At the end of World War I both the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and the Republic of German-Austria claimed the southern part of Carinthia with its mixed ethnic Slovene- and German-speaking population. Various forms, means, and functions of violence on an intersection with gender and ethnicity can be examined and compared for three periods: a) the military struggle over the disputed territories in 1918/1919, when parts of southern Carinthia were “liberated” or “occupied” by the Yugoslav forces; b) the lead-up to the plebiscite on 10 October 1920, when Austria won 59% of the vote in the plebiscite zone A; and c) the aftermath of the plebiscite.

My presentation focuses on the first two periods, i.e. between 1918 and 1920. Addressing the question of gendered violence in the Slovene and Austrian historiography thus far and utilizing sources such as newspapers, (auto)biographical material, parish chronicles and fiction, I trace violence on symbolic levels and violence in reality during the armed border conflict and the propagandistic battle for the plebiscite. I outline violence against women (inter alia by soldiers during the fights and “occupation”), violence by women (including their participation in the armed conflict), and violence in the preparation and propaganda for the plebiscite, which included women in various ways. Bearing in mind the important role of the female body in marking boundaries and reproducing the nation, special emphasis is placed on voluntary and involuntary violent intimate relationships and sexual intercourse with “friend” and “foe” as a phenomenon and topic during both the armed conflict and the plebiscite phase of the border dispute. The paper concludes with a brief outlook on the post-plebiscite period, touching also upon the border dispute after World War II, and some general questions for (future) research.

About the author

Tina Bahovec is Assistant Professor at the Department of Eastern and South-Eastern European History at the Alpen-Adria University in Klagenfurt/Celovec, Austria. Her research focuses on ethnicity, nationalism and gender in modern South-Eastern Europe and the Alpine-Adriatic region. Publications include “Love for the Nation in Times of War: Strategies and Discourses of the National and Political Mobilization of Slovene Women in Carinthia from 1917 to 1920”, in: C. Hämmerle, O. Überegger, B. Bader Zaar (ed.) Gender and the First World War (2014), and “Politische Partizipation und nationale Agitation von Frauen in Kärnten unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Sloweninnen (1918–1934)”, in: Blaustrumpf Ahoi! (ed.) „Sie meinen es politisch!“ 100 Jahre Frauenwahlrecht in Österreich: Geschlechterdemokratie als gesellschaftspolitische Herausforderung (2019).