Heritage of the First World War: Representations and Reinterpretations
1.1.2016 - 31.12.2018
Range on year:
1.88 FTE | 2016
prof.dr. Mitja Velikonja
Citations for bibliographic records:
This project will examine the production and maintenance of social memory of WWI in the Slovene region of the Kingdom SCS as well as in Italian and Austrian lands with Slovene residents. In doing so, we will be interested in examining the ways that social memory of the war is diversely defined, focusing on the positionality of individual countries (winners and losers), the partiality and politics of memory, and the range of strategies for preserving memory given the diversity, contradictions and contesteded nature of memories.
1.MILITARY CEMETARIES AND MONUMENTS
In the Kingdom SCS, Serbian military victories were celebrated with monuments built with state support while the memories of the Austro-Hungarian military tradition were relegated to obscurity. Erecting monuments to fallen soldiers of various ethnicities became a secular ritual that supported either “official” or “subversive” political values. Researchers will compile a register of such monuments, identifying who built them and when, how they were interpreted, what stories are linked to them, and who participates at the commemorations that take place at the monuments.
After 1918, the tomb of the unknown soldier became one of the most distinctive expressions of social memory, which is evident in these monuments’ central location in state capitals of countries that participated in WWI. Slovene veterans began to plan such a collective memorial in 1927 in Brezje instead of the capital of Ljubljana, as it was easier to hold ceremonies as apolitical, pious events at such a memorial in Brezje, a pilgramage site. However, the outbreak of WWII interrupted such plans. We will with the aid of available resources research the monuments built to fallen soliders in order to examine the symbolic meaning of the plans of the Slovenian monument built for the unknown soldier, which elsewhere are otherwise located in state capitals.
2. COMMEMORATIVE PRACTICES
The end of WWI brought with it a new reality with new heroes and new practices of forgetting. We will pay particular attention to commemorative practices and the practices of producing as well as modifying memories of the beginning of the war, both in Slovenia as well as in other parts of the former Yugoslavia.
Numerous commemorative ceremonies in the first years after the war were of an exclusionary nature, emphasizing their as state- or nation-building function Ritual ceremonies helped build an image of a monolithic state that defines itself in opposition to the Other. The nationalisation of space and peoples took place in this manner in all four countries in which Slovenes lived.
Research will be focused on the development of ritual practices and recollections of the war in all these countries, including both the strategies of majority populations (official, media and common sense discourses) as well as the counterstrategies of Slovene minority residents.
3.CONTEMPORARY (RE)INTERPRETATIONS OF WWI
Memories of WWI remained in the shadows of WWII virtually until 1991. This section is examines the distinctiveness of contemporary WWI memorials, their position, and their function within the broader physical and social landscape as elements of heritage. In particular, we will focus on the landscape along the Isonzo Front.
We will identify the diverse perspectives, agendas and roles that local social actors and institutions have in shifting constructions of social memory by focusing on their interactions and their activities in producing such heritage elements as well as on the numerous discourses through which this diversity is articulated. We will also assess through comparative work the role that contemporary Europeanisation processes play in reframing wartime social memories in terms of a common history and a message of global peace.
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