Linked with The Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis ISH.
She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “The death penalty is a precondition for war in any country”.
She writes: “I came to stay as Fellow-in-Residence at NIAS for five months, and was then granted another semester in January. This made it possible for me to complete more work than originally planned and presented in my application. As one of the editors on the project of rewriting comparative histories of literary cultures in Central and Eastern Europe (section Figural Nodes), I was able to commission and edit a total of 22 studies and to write my own contributions to this and to the other three sections. During the first five months, I edited a collection of articles in the Anthropology of the Ancient Worlds, translated from French. On the initiative of the Dean of ISH (Ljubljana), the initially planned introduction grew into a book on the impact of historical anthropology on Ancient studies, its problems, history and reception in the region. The book was published in April 2000 … (full text).
Svetlana Slapsak – Slovenia
Born in Belgrade on 18 January 1948, Svetlana Slapsak received her MA and PhD degrees in historical linguistics and classical studies at the University of Belgrade. Her political activism began during the 1968 student movement and she was subjected to beatings, police harassment. Her passport was confiscated for eight years.
In the 1970s, she protested against the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as the conflicts in Timor in the 1980s. In 1970, she published Phrontisterion, a satirical magazine, which was confiscated from the printer by the police. Because of her political affiliations, she was denied the possibility to pursue her academic career. Svetlana’s political goals include freedom of expression, human rights and animal rights.
With her husband, Bozidar Slapsak, she initiated a petition to ban the death penalty in 1983, the first signed petition in former Yugoslavia to be published in the media. She was actively involved in democratic movements in her country, focused on protecting people accused of “verbal delinquency.”
Since the 1980s, she has extensively promoted human rights. As president of the Writers’ Association of Serbia’s Committee for the Freedom of Expression, she initiated a series of activities to support political detainees, including Adem Demaci, a Kosovan prisoner of conscious. By the end of the 1980s, she too, was prosecuted by the nationalist authorities for articles she published criticizing Slobodan Milosevic and his wife, Mirjana Markovic. The judge gave her a fair trial, since the charges were not politically motivated, and she was acquitted. However, she lost her job, and colleagues, fearing reprisals from the growing dominance of the nationalist movements, openly betrayed her.
In 1988 and 1989, Svetlana traveled extetensively throughout Yugoslavia, lecturing about the impending war and the possibilities for peace. She organized several initiatives aimed at opposing the threat of war. When the war began, Svetlana fled to Ljubljana, and was labeled a “traitor” and “national menace,” enduring ostracism from friends and colleagues. With the growth of aggressive nationalism in the Yugoslav republics in the 1980s, she focused on promoting peace in her country. Born to ethnic Serb parents, she has always promoted ideas of multiculturalism.
She was quick to identify the dangers of mixing democratic and nationalist ideas. Svetlana criticized local intellectuals in Serbia, and throughout Yugoslavia, for producing nationalist narratives to serve communist nomenclatures in their attempts to preserve their grasp of power at all costs, including the disintegration of the federal state. Svetlana defined peace as a non-negotiable condition, a foundation for any compromise among groups.
She believes women should play an important role in assuming more responsibility for conflict resolution and assuring peace. In this position, women should also have a crucial role in creating a favorable climate for reconciliation, preserving memory and reigniting the debate on personal and collective responsibility for the war. Specifically, this means promoting justice and remembering victims, explaining the functioning of the Hague Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, and exposing public discourse that instigates violence, including hate speech against other communities, against women, and against children and animals.
She maintains that the death penalty is a precondition for war in any country.
In addition to influencing change in people’s perspectives, the long-term effects of Svetlana’s activism can be observed on an institutional level. She founded the feminist magazine, ProFemina, in Belgrade in 1994, to give feminist authors a voice and to promote young authors and artists in their resistance to the Milosevic regime, nationalism and war. Today it continues as a significant space for peace culture in Serbia. Svetlana was part of several projects, including “Balkan Women Against War,” where 50 women activists from around the world traveled to the former Yugoslavia to visit traumatic places from the war. A book and film were produced from this trip.
In 1996, she began working at the Ljubljana Graduate School in Humanities, a prestigious doctoral university founded by a group of Slovenian friends and fellow academics. She introduced women’s studies and peace issues into the curriculum of her Anthropology of Gender program at the graduate school where she is currently acting Dean.
In 2004, her model of public discourse was instrumental in organizing the first group to publicly debate about who held responsibility for the war. She is a regular contributor to a column in the Belgrade daily Danas.
She is recognized as a United Nations expert for women and the culture of peace, following a 1997 conference.
Among those benefiting from Svetlana’s activism are women artists, authors and activists from all over former Yugoslavia, in addition to students and young adults, who, early in their lives, were faced with the catastrophe of the war.
With illustrations by a young Slovenian artist, she has published a book on children’s rights based on UN declarations, with references to young Bosnian refugees in Slovenia. The book was distributed for free in Slovenia’s primary schools in 1996, in Slovenian, English, and Bosnian. This book was then published and distributed for free in Albanian and Roma in Serbia (2002). She published a Slovenian translation of her very popular mock adventure novel (first edition published in Belgrade in 1984), and donated half the proceeds.
The book was distributed to children and teenagers in refugee camps in Slovenia in 1996. She received considerable amounts of positive feedback from young readers, who both enjoyed the book and improved their Slovenian. She edited a book about the experiences of a Serbian woman in Kosovo in 1997, the first objective testimony of violence against Albanians by a Serbian author (2002). (1000PeaceWomen).
Trained in Classical Studies/Linguistics at the University in Beograd, with a PhD on translations, adaptations and loans from Greek in Vuk Karadžic’ Serbian Dictionary, she moved towards Balkanology and omen’s Studies in the 80′. As a dissident student and later author and activist, often harrassed by the secret police, her passport denied for several times for more than 7 years 1968-1988.
Fired from her post at the Institute for Arts and Literature in Beograd in 1988, following a bogus trial by the Miloševic’ regime, for her public opposition to the Serbian nationalism and the decomposition of Yugoslavia and her action in favor of the longest detained consciousness’ prisoner in Yugoslavia, ethnic Albanian Adem Demaqi (29 years in 1987). With her husband Božidar Slapšak initiated the civic initiative against the death penalty in former Yugoslavia.
Moved to Ljubljana in 1991. Organized the women’s group »Silence kills, let us speak for peace« in the same year. With her husband organized a number of actions in favor of refugees in Slovenia. They hosted a number of refugees in their apartment in Ljubljana during the war.
Coordinator of Anthropology of Ancient Worlds and Anthropology of Gender at ISH (Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis), Ljubljana Graduate School of Humanities. Dean of ISH since 2005. Editor-in-Chief of ProFemina, a quarterly for Women’s studies and culture in Beograd, since 1994. Laurie Chair in Women’s Studies at Rutgers, USA, 1994-1995; Invited at EHESS Paris, 1998; Fellow at NIAS, Wassenaar, 1999-2000; Fellow at Max Planck Institute, Berlin, 2000; Fellow at Collegium Budapest, 2005. Recipient of Miloš Crnjanski Award for essays, 1990; American PEN Freedom of Expression Award, 1993; Helsinki Watch Award, 2000; Helen Award, Montreal, 2001. One of 1000 women for peace, candidates for the Nobel Prize in 2005. (Uni Fribourg/Switzerland).
JOINT EUROPEAN MASTERS DEGREE IN WOMEN’S AND GENDER STUDIES (GEMMA);
UK resource centre for women in science, engineering and technology.