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Chapter Summary

The 1954 international border between Yugoslavia and Italy bisects a region in which various ethnic communities have long co-existed. Over the centuries, autochthonous and migrant groups evolved patterns of accommodation that maintained cultural distinctions while containing potential ethnic friction. This continuity among the region’s ethnic groups has periodically been disrupted by outside intervention. The Slovene-speaking community here has been discriminated against by both authoritarian and democratic governments yet many have resisted cultural assimilation into Italian civil society. The identity of Slovene-speakers on both sides of the border is related more to a sense of regional belonging; it is their ‘place’ and that of their forebears. Regional pressures for a more porous international border have led to concessions permitting residents access to more permeable border crossings. The current border regime is thus a practical and symbolic acknowledgement of regional realities co-existing alongside those of the nation-state. With the probable accession of Slovenia to the European Union in 2004, border barriers will disappear, so allowing the region the opportunity to function as a reintegrated entity.



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