The Normativity of a Nation: A Case Study of Slovene Historians in Early Post-socialism


This paper focuses on an issue many would consider a minor episode in Slovene historiography. A public discussion took place on the pages of Delo, one of the central Slovene newspapers in 1993, where some of the most prominent historians debated the relationship between the nation, politics and history, eventually roughly establishing two different world-views: one connected to past experiences and the other focused on the unknown of the future. Within the framework of conceptual history, this paper tackles the concept of “nation” as it was understood by these debaters themselves, establishing an understanding within the specific historical circumstances to which it belonged, thus historicizing the debate itself. While the question of 1989 as a break has generally already been well-researched with regard to politics, economy and memory, much less is known about the connections between the break, historiography and politics. Uncovering more than superficial disagreements within a community of historians, this paper aims not to be solely a contribution to the understanding of nationalism in post-socialism between a small group of people, but rather, to underline the link between a radically different view of the past among professional historians and the establishment of a new political and social order after 1989. Some historians involved realized the opportunity to directly channel their views into political and state-related activities, such as a bilateral commission and the educational system.