Accepted paper:

Syncretism at a distance: complex Romance-Slavic identity on the island of Rab


Tomislav Oroz (University of Zadar)
Dunja Brozović Rončević (University of Zadar)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses shapeshifting identity of the island of Rab, taking into account historical Romance-Slavic ethnolinguistic and cultural syncretism, as well as contemporary relations between the town itself and the islands’s rural areas, especially in the context of global tourism.

Paper long abstract:

The authors present their research of the complex Romance-Slavic identity on the island of Rab with special attention paid to the historical background, as well as its contemporary cultural manifestations notable in the relationship between the town and rural areas. Centuries-old Romance-Slavic cultural symbiosis on the island clearly reflects ethnolinguistic and cultural syncretism that shaped the specific cultural identity of Eastern-Adriatic region. The field research conducted in the fall of 2014 attempted to examine contemporary cultural processes on the island. Special emphasis was placed on the relationship between the town and its rural surroundings. Taking into account synchronic and diachronic perspective, the identity of the town has been shaped with regards to the Romance historical heritage, architectural uniqueness or urban space and culture perceived as unique and special. Despite the idealized image of the urban identity which derives its strength from the romanticized images of the past, the emergence of tourism in the recent decades transformed the uniqueness of urban culture due to depopulation of the old part of the town and relocation of most of residents to the newly built part of the town. The analysis of the identity narratives shows that contemporary manifestations of Romance-Croatian cultural and linguistic syncretism manifest itself as a syncretism at a distance. The paper will highlight the complexity of the island's identity, which is characterized by the idealized image of the island's history superimposed on contemporary cultural practices. Such complexity is an example of dynamism and contemporary manifestations of syncretism at a distance.

panel P006
Island ethnographies revisited: challenging utopias, re-evaluating heritage?