Vol.5, No.2 | [Articles] Literature in Trieste, Where the Frontier Disappeared




I devote this paper to use the history of Trieste and its border to examine how representations of difference have affected the politics of sovereignty during the twentieth century. Focusing on the history of the “problem of a border city, Trieste”, this paper asks what lessons the experience of a city like Trieste in ‘inhabiting the border’ can hold for “border thinking” through literature. Ways of identifying Trieste and Triestines, and the ways in which that population could identify itself, have been couched in narratives that reiterate the differences between Slavic Eastern/Balkan Europeans and Italian Western Europeans, and constitute the East as the West's lesser “other”. Trieste was a cosmopolitan port, Austria’s urbs europeissima, but also a battleground for competing interpretations of territoriality, identity, and belonging, and embodied the paradox of the violent application of an ethnoterritorial logic to a plurinational, plurilingual urban context. This paper surveys the cultural connections between concepts of difference, identity, and sovereignty through literature. It details the cultural meaning and value accrued by those narratives of difference over the century, and their impact on concepts of multiculturalism and acculturalization with reference to the ‘other’.

Keywords : other, frontier, identity, Trieste, literature