Conference “Cities and Regions in Flux after Border Change: Reconfiguring the Frontier, Reshaping Memory and Visualizing Change in Twentieth Century Europe” will be held in Rijeka,   from 10-12 July 2019. Our researcher Francesca Rolandi will join them with her own paper titled Women’s transitional experiences in Fiume/Rijeka and Sušak after the First World War.

About the conference:

Since the end of the First World War, cities and regions in Europe, particularly in the eastern half of the continent, witnessed frequent changes in borders. Previous research on border change and territorial transfers has focused on the actions of nationalizing regimes after the 1919 Paris conference, as well as the post-1945 transfer of territories in East-Central Europe and ensuing flight, expulsions and repopulation programs (Rieber 2000, Ther and Siljak 2001, Ballinger 2003, Crainz Pupo and Salvatici 2008, Snyder 2010, Ferrara 2011, Thum 2011, Reinisch, and White 2011, Ferrara and Pianciola 2012, Service 2013, Sezneva 2013). Recent research has analyzed how states appropriated cities and regions they gained from neighbours (Karch 2018), and, in the case of socialist states, used urban remodelling as an opportunity to showcase socialist modernization projects , as occurred in Lviv, Ukraine (Amar 2015) and in Yugoslavia (Kulić and Mrduljaš 2012, Le Normand 2014). While research on transferred cities and territories has tended to see border changes primarily as ruptures tearing people from their old lives and cutting cities off from their previous national frameworks, this emphasis is called into question by scholarship by geographers and sociologists who comprehend cities not as discrete entities but as nodes within regional, national and global networks. From this perspective, cities are spaces in which flows of different types (goods, labour, capital, information) enter, converge, and exit, connecting these cities with other circuits and points across the globe (Massey 1991, Castells 2002, Harvey 2003).

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Anne Kelly Knowles, McBride Professor of History at the University of Maine, editor of Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (2008) and Geographies of the Holocaust (2014), Guggenheim fellow (2015).

Brendan Karch, Assistant Professor of History at Louisiana State University, author of Nation and Loyalty in a German-Polish Borderland: Upper Silesia, 1848–1960 (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Olga Sezneva, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, whose work has examined the connection between the urban built environment and social memory (particularly in the case of Kaliningrad/Königsberg), human mobility, and digital technologies; part of the artistic collective Moving Matters Traveling Workshop.


Women’s transitional experiences in Fiume/Rijeka and Sušak after the First World War

This paper aims to present the preliminary results of a research conducted in the framework of the EIRENE project which deals with the impact of border changes on women’s everyday life in Fiume/Rijeka and Sušak in the transitional period following the First World War. The two cities were different municipalities in the framework of the Hapsburg Empire, and were later divided by the establishment of an international border between the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes and the Kingdom of Italy.

The events following D’Annunzio’s occupation through the self-proclaimed Regency of Carnaro (1920), first, and the establishment of the internationally-recognized Free State of Fiume (existing de jure from 1920 to 1924), later, led to the annexation of Fiume to Italy in 1924, as sanctioned by the Treaty of Rome. The Adriatic city went through different phases, political systems, and sets of rules. In particular, the Regency of Carnaro represented a peculiar political experiment, gathering together a wide range of political, social, and economic options. This also implied a challenge to established gender rules which coexisted with a widespread chauvinist narrative, drawing on the connection between irredentism and masculinity. The annexation bound Fiume’s fate to the Italian political system which, in 1926, entered a new phase with the leggi fascistissime and the beginning of the harshest stage of the implementation of the policy of italianization. On the other hand, in 1918 Sušak became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, whose sovereignty was recognized in 1923, and became an epicentre of pro-Yugoslavist ideals.

Therefore, Fiume and Sušak represent a promising case study to investigate the issues of border change, state belonging, and political transition over the years 1918-1926.

Whereas the majority of scholarship has drawn on political history, privileging a male-dominated narrative (see ie. the publication of the legionari‘s memoirs), the social history of women is completely unexplored and their role minimized. Moreover, the analysis of two border municipalities on both the sides of the Italo-Yugoslav border which have previously been part of the same state will allow us to compare the impact of the issues of citizenship, national belonging, labour, on women in two different – but entangled – contexts.