The Mirjana Gross Prize for best book at this year’s Kliofest was presented to Robert Skenderović PhD for his monograph on the History of the Danube Region Croatians, published by the Institute for the Culture of Vojvodina Croatians and the Croatian Institute of History.
The prizes, named in honour of prominent historians and presented by the Croatian National Committee for Historical Sciences and the Society for Croatian History, were presented at the final event of this year’s Kliofest at the National and University Library in Zagreb, on History Day, celebrated on the 11th of May 2018.
The Mirjana Gross Prize for best book printed in 2017 went to Robert Skenderović PhD for his singular monograph History of the Danube Region Croatians (Bunjevci and Šokci) from their Settlement to the Fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Povijest podunavskih Hrvata (Bunjevaca i Šokaca) od doseljavanja do propasti Austro-Ugarske Monarhije), published by the Institute for the Culture of Vojvodina Croatians and the Croatian Institute of History’s Section for the History of Slavonia, Srijem and Baranja. Robert Skenderović was born in Zagreb on the 14th of May 1972. He earned a degree in history and philosophy at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. He went on to earn his master’s degree in 2002 with a thesis on The Inhabitants of Požega from 1699 to 1781 Based on the Registry Records, and earned his doctorate three years later with a dissertation on The Impact of the Reforms of Maria Theresa on the Demographic Development of the Slavonian Province. He has found work since 1998 at the Croatian Institute of History’s Section for the History of Slavonia, Srijem and Baranja. He is the principal researcher in the From Virgin Forest to Ploughland: the History of Slavonian Forests from the Middle Ages to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century project.
Speaking at the event Damir Agičić PhD noted that, as a historian, Skenderović studies the issue of historical demography, church history, the environmental history of the Slavonia and Danube River basin regions and issues related to the history of the Danube region Croatians (Bunjevci and Šokci) in the post-medieval period. He has penned over twenty papers on the subject, numerous entries for the Leksikon podunavskih Hrvata (Lexicon of Danube Region Croatians) and this latest award-winning monograph, the crowning achievement of his many years of research work on the subject; a topic that has previously been a matter of concern more of linguists and literary history experts than that of historians. Agičić also noted that Skenderović’s book is in fact a pioneering attempt to provide an all-encompassing and detailed history of the Danube region Croatians (the Bunjevci and Šokci) that have lived for several centuries in the area between the Danube River and the Tisza River (near the town of Titel) to the south, and Budapest to the north.
The presenters of the prize to laureate Skenderović noted that this is a complex issue and covers a period of many centuries, one the author has successfully tackled, concentrating on the critical moments and key processes that had a significant impact on the demographic, societal, economic, cultural and political life of the Danube region Croatians. He provides evidence for the intercommunication of the Croatian settlements in the area and the many links that spanned the Danube region Croatian community on the one hand and Croatia proper on the other. Without a doubt this book makes a very significant contribution to our knowledge of the history of the Danube region Croatians, an oft-forgotten part of the Croatian nation. It is to be expected that this volume will encourage the study of their history in the twentieth century, in particular in recent decades, when the Danube region Croatians faced many dire challenges, including the threat of expulsion and the loss of national identity.
Quite deservedly the Ivan Lučić Prize for lifetime achievement went to Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts member Nikša Stančić. The Vjekoslav Klaić Prize for popularising history was received this year jointly by Hrvoje Gračanin PhD, an associate professor with the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Vesna Turtula, a reporter and editor with Croatian state owned radio broadcaster Hrvatski Radio. For the past decade these two have collaborated intensively on creating the Putnici (“Travellers”) radio show, produced and broadcast by Hrvatski Radio. The Ferdo Šišić Prize for best graduate paper went to two students, Filip Hren, a student at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Veronika Novoselac, a student of the Croatian Catholic University in Zagreb.
The Jaroslav Šidak Prize, which is presented to foreign historians, was presented to Rumjana Božilova PhD, a retired research advisor of the Institute for Balkan Studies of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia.
The rich and diverse programme of European Week from the 8th to 12th of May included the 2018 Kliofest festival of history and book fair, with a number of stimulating round tables in the domain of historiography, numerous select book promotions, exhibitions and multimedia events at the National and University Library and a number of heritage institutions in Zagreb. The festival saw a record turnout, especially among junior researchers and students from most Croatian universities, drawing excellent press coverage thanks to the professional and organizational capacities of the team led by the agile Damir Agičić PhD, president of the Croatian National Committee for Historical Sciences. Along with the Croatian historians and leading Croatian publishers in the domain of history and related fields, Kliofest was also host to experts from Czechia, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The fifth Kliofest also saw the first appearance of the Croatian Heritage Foundation promoting the lexicographic publications of the Croatian Academic Society of Subotica, making its contribution to the affirmation of the historiographic material covering the Vojvodina Croatians as brilliantly synthesized and described by young authors, unencumbered by ideological disputes and with a strong preference for objective research challenges.
By: Vesna Kukavica