Memory/History (Zgodovina / Spomin)


Silence, Concealment, Oblivion

Remembering and forgetting are two sides of the same coin. Rooted in the framework of contemporaneity and the blend of various collective solidarities, that which is of valuable historical substance is subject to the pressures applied by individual groups, as well as the burden of social change. In patriarchal western societies founded on gender inequality and an ideological argument framed on the precept of women's inferiority, the ongoing erosion of remembrance has – since antiquity – removed women from history. Therefore the entry of women into the historical record signified not only a disclosure of their past, but also a confrontation with this misogynistic tradition, i.e. those social and cultural bonds which both determined and maintained women's dependency on men. Even today, the investigation of women in history does not imply merely discovering the significant lives and rich experience of individuals, together with the roles that women had as members of religious, ethnic, social and professional spheres and strata in a particular time and place, but also dealing with the political and institutional, legal and cultural premises that had been established by men and which facilitated the various forms of gender discrimination.

The extant patrilineal logic does not give way without the establishment of a new matrilineal genealogy, and it would be completely naive to expect any radical changes in gender relations without any such intervention. Such a stance was contended and asserted by most forward thinking contributors to the magazine Slovenke (Slovene Women) in the late-19th century, and became even more delineated in the interwar period by the editors of Ženski List (Women's Paper). Their adamant perspectives on women's emancipation as well as equality of rights in Slovene society was indeed the revelation of a huge misconception: that all history was created by men. In 1934 Angela Vode wrote: ˝If we want to understand the situation of a woman today, we need two things. In addition to knowing and understanding the phenomena of society in which a woman lives and is a product of, we have to ascertain the underlying causes of such phenomena – namely their succession reveals the historical development of the society. This is the only way to identify the mutual connection of events, and understand why this or that social form evolved in one way or another…˝.

In the early 1990s, when gender studies found a place in Slovene universities and both social sciences as well as the humanities dealt with gender inequality in education and theory, the advocacy of women’s history was kept merely at the level of the declarative. In Slovenia, recognition of the history of women did not merely require the recording of it, but also its acknowledgment. It was only in the late-20th and early-21st century that investigations into women's historical presence became devolved and encompassed research into specific periods, social environments, together with the numerous aspects of the lives and deeds of women throughout history. If we complement the corpus of recent research with all the previous studies into the history of women across Slovene territory – and in particular those conducted during the last twenty years – we can come to the conclusion that such a historiography is – despite its fragmentation – rather substantial. Indeed, it records and affirms the specifics as well as the presence and achievements of women in Slovene society, together with their simultaneous integration into broader European history.

And yet – unless we want to succumb to complacence – it is clear that any glance into the extant history of this land is heavily burdened by a misogynistic tradition – at least such can readily be assumed based on the exclusion of women from most historical syntheses, monographies, biographies, lexicons, chronicles, histories and textbooks – as well as through primordial amnesia, which, by erasing prior experience and cognition, still reminds us of how difficult the establishment of "women’s memory" truly is.
Marta Verginella  

Between 26th September and 10th October, the Klub Lili Novy will transform into a library where visitors will be able to read or just leaf through a selection of books and magazines, and there shall also be the possibility to buy some of them. This selection encompasses works presented at previous editions of the City of Women Festival, as well as a selection based on this year’s published book entitled Ženska Obrobja: Vpis Žensk v Zgodovino Slovencev (Women’s Margins: the Entry of Women into the History of Slovenes) by Marta Verginella, published by Delta. These works will also be complemented by some titles that either investigate individual themes and topics or reveal what ‘official’ historiography left aside

Organisation and production: City of Women
In collaboration with: Cankarjev dom & publishing houses: Apokalipsa, Arhiv Republike Slovenije, /*cf., Didakta, Drava, Društvo za kulturološke raziskave (Delta), Emzin, Fakulteta za družbene vede, Goriška Mohorjeva družba, Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis – Fakulteta za podiplomski humanistični študij, Krtina, Liberalna akademija: Visoka šola za socialno delo, Litera, Maska, Mirovni inštitut, Nova revija, Slovensko etnološko društvo, Sophia, Studia humanitatis, Študentska založba, Urad za enake možnosti, ZAK, Zgodovinski arhiv Ptuj, Zveza zgodovinskih društev Slovenije


Date and time of event: 
Sep 26th - Oct 10th
Place of event: 
Cankarjev dom, Klub Lili Novy