The thirty-five contributor articles in the latest issue of the Croatian Emigrant Almanac feature homeland themes and a selection of the creative work of people of Croatian background from America and Australia to our own European neighbourhood
This year’s volume of the Croatian Emigrant Almanac, the sixty-sixth annual issue, is dedicated to the seventieth anniversary of its publisher the Croatian Heritage Foundation, the core national institution for diaspora activities. The founders of the CHF, gathered at its founding meeting of 12 February 1951, were prominent intellectuals and returnees from abroad led by Zlatan Sremec, a physician from Vienna, born in the village of Gradište near Županja in eastern Croatia, who would go on to pursue a career in politics in Croatia. The current structure of the CHF is regulated by an act of Croatian Parliament adopted in December of 2018. The CHF is a public institution, active in Croatia and abroad, working in the environment of modern information technologies and contemporary mobility challenges. It works with the many and diverse ethnic Croatian diaspora communities around the world and the wealth of content in their societal, cultural and artistic achievements, offering them expertly verified and systematised foundations for further programme creation and a deeper understanding of the representative archetypes of the national cultural and linguistic heritage. The CHF has created a unique network of people that has, from generation to generation, linked people of ethnic Croatian background from around the world with the societal, economic and cultural reality of Our Beautiful Homeland. This network is now vividly presented in a lexicon of our diaspora and of the ethnic Croatian enclaves abroad, published in print for the CHF’s seventieth birthday and described in the Almanac by D. Šimurina-Šoufek.
The 2021 Croatian Emigrant Almanac is equally abreast of people that adopted travel as a lifestyle, migrants of various backgrounds in labour markets around the world, and the descendants of Croatians that have achieved affirmation in cultures from Alaska to the Tierra del Fuego, the south of Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and those that have found a new home in other parts of Europe. The thematic sections—Signs of the Times, Croatian Philological Horizons, Bridges, A History, Spirituality, Heritage, Science and New Books—present a broad range of articles penned by seasoned publicists, Croatian studies specialists, ethnologists, sociologists, historians and theoreticians of literature from places as diverse as Santiago de Chile, São Paulo, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Sydney and Zagreb. Among the thirty-five articles covering 436 pages readers will be delighted by content-packed articles from the pens of scholars such as J. Čapo, M. Rajković Iveta, I. Miškulin, V. Grubišić, M. Puh, S. Granic, A. Tutek, W. F. Lalich, T. Nuić, M. Lipovac, V. P. Goss, T. Rudež, Đ. Vidmarović and Š. Letina.
A layered article speaks to the challenges faced by the fourth generation of American Croatians, told through the story of the family of a migrant worker hailing from the Dalmatinska Zagore region in southern Croatia now calling California home; some of the third-generation members of this family are now permanent residents of or frequent visitors to Croatia. A similar migrant story, this time in Europe, is that of a family with roots in the northern Međimurje region now calling the German region of Bavaria home. Domagoj Đukec grew up in this family and I. Matanović relates his success as a leading designer with the BMW company, a leading brand in the German automotive industry. Đukec heads a team of 128 designers and many engineers at the firm, which employs some 120 thousand people worldwide. And while he was born in Frankfurt, studied in Pforzheim, and has lived all of his 45 years in Germany, Spain and France, Domagoj holds only Croatian citizenship. He joined the BMW team at the invitation of celebrated designer Adrian van Hooydonk. His first work was on the Concept Active Tourer, followed by projects that include the fine design of the series 2 Grand Tourer.
- Barač tells the story of the versatile Krešimir Mustapić, a long-time resident of Canada with a wealth of life experience and a fascinating career in business. In 1994 he launched a consulting business, Kremisco Engineering Inc. Besides running his firm Mustapić also heads a number of strategic projects under the association of Croatian university alumni in Toronto (Almae Matris Croaticae Alumni). He has served as the group’s president since 2014, after holding the post of vice-president from 2001. He considers the group’s top achievement under his leadership an exchange between the University of Toronto and the University of Split that saw Toronto students at a summer school of Croatian language and culture in Split. He also oversaw the revival of the Gaudeamus magazine after a sixteen-year hiatus, which has seen a positive impact in the broader ethnic Croatian community in North America.
There are encouraging articles penned by a new generation of authors that include M. Bačko, M. Tomić and S. Večeralo. The latter offers an overview of contemporary literary production among writers of Croatian descent in Chile: Antonio Skármeta’s collection of stories Libertad de movimiento (“Freedom of Movement”, 2015), a collection of stories by the trio of Vesna, Guillermo and Eugenio Mimica Tres de la tribu (“Three from the Tribe”, 2018), Juan Mihovilovich Hernández’s novel Útero (“The Womb”, 2020), Guillermo Mimica’s Almas Errantes (“Wandering Souls”, 2020), and Patricia Štambuk Mayorga’s collection of stories titled 1520. Los cuentos del Estrecho de Magallanes (“1520: The Tales of the Strait of Magellan”, 2019)—these are just samples of Chilean literary production from writers with Croatian roots. And while we find Croatian migrant motives in these literary works Večeralo notes the diverse range of styles, trends and genres these writers occupy.
Diana Šimurina Šoufek, Lada Kanajet Šimić, Snježana Jurišić, the almanac’s editor Vesna Kukavica, and historians Iva Kraljević and Željko Holjevac cover the development of CHF programmes; their achievements and the challenges they have faced over the past seventy years. The almanac’s eight thematic sections bring together some thirty countries and cover topics that include Australian researcher Walter F. Lalich’s look at the pandemic scares that have infected the mobility of our people in the past and present.
The Croatian Emigrant Almanac coming out on the CHF jubilee also presents an exclusive study on the experiences of co-ethnic migrants, people of Croatian ancestry from Venezuela, relocating to Croatia, the latest discoveries of L. Hilje concerning Costa Rican presidents of Croatian background, J. Milić Novak’s detailing of an initiative among female businesspeople of Croatian background in Australia, and an essay on Jasenka Gudelj, our first humanities researcher at the helm of a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) consolidator grant that saw here relocate to Italy last year to further pursue her academic ambitions. Gudelj’s project, Architectural Culture of the Early Modern Eastern Adriatic, was one of 78 projects selected for a slice of the coveted 600-million-euro ERC funding package under the Horizon 2020 framework. Over the next five years Ms Gudelj and her team will study architectural culture from Boka Kotorska to the Istrian peninsula, including UNESCO-listed edifices, applying innovative methodologies and a digital toolkit. Tanja Rudež offers an interesting description of the career of Boris Lenhard, a native of Sisak now living in England as a professor of computational biology at the Imperial College London. His research work is focused on gene regulation, the study of the mechanisms that determine what genes will be expressed in various cell types in a multicellular organism, and how this genetic expression changes during embryonic development. We can also warmly recommend the other papers published in this year’s CHF almanac, too numerous to be detailed here.
Also in this year’s issue we look at the career of new corresponding members of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts from the diaspora communities: internationally acclaimed architect Smiljan Radic Clarke of Chile’s Santiago de Chile, American Jadranka Skorin-Kapov, a native of Pula that has racked up three doctorates, English language specialist Zrinka Stahuljak of Los Angeles, professor of molecular medicine at the University of Oxford Kristijan Ramadan, and astrophysicist Željko Ivezić of the University of Washington in Seattle.
The cover art of this issue continues the seventieth anniversary theme, featuring the Većeslav Holjevac monument, celebrating the eminent former head of the CHF and writer of the seminal book Hrvati izvan domovine (“Croats Outside the Homeland”). The monument is located in central Zagreb at the head of the Hrvatske bratske zajednice boulevard, from which we see the headquarters of the CHF, a listed building erected during Holjevac’s term at the helm of the institution with abundant financial support from Croatians abroad.
By: Željka Lovrenčić
Photography: Ratko Mavar