“Istria Is Ours, and We Can Prove It”: An Examination of Istrian Historiography in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

John E. Ashbrook


Istrian historiography written throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries tends to refl ect the often contentious discourse between Italian irredentists and Slavic nationalists relating to the peninsula’s nature and belonging. On the one hand, Italian historians and polemicists suggest that Istria and Istrianity were primarily Italian, and therefore the region should be part of an Italian state. Until the end of the Trieste Crisis in 1954, many Italians continued to debate the nature of the region and its population, but the frequency of such publications tapered off with most of the peninsula falling to communist Yugoslavia. On the other hand, Croatian scholars and polemicists claimed the region and its population were thoroughly Slavic, and that Italians historically were aggressors and oppressors. However, another group of scholars has entered the debate, suggesting that Istrian identity is a hybrid, and this hybridity has historical roots. Its population, they claim, professes and promotes an Istrian identity, which consists of Slovene, Croatian, and Italian infl uences. The new camp reflects the continued politicization of identity in Istria into the 1990s, by both nation-building Croatian nationalists seeking the construction of a monolithic Croatian identity and regionalists searching for more regional and local autonomy. This illuminates the historic and contemporary political and social struggles to ascribe some kind of belonging to this contested borderland region.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cbp.2006.128


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