Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

History of Administrative Borders and Boundaries: Slovenian-Croatian Border 1800 - 1991

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.01.00  Humanities  Historiography   

Code Science Field
H271  Humanities  Political history 

Code Science Field
6.01  Humanities  History and Archaeology 
Slovenian-Croatian border, history, administrative borders, Slovenians, Croatians, Istra, Bela krajina, Međimurje,
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (10)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  13227  PhD Janez Cvirn  Historiography  Researcher  2011 - 2013  767 
2.  06406  PhD Zdenko Čepič  Historiography  Researcher  2011 - 2014  446 
3.  24282  PhD Filip Čuček  Historiography  Researcher  2011 - 2014  176 
4.  00840  PhD Aleš Gabrič  Historiography  Researcher  2011 - 2014  871 
5.  08394  PhD Bojan Godeša  Historiography  Researcher  2011 - 2014  457 
6.  20195  PhD Damir Josipovič  Geography  Researcher  2011 - 2014  329 
7.  28529  PhD Jernej Kosi  Historiography  Researcher  2013 - 2014  184 
8.  29513  PhD Aleksander Lorenčič  Historiography  Researcher  2011 - 2014  336 
9.  12928  PhD Nevenka Troha  Historiography  Researcher  2011 - 2014  382 
10.  21670  PhD Marko Zajc  Historiography  Head  2011 - 2014  347 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0501  Institute for Contemporary History  Ljubljana  5057116000  6,075 
2.  0507  Institute for Ethnic Studies  Ljubljana  5051517000  4,561 
3.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  98,847 
The border between the Republic of Slovenia and Republic of Croatia became the external border of the European Union on 1 May 2004, while from 21 December 2007 it has had the status of the Schengen border. The future of this border depends on the enlargement of the European Union (the Croatian accession), while its past is the result of the formation of state entities in this part of Europe. Today the border is burdened by several points of conflict, which we cannot possibly comprehend without understanding the historical development. Three viewpoints, false in the methodological sense, are dominant in the public and in a part of the research sphere in Slovenia and Croatia: 1. an anachronistic outlook on the border as a single phenomenon throughout history (individual parts of the today's borderline have undergone different kinds of the historical development, which is in direct connection with the today's disputable parts); 2. focusing on the "movement" of the individual parts of the border, ignoring the wider context; 3. emphasising the national/ethnic/linguistic moments in situations where this is historically unjustified (the question whether something is "Croatian" or "Slovenian" presupposes that the differences between Croats and Slovenians are very old, "natural", and that these nations can be divided clearly). These methodologically unfounded foundations complement each other, and they are especially useful in order to ensure "flexibility" in the political disputes. The basic purpose of our project is to transcend the wrongful methodological foundations that influence the research results decisively. We chose the administrative-political borders at the wider territory of the today's Slovenian-Croatian border since the beginnings of the modern state administration until the Slovenian independence (from cadastral municipalities to states) as the (wider) subject of research. The subject of the research project does not only entail those administrative borders which have transformed into the border between the states, but also the borders whose significance has changed or diminished, but which are still important in order to comprehend the boundaries at the territory under consideration. The old administrative borders played an important role in the formation of the today's border, also where the today's border lies elsewhere. By focusing on the administrative borders we will transcend the anachronistic search for the historical "Croatian" or "Slovenian" territory, which is rooted deeply in the nationalist discourse. The "border" is seen as a fact, while the "boundary" depends on various interpretations. In our case the border is a geographically specified dividing line between the administrative-political units, determined by various boundaries. Borders are not static. They change in two ways: physically: the border moves in actual space; contextually: the border acquires a new character, becomes new kind of boundaries. How to contrast the individual "histories" of the sections of the border with the general history? The proposed project will deal with the history of the today's Slovenian-Croatian border at two levels: the wider and the narrower. Since in the limited time the project team cannot carry out a historical analysis of the whole border, we limited ourselves to three borderlands at the narrower level: Severna Istra (Northern Istria) (an example of an administrative-political border created on the basis of political and ideological concepts), Bela krajina/Žumberak (an example of the Slovenian-Croatian border forming on the basis of the old but politically disputable border), Štajerska/Međimurje betwen the rivers Drava and Mura (an example how an important political border is abolished in a certain area, while nearby a new border, which then becomes a state border, is established).
Significance for science
Phantom borders are the former political borders that still structure the modern world. In many cases the historical spaces persist or "keep returning" in the form of social practices, infrastructural networks, etc. The concept is being developed by the research network Phantom Borders in Eastern Central Europe (www.phantomgrenzen.eu), which the project leader also participates in. The concept of phantom borders is designed as an open model. We took into account the effects of long duration and social structures, as well as the ways in which the former borders have been used for political purposes. In the context of the project History of Administrative Borders and Boundaries we have developed a concept of the administrative legacy, associating the administrative borders with the concept of the phantom border. Borders are not just virtual lines on the map and/or markers in the field – they are "virtual spaces" with a horizontal dimension (the social influence) as well as a vertical dimension (administrative legacy: historical layers). Every political border is a memory (reminiscence) of the past in itself, and every redefinition or change of the border involves the past. The administrative legacy also includes a type of historical layers of the border that activate in a certain socio political context and function in a phantom manner. Phantom border research should have in focus also the “real” political borders. Phantom borders concept could be used for better understanding of the political borders. The “real” political borders could “overlive” the existence of states (examples in ex-YU space). Furtheremore, “real” border and phantom border could be one and the same thing: they could have “the body” (controlled border, border posts…) and be obsessed with the historical phantom.
Significance for the country
Direct impact: Researchers were members of the Subgroup for History of the Advisory Group on the Arbitration Agreement on the Resolution of the Border Issue between the Republic of Slovenia and Republic of Croatia. When it comes to arbitration procedures, the Republic of Slovenia benefits from profound knowledge of the past; at the same time, nationalist megalomania hurts Slovenian interests. When nationalist historians argue that certain areas belong to Slovenia because selected sources (usually taken out of the historical context) prove it to be so, they are not credible to “the outside world”. And they do not prove anything. On the other hand, if Slovenian representatives use the results of serious comparative academic historiography, they have better chances to convince the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague. Although evidence provided by academic historiography is not very spectacular, it could prove more “useful” than nationalist phantasies. Indirect impact: In the last decade the discourse about a "greedy" Croatia has been prominent in the Slovenian public. Supposedly Croatia systematically "stole" land from Slovenia. The use of "parahistory" is frequent in order to support ambitious theories about Slovenian borders: old administrative maps are being interpreted as a proof of the "Slovenian ownership" of certain territories. The project group members have argued in the media for a complex and tolerant outlook on the history of the border.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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