Project book and congress presentations at the “IEF Days”

The event “Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research Open Days” , 8-10 December 2015, hosted the presentation of the book “Vrtovi našega grada: studije i zapisi o praksama urbanog vrtlarenja” (The gardens of our city: studies and notes on the practices of urban gardening) which is published by the financial support of the Croatian Science Foundation. The publishers are Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Croatian Ethnological Society and Parkticipacija. The book is published as an e-book, and its conceps, scope and preparation has been presented by Valentina Gulin Zrnić, one of the editors of the book, together with Tihana Rubić.

The second day of the event (“SIEF in IEF”) was dedicated to the presentations at the SIEF Congress which was held in Zagreb in June. Project PI Jasna Čapo delivered her congress keynote lecture  and Valentina Gulin Zrnić presented her research on urban topics.


Jasna Čapo: ‘Returnee’ and ‘expatriate bubbles’: alternative modes of the search for community?

The presentation compares practices of Croatian return migrants, both of the migrants who return and of their descendants who were born in the countries of settlement and decide to settle in the country of their forebears. It evaluates their images of Croatia prior to return and settlement against their narratives about ‘real’ life and their practices in Croatia. Both groups engage in frequent transnational activities, linking them to people who live in the former countries of settlement. However, there are differences in their ways of integration and community-building locally. Returnees tend to create ‘returnee bubbles’ and might flirt with an idea of spatially fencing themselves off from the sur­rounding society. The ‘returnee bubbles’ have a parallel in ‘ethnic bubbles’ in which they lived in the countries of immigration. Both practices are contrasted to those of their children and grandchildren, the transnational generations or ‘second generation’, who settled in Croatia. Via internet fora, they tend to join other immigrants’ (‘expatriates’) networks, whereby they socialise with the people of the same ‘international outlook’ as themselves, no matter whether these people have Croatian background or not, or from which country they come. This empirical case study serves as a vehicle for posing general questions relevant to diaspora and return migration theory: ‘the teleology of return’, ‘ontological return’, and ‘homeland’.


Valentina Gulin Zrnić: How to scientifically tame the urban wilderness?

The theme arises from collaboration of an ethnologist (Valentina Gulin Zrnic) and an artist (Tonka Malekovic) in search for urban “wilderness” topics in Zagreb. The re/search has opened up new visions on the city by looking through the magnifier on the very street level, looking over the construction fences or up in the air. It ranges from the perception of “wild” plants in the city to various “wild” (illegal) urban practices and leads us to discuss the term itself as well as spaces and activities that illustrate the complexity of “wilderness” from everyday life, discursive, social and cultural, political and legislative perspectives. The presentation will be an opportunity to present the research topic on urban “wilderness”, to discuss the term as well as to negotiate its possible definitions and research potentials. Moreover, it will question transdisciplinarity using topics that connect urban issues and nature. It will also question advantages of academic-artistic projects in terms of fostering academic imagination and finding new ways for presenting scientific results.


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  • Project is supported by Croatian Science Foundation
  • Project leading institution: Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
  • Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Department of Geography