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Demonstrations in front of the parliament, Ljubljana, March 23 1993. Photo: Tone Stojko. © Muzej za novejšo zgodovino Slovenije [National Museum of Contemporary History], collection Tone Stojko, inv. n. TS19932303_22.
On photo: Urška Strle with Erica Mezzoli and Andrea di Michele. Photo credit: Damiano Tommassi.

Dr. Urška Strle, participated at Le »disfatte« di Caporetto. Soldati, civili, territori 1917-1919/ “The defeats” of Caporetto. Soldiers, civilians, territories 1917-1919 workshop with her paper titled From Agnes to Neža: shifts in national awareness among the Slovenian rural population (1917-1920).

Dr. Ana Cergol Paradiž and dr. Irena Selišnik  participated with their joint paper, titled “Women’s Collective Action in the Hinterland of Italian Front in Carniola and Littoral”.

The conference was held from 21 to 22 February 2019 at the conference room “Bobi Bazlen” of Palazzo Gopcevich (Via Gioacchino Rossini, 4 – Trieste).

The  workshop was organised by the Livio Saranz Institute of Trieste, in collaboration with the University of Trieste, l’Archivio Diaristico di Pieve Santo Stefano (Arezzo), the cultural Consortium of Monfalcone in the framework of the regional research project related to the First World War ( Law 11/2013 Call for basic historical studies and research – 2017).

The two days long workshop will present topics of the consequences of WWI in the Adriatic region. The scientific supervisor of the conference is Matteo Ermacora, from the University of Venice.

 

Dr. Urška Strle – From Agnes to Neža: shifts in national awareness among the Slovenian rural population (1917-1920)

The paper will present some conclusions stemming from a rather rich written heritage of a woman from the Italo-Slovenian ethnic border area. Interpretations of historical processes are built from below, stemming from the available ego-documents (notes, diaries, list of incomes/outcomes with comments) of a housemaid Agnes (Neža) Rejec (1886-1966), who during the war and first post-war years served as a housemaid in a North-Istrian presbytery. The writings of Rejec are a precious historical source to a mid-war rural population, which initially contained almost no political comments. Her written heritage clearly combines considerations, opinions and gossips from her direct environment, but her presentation seems to be genuineness, as it is throughout marked with a rather poetic style. Not during the war, but only with the Italian occupation of the former Austrian Littoral in late 1918 her writings transform considerably and start to demonstrate political ideas and Slovene national awareness.

Rejec’s case study paradigm reflects the specific trend of growing nationalization of the Slovenian masses in the Italo-Slovenian ethnic border area, which spread quickly also among the rural population at the dawn of the post-war. This trend did not bypass women, traditionally considered as apolitical social agents. Moreover, the massive entrance of Slovenian women into the political space was manifested in the agitation in favor of Slavic autonomy within the Habsburg state. The agitation known as the Declaration movement spread among the over 300.000 civilians (in 90% signed by women), who followed the May Declaration (1917) launched by the charismatic political leader Anton Korošec.

 

Dr. Ana Cergol Paradiž and dr. Irena Selišnik – Women’s Collective Action in the Hinterland of Italian Front in Carniola and Littoral

Spontaneous protests in the Austrian Littoral as well as in Carniola, as elsewhere in Europe, were repeated several times during the war. In the last years of the war those collective actions became more organized and changed the demands expressed in the collective claims. The First World Warthus radicalized women’s requirements as war mobilized people  and provided opportunities  for collective action. In our paper we will show how those changes had been going on in Ljubljana and other “southern” localities (as for example Idrija and Trieste). Under the influence of the October Revolution and the restoration of parliamentary life in the beginning of 1918, the labour movement started organizing and guiding assemblies on which women did no longer require only the improvement of the provision, but they articulately expressed their demands in a resolution, which claimed the right to vote, peace, the self-determination of nations and equality.

 

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