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An historical (landscape) archaeology of the Alps: their rediscovery, their transformation during the period of Romantic nationalism, and their instrumentalization during Nazism

Author(s): Natascha Mehler

Year: 2014

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Summary

Until the 18th century, the Alps of Central Europe had been viewed by the bourgeoisie as a rather hostile border region. In contrast, from the late 18th century ‘purposeless’ Alpinism developed under the influence of the Romantic movement, characterized by an enthusiasm for nature and the ‘mystification’ of the landscape, resulting in a perception of the Alps as the ‘Playground of Europe’. A scientific interest in the Alps simultaneously developed, connected to the Enlightenment. Romantic mystification did not stop with Romantic nationalism, but reached its peak during the Nazi period when Hitler instrumentalized the Alps in a number of different ways. This diverse history of the region laid the foundation for a deep sense of love for the Alps which still prevails locally today. By drawing on both landscape features and material culture the paper argues that the Alps were an important part in the formation of modern nation states in the bordering areas of the Alps, especially in Bavaria. They created not only a sense of togetherness / community for the people living there but also led to ‘invented traditions’ by people living far away who nonetheless felt ‘alpine’.


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An historical (landscape) archaeology of the Alps: their rediscovery, their transformation during the period of Romantic nationalism, and their instrumentalization during Nazism. Natascha Mehler. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436967)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-42,06

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America