Friday, 30 September 2016

Conference: Croatia and Croatians in the 20th Century (1988) - JCS 28-29



The Symposium was organized by the Croatian Studies Foundation of Australia and New Zealand and the Croatian Studies at Macquarie University (with a grant from the New South Wales Government), under the leadership of two professors, Luka Budak and Fr. Gracijan Biršić. They invited a number of Croatian scholars from Australia, North and South America, and Europe. From Australia: Šime Dušević, Dalibor and Damir Ivković, Dr. Stephen Klarić, Dr. Robert Meštrović, Ivan Nimac, Prof. Elizabeta Ninčević, Fr. Paul Stanhouse and Nenad Zakarija. From North America: Ante Beljo, Dr. Joseph Čondić, Dr. Ante Čuvalo, Dr. Asaf Duraković, Prof. Lovorka and Marija Fabek, Dr. Ante Kadić, Fr. Ljubo Krasić, Dr. Vladimir Markotić, Dr. Emil Primorac, and Dr. Krsto and Dr. Mario Spalatin. From South America: Dr. Zdravko Sančević. From Europe: Fr. Šimun Čorić and Dr. Henrik Heger; directly from Croatia, Pero Budak, poet and actor, Vlado Gotovac, writer and philosopher, Ante Starčević, sculptor, and Stjepan Šešelj, poet. Invited from Croatia were also: Dr. Branimir Banović, Prof. Dušan Bilandžić, Dr. Ivan Čizmić, Tomislav Ladan, writer, and Prof. Ivan Supek, as well as Dr. Vinko Grubišić from Canada, but they didn't come.

The topics treated and discussed were very different, from music and folklore to archeology, history, linguistics, literature, psychology, scientific methodology and language teaching for immigrants. Anyone that has attended conventions or symposia knows that the main advantage of it comes from meeting people, from discussing ideas generated from formal talks, and simply exchanging experiences. And so it was in Sydney's symposium. The papers and the talks were of different nature. We could divide them into two categories, scholarly papers based in research and broad outlines. Most were historical outlines, like Croatian immigrants in USA, Canada, South America, Australia, Europe, folk-dance, culture, Croatian poets in emigration, animated cartoons in Croatia, Fraternal Union in USA and Canada, Starčević's political thought in today's Croatia, Croatian welfare organizations in Australia, Saturday schools of Croatian language for immigrants, etc. In the first category one may mention: international labor mobility, methodology of research in the Croatian cultural area, kinship systems in Croatia, a study in contrastive linguistics, etc.

In Sydney's symposium some sharp exchanges took place during the question and answer period following the delivery of papers.

One such exchange occurred between Prof. Vlado Gotovac and Dr. Asaf Duraković. The latter commented upon the lack of basic freedoms in the present-day Republic of Croatia within the Yugoslav communist state. Speaking rather emphatically at one point he exclaimed: "Until Croatia becomes free, she does not exist for us!" And also: "Croatia will not be liberated by symposia, but by fighting!" This elicited a loud applause from a part of the audience. Vlado Gotovac, who spent six years in Yugoslav jails for the cause of Croatia's freedom, asked to be heard. He gave an eloquent reply beginning approximately with these words: "I cannot help but feel sad when I hear that I have just come to Australia from a nation that does not exist. I really feel even worse when I think I have been deprived of my personal freedom for a non-existing cause." Referring to Dr. Durakovič's mention of fighting Prof. Gotovac continued: "I am a Christian and use other means. In accordance with my principles I am against the use of any kind of violence". He also received a lively applause for his remarks. I agree with Mr. Zlatko Drapać (Nova Hrvatska, October 30, 1988) that this exchange of opinions between a Croatian émigré and a Croatian from today's Croatia reflects the two attitudes held by some Croatians abroad and at home.

Complete article:

Journal of Croatian Studies, XXVIII-XXIX, 1987-88 - Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.

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