SLOVENE THEMES ACROSS A VARIETY OF CEU PRESS PUBLICATIONS
This compilation features books of the Central European University Press, published since its establishment in 1993, that have some relevance to Slovenia, its history and culture. After the latest release, titles in the backlist are arranged by content: contemporary topics are on top, older themes below. For more substantial information about the content and availability, please click on the covers of the book, or on the links inserted into the citations.
„I was born in the year of Our Lord 1664, on the feast of St. Izidor, in this very place—Visoko.”—The Visoko Chronicle.
„God’s rod beat us. In the year 1716 a merciless murderess wandered home from the Serbian battlefields, a wild plague. At Visoko, in one week we had two burials.”
Chief among the events providing a backdrop to the novel are the Thirty Years War and the Counter-Reformation. The war is not of Tavčar’s personal historical interest but one of its chief results, a fascination with violence and death. The obvious parallel was World War One, which was a calamity for the Slovene people.
The Reformation and Counter-Reformation, which pitted Slovene speakers and different classes against one another had an analogy in Tavčar’s time with political divisions and town vs. countryside.
The Visoko Chronicle is a historical novel with a pan-European backdrop and strong local focus, but it also has attributes of a domestic novel, a Bildungsroman, an anti-war novel, and a rural novel.
“In 1831–1833, an ‘alphabet war’ (abecedna vojna) was waged in the Austrian Empire’s Crownland of Carniola between proponents of two different orthographies of the Einzelsprache of Slovenian.”—Words in Space and Time.
“In 1919, the first-ever Slovak-language university was founded at Bratislava, and the first-ever Slovenian-medium University of Ljubljana.”
“The dual Norwegian language constituted a vital inspiration for the triple language of Serbocroatoslovenian (‘Yugoslavian,’ consisting of the two equal varieties of Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian) for the interwar Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (since 1929, Yugoslavia).”
“In accordance with the program Heim ins Reich, German(ic)-speaking communities from Slovenia and Vojvodina were sent to the Polish territories directly incorporated into Germany.”
“In postwar federal Yugoslavia wartime Slovenian was retained as a separate national language, while Croatian and Serbian were melded into a renewed composite language of Serbo-Croatian.”
“An article in Laibacher Tagblatt entitled ‘Zulu Swindle’ (Zuluschwindel) expressed suspicion that the people on stage might have been ‘ordinary negroes’ rather than actual Zulu Kaffirs, a sentiment echoed in the Catholic conservative newspaper Slovenec.”—Staged Otherness.
“Slovenec ran an article stating that the Cossacks performing as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show had been exposed as Russian Jews from the United States, having been given away by their fluent Jewish German.”
“When Buffalo Bill came to Ljubljana, Lattermansallee ‘felt as lively as Prater,’ giving Ljubljana a taste of Viennese life.”
“For Slovene-speaking audiences, these encounters with otherness served as an opportunity to reassure themselves of their cultural and racial ‘Europeanness’ in the face of German—and, in the context of the Littoral, also Italian—discourses that highlighted their Slavic inferiority.”
Books with a Slovene focus:
- The tenth volume in the series of CEU Press Classics is Martin Kačur, a biography of an idealist by Ivan Cankar.
- A comparative analysis of social phenomena by four sociologists of the University of Ljubljana.
In Slovenia, the burek has become a loaded metaphor for the Balkans and immigrants from the ex-Yugoslav republics. In colloquial, more or less nationalistically and chauvinistically tinged language the expression ‘burekmajstri’ is used narrowly to denote Albanians, the best-known and most visible producers of bureks, and broadly to denote all other immigrants from the former Yugoslavia.
Without the burek it would be equally difficult to consider the jargon of Slovenian youth, the imagined world of Slovenian chauvinism and the rhetorical arsenal of advertising agents when promoting healthy foods. After a brief stroll through its history, the book focuses on the present state of the burek, after parasitical ideologies had attached themselves to it and poisoned its discourses.
The author admits that his thinking about the burek was guided by Michel Foucault, the name which appears most frequently in the textual part of the book. A book written for b urekeaters and non-burekeaters, burek fans and inquisitors, bureknovices and burekconnoisseurs.
Titles from the backlist, contemporary topics on top, older themes below:
The Drnovšek government based the first media law on widescale consultation with parliamentary parties as well as with professional and civil organizations “but under Janša these laws were passed without any meaningful consultation”. This mild criticism (as well as “links between political and business elites have not been fully transparent”) differs from what the analysis of increasing control of political parties over the media found elsewhere in Eastern Europe. “There has been no evidence of news bias in the public service media in favour of the government of the day”, and “the Slovene journalistic community was not deeply divided but bound by strong links of solidarity”, thus “it would be a mistake to speak of a rise in Slovenia of the domestic ‘media oligarchs’ so characteristic of other former communist countries.”
Slovenia appears in comparative volumes on economic processes in the recent past:
“The situation began to go wrong when the new elite tried to ‘complete’ their political power with economic strength. This ‘conquest’ came to a head and played a crucial role in causing the Slovenian economy to suffer the deepest slump in the Eurozone.” – from a book on state ownership in capitalism.
“The new government followed the six directions set forth by the European Commission almost step-by-step. Practically the whole of 2012 was entirely devoted to fiscal consolidation.”
“The situation became worse due to a corruption scandal in Maribor. It spread over the whole country in just a few weeks, provoking a storm of street protests calling for the resignation and/or prosecution of the politicians, other political functionaries, and businessmen accused of corruption. There was wide coverage of the ‘Slovenian uprising’ in the global media, so everyone could see that the country ceased to be what it used to be: the relatively stable democracy of the Balkans.”
- Privatisation in Slovenia is appraised critically in comparison with other transition economies.
- Focusing on the interrelationships between political institutions and economic systems, a close participant writing the political economy of transition.
- The relevance of trust in economic outcomes upon the examples of European Union members.
Related is the comparative empirical study about how East-European mindset adapted to capitalism, where Slovenes proved to be well prepared and good learners.
“Slovenia took steps to address the emerging issue of intellectual property protection. This country anticipated setbacks, that is, the need to develop new legislation in line with international standards regarding domestic legal order, the lack of general public awareness, the need for expertise on intellectual property matters in enforcement bodies, as well as the coordination of enforcement bodies.”- from a book on the expansion and institutionalization of intellectual property norms in the twentieth century.
“The Slovenian approach was very successful and was soon followed by first results. For example, the software piracy rate decreased from 96 percent in 1995 to 48 percent in 2006. Although the Slovenian software piracy rate surpasses rates accepted in the EU, the former gap has shrunk considerably.”
“In post-1991 Slovenia, an important part of war memorials tends not toward formulating a common memorial landscape but toward unifying and/or equating different and in certain cases incompatible groups of the fallen.”
Developments in post-communist memory politics in Slovenia are discussed in a comparative collection.
“The Slovenian case is not only about the process of changing the roles of perpetrators and victims. This step is followed by the second step where the real victims are excluded or even transformed into perpetrators. The conversion of collaborators into victims is followed by the (final) shift of guilt onto the real victims of Nazism and fascism.”
“What started as a conflict of two interpretations of World War II transformed into an interpretive battlefield where political power may be gained.”
July 31, 1991, the day when Slovenia was the topic at the face-to-face conversation of world leaders.
Bush. Germany came forward with the recognition of Slovenia. Maybe we should opt for a short statement consisting of two-three declarations. We could note our concern about the events in Yugoslavia, call on everyone to respect the ceasefire, and condemn the use of force to deal with political problems. Let the Yugoslavs decide their own fate through negotiations.
Baker. The Berlin statement mentioned more than just territorial integrity. We are in favor of a peaceful settlement; we are against unilateral actions that would anticipate the results of the settlement. Perhaps the presidents could voice their support for the Berlin statement, but we should avoid loaded wording like territorial integrity and self-determination. Self-determination is what the Germans are insisting on.
Gorbachev. I will speak on the essence of this issue. Before the start of this conversation, when the President was walking toward the building, Mr. Scowcroft and I had a conversation. I told him that even a partial breakup of Yugoslavia could create a chain reaction that will be worse than a nuclear reaction. That is why this is a decisive moment.
The first country to secede from Yugoslavia with a minimum of casualties, Slovenia “was quickly working on the modernization of its education system under the banner of European integration. By 2013, however, both in Slovenia and in Croatia, issues related to commercialization and massification of education have already given rise to a number of student protests that have begun to question the ubiquity of neoliberal reforms” —observes the book on education policies in former Yugoslavia. Slovenia is also mentioned in connection to resisting the initiatives to introduce religious education in public schools, in conjunction with Montenegro and Kosovo.
“Serbian politicians introduced an economic boycott against Slovenia. Slovenian politicians were a major obstacle on the path toward restoring the model of a protective centralized state. The effect of the boycott in fact had the opposite effect, since it only accelerated the actual disintegration of the Yugoslav state.”—from a collection of essays on the nationalism-economy nexus.
“Slovenia was the only East Central European state to rely on employee buyouts as the principal method of privatization.”
“Even where full ownership was allowed, the control was kept in the national hands by the clause that a majority of managers must be Slovenian citizens. By the late 1990s, only 0.3 percent of the value of privatized assets was owned by foreigners.”
“As the national banking system staggered under the weight of non-performing loans handed out to the various domestic champions, the country became engulfed in protests against political corruption and insider dealing.”
“In the 1980s, Mladina, a Slovenian youth journal functioned as a forum for relatively free expression within Slovenia, and as tamizdat for the rest of Yugoslavia.” —from a book on the relevance of the concept of Central Europe.
“The last chapter in the story from nationalist to dissident to nationalist comes in the long 1980s. In this period, the human rights community was focused on several major events, (including) student protests growing in strength in Slovenia culminating in Janez Janša’s arrest in 1989.”
“Veno Taufer based his argument on the words of Ivan Cankar, who in fact favored the founding of Yugoslavia: He said that our southern brothers are brothers in politics but, as far as culture is concerned, Slovenians are much closer to Italians and Austrians than to Serbs.”
Radio B92, the first independent station in post-communist Serbia “formed alliances with alternative radio stations in Sarajevo (Studio 99), Zagreb (Radio 101), and Ljubljana (Radio Student).”
"Conformist cowardice was the norm in all of Yugoslavia's republics by 1989. Dobrica Ćosić could not be Václav Havel because of the structures that conditioned his work." The weary conclusion of the analysis of the Yugoslav process leading up to the year that saw the collapse of the communist bloc in Europe, although the decentralization of the economy and administration by Tito in the 1960s could have produced a different trajectory.
„Robert Rauschenberg owes his first international distinction to Ljubljana. In the Graphic Arts Biennial in 1963, he was awarded the first prize, and in compliance with the regulations of the biennial he launched a solo exhibition there in 1965, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the forum and a year after his award at the Venice Biennale.” The significance of the Ljubljana Arts Biennial (founded in 1955—the same year as documenta was founded in Kassel) is analyzed in a collective book with 35 contributors on east-west artistic interactions in the Cold War era.
As a result of the dynamics and intensity of Yugoslav engagement in the Non-Aligned Movement, in 1960 all Yugoslav citizens received their passport and were free to travel wherever they wanted and to import books, magazines, records tax-free.
The Moderna Galerija of Ljubljana was among the four institutions from Eastern Europe that exhibited at the Salon international de Galeries-pilotes in Lausanne between 1963 and 1970 (besides Foksal / Warsaw, Art Centre / Prague, and the Gallery of Contemporary Art / Zagreb).
“Edvard Kardelj ‘defended’ jazz in 1951 at a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Slovenia, with the remark that ‘people cannot live by symphonies alone’.”
A monograph on the Americanization of Yugoslav culture in the sixties.
“In Slovenia, the painter and sculptor Karla Bulovec, whose work, displayed in 1954, did not dovetail with the ideological schemes of the prevailing ideology, and Stane Kregar, who was described as the greatest ’decadent’ among painters.”
“First came the censorship case of Tople leje in Slovenia, a show in which a catastrophic economic situation was criticized, when caused by policies of ‘socialist agriculture’ and class struggle against kulaks after the triumph of the revolution, with the “implacably powerful figure of a village manager named Stari, which was an allusion to Tito.”
“Walt Disney also had a major influence on the trailblazer of Slovene comics, Miki Muster, who in 1952 began drawing anthropomorphic animals—Zvitorepec, Lakotnik, and Trdonja.”
“Edvard Kardelj was widely regarded as the natural successor of President Tito. But that was always a ridiculous supposition—a man from Yugoslavia’s smallest nation and perceived as utterly uninspiring”?—pronounces the reporter of the New York Times in the memoirs that span almost half a century. The chapter on Slovenia quotes a short conversation between Kardelj and Djilas on the partizan’s massacre over the White Guards. Djilas is cited again as in his epic Wartime (1977) he recalled when in 1943 “when Partizans had liberated most of Slovenia and were thinking about an independent Slovenia—the first in a thousand years. Djilas wrote: ‘The cult was Slovenia itself, a unanimous surge toward statehood.’ Little wonder!”
“Instances of public riots during workers’ protests at the San Marco shipyard in Trieste seem significant for the strikes in Rijeka and Koper.”—from a book on labor under communism.
“In the port of Koper, the largest workers’ protest during state socialism happened in March 1970. The strike culminated in noisy agitation, prompting the municipal party secretary to fetch the director and convince him to come and talk to the workers, despite his illness.”
“The handling of the strike, including the capitulation to all of the workers’ demands, corresponded to the way strikes and work stoppages were habitually dealt with in Yugoslavia.”
“The number of peasant-workers rose in Slovenia: from a total of 47,000 in 1953, the number grew to 71,000 in 1957. Cartoons could be found in which a blue-collar worker went on sick leave to work in agriculture while his employer, a stateowned factory, was led to believe he was recovering from illness.”
“On 1 March 1942, a group of Slovenian priests deported to Serbia addressed a memorandum to Monsignor Ujčić. The memorandum claimed that the conversions—that is, the ‘Croatization’ of Serbs—constituted a common goal for the Croatian episcopate and the Ustasha government.”
From a monograph on Ante Pavelić and the Ustasha movement.
“London wanted to hand the bishop of Ljubljana over, for the evidence against him was irrefutable: Gregorij Rožman had sided with the Nazi fascist occupiers using all of his influence, and even blessed the Slovenian National Guard, guilty of terrible crimes against the population.”
“Miha Krek believed the Anglo-Americans would never allow communism to reach the shores of the Adriatic, and was therefore persuaded he could gather international support for his political project to create an independent Slovenia with Trieste as its capital.”
“In January 1919 public dissatisfaction was expressed because Croatia had closed her borders for the flow of foodstuffs, which caused great shortage in Slovenia. This was answered by the prohibition of the flow of industrial goods from Slovenia to Croatia.”—from the collection of excerpts from studies over the precommunist period by younger scholars of the region.
"The Slovenian People’s Party used its position in the federal government to exert pressure on the German minority in Slovenia. Slovenes accused them of denationalizing half of the original Slovenian national territory, limiting national rights, and economic oppression.”
“In the issue of Germans in Slovenia the government was unable to influence an easing of the harsh policies, even though maintaining good foreign relations was of interest for the entire country.”
After the general introductory book on eugenics in east and central Europe, a later release in the series has a narrower geographic focus and a broader thematic scope: health in south-east Europe, discussing among others the building of a public health infrastructure in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the imperial throne, thought himself an expert in artistic matters, particularly those related to the Catholic Church, and he judged the church designed by Jože Plečnik “a mishmash of a Russian bath + stables + a temple to Venus.” The Slovene master suspected that the Archduke had intervened to prevent his appointment to succeed Otto Wagner as professor of architecture in Vienna, and evidence suggests that this was indeed the case.
This is the antecedent to Plečnik’s connection to Prague, which lasted twenty-five years. There he served the ideals of president Masaryk at the renovation project of the castle area. He was selected for the task soon after the birth of Czechoslovakia.
“Plečnik had deep love for his Slovene homeland, but concern for his personal reputation and professional prospects outweighed any loyalty to the South Slavic political cause. He believed in Masaryk’s vision; Slovenia was his home, but the architect professed greater admiration and loyalty to the noble man in the Prague Castle than to the Yugoslav king in Belgrade.”
“Privileging the noble nationalities of Poles and Croats fuelled dissatisfaction among nationalities who were not dominated by nobles, but by peasants, workers, or urban middle classes—first of all the Czechs, who represented a possible republican challenge toward dynastic reign”.
The nation-building processes within the Habsburg Empire are examined in parallel with related trajectories in other empires in Europe.
“National elites forged alliances with the imperial core, despite the presence of a national awakening that sought self-determination. These tactical alliances aimed at maintaining regional hegemony over ethnic rivals (e.g. Galician Poles versus Ruthenian claims, Littoral and Dalmatian Italians versus Croat and Slovene aspirations)”.
Was the demise of the Habsburg Empire a loss for its peoples? “In periods of peace the huge single market made up for a lack of competitiveness of the goods of Austria-Hungary on international markets”. However, in times of war the heterogeneous economy of the empire was not competitive in the arms race, which led to its downfall.
“26th September, 1941. My first time among the partisans. The secret in which we have participated has filled me with a devoted discipline. I thought of the struggles against the Avars and the Bavarians, of the Turkish wars, of the peasant uprisings, of the brigandage and military mutinies. The partisan movement has risen in its significance above all these struggles and rebellions”.—Lines from Edvard Kocbek’s wartime diary in Anti-modernism, the last member in the five-volume collection of essential primary sources on the formation of national identity in Central and South-east Europe.
“3rd October, 1942. Europe is not facing the old dilemma: either the victory of Fascism or anti-Fascism, but a new, more important one: either the reformism of democracies or the revolution of Socialism”.
Also in this volume France Veber (1927), and the Manifesto of the Slovenian National Defence Corps (1944). In the earlier volumes: Toman (1862), Cankar (1913), Melik (1918), Vilfan (1921), Levstik (1934); and Tito (1942) on the "national question in Yugoslavia."
Further titles on CEU Press back list with close or indirect reference to Slovenian history and culture, contemporary topics on top, older themes below:
- The volume on media, nationalism and European identities contains references also to the Slovenian case.
- The role of women in the Yugoslav war is discussed on the basis of Dubravka Ugrešić's War Museum.
- Stipe Mesić could not have written his book on the demise of Yugoslavia without ample references to Slovenia.
- The book that investigates tourism in communist Yugoslavia breaks new ground with its subject.
- The CEU Press book on 1968 discusses also the repercussions in Yugoslavia.
- A highly successful biographical reference book contains entries on the following Slovene women: Z. Kveder, P. Pajk, A. Štebi, V. Tomšič, and A. Vode.
- The three-volume series on East European travel writing contains extracts from Anton Aškerc (1903), Josip Lavtižar (1906), and Prežihov Voranc (1937); as well as a bibliographic chapter on Slovene travel writing between 1878-2000.
- In the book on Christian demonology and popular mythology, two essays discuss Slovenian folk tradition, with regard to magic popular healing today as well as Gog and Magog.