in 1991, sympathizers of the interwar collaborators with the occupying armies have sought to marginalize the memory of the partisan movement and the values of sacrifice for national freedom, resistance, social justice and solidarity that are inscribed on the monuments and that shaped the behaviour of the Slovenian community during the Second World War. The collection of monuments on Geopedia revives these ideals.

Keywords: monuments to the Slovene partisans, Slovene history, citizen science, geopositioning, Wikimiedia

Gal Kirn

A poetic “counter-archive” of World War II partisans: partisan anthems for the future

The text introduces an intense and mass poetic production in times of World War II in fascist-occupied Slovenia with a focus on the emergence of a partisan counterarchive. The latter is a specific site of counter-archival reconstruction and reassemblage of artworks that has kept cultivating the revolutionary impulse from times of socialism until today. The chosen case studies, poems of partisan Iztok and Janez Kardelj, point to a high degree of self-refl exivity and showcase attempts at formalizing the revolutionary temporality, suspended as it is between the past and the future, that have helped to decenter nationally-exclusive identity formation. The author claims that the partisan counter-archive, following Milček Komelj’s dictum “how to return to and think about partisan art?”, will allow for breaking with the general constellation of collective memory of either nationalist revisionism (demonization) or Yugonostalgia (idealization).

Keywords: counter-archive, partisan art, intersection of geology and poetry, partisan anthems, revolutionary temporality, contested collective memory, World War II, Slovenia

Katarzyna Bednarska

World War II and its repercussions in the comments by readers of selected Slovenian periodicals and web portals

The aim of the paper is to examine the language and discourse of comments made by readers of press articles concerning the World War II and post-war events that took place in today’s Slovenia. Both the comments placed under the digital versions of the articles and readers’ letters published in the newspapers Demokracija, Reporter, Časnik, Mladina, Delo and Dnevnik will be analyzed. On this basis, the media influence on the formation of collective memory and historical identity of Slovenes will be shown. Using this type of analysis, it can be concluded through the prism of which of the dominant discourses the contemporary media present World War II and how opposing discourses fight to legitimize collective memory.

Keywords: Slovene collective memory, World War II, historical discourse, discourse analysis, readers’ comments

Marlena Gruda

The eternal return of the Kurent in Slovenian culture and literature. Reminiscences

The Kurent, a figure widely recognized (predominantly in the Pannonian-Alpine region) as a carnival costume, plays a special role in the collective Slovenian memory. Alongside Lepa Vida, Peter Klepec and Kralj Matjaž, it is a symbol of Slovenianness (A. Ocvirk), and thus a source of inspiration for a number of artists. In their interpretations, they return to folk culture, enter into a dialogue with its various readings, or undertake remediatory interventions. The aim of this article is to explore the figure of the Kurent and various forms of its representation in contemporary ceremonial and literary contexts (in the works of M. Mihelič, I. Cankar, I. Torkar, A. Ingolič, F. Kosmač, F. Rudolf, F. Forstnerič). The article also aims to determine the Kurent’s place in Slovenian cultural memory.

Keywords: Kurent, mythical symbol, mnemotopos, cultural memory, folklore

Jasmina Šuler Galos

Martin Krpan as a cultural text

The article deals with the cultural analysis of the short story Martin Krpan (1858) by Fran Levstik, which plays the role of a Slovene cultural text. The first part describes external factors that contributed to the creation of the text, while the second part deals with specific conditions which transform a literary text into a cultural one. In the conclusion, the mechanisms that regulate collective reception of the text from its creation to present day are presented.

Keywords: cultural text, Martin Krpan, myth, national culture, Fran Levstik

Alojzija Zupan Sosič

Mythologizatio n and demythologization of the woman in Ivan Cankar’s novels as part of cultural and collective memory

Ivan Cankar, the Slovenian homo universalis, carried out, in various ways, the mythologization and demythologization of women in his novels. In the study, I found that the myth of the mother in the novel Na klancu (On the Slope) was most firmly entrenched in Slovene cultural and collective memory, although in all ten of his novels and in other narratives Cankar also engaged in the demythologization of the mother as a saintly figure or the demystification of the woman as “the angel in the house”. Cankar’s most modern female character – the non-mythologized Judit in the novel Mrs. Judit (Gospa Judit) – was not accepted by the critics at the time and later by the general public for several reasons: the enthusiastic acceptance of the “Marian cult” of the mother in the previous novel (Na klancu), the resistance of the conservative clerical and liberal communities to the critique of patriarchal society, and the ignorance of contemporary art and philosophy, e.g. the position of the female character in the literature of fin de siècle and Nietzsche’s philosophy.

Keywords: mythologization and demythologization of the woman, Cankar’s novels, Francka as a mythical mother, Judit as a contemporary woman

Mateja Pezdirc Bartol

Time and memory in Dušan Jovanović’s play Revelations

In content and form, Dušan Jovanović’s play Razodetja (Revelations) continues, adds to, paraphrases, comments on and quotes the author’s previous works, especially Karamazovi (The Karamazovs) and Balkanska trilogija (Balkan Trilogy). The play is the author’s reckoning with his own dramatic writings, with himself, and with historical events before and after the fall of Yugoslavia. A central question is how to encompass in dramatic form a family saga and more than fifty years of Yugoslav and Slovene history, mediated through fragments of memory. Razodetja interweaves the past, present and future, the social and the intimate, the here and the there, the documentary and the fictional. This enables the author to take a critical perspective and comment (ironically) on social systems and sociopolitical events, as well as to portray the fates of dramatic characters decisively marked by their time and place.

Keywords: Dušan Jovanović, Revelations, Razodetja, modern Slovene drama, dramatic time, dramatic form, memory


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