Rebellious Survival Strategies in Slovenian Territory (16th to 19th Century)

applied research project
Basic Info


The project sets out to explore different aspects of social disobedience (smuggling, banditry, peasant and other revolts, poaching, minor offences etc.) in the western part of present-day Slovenia and its neighbouring regions from 16th to the 19th century.
The project covers the western part of Slovenia, which has always been a border region located between the Venetian Republic, Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire and has historically always been faced with crises and challenges of survival which consequently forced its population to turn to various non-agrarian survival strategies that were often bordering illegal practices.
Border in this case is perceived not only as a barrier, but also as a survival strategy of individuals and the community, as well as an agent of mediation between different cultures.
The timeframe of the project coincides with the expansion of banditry and other forms of rebellious strategies related to social changes that were brought about by the slow disintegration of the feudal regime, centralization and modernization and had a particularly adverse effect on the rural population. The studied period saw a change in rules of social control both on the part of the subjects as well as the government. Building on the selected starting points of disobedience, which can either be seen as a form of social protest or as a latently present endemic phenomenon that breaks out in times of crises or changes in social and political circumstances, the project will strive for an internationally comparative evaluation of these rebellious practices.
The main research objectives:
1. To show how the inhabitants of border regions surpassed the natural and social constraints by inventing a wide range of strategies that provided them with (better) chances of survival, the effects of the practices of disobedience on the everyday life of certain communities and on the resulting formation and transformation of individual identities within respective communities, and not least also to identify possible ideological or typified connotations of these practices that evolved in particular with the emergence of mass media (pamphlets, newspapers) and the extent to which such strategies ensured a social consensus and preservation of political and social order.
2. To determine which of these rebellious survival strategies the community perceived as acceptable and which ones posed a threat to the community, what the reasons were for their occurrence and the way in which the authorities responded to such acts of deviance.
We will examine how such survival strategies affected the occurrence of rebellious practices triggered by various factors, ranging from the economic and tax systems, legal and administrative organization, family and household strategies, state repression, to political aspects; and finally, we will observe how individual delinquent identities were formed in the context of a broader collective identity and mentalities.
 With its conceptual and methodological innovations the proposed research will fill the gap in this kind of research that currently exists in Slovenian historiography and through its innovative interdisciplinary methodological approach of historiography and related disciplines (exploration of the types of written, iconographic, printed and visual material, literature and records of folk heritage), show the specificities of this phenomenon in historiography. The results of this research will also provide valuable information for use in economic sector especially in tourism and promotion. Within the proposed project, computer software for data processing and advanced multi-dimensional representations of smuggling routes and outlaw posts containing short descriptions of individual points on said routes will be designed by HARPHA SEA company.