Principal Investigator:
prof. dr. Polona Tratnik

Research Organisations:

  • Alma Mater Europea – Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis Ljubljana Graduate School of the Humanities
  • Institute IRRIS for Research, Development and Strategies of Society, Culture and Environement

Duration: 1. 7. 2019–30. 6. 2022
Financed by: Slovenian Research Agency



The research is concerned with the social roles of folk tales and their role for the organization of society. A particular case focus of this research is the region of Slovenia, which has a history of belonging to different political unions and ambitions for building a nation. The aim of this research is to establish, how the political, economic and religious relations between folks in this region appear in the folk tales and how they reflect particular historical circumstances of that age. The strivings of the prevailing class of folk to get some level of political and economic autonomy, to establish a non-imposed social order, and to get recognized or established as a nation will be examined. The objective of the research is to examine the function of folk tales for the nation building processes and for the establishment of political, but also social order. On the one hand, the political function of the hero tales will be examined as regards their function to build national identity, as a boundary-defining mechanism, and as regards the building of a defensive stance. On the other hand, the research will focus on the “classical” Pan-European fairy tales that have circulated in Europe for ages and that were produced in unique variants within the context of socialism, when they, as rather “non-heroic” tales, represent ordinary people at their aspiration for righteous society. The aim is to study the fairy tales as cultural formations with certain forms of inclusion and exclusion. The research will originally contribute a recognition of folk tales as matrixes of which each singular edition adjusts to the given ideological or socio-political circumstances. The research will enlighten, how the regimes of production condition the inscribed ideological inclinations and erasures, as well as these depend on the anticipated public. In that respect the folk tales will be examined as popular genre that functions similar to culture industry.

The research is grounded in culturology and is strongly interdisciplinary anchored. It fits in the framework of the ARRS research programme Research of Cultural Formations, of which the principal investigator is this project leader, Polona Tratnik (under her leadership the programme has been just prolonged until 2024, on the basis of successful application at the ARRS call). The project innovatively grasps the subject of folk tales, traditionally studied by folklorists and literary theory, with tools of critical theory of society, philosophy of culture, semiology, structuralism and communicology, paying strong attention to the social context of production and reception, the cultural and political history. The experienced researchers in these disciplines with many successfully completed national and international projects, such as the Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Fulbright fellowships, internationally recognized, with strong record of scientific publications (Tratnik – 8 monographs, Crowther – 17 monographs, Darovec – 15 monographs), guarantee feasibility. It is the first in-depth research on the political functions of folk tales, particularly on their function for the nation building processes, and the first research on the social functions of the variants of the classical fairy tales in the genre of socialist realism. As a result, with shading light to these aspects, the project will show that the folk tales are relevant means for studying the political context, in which they are appearing.

The research will assure deliverables for established academic public and students, as well as for the general public that keeps interest in tales of different sorts: two monographs with acknowledged publishers, one single-authored and one with collected studies, two international conferences, five peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals and a PhD course. The research has important political significance, since it is in line with the EU policies and strategies, preserving Cultural heritage and European identity and diversity.



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