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Slavic Carnivals

1. Meeting of the Museums participants of the project SLAVIC CARNIVALS Pazin/Matulji (Croatia/Istria) 14-15.02. 2015

Round table discussion in the ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM OF ISTRIA In Pazin and visit to the Bellmen festival in Matulji

The ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM OF ISTRIA in Pazin (Croatia/Istria) is the first institution to host the exhibition “Slavic Carnivals”, organized by the Forum of Slavic Cultures

We are happy to invite you to not only to visit the exhibition in the museum, but also to participate the first round table discussion on Carnival and to experience the living carnival traditions in the original area of Bellmen. This Carnival tradition of the Rijeka hinterland has been on the UNESCO Representative list of the Intangible heritage of the Humanity since 2009:

The Programme

Saturday, 14.02.2015
10.30 Opening of the exhibition SLAVIC CARNIVALS at the Ethnographic museum of Istria
13.00 Participate at the Bellmen procession in Matulji (hinterland of Rijeka)
18.00 Visit to the Museum of Bellmen, Rukavac
Transportation to Pazin and accommodation at Hotel Lovac

Sunday, 15.02.2015
9.30 ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION: “Carnival traditions and the problem of “the Other” in a globalised World”.
Optional: In the afternoon it is possible to participate in many local Carnival traditions, as well as on Monday and Tuesday (in case some of the participants have more in-depth interest)

Accommodation is available at the neighboring Hotel “Lovac” where the prices for a single bedroom are approximately 38 Euros and for double bedroom 68 Euros.


The unpredictable and uncontrollable power of Carnival, its irony and social critique has often bothered and irritated authorities. Carnival traditions were sometimes regarded with suspicion, even with repressive measures introduced especially in some south- and eastern European countries after the 2nd World war.

By regarding Carnival as Intangible heritage, some of these traditions were placed on the UNESCO Representative list of the Intangible heritage and a few of them are in the process of UNESCO evaluation for the same status. However, one has to keep in mind that understanding and construction of heritage is a dynamic contemporary phenomenon that has been undergoing constant negotiation and adaptation to current values in the (Western) society. Applied to Carnival, this means that some elements, behavior and attitudes that some local traditions keep alive don’t fit into today’s understanding of democracy and the proclaimed tolerance and respect towards cultural, racial, gender and physical varieties of humanity.

And yet, Carnival in many European countries contains characters types of behavior that could nowadays generally offend women, Roma people, Jews, people with dark complexions, those with bodily disjunctions, homosexuals and many others. Seen from local perspectives, these were “the others” and therefore a perfect theme to be turned into a Carnival character. That has been frequently accompanied with jokes and irony. Since some of these traditions became world heritage and therefore globalised, they also have to fit in the accepted ethic frame of the Western world. This is why it has already happened that some doubtful components of local traditions were erased from their presentation in the international context.

The round-table discussion dedicated to this issue will discuss following questions:

  • How do contemporary societies reconcile the presentation of local carnival traditions with current standards of tolerance and acceptance of “the other”?
  • To what degree should we purify Carnival from the irony that is inherent in this type of living culture?
  • How does this relate to the current burning question about how far should satire go?
  • What is the relationship between Carnival and domains of power in related countries?
  • The round table discussion will take place at the ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM OF ISTRIA ( on Sunday, 15.02, from 9.30 to 12.30.

    Each discussant should prepare a short 7-10 minutues presentation and afterwards the discussion will flow less formally, led by conveners.