18 / 2003
Marina Lukšič-Hacin


The goal of the research within which present deliberation arose is to estimate the role and significance women have (had) in migrational contexts for the preservation of source culture of which part is national identity as well, in the new environment. In the period of the national state, national identity and language become the principal symbols of source culture. Frequently the latter is reduced to them, which is characteristic in particular for political discourses that are nationalistically toned. Therefore, I deal in my treatise with the significance of women-emigrants in preserving national identity in immigrant environments.

Socialisation is a process, which is among other of key importance for establishing and preserving ethnic/national/nationality identities within an individual. It is being realized through various socialisation agents. Most significant are its non-conscious aspects of constitution of reality within an individual. Among the most important socializators belongs the family, which is in patriarchal contexts entirely the domain of women. Thus the importance and the role of women for the preservation of national identity are from that viewpoint evident and undisputed. From the viewpoint of preserving the source culture, women are in emigration of key importance in maintaining other socializors and mechanisms of identification: teaching language and mediation of knowledge on source culture (teachers), concern with the young people, publishing newspapers with the young and for them, organising society activities for children and youth, maintaining rituals, myths and symbols that are important for the preservation of group identities …

Furthermore, I am interested in the contribution on whether with them brought patriarchal values remain unchanged, particularly in migrations to less patriarchal environments. For women migration presented a chance to rid of discriminatory patriarchal bonds of the local environment. This is especially valid for women that were coming from the typical rural sphere in the last decades of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th centuries. The majority of them breathed easier in the new environments. They began living more independently and made progress socially. Consequently, partnership relations changed. The latter is not valid for cases of compulsory after-war migrations when women experienced social regression. Specific situation is indicated with mixed marriages where we come across the so-called gender asymmetry, which on the one hand presents weaknesses and on the other the advantages for women migrants in comparison to male migrants. In most cases, women in mixed marriages women see to the children come to know the source culture and acquaint with (or learn) the language, and capture knowledge on their origin.

Let us in the conclusion expose the fact that in researching the role and significance of women we come across great difficulties because of the so-called modesty syndrome. Women have in patriarchal relations, which are pervaded with gender dichotomy, and in which they were socialized, introverted sexual stereotypes as well and the conceptions on insignificancy of some aspects of everyday life (the so-called private sphere versus the public one) that are in women’s domain. The notion of insignificance of everything women did in their lives derives from this conception. History is silent about women who despite everything entered the so-called public life, or masculinisation of their achievements occurs.

Marina Lukšič-Hacin is PhD of Sociology and Political Anthropology, Research Fellow, Head of the Institute for Slovenian Emigration Studies of the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana.