25 / 2007
Duška Knežević Hočevar

Do the Žumberak people predominantly intermarry? The case of the Radatovići parish

In the essay, the author holds that intermarrying among Žumberčani (the locals from the Žumberak region in Croatia) has been common practice at least during the past century and a half. The reasons for such in-group marrying strategies are significantly connected to the past ways of life of Žumberčani of the Greek-Catholic religious affiliation, particularly to the ancestors who settled the then Military Border Zone as uskoki. Considered were the informants’ narratives from the most ancient Greek-Catholic parish in Radatovići; the westernmost Žumberak parish situated at the Croat-Slovenian state border. In conclusion, the paper seeks to determine whether Žumberčani have been marrying also cross the present border with Slovenia, with whom, and to what extent. During the first fieldwork in 2003, the informants’ narratives about the past and present ways of life in the Radatovići parish were collected. During the second fieldwork in 2005, the main topic of the interviews was marriage practices among Žumberčani, and relevant archival material on the topic was collected. By means of uni- and bi-variat statistical methods, the data on the parishioners’ marriages in the period from 1858 to 2004 were analyzed.The specific collective identity of Žumberčani of Greek-Catholic affiliation, life in the zadruga households with the common, indivisible property, and the specific past ways of life in the region are significantly connected to the marrying strategies. In 2005, the informants ascribed the marrying within the parish to the specific way of life in the times before WWII. After the war, better employment opportunities arose in factories outside the Žumberak region, in the near urban centres in Croatia and Slovenia. As a consequence, »mixed marriages« are said to have increased. However, descriptive statistical analysis shows that even on the Slovenian side of the state border, Žumberčani have predominantly married among themselves since WWII, mostly within the Greek-Catholic community in the Slovenian town Metlika. To sum up, the statistical analysis shows that during the past 150 years, the majority of bridegrooms and brides (app. 70% and 82% respectively) were born, and have before marriage lived in the Radatovići parish. In this sense, their marrying strategies were endogamous, occurring within their own group. Yet the analysis of the much smaller percentages of non-endogamous partners (app. 30% bridegrooms and 18% brides) shows that they were in most cases born, or have until marriage lived, in the nearby Greek-Catholic parishes either in Žumberak or in Slovenia, and only in a few cases in the Roman-Catholic parishes. Demonstrably then, Žumberčani remained predominantly endogamous even after WWII, in Žumberak as well as in Slovenia.