Petrinja (25,000 inhabitants) is a town in central Croatia. In the 20th century, its importance began to diminish due to the neighbouring city of Sisak, which was in a better location for transportation routes and was consequently reached by industrialization faster. After WWII, its economic position improved due to the Gavrilović meat industry, during which time the population also increased from 6,000 in 1948 to almost 19,000 in 1991. During this time, the ethnic structure of the city changed, as the share of the Serbian population increased. During the war at the break-up of Yugoslavia, when the town was occupied by Serbian army units, Petrinja was severely damaged. In December 2020, the city was first hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 ML, and the day after by an even more severe earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 ML. The second earthquake destroyed or damaged almost all residential buildings and plunged the town into crisis and isolation. 

Authors: Lana Peternel, Dan Podjed, Filip Škiljan, Ana Perinić Lewis


Theme: Natural disaster, Crisis, Earthquake, Container life

Figure 1: “Sajmište” is the largest container settlement in Petrinja (March 2023).

Figure 2: The image shows two faces of post-earthquake Petrinja: a ruined house on the right and a container-like structure on the left (March 2023).

Figure 3: Self-help messages duct taped to a container wall in “Sajmište” (March 2023).

Figure 4: The New Life Centre in Petrinja is designed of 168 containers (March 2023).

Figure 5: An individual container next to a ruined house in Banija region (March 2023).

The paper was accepted for review in Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, September 2023.


Abstract: This article focuses on the experiences of people in Banija and in the city of Petrinja, Croatia, after an earthquake hit the area in December 2020. We present their reflections on being confined to a “container-based” life in three situations: living in container settlements on the outskirts of the city, spending time in a container shopping centre, and finding shelter in containers next to destroyed houses. As the study has shown, temporary container housing has in many situations become a permanent solution for living and working during the three years of post-earthquake reconstruction. The authors argue that the trend toward “containerisation” as a post-crisis solution could lead to the permanent depopulation and isolation of disaster-affected areas and the loss of potential for renovation and development.

Abstract accepted for the publishing in the proceedings of an international scientific and professional conference entitled “Continental Croatia: Historical Context, Current and Future Perspectives,” categorized as an original scientific article, September 2023.

The paper is prepared for the conference presentation in 2023.


Abstract: Rural settlements in continental Croatia are characterized by strong depopulation, traffic isolation and a large number of abandoned and empty places. The Banija Region has been particularly exposed to strong depopulation for decades. Out of 195 uninhabited settlements in Croatia in 2011, as many as 13 were in the Banija Region. Non-vacant and abandoned settlements, where no one lives anymore next to the ruins or traces of houses and gardens, with devastated or destroyed infrastructure, non-existent public transport and, in completely neglected rural landscapes, testify to demographic collapse, extinction and disappearance. Various reasons (migrations, wars and disasters, economic and political reasons) have led to social and cultural isolation. In this paper, we will show empty and deserted settlements (Baturi, Bišćanovo, Brubno, Donja Trstenica, Donji Selkovac, Gornje Jame, Turčenica, Kobiljak, Ostojići, Zut, Bukovica and Mala Vranovina) by documenting the devastated and barely visible remains of material culture. In addition, we will analyse “everyday life in the past” using archival material about life in the past, and through the experiences, memories, stories and private archives (preserved objects, photos) of their former residents.