Department History


Ethnological and folkloristic topics were taught in various schools and at various levels of education in the second half of the19th and the first half of the 20th century. These topics were primarily present in the curricula of women’s and men’ handicraft classes, and Croatian language and geography. 001In 1874 the Zagreb University, including what is today the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, was reformed and completely reconstructed. In university curricula ethnological and folkloristic topics were present in courses within the Chair of Slavic Philology, where Armin Pavić taught the course Croatian Folk Songs, Tomo Maretić taught the course The Religion of Old Slavs, and Dragutin Boranić held a seminar on the Slavic peasant home. At the Chair of Geography Petar Matković studied and published travel writing, and he was also the secretary of the committee for selecting objects for the Ethnographic Exhibition in Moscow in 1867, which was also to serve as a preparation for the foundation of the ethnographic section of the National Museum in Zagreb. In his lectures on art history, archaeology and cultural history, Iso Kršnjavi, lecturer at the Chair for History of Art and Art Archaeology, used data gathered in his own fieldwork on Croatian handicrafts, especially those related to textile, but also data found in contemporary ethnological literature and sources.

Department of Ethnology

The independent Chair of Ethnology and Ethnography was founded at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences January 27, 1925 following the decision of the Ministry of Education. The first lecturer was dr. Petar Bulat, philologist and folklorist. The same year dr. Bulat proposed the founding of the Ethnological Seminar and the Seminar Institute, with necessary facilities, furniture, books and work models. In March 1926, after only three semesters, Bulat was retired. This resulted in a pause in lectures until the appointment of dr. Milovan Gavazzi as associate professor of ethnography and ethnology. 003The Chair for Ethnology was reinstituted in the academic year 1927/28 during the mandate of Dean Dragutin Boranić, Slavist and philologist, a long-standing editor and associate of the Zbornik za narodni život i običaje (Annals of Folk Life and Customs) published by the Academy. After several years of preparation and efforts, Milovan Gavazzi (1896 – 1992), who had worked as curator at the Ethnographic Museum since 1923, became the head of Chair. Gavazzi developed the program of ethnology, as well as scientific activities within the seminar. The program encompassed the history of ethnology, overview of national traditional culture, the cultures of other Slavic and European peoples and cultures outside of Europe. He initiated many other professional and scientific activities within the seminar: collecting, publishing, production of ethnographic films, and he also initiated the field of ethnological cartography. According to the 1928 directive of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the faculty was divided into 30 departments, each of them had three subjects: A, B and C. Ethnology was studied as one of the subjects most frequently within group 13 – Anthropogeography, group 23 – General History, and group 27 – Ethnology. In the reorganization of the faculty in 1948 12 departments were established, and each could be studied as an individual major. The two-major system was introduced in 1952. Ethnology was studied according to new organizational rules: along with the major subject, which lasted eight semesters, the student could study a complementary group as a second major, which lasted six semesters. As a result of the new reorganization in 1954 all groups could be majors, enabling students to combine and relate subjects. Ethnology was in the beginning enrolled mostly by men, but women started to predominate quickly. This trend continues to the present. First woman to graduate ethnology was Boženka Polić (21/6/1933).

Along with his other functions as member of the Department and the Croatian Ethnological Society, Milovan Gavazzi was dean of the faculty in 1951/1952. He was renowned in European ethnology. In 1970 he received the Herder Award at the University of Vienna as one of the distinguished people who cherished and promoted cultural relations between Central European and Eastern European countries and contributed to the preservation of European cultural heritage based on the principle of peaceful communication among peoples.002Branimir Bratanić (1910. – 1986.) was employed as the first assistant in 1936. Bratanić’s area of teaching encompassed the history and theory of ethnology and the culture of agricultural peoples of the Old World. He also developed ethnological cartography. The Department of Ethnology was established during the reorganization of the Faculty in 1960. The Department had two chairs, the Chair for National Ethnology (the study of the Croatian and related peoples), headed by Gavazzi, and the Chair for General Ethnology (the study of peoples outside of Europe), headed by Bratanić. In 1961 Bratanić founded the Center for the preparation of the Ethnological Atlas of Yugoslavia at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. The same year saw the beginning of the postgraduate program of ethnology. The number of faculty members grew gradually; a number of associates and teachers working in research, teaching and organization was employed: Andrija Stojanović (1914–1985), Marija Išgum (1931–1999), Đurđica Palošija (1930–2005), Jasna Andrić (1934.), Vitomir Belaj (1937) and Manda Svirac who worked at the Department until their retirement. Aleksandra Muraj spent a part of her career at the Department (1965-1979), as well as Olga Supek (1988-1991).

1982 till 1992 the Department bore the name Institute of Ethnology. In 1984 the Center for the preparation of the Ethnological Atlas of Yugoslavia was expanded into the Center for Ethnological Cartography. In 1989 the Center started publishing the journal Studia ethnologica. Since its fifth issue in 1993 the journal is titled Studia ethnologica Croatica. In 1999 the Center became part of the Department of Ethnology. The theoretical framework and approaches to the study of ethnological phenomena start to include the area of cultural anthropology. In the course of this restructuring the Department took over the publication of the journal. The department co-publishes Etnološka tribina, together with the Croatian Ethnological Society since the beginnings of the journal in 1970.

Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology

Since he became the member of the Department in 1970 up until his retirement in 2008, Vitomir Belaj gave a significant contribution to ethnology: in terms of disciplinary innovation he introduced new areas and topics of study, in terms of teaching he introduced new courses in the curricula, and organizing curricula and the postgraduate programs as head of department and the postgraduate program. He founded the journal Studia ethnologica Croatica. His research and teaching activities contributed greatly to the development of ethnological science in general, to humanities on the national level and to the University of Zagreb, which awarded him the honorary position of professor emeritus June 9, 2009.

In 2000 another departmental chair was added to the already existing two – the Chair for Ethnological Methods and Cartography. In 2004 the expansion of study to contemporary theoretical trends is institutionalized and the Scientific and Teaching Committee of the Department renamed the department, which is now called the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology. In the course of this reorganization another chair was founded, the Chair of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology.

In the course of the Bologna reform, in the academic year 2005/06 the Department introduced undergraduate and graduate programs. The new program emerged out of the specific economic environment in Croatia, the heritage of Croatian ethnology and the need to synchronize with similar programs in Europe. One of the principal goals of the program of ethnology and cultural anthropology was its acknowledgment by the tourist industry. Graduate program is especially directed at the applicability of ethnological and anthropological knowledge in the market. Tourism emerged as a key sector for the application of ethnology, as well as media and areas requiring some form of qualitative research. The market for graduates are still public institutions, such as museums, conservation institutes, etc. and tourism.

The Department also offers a postgraduate program, which, in accordance with the program restructuring, became the Doctoral Study of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, attracting Croatian as well as foreign students. Eighty five years since it was established, the Department still, in terms of its teaching and organizational potential, represents the central institution for the education of professionals and scientists in the area of ethnology and cultural anthropology. It employs ten doctors, seven of which hold the highest academic positions, and nine research assistants, who have either received doctorates or are in the process of writing their doctoral theses. Associates and students of the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology have established a rich and diverse international cooperation with related departments in Europe.

More than 1200 students have graduated ethnology, as a major subject, in combination with a second major, and as postgraduates. A rich tradition and generations of students are a guarantee of continuity and development of the discipline. The starting point of the Department’s research and teaching work are national culture and heritage, and diverse contemporary scientific methods.

004The department has a rich archive, containing valuable materials of the Ethnological Atlas, which is under the protection of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, and archive material on a variety of topics and different regions of Croatia. The manuscript collection consists of material collected as part of the Department’s research and teaching activities since 1930 till the present, and it encompasses about 2000 textual records by professors, project associates and students, divided into six collections (Older records, Peasant cooperative families, Cooperatives and their ethnological indicators, Students’ seminars, Students’ graduation theses, New collection). The archive is continually updated with new material collected as part of work on projects.

Along with manuscripts, the photograph collection of the archive contains a large number of items. In order to simplify the search and usage of the collection, the Department plans to design a database in the form of an internet catalogue, and has started digitalizing material with the purpose of preserving the most endangered items in the collection.

The departmental library is part of the Faculty library; it contains an especially valuable collection of Milovan Gavazzi’s books, stored as a special protected unit, Ex libris Milovan Gavazzi.

Written by: dr. Tihana Petrović Leš, professor

Bibliography and sources:

AGIČIĆ, Damir. 1998. Kratka kronologija Filozofskoga fakulteta, Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Monografija. Damjanović, Stjepan (ed.). Filozofski fakultet: Zagreb, 13–23.

BELAJ, Vitomir. 1998. Odsjek za etnologiju, Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Monografija. Damjanović, Stjepan (ed.). Filozofski fakultet: Zagreb, 235–240.

RAPO, Vesna. 2007. Etnologija u nastavi. U povodu 80 godina studija etnologije i kulturne antropologije Filozofskoga fakulteta u Zagrebu. Katalozi izložaba Hrvatskoga školskog muzeja. Filozofski fakultet i Hrvatski školski muzej. Archive of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.