In the mid-19th century, on the eve of the second Industrial Revolution, Rovinj saw its first industrial steps being taken. As a small fishery town, whose maritime economy diminished with the end of Venetian rule and the technological revolution, soon became one of the industrial hubs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire because of its geographical position and the available work force. Along with other, smaller industrial and manufacturing plants, in 1872 the Rovinj Tobacco Factory was inaugurated. This act marks the beginning of significant social changes, mostly affecting the status of women, who represented most of the employees.

Based on archival materials and ethnological research conducted among former women workers and their descendants, the author explores the roles and position of women workers in two different industrial plants in the city of Rovinj; the Rovinj Tobacco Factor’ and ‘the fish-processing factory Mirna. The research covered a long-time span (1872–1970) in order to compare the findings through three different political and economic systems, namely the Austrian, the Italian and, subsequently, the Yugoslav socialist rule.

Using intersectionality as an analytical framework, the paper aims to demonstrate the heterogeneity of experiences and on the basis thereof to:

  •  address the perpetuating dominant narrative of the privileged position that tobacco workers had in relation to other workers and fellow citizens
  •  shed light on the question of women’s and workers’ solidarity
  •  present the societal power-shifting mechanisms, depending on varied intersecting identities, such as class, gender, and nationality.


Tamara Nikolić Đerić (1983), PhD, senior curator, holds degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Indology. She has been working for the Ethnographic Museum of Istria since 2008. Along with research, exhibition production, documentation, and digitization activities, she founded and still helms the first Ethnographic film festival in Croatia, ETNOFILm, which is dedicated to visual documentation and to the interpretation of intangible cultural heritage and the ethnography of everyday life.

Since 2014 Nikolić Đerić has collaborated as a professional programme manager with Ecomuseum Batana (UNESCO Register of Good Safeguarding Practices, 2016). She has been collaborating with UNESCO (Living Heritage Entity) as a trainer for the implementation of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH since 2017.Her field of interest comprises visual, feminist, and economic anthropology, museum management, ecomuseology, and intangible cultural heritage.