The contribution deals with a topic that is yet to be explored in detail in terms of historical research on Istria and Croatia after World War II; namely, that of women workers in the territories disputed between Italy and Yugoslavia after the end of World War II. In this context, the social reality of Rovinj represents a central point in the investigation of women’s work, tradition, trade, quality of work and, in general, the socio-economic and political emancipation of women. Since the end of the 19th century the Istrian town has had a manufacturing and industrial economic context, especially in the tobacco industry, which favours women’s employment. The figure of Rovinj Tobacco Factory as a tireless worker dates back to 1885, when a new large factory was built in Rovinj by the Austrian state monopoly. The only factory in the Monarchy to boast a complete production of tobacco products, it offered employment to 742 women and 46 men. From that point onwards, entire economies and family traditions in Rovinj revolved around the Tobacco Factory, giving women stable employment, wage autonomy and a respectable social status.
The report will outline the profound changes that took place after World War II in political, economic and social terms, which for the tobacco factory meant the replacement of workers, mobility, organizational changes and the quality of tasks. The new economic and administrative context, centred on centralised socialist planning, post-war reconstruction and, last but not least, the structure of the popular powers, will influence new migratory processes and the turnover of female labour. In fact, in the period from 1948 to 1953 the factory saw a large fluctuation of female labour caused by the exodus and, in particular, by the options for the Italian citizenship. A large part of the skilled labour left for Italy to give way to other workers coming mainly from a wider area than the traditional one, from the nearby countryside and from other Yugoslav regions.


The author is a researcher at the Rovinj Historical Research Centre, i.e. the research institute of the Italian community living in Croatia and Slovenia. She deals with the history of the Upper Adriatic in the 1900s, of migratory movements in the Upper Adriatic area, of popular powers in Istria and Rijeka, of transitional justice, as well as issues related to the history of the Italian national group and the school in Istria. She is the editor of the contemporary history journal Quaderni of the Historical Research Centre. She has collaborated in international research projects that have marked the historical studies in the border area of the Upper Adriatic. She has published essays and articles in international journals and in the Italian national group in Croatia and Slovenia. Her publications include Il potere popolare in Istria 1945–1953, Centro di ricerche storiche, Rovigno-Trieste 2016.