Zorica Vitez, PhD
Zorica Vitez attended primary and secondary school, as well as a school of rhythm and dance, in Zagreb. She received a B.A. in ethnology from the University of Zagreb. In 1971 she received her master’s degree from the same university with a thesis entitled “The problem of trial marriage as a traditional institution for Croats and Serbs”. She received her PhD from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Ljubljana in 1985, with the thesis “Memorials for the dead in traffic accidents”.
As a university student, she was a member of the national folk dance and song ensemble “Lado”. In 1966, she was employed at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb, where she worked until retirement. She started as an assistant in the folk dance department, later moving to the department of folk customs research. In 1998, she became a research advisor. She was the director of the Institute from 1986 to 1999.
Although Vitez started her professional career as a dance researcher, she would invest most of her time and effort into the research of folk customs in their contexts, as well as the relationship between traditional and contemporary culture, the subject and methodology of ethnological research, children’s folklore, critical considerations, the synthesis and re-assessment of ethnological knowledge and the presentation of traditional culture in media and on the stage.
Through her field work in Croatia, Slovakia and Austria, Vitez collected and analysed an extensive amount of ethnographic data, which is kept in the Institute’s Archive: manuscript collections, tape recordings, photographs, video tapes and films. She presented the results of her research in conferences at home and abroad, and has authored or co-authored several books, as well as numerous research and scholarly papers. She is a member of several domestic and international scholarly societies.
Alongside her scholarly work, Vitez has actively worked towards the popularisation of science. This includes collaboration with radio and television, writing several scripts for documentary films, providing expert advice on feature films, organising screenings of ethnographic films, starting an edition of audio and video recordings, writing newspaper articles and reviews, participating in the organisation of various folklore events and curating several large exhibitions. Since 1992, Vitez has been the general manager and artistic director of the International Folklore Festival in Zagreb.
Vitez has received multiple awards for her work: in 1999, she was awarded the Annual State Award for science as co-author of the book “Etnografija: Svagdan i blagdan hrvatskoga puka” (“Ethnography: Everyday life and holidays in Croatia”); in 1996, she received the state medal “Red Danice hrvatske s likom Marka Marulića” for her contribution to culture and for the promotion of Croatian traditions and heritage; in 2008, she was awarded the Milovan Gavazzi Award by the Croatian Ethnological Society for life achievement and for her scholarly work in its entirety; in 2009, she received the City of Zagreb Award for highest merit and results achieved in theoretical and practical work in the promotion of science in the fields of culture and arts.