Making Sense of Memory


When the actual terror is over, how do you reconcile without trying to pay back? With the falling apart of Yugoslavia, past, suppressed injustices remerged and were frequently used to connect the present with bitter memories. In the ethnically diverse region of Istria, however, it has been difficult for any group to claim its interpretation of history to be superior to others. Seeking to explain the Istrian case and within it the role of the esuli, the article juxtaposes the material discourse represented by monuments with the workings of memory and the dynamics which jostle sleeping, hidden, or private memory into public discourse. It is argued that in Istria, the absence of an ethnic “master narrative,” and the coexistence of many different groups sharing the territory has been useful for keeping nightmarish memory of ethnic violence at bay. Instead, place has come to matter more than history. Within landscapes and monuments, experiences of terror and narratives of martyrdom find a resting place, however uneasy.

How to Cite

Frykman, J., (2003) “Making Sense of Memory”, Ethnologia Europaea 33(2), 107-120. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Jonas Frykman (University of Lund)



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