Saša Poljak Istenič, PhD

Research Associate, Assistant Professor



Saša Poljak Istenič graduated from ethnology and cultural anthropology in 2002 with the thesis Mass Media of the Carinthian Slovenes, for which she received the Faculty of Arts’ Prešeren Award (2002) and the Award of the Office for Slovenes Abroad (2003). After a year working as a curator in the Regional Museum Kočevje she became a researcher at the Institute of Slovenian Ethnology ZRC SAZU. She earned her PhD in ethnology in 2012 with a dissertation on agricultural rituals and their role in identity formation and tourism; and continued her career at the institute studying creativity; traditions, festivals and gastronomy; heritage and tourism; and protected areas. She has also participated in several European projects on cultural heritage and national minorities.

Her current research, outlined in a postdoctoral project Surviving, living, thriving: Creativity as a way of life (Slovenian Research Agency, 2014–2016), focuses on the economic, social and cultural potential of creativity as an interactive social practice reaching beyond the boundaries of the cultural and creative industries. She regularly attends international conferences, gives occasional lectures to students and teachers, and prepares workshops on creativity and heritage for children. She cooperates with cultural and creative sectors in Ljubljana (creative centres, cultural and welfare associations, museums, cultural and social initiatives) as well as with municipalities and associations for rural and urban development.   

2005 Festival through the optics of folklorism and heritage tourism: case-study of the Country wedding in Ljubljana. In: Kulturelles Erbe, Veröffentlichungen der Universität Innsbruck (Bd. 252), Bricolage (H. 3). Innsbruck: University Press, 128–153.

2011 Texts and contexts of folklorism. Traditiones 40 (3), 51–73.

2012 Aspects of tradition. Traditiones 41 (2), 77–89.

2013 The development potential of local food. In: Uherek, Z. (ed.), Otčenášek, J. Traditional food in the Central Europe: history and changes. Prague: Institute of Ethnology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 145–159, 167–168. 

2013 (co-author with Miha Kozorog) The challenges for responsible recreation in the protected area of Triglav National Park: the case of mountain bikers. Academica turistica 6 (1), 71–80, 84.

2013 Language and identity: vignettes on language use among members of the Slovenian minority in Austrian Carinthia. In: Radojičić, D., and Radović, S. (ed.). Kulturna prožimanja: antropološke perspektive / Cultural Permeations: Anthropological Perspectives (Zbornik, 28, vol. 28). Beograd: Etnografski institut SANU, 145–157.

2014 Classical concepts, new perspectives: what's up with agricultural rituals? Slovenský národopis 62 (2), 182–196.

2014 (co-author with Miha Kozorog) Constructing a protected area as an adventurescape: the case of Sloveniaʼs Triglav national park. Ethnologia Fennica 41, 38–54. 

2015 Kulturni turizem in čezmejni projekti = Cultural tourism and crossborder projects : razumevanje turističnih potencialov kulturne dediščine v projektih čezmejnega sodelovanja med Slovenijo in Italijo = understandings of the tourism potentials of cultural heritage in crossborder projects between Slovenia and Italy. In: Dapit, Roberto (ed.), et al. Le collezioni uniscono = Zbirke povezujejo : collezioni etnologiche, tradizione orale e turismo culturale fra le Alpi e il Carso = etnološke zbirke, ustno izročilo in kulturni turizem med Alpami in Krasom. / The collections connect: ethnological collections, oral tradition and cultural toursim between the Alps and the Carst. Udine: Università degli studi, Dipartimento di lingue e letterature straniere; [Ljubljana]: Znanstvenoraziskovalni center Slovenske akademije znanosti in umetnosti, Inštitut za slovensko narodopisje, 61–77.

2015 Dostopnost kulture in/ali inkluzija? Slepi in slabovidni v slovenskih muzejih / Accessibility of culture and/or inclusion?: the blind and visually impaired in Slovenia’s museums. Etnolog 25, 43–70.

2015 Kolo kot akter ustvarjalne urbane regeneracije / Bycicle as an actor of creative urban regeneration. Glasnik SED 55 (3–4), 23–37.


Surviving, living, thriving. Creativity as a way of life ( podoktorski_raziskovalni • 01. october 2014 - 30. september 2016)
Urban Futures: Imagining and Activating Possibilities in Unsettled Times ( bilateralni • 01. november 2020 - 31. october 2023)