Common history, divided memories: Slovenian and Austrian struggle for the Carinthian past


  • Maruša Pušnik Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana


national identification, remembrance processes, history, museum, borderland, Austria, Slovenia, Carinthia


National identity and memory are created and sustained through various representations in a society, also museum exhibitions are among these. Nation states use the museums to display their present and past realities, to glorify their culture and to mobilize and discipline their national subjects. With the help of discursive analytical methods, based on textual and semiotic analyses, and with the help of fieldwork research, the study examines how two museum exhibitions in Austrian and Slovenian Carinthia represent the same historical event from 1920s Carinthia, how they create glorious and opposing national histories in order to produce obedient Slovenian or Austrian national subjects who remember the same past events in two differing ways and how these representations organize the lives of the Carinthian people. The author concludes that the analyzed museums have important roles in the shaping of the uniform national memories and identities, but Carinthian Slovenians, who live at the border between both museum representations are constantly subjugated to two different interpretations of the same past event and they continually negotiate between two different national knowledges about the past and constitute their identity in relation to both national memories and perceptions of the past.