Date of Completion
Slovenia, National Identity, Museums
Richard A. Wilson
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
This study examines the historical and idiographic aspects of national identity in Slovenia and brings empirical data to bear on the question of the effect of museums and their identity narratives on citizen museum attendees. Museums have often been portrayed as such sites of identity construction and as important state-making and state-maintaining institutions that educate citizens on the history and heritage of nationhood and nationality. This empirical data is coupled with ethnographic and discourse analytic approaches to demonstrate that the apprehension of identity is predicated on broader historical, socio-political, emotional, moral and economic aspects of society. This dissertation specifically engages four questions: (1) If museums are conduits for societal “memory work”, “place making” and identity building, as is often claimed, how is national identity transmitted by such “memory institutions”? (2) What are the implications of a conflicting valorization of the past with the cynicism of the present on national identity? (3) How does the treatment of “traumatic history” (such as that of World War Two) in national remembering affect national identity? And finally, (4) Do locally specific cognitive-emotional patterns serve as catalysts or as “reagents” for national identity construction? Findings suggest that World War Two era conflicts are salient in modern political and everyday discourse. Further, an agrarian past complicates nationalistic valorization of peasantry, due to narratives of subaltern resistance that imbue past social conflicts. I suggest a semiotic approach to understanding how these competing narratives find voice in the historical and ethnographic museums of Slovenia. These findings complicate the notion of the museum as a conduit of national identity and suggests novel cognitive and semiotic approaches to study questions of national identity, social memory and memory institutions such as museums.
Booth, Robert, "National Identity at the Margins of Europe: History, Affect and Museums in Slovenia" (2014). Doctoral Dissertations. 407.