Presenting the Croatian Emigrant Almanac on the occasion of the CHF’s 69th anniversary were CHF director Mijo Marić, promoters Željko Holjevac and Marijeta Rajković Iveta and the almanac’s editor Vesna Kukavica.
The 2020 edition of the Croatian Emigrant Almanac was promoted at the Croatian Heritage Foundation building on 12 February. The almanac was presented by CHF director Mijo Marić, Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences director Željko Holjevac, associate professor Marijeta Rajković Iveta of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the volume’s editor Vesna Kukavica. The event was ably moderated by Matica magazine editor Ljerka Galic. Brčko native and Graz student Mario Filipović provided musical interludes.
CHF director Marić welcomed everyone to the event, greeting State Office for Croats Abroad state secretary Zvonko Milas, parliamentary committee on Croats abroad chair Božo Ljubić MP, CHF board of directors chair Milan Kovač, the contributing authors, media representatives and CHF associates. Lauding the wealth of content offered by the almanac director Marić noted that it was a book for “everything and everyone at all times.” Also speaking at the event, held on the CHF’s 69th anniversary, was state secretary Zvonko Milas, attending the event in the capacity of personal representative of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
They were followed by speakers Holjevac and Rajković Iveta, who offered their thoughts on the 2020 edition of a serial publication founded on the great tradition of revivalist calendar almanacs, the most widely read Croatian books of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The latest edition of the CHF yearbook, with summaries in English and Spanish and the now traditional eight sections, features thirty-two contributions by authors Josip Mihaljević; Božo Skoko; Milan Bošnjak; Marija Bošnjak, Lada Kanajet Šimić; Željka Lovrenčić; Luka Budak; Vinko Grubišić; Marijeta Rajković Iveta; Tea Horvatin; Mirjana Ana Marije Piskulić; Milan Puh; Gregório Bačić; Dubravko Barač; Alojz Jembrih; Stan Granic; Ivica Miškulin; Marina Perić Kaselj; Žarko Domljan; Walter F. Lalich; Tatjana Šarić; Gojko Borić; Tihomir Nuić; Marijan Lipovac; Vesna Kukavica; Koraljka Kuzman Šlogar; Ivana Hebrang Grgić; Ana Barbarić; Tanja Rudež; Boris Beck; Damir Dekić; Ivan Hrstić and Miroslava Šašić, bridging twenty countries and five continents. This 436-page volume sees the 65th year in which the almanac has been published. The represented authors are active in the fold of the Croatian Institute of History, the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Political Science, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and University Centre for Croatian Studies, Koprivnica’s Sjever University, the Croatian Catholic University, the University of Toronto, Sydney’s Macquarie University, the University of São Paolo, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the State Office for Croats Abroad, the Croatian State Archives, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Zagreb’s National & University Library, the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, the Croatian Heritage Foundation, media houses in Brazil, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere.
This year’s almanac focuses on the three most recent decades of Croatia’s long parliamentary tradition. In the year our homeland, as the youngest member of the European Union, holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU and can boast the 2020 European culture capital in its norther port city of Rijeka, this year’s edition of the almanac takes the opportunity to consider global Croatian cultural unity. The book’s sections, Signs of the Times, Croatian Philological Horizons, Bridges, A History, Heritage, Spirituality, Science, and New Books, offer informative and fascinating, factually reliable and—which is by no means inconsequential—easily readable studies of sports, culture, and current societal events among the diaspora communities and in the homeland.
In Signs of the Times Milan Bošnjak offers an interesting, multi-perspective analysis of the current status of Croatian minority communities/enclaves in Europe. In Croatian Philological Horizons Marija Bošnjak and Lada Kanajet Šimić discuss twenty semesters of the HiT 1 Croatian language online course, while Željka Lovrenčić offers an overview of global Croatian literary production. The former reminds us that technological progress and its impacts on learning and teaching has seen the CHF work with the University of Zagreb and its SRCE computing centre, with the support of the science and education ministry, to launch an initiative to create the first Internet course teaching Croatian as a foreign language in the country (HiT-1), which went online in 2011. Twenty semesters will have been staged as of the spring of 2020, with classes attended by 210 people from 48 countries on multiple continents. The latter article by Lovrenčić enumerates a number of literary achievements and showcases eight writers from the overseas diaspora, also presenting the recent literary production of writers of Croatian migrant background in Europe, including those that have moved (back) to the homeland. In their study of two Franciscan monks that worked to promote the Croatian language in North America and Australia, linguists Luka Budak of Sydney and Vinko Grubišić of Toronto tell of the praiseworthy efforts of a pair of priests in organising Croatian education organisations among the diaspora communities that aimed to reaffirm our language and culture in these distant lands. The friars Gracijan Biršić and Ljubo Krasić are well known to us as aspiring only to the betterment of their people and culture. Besides their nurturing work with pupils and students these Franciscan monks also saw to the methodological education of teachers working in a multicultural language environment.
The Bridges section, of course, creates connections. Marijeta Rajković Iveta and Tea Horvatin write about Croatians with tertiary education degrees now resident in Ireland, their interaction with the homeland and their future perspectives. The study, based on interviews on the initial experiences of Croatian migrants in Ireland following Croatian accession to the EU, demonstrates the massive role played by social networks in finding help upon arrival. Pula native and Brazilian resident Milan Puh offers a mini lexicon of people of Croatian background in Brazil, the most populated country in South America. The study was originally published in Hrvatska u Brazilu nakon 1941.: treća faza useljavanja (“Croatians in Brazil After 1945: The Third Phase of Immigration”), recently published in São Paulo and presented in January at the Croatian Heritage Foundation.
In the A History section we read the retrospective Great Achievements and Sporadic Setbacks: Thirty Years of the HDZ by Ivica Miškulin, The HDZ as a Political Movement in the Diaspora by Marina Perić Kaselj, and Walter F. Lalich’s Hajduk FC in Australia in 1949. In the latter the Sydney-based researcher underlines the manifold sporting and societal impact of this football club’s first post-WWII visit to fellow Croatians and the historic setting in which it occurred. In the Spirituality section this year’s edition offers publicist Stan Granic’s study of the formation of Croatian faith institutions in Canada. The mutual support of Catholic and Muslim members of the Croatian ethnic and cultural community in Canada was realised in the efforts of the entire community to raise funds for the founding of the Croatian Islamic Centre in Toronto, opened in 1975. The almanac’s editor Vesna Kukavica discusses the work of Croatian missionaries among compatriot migrant workers in Germany in her overview of Slavko Rako’s monograph on the Croatian Catholic Mission in Bielefeld in the Paderborn archdiocese from 1971 to 2018.
In the Heritage section Koraljka Kuzman Šlogar writes of the online presence of Croatia’s intangible heritage, while Ivana Hebrang Grgić and Ana Barbarić delve into a virtual bibliography of diaspora periodicals. Everything presented in this article tells us that the information revolution has in the twenty-first century given us the world in the palm of our hand, the ability to virtually study distant lands and cities, search archives and libraries and visit museums.
In the Science section we read Tanja Rudež’s study of successful Croatian researchers around the world. She tells of Kristijan Ramadan, a native of Zagreb and full professor at the medical sciences division of the University of Oxford teaching molecular medicine. The University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has awarded him a prize for exceptional scientific achievement and contributions to the veterinary profession on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of this faculty. Rudež also writes of the work of Anđela Šarić, an associate professor at University College London (UCL) researching Alzheimer’s disease.
The New Books section always wonderfully completes the CHF’s almanac and did so again in this edition. Boris Beck writes of Two Homes – Croatian Migrant Workers in Germany in the 1960s as a Transnational Phenomenon, a capital study by ethnologist Jasna Čapo published in Zagreb by Durieux. This section also discusses an innovative textbook on the history of the Gradišće Croat enclave penned by academician Nikola Benčić and teachers Miroslav Šašić and Štefan Zvonarić, published by the Gradišće Croatian Culture Association of Željezno (Eisenstadt, Austria) in 2018.
In her presentation of this year’s edition of the almanac, editor Kukavica thanked the contributing authors and associates, and noted that publications of this kind summarise what is essential: essential to our education, culture and sports abroad; to lexicography; to a national bibliography of diaspora literature in the homeland; and to Croatia’s digitalised heritage, that people of Croatian extraction far from the homeland can enjoy in real time on the Internet. Also worth noting is that the electronic version of the Croatian Emigrant Almanac on the CHF portal now numbers in excess of 25 thousand pages and that some three hundred almanac contributors and associates constitute one of the most prolific networks of authors in the twenty-first century Croatian diaspora.
By: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek
Photography: Snježana Radoš