The untold story of the „forgotten exile“: gender representations and gender construction

Duga Mavrinac

In 1915, due to the imminent threat from Italy, the Austro-Hungarian government decided to evacuate civilians from its territories in southern Istria, mostly the city of Pula and its surroundings. Thousands of people from various ethnic backgrounds, the so called evakuirci, were sent to refugee camps in Austria, Hungary, Moravia and Czechia where many died or suffered from poor hygienic conditions and malnutrition.

By focusing on private and public letters written from women in exile to their families and friends as well as to the Istrian politician and national activist Vjekoslav Spinčić, and articles published in Istrian newspapers Naša sloga and Hrvatski list, the aim of this paper is to analyse and compare the construction and representation of gender in exile till the final repatriation of evakuirci in 1918. This historical reconstruction of collective and individual experiences of exile will offer an insight on the complex process of gender construction in media discourse and the potential discrepancies found in private letters, which could testify changing attitudes towards one’s own gender concepts and negotiation between private and public sphere.