Saturday, May 22, 2010

Suitcases & destinies

The Ethnographic Museum of Istria was recently awarded the Croatian Museum Association prize for its exhibition on 20th century emigration.

The museum writes:
There are few Istrian families that didn’t include someone leaving for Argentina, America, Australia, France, Italy, Sweden, Yugoslavia, etc. They emigrated between the end of the 19th century and during all of the 20th century. They left because of various social, economic and political reasons. Some have been forced departures, or at least provoked, while others were the result of the desire for a better life and adventure. Strong emotions accompany all departures, regardless of different opinions about what is causing resettlement. In two large and several smaller waves of 20th century emigration, Istria lost many people that should have been the carriers of development. Although leaving both from rural and urban communities, the biggest consequences were caused by the departure of educated people after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the connection of Istria to the Kingdom of Italy, as well as the later annexation of Istria by Yugoslavia after the Second World War.

Suitcases & destinies deals with the ethnographic aspects of Istrian emigration (which some call exodus, and some even displacement). The focus is on similarities and differences in the experience of Istrians living outside of Istria. While not trying to show the totality of emigrant experience, we want to draw attention to the complex, diverse and multi-layered destinies of displaced Istrians, as well as to the content (‘suitcases’) of their memories and perceptions of Istria as well as their new homes.

In march, Nezavisna istarska televizija aired a 26 minute interview with ethnographer and museum director Lidija Nikocevic, which you can see HERE.

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