Projects of the Research Group

Heritage performance, identity and belonging in Berchtesgaden area, Bavaria

People | Projects | Activities

Everyday Histories: Time, Self and the Other in an Austrian Alpine Community

Annika Lems

This project explores the role of local, everyday understandings of history, tradition and belonging to place in the municipality of Millstatt in the Austrian state of Carinthia. The communities I work with are located in the Alpe-Adria region, an Alpine border triangle between Austria, Slovenia and Italy. This region has always been linked into a world of movement and interconnection: The centuries-old trading routes between the Mediterranean and Central Europe criss-crossing this region are often described as symbolic of European integration. Yet, throughout the centuries Carinthia has often been depicted as the rural, backward periphery, leading to fractious relationships with the urban centres of power. I take this awkward positioning as a point of departure to interrogate the ways local and global temporalities meet, mingle and clash. Driven by the question of how to methodologically accommodate the tension between local histories and global transformations, village ethnography forms the core methodological approach for my project. While village ethnography has proven to be a useful method for approaching processes of global change “through the looking glass” as Herzfeld (1987) put it, in the last decades the focus of scholars studying globalisation has shifted more towards urban settings. We therefore know very little about the ways people living in rural areas live with and make sense of global transformations in the everyday and how this might be linked to the growing political discontent. To gain a deeper understanding of the paradoxes of globalisation that commentators have invariably written into the domain of the city, I explicitly work with a rural lens. This “rural lens” necessitates both, a sensitivity towards rural-urban divides that have relegated many places in the European countryside to the economic and cultural periphery of a globalised world, and the often deeply exclusionary place-making practices inhabitants of rural places have developed in response. In my project I explore in how far these practices of place-making are linked to local, everyday understandings of history and belonging to place.

"Des war oiwei so"

Heritage performance, identity and belonging in Berchtesgaden area, Bavaria

Antje Berger

Contemporary Europe is facing an increasing fragmentation on the social and political sphere. In this time of “crises”, recourses to the past play a major role in constructing identities through performances of heritage. In 2018 the performance of Christmas shooting being performed in Berchtesgaden area got listed in the independent Bavarian register for intangible heritage. Regarding heritage as a process and with consequences on the political, cultural and social level and as a process of social inclusion and exclusion (Ashworth et al. 2007: 4) it is necessary to look at the role of intangible heritage processes in realms of identity, belonging and meaning making. Considering the specific locality of Berchtesgaden area and the 2018 listing in the independent Bavarian register for intangible heritage, the research will contribute to an understanding how intangible heritage is used and produced by different agents and which social function it has in the specific locality of Berchtesgaden area.

Ashworth, G.J. & Tunbridge, J.E. & Graham, B.J. 2007. Pluralising Pasts: Heritage, identity and place in multicultural societies. London : Pluto.


Contested Soil: Everyday Histories of Belonging to, Losing and Defending Place on a South Tyrolean Alp

Christine Moderbacher

The project 'Contested Soil: Everyday Histories of Belonging to, Losing and Defending Place on a South Tyrolean Alp' explores the notion of 'attachment to the soil' and how this is experienced and understood in everyday practices of South Tyrolians living in Europe’s largest high plateau, the 'Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi'. Through ethnographic and archival research, I aim to draw conclusions about processes of inclusion and exclusion, and question the role of local political mobilization. Taking in consideration the particular historical context of the region, "Contested Soil" will give insight into the inhabitants' everyday engagements with history and how these play into the inclusion and exclusion of individuals and groups belonging to - or not to - the soil. The research will take place in the municipality 'Kastelruth/Castelrotto', located in Europe's largest high Alpine meadow, the 'Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi' and will be grounded in in-depth ethnographical research (mostly focusing on everyday histories, using participant observation, walking and storytelling) as well as research on archival material (e.g. letters, historical documents etc.) and media analysis of the dominating political discourse. Building on my long lasting experience as a filmmaker, I aim to explore different ways of knowing and encountering the world. As part of the independent research group "Alpine Histories of Global Change: Time, Self and the Other in German-speaking Alpine region" it will question how exclusionary narratives of indigeneity allow for a better understanding of local political mobilization.

Depicting Alpine Histories of Global Change

Paul Reade

The Alps have for centuries been associated with a particular aesthetic image of the sublime that has been harnessed in order to attract tourists and visitors. This image is also based on a sense of timelessness, of traditional life and majestic nature. As such, Alpine identity and sense of belonging have formed around depictions of people and place that are not only made for local consumption, but that have been produced for a global market. The project aims to explore the role of imaging and imagining pasts, presents, and futures in the Alps through audio/visual means, as well as the tensions between representation for local and global audiences. It will do so by collecting archival material as well as producing film, photos and audio from all the research sites.

Go to Editor View