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Heroes and Celebrities in Slovenia and Central Europe


The proposed research project thematises the role of exceptional individuals in history, or in different times and places, devoting its attention to Slovenia as part of Central European cultural space. It will answer the questions who, why and when (could) become a hero and what are the characteristics of a heroic personality, and why humans need heroes. Beside, the project will shed light upon the dimensions of remembering and forgetting, suppressing and obliterating heroes.
The project will not only deal with heroes who importantly helped in creating local and national history, but also famous individuals who are “empty in their content”, because they are “famous for being famous”. Due to the “emptiness in their content” these “bubble celebrities” persons have an important role in creating public and media spaces. Using the analysis of the activities practised by these famous persons we will be identifying the role of those individuals in the contemporary world. Did they completely replace the heroes from the past, mythological creatures and gods who were once the centre of social attention? Are these individuals produced by capitalism and consumerism, which instead of “real” and “unspoiled” heroic actions provides the crowds with fictitious, directed pseudo-events? And nevertheless, is there any room for heroes in the modern world or have these artificially created famous persons completely replaced them?

The first workpackage set will deal with an analysis of the common traits of heroes and celebrities from the diachronic as well as synchronic perspective. Here ethnological as well as anthropological, sociological, linguistic, literary, etc. aspects will be taken into account.

The second workpackage will deal with the historical viewpoints of individuals who transformed their time significantly and contributed to the formation of the nation. Such heroes played a very important role in the process of “inventing traditions”; they represented the best or the most desired characteristics and the most prominent achievements of the nation and helped people to develop their relation towards the past. The project will underline such important individuals, who were stressed during the period of “awakening” the nation, it will examine the methods and strategies of their “use” and their acceptance in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The third workpackage will be focused on imaginary heroes, above all literary and folklore figures, which have an important place among the Slovenians just like actual persons. The image of Črtomir shall be discussed in detail; within the field of folklore we shall observe the questions of heroism and bravery in the cases of different folklore heroes (e.g. King Matjaž, Peter Klepec, Fair Vida) and literary heroes, who are in the process of folklorisation (e.g. Martin Krpan);  in the field of ritual the role of St. Nicholas shall be presented, and compared to the role of Santa Claus and Father Frost.

The fourth workpackage will deal with the creation of celebrities with the help of the media and new technologies and analyse the strategies for the creation of the celebrity status in people from the world of entertainment, politicians and athletes. Here, our initial hypothesis will be, that to be a celebrity–whether in the field of entertainment, politics or sports–is to stand out of mediocrity, and at the same time stay a part of the network, which defines such an individual, supports and feeds him/her with attention and maintains his/her special status.
The project research will deal with historical as well as modern aspects of heroes and celebrities, study the social and cultural role of actual and imaginary individuals who had or have an important role in Slovenia as a part of the Central European cultural area.

Research Project

kolektivni spomin
slavne osebnosti

Research Fields
Narodopisje H400