Popelková Katarína

Abstract

This paper discusses the process of construction of representation of an urban
space as a socially determined phenomenon under the conditions of the postcommunist
transformation of Slovakia. The subject matter of the analysis is
the occurrence of facts from the viticultural past – a common feature of two
neighboring towns – in their current public discourse. On the basis of data
gather through archival-document study and ethnological field research, the
paper analyzes collective motivations in the process of construction of collective
memory and their linkages to concrete conditions of revitalization of private
entrepreneurship after 1989.

Keywords

post-communist transformation, local memory, viticulture

One modality of ethnological reflection of the urban social world is to conceptualize
the thesis that the city is a phenomenon created by its inhabitants. They
create its vision and hand it down to future generations. Dynamic social, generational
and individual representations of the city anchor its inhabitants in
time. These representations influence their relations of the past, present and
prospects of the city to its material and spiritual dimensions.
In this paper I strive to describe forms and meanings of facts from the
past in the urban setting in Slovakia undergoing post-communist transformation.
I wish to show the principles of representation of the past in everyday life
and to reveal the social background of these representations. I base my discussion
on the concept of social memory, especially on Halbwachs’ ideas about
the social nature of remembering and meanings of concrete contents of shared
ideas about a group’s past (Halbwachs, 1994). I also strive to capture the logic
of these processes and their dynamics (Kiliánová & Krekovičová, 2008).
The paper is based on research I carried out in 1997–2006 in the two neighboring
towns of Modra and Pezinok. They are located about 30 km. from Bratislava
in the foothills of the Lesser Carpathian Mountains. The district town
of Pezinok (population 22,000) and its neighboring town Modra (population
8,000) are, at present, part of the dynamically developing, densely populated
region of greater Bratislava, with good infrastructure and roads and, in the
case of Pezinok, also train connection to Bratislava. From the north, the towns
are surrounded by vineyards spreading over the Lesser Carpathian slopes covered
with deciduous forests and, on the southern and eastern side, they face
lowlands. In the economic structure of the towns, industry and agriculture play
only a small role nowadays; most people commute to work to nearby Bratislava
or work in local, well-developed services or in local smaller manufacturing
facilities. Pezinok is the administrative and business center, but also the center
of social life and recreational activities, thanks to two resorts founded at the
turn of the 20th century in nearby forests.
I draw examples from viticulture which, since the Middle Ages, has been
part of the economic culture of both towns. The towns gradually developed
from small farming settlements and gained royal privileges. Besides Slovaks,
several waves of German colonists also settled in the towns. In the 17th century,
thanks to the thriving wine trade, Modra and Pezinok gained privileges
of a free royal town. This way they gained the highest level of independence
in the hierarchy of feudal towns in Hungary. Typical for local viticulture was
winegrowing on the hill slopes on the outskirts of the towns. This required seasonal
work of all family members as well as of hired laborers from the town or
neighboring villages. Wine grapes were harvested in the autumn and they were
transported in wagons to the winepress. Wine, as a product for sale, was stored
in wine cellars underneath houses in a town with fortified walls. Favorable climate
for wine growing and several centuries of continuous winemaking have
influenced the whole area on the southeastern slopes of the Lesser Carpathians
– the core of the Lesser-Carpathian wine country. In both of the towns
I gathered empirical data through observation and interviews, local press and study of archive
materials. My research focused on social and economic dimensions of viticulture in the studied towns
in the 20th century. The study was part of the project Local and Regional Development in the Context of
European Integration (grant VEGA no. 2/5104/25), led by O. Danglová in the Institute of Ethnology of
the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava in 2005–2007.
studied, viticulture has brought about the formation of a class of winemakers
differentiated by property. At the beginning of the 20th century, wine producers
who grew grapes on their own land and sold their wine were an important
part of the urban middle class (Popelková, 1999). Through promotion of their
economic interests and groups values they still influenced local everyday life as
late as WWII.
Even today, viticulture remains the main feature of both towns, although
the conditions of the existence of its social foundations have changed several
times in the past half century. My starting point is the assumption that, for
both Modra and Pezinok, the economic and cultural aspects of viticulture are
a continuously relevant factor of local social relations, which I study through
issues related to viticulture. Under the conditions of post-communist transformation,
I wish to show which pieces of information about the past of the towns
are interlinked with the ideas of their current inhabitants about their town, by
which channels the information is distributed and what determines the process
of its explanation. Within this framework of the urban social memory, I wish
to reveal which pieces of information about the past are collectively shared and
what collective representations they are linked to. From these aspects of memory
processes, I try to uncover if and how social actors, in relation to political,
economic, ideological and other processes, via consciously selecting or glossing
over certain facts about the past, construct their idea of the past reflecting their
group interests. I agree with Viera Bačová (1996: 19) that the motive behind
purposeful explanation of past events and functioning of (historical) memory
is to explain, understand, justify or criticize the current state of affairs.
Urban Viticulture and State Socialism
Viticulture that used to be a profitable business was reflected in Modra and Pezinok
in the culture and unique modalities of social life, even despite the fact that
this fragmented and under-financed field already technologically stagnated and
encountered problems with sales in the 19th century. However, the crucial turning
point came after 1948. All agricultural land was gradually confiscated and
winegrowing was taken over by agricultural cooperatives. Viticulture became
a branch of large-scale, centrally planned state-socialist agriculture. Wine production
and trade were nationalized. The original owners of vineyards either
became employees of cooperatives or left for other occupations. They started to
commute to work to other locations and steered their children’s interests outside
of agriculture. After the communist coup and ensuing land confiscation,
the oldest generation of formerly proud winemakers had to witness a rapid
decline of viticulture, neglect of the vineyards due to the lack of labor force at
cooperatives, and devastation of the landscape. In the period after 1960, when
the state started to subsidize agricultural production, winegrowing underwent
a considerable transformation. In a sense, we can speak about long-awaited
and much-needed modernization. Smaller plots of land were consolidated and
rebuilding of old dense vineyards (until then cultivated by hand) facilitated the
utilization of machinery. In several places, vineyards planted on fall lines of
hills were liquidated, which was a crucial and irreversible change. They were
replaced by terraces, and stone walls, built for centuries during land cultivation,
were knocked down. Small local cooperatives started to merge into large
units farming on several thousands hectares of land. Winemaking and storing
moved to modern production facilities. Wine was produced on a large scale
and it was distributed to the socialist commercial network. It lost its quality
and unique character created by a particular place of origin and maker.
Qualitative changes strongly impacted the life and nature of the towns.
New generations of inhabitants, who still bore the label of “winemakers,” grew
up in a different environment from their fathers or grandfathers.
Viticulture and Post-communist Transformation
In Modra and Pezinok, socio-economic and cultural aspects of viticulture are
to these days more or less pronounced, although its base was virtually dismantled
in the 1950s. Events of the year 1989 and the return to a market economy
have, after many decades of state socialism, renewed conditions for free private
enterprise and land ownership. At present, grapevines are grown on about 800
hectares of land. After the land restitutions in 1992, owners and heirs renewed
their legal right to land ownership. After 1992, it was possible to take land out of
cooperatives, gain the right of its disposal, rent it out or sell it. Production and
storage facilities that were either nationalized or built during communism were
only slowly transferred into private hands in the privatization process. Transformation
was complicated and, for a long time, land and facilities remained in
the hands of cooperatives.
Mechanisms of socialist economy, before 1989 permeating the whole process
from grape growing to wine sales, have mostly impacted those who used
their restituted land right after 1992 for business purposes. The reason was
that socialist cooperatives had dissolved the original boundaries of the vineyards
and adjusted them to mechanical cultivation. Some vineyards were left
uncultivated or new ones were built, or some former vineyards were used for
completely different purposes. Many of those who got their land back in restitution
did not have any machinery or production technologies; they lacked
appropriate production and storage facilities. Although some lived in inherited
houses with wine cellars, it was difficult to get seed capital and labor – due to
the fact, that over the course of past decades, descendants of old winemakers
had started to work in other areas. Therefore, in addition to unclear legislative
and land ownership issues, post-communist transformation was also complicated
by a number of local and individual factors.
These barriers and their consequences led, at the beginning of the 1990s,
to the neglect of vineyards and considerable decline of winegrowing and winemaking.
However, stabilization came around 1995, which is evidenced not
only by the production of quality wines awarded at international competitions,
but also by the building of new vineyards. At present, in each town there are
about a dozen of successful smaller companies that started their business from
scratch. There are also a number of companies established by transformation
from former state businesses that specialize in either wine-grape growing or
winemaking. Also, a number of companies grow grapes or produce cheaper
wine from their own or purchased grapes. In addition to locally grown grapes,
winemakers also buy grapes in other parts of Slovakia where some companies
rent whole vineyards. They also import wine juice from abroad. As a relic from
communism, small cooperatives still survive on vineyards rented from their
original owners. By employing experts, the cooperatives strive to enhance the
quality of their wines and to compete with new companies on the market. Additionally,
small growers, owners of gardens and enthusiastic individuals also
engage in winemaking.
The ideal of dynamically developing private companies is to make an attractive
collection of quality wines in the most efficient way. That means producing
grapes and making wine in their own facilities and selling it under their own
trademark in their own wine cellar and restaurant. In Modra and Pezinok, only
a few winemakers have reached this level of business efficiency. The main factor
determining the level of business development in this sphere is fifty years of
discontinuity of land ownership and users’ relations caused by state socialism.
This handicap has also been compounded by conditions during the transformation
after 1989, such as unclear legislation, disinterest of the state in this sector,
and confrontation with better developed markets after Slovakia’s accession
into the EU in 2004. To this day, generational, technological and ownership
discontinuity of the sector lie behind the fact that, even for the most successful
wine producers with the best products, it is not easy to find their niche under
the liberal conditions of the unified European market.
Viticulture, the Urban Space and Memory
The term viticulture (vinohradníctvo) in a narrower sense means the production
of wine grapes, grape growing, while the term winemaking (vinárstvo) denotes
the actual production of wine, winegrowing. This is also how Slovak legislation
understands and distinguishes the terms. In everyday language, vinohradníctvo
(viticulture) occurs as a more general term. In the local context, the term winemaker/
vintner (vinár) conveys the fact that a person produces wine and sells
it under his/her own trademark. It is not important for their business whether
they grow their own wine grapes or not. However, when I spoke with practitioners
from the field, the criterion of the ownership of vineyards for winemaking
was presented as important. Vineyard ownership indicates the stability and
good prospects of the business. This reflects the continuity of local tradition,
interconnecting grape growing and winemaking. It also points to rising aspirations
of winemakers to produce quality in order to compete on the market:
to produce their own, unique wines from their own grapes or from grapes of
a certain concrete origin.
After the onset of post-communist transformation, winemaking has
reemerged as a continuation of a hundred-year-long local tradition – in the
local discourse, strategies and practices of entrepreneurs, local governments
and politicians, as well as in the public space of the towns and their social life.
It is present as a real economic and social fact and people can come across signs
of its presence on a daily basis; they are visible not only for those who come to
these places to buy wine but even for uninformed random visitors.
The wine business also influences the social world of the towns and local
activities through revitalization of elements of traditions related to winemaking
and through various references to the past. Grape growers and winemakers, by
stressing and combining information about the past, strive to foster their own
economic emancipation; similarly, local governments and other institutions follow
their own goals in this way.
What is Present and What is Remembered
Viticulture in Modra and Pezinok is alive; it is reflected in the face of the towns.
Besides wine cellars and wine boutiques, one can see billboards, advertisements
and signs of supply stores with various viticultural tools, devices, vessels. Vintners
mark their wine cellars and restaurants with their own trademarks and
names. Signposts point to locations of wine cellars or winemaking facilities.
Large companies advertise on billboards located along roads.
Viticulture is the subject of business and individual activities as well as leisure-
time gardening. Wine grapes are grown in vineyards on the outskirts of
towns as well as in gardens located next to individual houses. Wine grapes are
used for wine production for individual consumption, for sales to other winemakers,
but also for direct consumption as table fruits. In the streets or stores,
in discussions and fragments of conversations one can hear opinions about
how to take care of grapevines, worries about spring frosts, summer hail or
high humidity that could cause grapevine diseases. In a gardening supply store
even complete strangers inform each other about the newest chemical grapevine
sprays, the quality of machinery, and the like. During the time of autumn
harvests the traffic is slowed down by trucks loaded with grapes. People in the
streets or on public buses speak about the best dates for grape picking. It is customary
to invite distant relatives, colleagues from work or friends to come to
the family vineyard or garden to help with grape harvesting.
Until today, in both towns there are a number of names of local places that
are Slovakized old German names. They are still in use to identify individual
vineyards in the town land registry. Until the 1950s, these names, nowadays
considered to be something like a local peculiarity, were known to and used by
all the inhabitants of the town.
Terms related to wine production appear in the names of restaurants and
hotels (e.g. The Wine Press Restaurant or Vintner’s House Hotel in Pezinok)
located in the historical center in old townhouses or wine cellars underneath
them. Festivals and cultural events also take on names related to winemaking
(e.g., in Pezinok The Pezinok Bunch of Grapes – an international ballroom-
dance competition, The Brass Band in the Wine Press – a competition
of brass bands). Municipal governments of both towns establish special committees
for grape growing and winemaking. Local governments issue propositions
about guarding ripening grapes in vineyards – at the end of summer
and in autumn everybody except owners is banned from entering them; they
organize
collection and composting of discarded vines stored near wine cellars,
and the like.
Both towns, their vintners’ guilds and wine entrepreneurs are members of
the Lesser Carpathians Wine Route Association – a marketing product of rural
tourism active in the region since the 1990s. Besides other year-round activities,
it organizes very successful Days of Open Cellars linked with tasting of
young wine in winemakers’ private wine cellars. A favorable visitors’ response
led in 2007 to the organization of the first spring Day of Open Cellars on St.
Urban’s Day. In both towns, autumn vintage festivals are regularly organized
as well as various wine tasting and exhibits organized by winemakers’ guilds.
Especially at vintage festivals, visitors can see various performances and enactments
of customs related to grape harvesting and winemaking. They can also
see old, no longer used, technical equipment, tools and vessels.
Indirectly, the winemaking theme enters the lives of the inhabitants
via various museum activities (the regional museum in Pezinok has a whole
department focusing on Lesser Carpathian viticulture). Both towns publish
monthlies also popularizing, among other things, historical facts about local
winemaking in the past. Traditions are also disseminated through folklore
shows, traditional cuisine, ornamental decorations on traditional pottery produced
in Modra, and the like.
Mayors’ speeches, New Year’s addresses, celebrations of towns’ memorial
days always mention also the glorious past of winemaking in the area.
Almost every address of municipal dignitaries refers to the centuries- or thousands‑of‑years-
long traditions of winemaking in the town and to wine as a typical
beverage for the region. Company logos feature symbols of wine and grapes
or their various stylized depictions.” However, their promotional materials usually
use simple pictures of wine bottles with the company’s name, prize-winning
wines, photographs of production facilities or company’s cellars. They
also often use photographs of work in the vineyards. Promotional texts often
refer back to the winemaking past of the family as motivation for present-day
business activities. The fact that winemakers in Modra and Pezinok in the mid-
1990s also revitalized their guilds is a specific reference to the past. As professional
associations, the guilds existed in the towns from the end of the 19th
century until the beginning of communist collectivization. They were influential
both within their professional groups and towards the town and state. They
represented their own interests, educated the public, purchased fertilizers and
sprays against grapevine diseases, organized wine sales and helped resolve
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cultivation and sales problems. The present-day guilds – Spolok Vincúr Modra
(The Vintners’ Gild) and Združenie pezinských vinohradníkov a vinárov (Association
of Winegrowers and Winemakers) revived the traditional institutional
form. Their activities are mostly in the organization of social, promotional and
marketing events, with no actual impact on the individual business intentions
of their members. The existence of guilds and their organizational or at least
their symbolic presence at social events in towns shows their inner coherence
and common interests to the outer world.
Typical for the construction of the past in the process of emancipation of
the wine business after 1989 is the fact that mediators of the past avoid certain
facts and linkages. Nowadays, references to the communist past occur in
public speeches only very rarely, although they were quite frequent in the years
right after the fall of communism. At that time, in their speeches people articulated
enthusiasm for redressing past injustices, welcomed land restitutions and
radically rejected the existence of cooperatives in the name of the return to the
pre-communist order. Today, these things are no longer mentioned; successes,
scientific findings and technological innovations made during communism are
ignored. Equally forgotten are stories, popular just a few years ago, about nontransparent
restitutions of former state wine production facilities. Forgetting
appears to be a pragmatic strategy, especially when it concerns events closely
relating to the present actors and their companies. However, what is also not
publicly mentioned in Modra and Pezinok are, for instance, facts about the
Holocaust of the local Jews. Older people who still remember the interwar
period remember the portrayal of Jews as hated traders who bought wine from
smaller makers cheaply and sold it for huge profits. Equally forgotten are the
post-war fates of the local Germans, whose confiscated land, machinery and
facilities were the fundamental basis of agricultural cooperatives after the communist
coup. It is not desirable to mention these stains from the past. They
have no place in the construction of the self-image of the prospective group of
wine entrepreneurs, just as they do not fit into the self-representation of the
above-mentioned towns.
How the Towns Formulate their Outlooks
Although viticulture is the common feature of the neighboring towns of Modra
and Pezinok, the parameters of their development dynamics as well as their
hierarchical standing in the region are different. In the transformation period,
differences in their current economic and social traits create original contexts
for representation of the towns, presentation of their past and present, ideas
about their outlooks or the degree of references to their glorious past.
Strategies that the forming group of current wine entrepreneurs follows in
the process of their social acceptance and in achieving success in the market
more or less correspond with the strategies of local governments and the local
political elite. These try to build the kind of identity of their towns that would
stir up a broad public response. In so doing, they also more or less accentuate
the winemaking agenda. Mechanisms of this relationship are complicated and
their dynamics and some of their elements at the level of memory processes can
be captured by interpretation of empirical field data in the historical perspective.
The course of post-communist transformation and hence the starting position
of wine entrepreneurs has been strongly influenced by the pre-communist
past. At that time, the towns also differed in, e.g., the degree of dependence of
their economies on viticulture. In Pezinok, at the turn of the 20th century, the
economic structure was already more diverse with a larger share of industry. In
Modra until the 1950s, more than a half of the population worked in agriculture
(Slavík, 2007: 478) and the tie to inherited land was much stronger. In Modra
there was a strong group of winemakers whose elite enjoyed a high social status
and thanks to its economic power had an important political standing. The
change of the regime in 1948 struck this group particularly hard. According
to archive records, at the end of the 1950s more than half of the winemakers
were still reluctant to give up their land. Living on the verge poverty, subject to
repressions from the state and communist power they held on to their vineyards
as their private property. Those who handed their land over to the cooperative
and decided to work for the cooperative were subject to humiliation. They had
to watch former landless peasants and bad vintners unprofessionally manage
the vineyards. In Modra, the strength of the ties to the inherited land worsened
the impact of the fifty-year-long discontinuity and made the start of the renewed
wine business after 1989 more difficult. Before World War II, winemakers
from
Pezinok had already tried to resolve problems with wine sales together and
had established a cooperative (1936). Its objective was to concentrate wine in
common storage facilities and to take care of its marketing. Wine sales were
flexibly managed depending on the needs of the market, and the cooperative
paid its members instantly. Some vintners from Modra also became its members.
However, their guild – just like the municipal government – initially did
not trust the cooperative. It was suspected of preferring the wine from Pezinok
to that from Modra. The Slovak Vintners’ Cooperative (Slovenské vinohradnícke
družstvo) acquired storage space from the town and built its own storage facilities
in both towns. The activity of the cooperative as an institution established
to promote the common interests of its members ended after the communist
coup. Collectivization of land and nationalization of production and sales after
1948 caught the vintners from Pezinok in a different situation from that of the
proud vintners from Modra. Until the last moment, the vintners from Modra
relied only on themselves.
At first, viticulture as a characteristic feature of the town caused problems
with nationalization; however from the 1960s to the 1980s, it was paradoxically
accentuated by socialist propaganda when stressing the regime’s successes.
Behind the creation of the stereotype of Modra as the “viticultural pearl
of the Lesser Carpathians” was the argument of its glorious past. This was also
backed up by the extent of the vineyards. These together with the land belonging
to auxiliary municipal cooperatives ranked Modra as the largest viticultural
town in communist Czechoslovakia (Dubovský, 1983: 16).
When comparing the current hierarchy of regional towns, Modra ranks
below Pezinok (Slavík, 2006: 491). During the latest reforms of the territorial
administration in the 1990s, Modra was not awarded the position of district
center, and from the ethnological point of view its calm atmosphere contrasts
with busy Pezinok, which attracts more visitors. The municipal government of
Modra more or less succeeds in negotiating consensus and supporting mutually
economically advantageous partnerships of various subjects, overcoming
opinion differences, activating business and stimulating outside investments.
In public discourse emphasis is laid on cultural, artistic, religious, educational
and handicraft traditions, the history of the town and its close linkages with
the national history. Frequent are references to the past importance of the town
that are meant to fill its inhabitants with pride – a town connected with the 19th
century national movement, a town famous for its pottery, a famous wine town.
Descendants of older vintner families still live in the town, keeping alive the
consciousness of the importance of their social groups. Also, the town is the
home of a number of winemaking experts and promoters of wine tourism, rural
Research on communist collectivization reveals a strong resistance of Modra winemakers to
land confiscation and collective farming. It indicates the depth of alienation from the land caused by
a purposeful reorientation of the next generations to other activities and occupations – due to the feelings
of injustice and resentment over the way in which the cooperatives managed wine production
(Popelková, 2003).
tourism, conservationists, scientists and pedagogues from the field of viticulture
with ties to local schools and research institutions. The group of wine
entrepreneurs, however, does not hold a sufficiently strong position, nor does
it have a common, more offensive marketing strategy. Thus far, it has not succeeded
more markedly in pursuing their interests by more closely involving the
town and other entrepreneurs. References to the glorious past and the pathos
present in allusions to winemaking traditions sound like appellative argumentation.
They are used as a virtual condition and aid towards fulfillment of promises
of potential development.
Pezinok, on the contrary, has many advantages following from the fact that
it has continually been a regional center, as well as from its economic structure,
more coherent interest groups, more proactive behavior of municipal representatives
in regional politics and their better support of business and tourism.
The town does not declare its interest in creating “a calm environment” for the
life of the town. On the contrary, the town is doing everything to attract people
to its businesses, offices, schools, sporting places, festivals, exhibits, restaurants.
Winemaking traditions serve to promote more tourism. Several local
wine entrepreneurs have established cooperation with the town. They put their
efforts into promotional activities even though these did not bring them instant
profits. However, they made them known in the town and its vicinity. The
entrepreneurs have gained experience with marketing and business contacts at
home and abroad. They openly proclaim their interest in achieving success in
their business. The town respects them as creators of new jobs and as successful
entrepreneurs, and winemakers, in return, with their success and products
are good advertisements for the town. It seems that they do not consider their
traditions sacred. They utilize them, together with some others, as practical
marketing tools (Popelková, 2006).
Differences between these two towns can be also read in the language and
content of the texts by which the towns describe their profiles and formulate
their visions for the future. An analysis of the strategic plans of both towns
shows that Pezinok defines itself as a modern district town with varied industry,
excellent wine production, a developed business network, and many historical
monuments. They project the image of the town as a lively business center
Mesto Pezinok. (2007, February). Program hospodárskeho a sociálneho rozvoja mesta Pezinok.
Profil mesta Pezinok [Brožúra], p. 4. (The Town of Pezinok. Program of Economic and Social Development
of the Town of Pezinok. [Brochure]. Available on the Internet: http://www.pezinok.sk/index.
php?yggid=359
interested in improving its technical and transport infrastructure while also
improving and protecting its natural environment. The town supports entrepreneurship
and within its framework mainly viticulture and light industry.
They also want to build on tourism, continue in organizing international events
(music, dance and theater festivals, sporting events, and the like), reconstruct
historical monuments and open them to the public, and build a network of good
tourist services. The town declares that it wants to utilize the proximity of the
capital of Bratislava to offer short-term rural tourism stays combining natural
beauties with winemaking and handicraft traditions and the local cuisine.
Modra proclaims that on its road towards the future it must respect the
values of both the present and the past, as the neglect of its history and disturbance
of its environment would lead to undermining of the very foundations of
its development. For the sake of development and change, it wants to activate
people and utilize their potential, since the municipal government is unable to
do so by itself. It wants to map and improve its unique features, so that visitors
would understand their hidden values. It also wants to protect the natural environment
that creates a unique backdrop of the town and is a precondition of its
further development. The town wants to be a viticultural center and tourist hub
providing employment opportunities in traditional agricultural branches and
public services. It wants to create suitable conditions for the life of its inhabitants
with quality housing and opportunities to spend leisure time in a healthy
natural environment. According to the strategic vision, the town of Modra will
be the leader among Slovak towns in the protection of its natural, historical
and cultural heritage.
A Note in Conclusion
In the micro-environment of the towns studied, elements of viticultural traditions
and information about the past of winemaking have, in the process of
post-communist transformation, become part of the current dynamic social
activity. The analysis of their occurrence (at the level of contents) and functions
(at the level of processes) in the local memory indicates that their key factor
Mesto Modra, Pauliniová, Z. (2006). Piliere Modry. In Strategický plán rozvoja mesta Modra.
Program hospodárskeho a sociálneho rozvoja na roky 2007–2013. Modra: Projektový tím pre strategické
plánovanie. (The Town of Modra. Pillars of Modra In: Strategic Plan o f Development of the Town
of Modra. Program of Economic and Social Development for the Years 2007-2013. Modra: The Project
Team for Strategic Planning.) Available on the Internet: http://www.modra.sk/strategia.html
is the persistence of viticulture in both towns. The principles of selectiveness
of memory are especially revealed in concrete forms and consequences of the
periods of discontinuity. In the study of post-communist transformation, in
these towns such a factor is mainly the qualitative change in the ownership
and disposition rights to land after 1848 and 1989. In this light, representations
related to the present and future of the towns show close linkages to the
economic and social profile of the urban micro-space as a whole, but also to
collective interests of wine entrepreneurs who are part of its structure. Those
facts from the past that survive thanks to the natural needs of the differentiated
group of winemakers (skills and knowledge, festivals and promotional activities
related to the wine trade and the like) have neither a negative nor a positive
charge – they are normal parts of the urban life. Some facts (the Jewish Holocaust,
deportations of German inhabitants after 1945, the course of formation
of socialist cooperatives, post-communist restitutions) have no place in the
current memory of the towns as they are charged with feelings of responsibility
and undesirable confrontational meanings. They interfere not only with the
self-presentation of wine entrepreneurs, but also with the construction of the
image of the towns and dissemination of their outlooks by local politicians. The
last group of facts from the past – documenting the glorious past of free royal
towns and their winemaking traditions – is an especially suitable tool for local
politicians who select and combine them as needed; in presentation of their
town they can argue its historical importance. By drawing a positive picture of
the past they try to motivate people to be more active or divert attention from
problems of the present.
Katarína Popelková has been a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology of the
Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava since 1997. In her PhD thesis (completed
in 1997) she focused on the development of studies of urban space within the ethnology
of Slovakia in the 2nd half of the 20th century as well as on the reconstruction
of a model of social communication in the towns of Pezinok and Skalica in Western
Slovakia in the period before the WW II. Her further fields of interest include
identity of ethnic minorities (Czech working migrants in the towns of Slovakia during
the interwar period), relations within border regions (the situation at the newly
established national border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia after 1992).
Since the end of the 1990s, she has directed her research interests towards a profession
group of wine producers and wine merchants in the towns of the most important
wine region of Slovakia – the Malé Karpaty viticultural region. Since 2000, she
has been conducting her fieldwork in the towns of Modra and Pezinok where she
examines issues related to the post-socialist transformation of agriculture and entre90
preneurship as well as manifestations of viniculture in the everyday life and social
relations of the inhabitants of the above-mentioned towns. Further, she is interested
in the process of the constitution of national identity in Slovakia at the time
of modernization at the beginning of the 20th century. Her interests also include
the history of ethnology in Slovakia. She occasionally teaches in the Department of
Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of Comenius University in Bratislava (subject:
urban ethnology). Since 2001, she has also been giving lectures at the Department
of Slovak Studies of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. Between 1997
and 2004, she worked as a scientific coordinator at the SAS Institute of Ethnology in
Bratislava. Since 2004, she has been the Deputy Head of the Institute.
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Popelková, K. (2006): Združenie pezinských vinohradníkov a vinárov. [Výskumná správa
(19 rkp. s.]. Archív autorky. (The Association of Winegrowers and Vintners of the
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Slavík, V. (2006): Obyvateľstvo a osídlenie. In Žudel, J., Dubovský, J. & kol. Dejiny
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