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Memory of the battle of Vis: festivals, monuments, narratives


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Bermanec, Krešimir and Katić, Mario and Oroz, Tomislav and Škrbić Alempijević, Nevena. (2007). Memory of the battle of Vis: festivals, monuments, narratives. Studia ethnologica Croatica, 19. pp. 77-127. ISSN 1330-3627

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The article discusses the aspects of the social memory of the sea battle of Vis from 1866 and the ways in which this memory has been materialized from the end of the 19th century till today. The concept of social memory was discussed following the theoretical premises offered by Maurice Halbwachs, Paul Connerton and Pierre Nore who defined it as the attitude of certain organizations and individuals towards a specific historical event which was reconstructed and modified depending on current social and political context. The incentive for this research, which was a combination of qualitative ethnological fieldwork and archive analysis, was the celebration of the 140th anniversary of the battle of Vis which took part in the town of Vis in 2006. The authors were emphasizing the current interpretations of the battle of Vis and were questioning the ways in which this recent interpretation of the ‘glorious past’ was different from the narratives which were constructed around this event in the past. The interpretations of the battle of Vis were analyzed diachronically and the emphasis was placed on modern narratives, followed in three different episodes: descriptions of the celebrations, observing the ways people behaved in front of the monument of the Lion of Vis and the analysis of the historical sources on the battle of Vis. The authors also raised the question: for whom were these festivals organized and what role the memory of the battle of Vis plays in the self-identification of the local population today. They are trying to throw some light on the reasons why thelocal population remains relatively inactive in these celebrations. Since the discrepancy between what people thought of as their heritage on one hand and their individual experiences and attitudes towards the materializations of the past on the other was clearly visible, the authors found that the concept of culture seen as the ‘located practice’ - what people did in actual situations - rather than as text, was more useful. On the level of local unofficial discourse, the battle of Vis was still perceived with a certain amount of disagreementwith the official rhetoric. Today the anniversaries of the battle of Vis and the Lion of Vis do not play such an important role in everyday life of the people of Vis, maybe also partly because these locuses of memory have lost their role as the symbols of resistance and survival of the recognizable local identity during turbulent historical and political times.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: battle of Vis, social memory, monument, celebration
Subjects: Ethnology and cultural anthropology
Departments: Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2014 10:28
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014 10:28

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