Deconstructing Austrian Identities: Components of the Bipolar System.

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Ekaterina HOLLER, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia, Weltmuseum Wien, Austria
For deconstruction of the complicated term of identity we generated a theoretical bipolar scheme. In the framework of this scheme we are not going to investigate the types of Austrian identities in a positivistic-descriptive manner, but will try to decode the process of  shaping their desirable forms.

The process of building up of identities is occurring within two theories: «top down» (politics of identity intrusion from authorities) and «down top» (preferences and values of individuals based on their traditions and wishes). These movements meet somewhere in-between forming desirable identities. There is another pair of opposed forces, which compose previous ones, but are acting along the different axis named  “local – global”. In Austria these forces are represented by “regionalism” developed through Catholicism, “imperia complex”, mountainous and therefore isolated landscape of the country, on the one hand, and cosmopolitism expressed in Austria through membership in the EU, socialistic determination of the government, migrant flows and geographic location of the country in the middle of Europe, on the other hand. In spite of the clear contrapositions of all these forces, in Austria we deal with their symbiosis named in ethnology and sociology Glocalization.

There are another two movements of identities construction – non-spatial and unconditioned. They challenge the conventional formula of identity –  Identity = space + time + symbols – making first two components irrelevant and leaving only symbols, so that the new forms of identity appear. We will call them consumed and interactive ones.  

In general, these dichotomies underline our investigation of recipes of desirable Austrian identities. In reliance of 17 interviews and content analysis of the press we are exploring the most relevant components of these opposed forces: stereotypes and patterns, based on postwar and imperia complexes, traditions and so called “European values”.