The paper considers the effects of war and postwar trauma on the female civil population from the former Austrian Province of Gorizia/Gorica/Görz and Gradisca/Gradiska. These territories were included in the “Soča/Isonzo front” during WWI and, consequently, their living populations were directly subject to the violence of warfare. After the war’s end, the same area was occupied by and included in the Kingdom of Italy. For the local female population, which was mostly Slovenian or German-speaking, the postwar epochal geopolitical shift represented a further highly traumatic shocking event, which exposed them to cultural and linguistic disorientation and political violence, at a time when fascism was rising. A considerable number of women in this vast and culturally diversified area experienced several forms of trauma, which left them with severe and long-lasting wounds. Due to the destruction of the former Austrian psychiatric asylum in Gorizia during WWI, the Italian psychiatric hospital Sant’Osvaldo in Udine became the first and main asylum where they were hospitalised. Besides enlightening a neglected history, a gender analysis of women’s traumas also intends to offer a broader hermeneutical perspective over further general aspects of war and post-war society. An analysis of the medical reports of those women reveals interesting aspects of their personal lives and their original communities. Moreover, it can shed light on the functioning of the Italian (Fascist) psychiatric system and on both personal and collective forms of linguistic-political resistance among those local civil populations.


Francesco Tonchich

My academic career started at the University of Trieste with a BA in Modern and Contemporary History. I continued with an MA at the University of Vienna in Eastern European History. During that time, I collaborated with the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Research Institute for Contemporary History, as well as with the project re-editing the Austrian Biographical Lexicon. In 2015–19, I undertook my doctoral research at the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Tübingen. The doctoral thesis was positively peer-reviewed and published by the editor Mohr Siebeck in Tübingen in 2021. In 2020–21, I undertook a post-Ph.D. at the Research Centre for Comparative European History of the University of Paris East-Créteil. Currently, I am undertaking research financed by the Marie-Skłodowska-Curie-Actions fellowship and hosted at the Department of History of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana. I am investigating the fragmentation of the Habsburg Monarchy through the particular perspective of public health (1918–24).