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Understanding Multiculturalism

Understanding Multiculturalism: The Habsburg Central European Experience

Johannes Feichtinger
Gary B. Cohen
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Understanding Multiculturalism
    Book Description:

    Multiculturalism has long been linked to calls for tolerance of cultural diversity, but today many observers are subjecting the concept to close scrutiny. After the political upheavals of 1968, the commitment to multiculturalism was perceived as a liberal manifesto, but in the post-9/11 era, it is under attack for its relativizing, particularist, and essentializing implications. The essays in this collection offer a nuanced analysis of the multifaceted cultural experience of Central Europe under the late Habsburg monarchy and beyond. The authors examine how culturally coded social spaces can be described and understood historically without adopting categories formerly employed to justify the definition and separation of groups into nations, ethnicities, or homogeneous cultures. As we consider the issues of multiculturalism today, this volume offers new approaches to understanding multiculturalism in Central Europe freed of the effects of politically exploited concepts of social spaces.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-265-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Johannes Feichtinger and Gary B. Cohen
  5. Introduction. Understanding Multiculturalism: The Habsburg Central European Experience
    (pp. 1-14)
    Johannes Feichtinger and Gary B. Cohen

    Today, after decades of linking the concept of multiculturalism to a call for tolerance of cultural heterogeneity, societies are subjecting multiculturalism to close scrutiny. In countries of culturally mixed populations, society commonly viewed the entire idea of multiculturalism as a mandate to protect minorities and guarantee them individual and collective rights. If, in the decades following the political upheavals of 1968, the commitment to multiculturalism was perceived as a liberal manifesto, multiculturalism in the post-9/11 era is under attack for its relativizing, particularist, essentializing, and potentially divisive implications.

    Under the cover of multiculturalism, new injustices might be permitted—as, for...

  6. Section I. Identity Formama tion in Multicultural Societies

    • Chapter 1 Heterogeneities and Homogeneities: On Similarities and Diversities
      (pp. 17-46)
      Anil Bhatti

      It is useful to remember that we seem to have come a long way from the vision of tolerant, flexible societies characterized by interpretative openness with a distrust of dogmatic purity in matters concerning languages, religions, and social codes. The sympathetic attitude to possibilities of cultural metamorphoses and experimental transformations (Goethe’s “The Metamorphosis of Plants,” Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”) emerged as a vision of the Enlightenment, various socialist movements, and anticolonial and antifascist struggles, and was temporarily revived by the international student movements of the previous century. Little of this seems to remain today. Far from generating a creative polycentric society in...

    • Chapter 2 Mestizaje and Hybrid Culture: Toward a Transnational Cultural Memory of Europe and the Development of Cultural Theories in Latin America
      (pp. 47-60)
      Michael Rössner

      Over the past twenty years we have all experienced the hopes and disappointments, the enthusiasm and discouragement, that accompanied the development of a European spirit, a European conscience, or, in the parlance of official documents, a common identity. Born out of the ruins of World War II, sustained by economic success, and driven by the euphoria that marked the end of the continent’s division in 1989, this common European identity seemed almost a reality. Today, more than two decades and two accession stages later, after the inglorious demise of the European Constitution in the French and Dutch referendums, it seems...

    • Chapter 3 Do Multiple Languages Mean a Multicultural Society? Nationalist “Frontiers” in Rural Austria, 1880–1918
      (pp. 61-82)
      Pieter M. Judson

      At the turn of the last century, Czech, German, Slovene, and Italian nationalist activists worked hard to delineate the social and cultural boundaries they claimed separated their national communities from each other in the western regions of Imperial Austria where more than one language was spoken. Their ambivalent and often frustrating experiences suggest that beliefs about national difference actually had to be imported to these rural regions. In many localities where pluricultural practices had long characterized daily life, local perceptions of difference did not always rest on the experience of different language usage, nor did such differences by themselves produce...

  7. Section II. The Dynamam ics of Multicultural Societies, Politics, and the State

    • Chapter 4 Multiculturalism, Polish Style: Glimpses from the Interwar Period
      (pp. 85-100)
      Patrice M. Dabrowski

      Although the subject of multiculturalism has gained currency in recent times, particularly among those working on the Habsburg lands, the multicultural approach (albeit not labeled as such) is hardly new to Polish historiography. Certainly those familiar with thelongue duréeof this “heart of Europe” know that, historically, the very definition of what it meant to be Polish reflected the multicultural approach laid out by the editors of the present volume, who define multiculturalism as a “mode of understanding and practice used by social actors for coping with diversity.”¹ In the early modern period the nation could be equated with...

    • Chapter 5 Multiculturalism against the State: Lessons from Istria
      (pp. 101-121)
      Pamela Ballinger

      Since its bloody disintegration, the former Yugoslavia has provided the material for many a cautionary tale about the challenges of maintaining peaceful coexistence within multiethnic, multinational, and multiconfessional societies, as well as the difficulties of reestablishing such coexistence in the aftermath of warfare and ethnic cleansing. Some prominent scholars have even gone so far as to draw the pessimistic (and highly controversial) conclusion from Bosnia-Herzegovina that preemptive partition of ethnically mixed countries and organized population transfers offer the best solution for avoiding or minimizing bloodshed.¹ Such a position implies that ethnic coexistence proves ephemeral at best and usually cannot survive...

    • Chapter 6 Migration in Austria: An Overview of the 1920s to 2000s
      (pp. 122-158)
      Michael John

      The Republic of Austria is located at a European crossroads, an intersection of developed and less-developed regions, the junction of East and West. For centuries its territory and the territory of the preceding state entities have been an attractive destination for migrants. The imperial capital of Vienna in 1900 was a focus of internal Austrian-Hungarian migration of nearly all the ethnic and national elements.¹ At the turn of the nineteenth century the multinational Habsburg Monarchy suffered through a deep crisis connected with national political tensions, and rising nationalist politics unquestionably affected the development of mass migration in the state. In...

  8. Section III. Identities Expressed, Negotiated, and Challenged in Multicultural Settings

    • Chapter 7 The Slice of Desire: Intercultural Practices versus National Loyalties in the Peripheral Multiethnic Society of Central Europe at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 161-173)
      Oto Luthar

      Believing that not only speaking and writing but also desiring, whether for love, food, or success, represents forms of knowledge and communication, I have decided to discuss the historical circumstances and dynamics of the formation of intercultural practices of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Central Europe in a slightly different way from the other chapters in this volume. To discuss the cultural dynamics of a unique and continually changing region in northeastern Slovenia, where the four main sets of European linguistic groups (Hungarian, Slavic, Romance, and Germanic) meet, I have chosen to analyze two specific everyday practices:...

    • Chapter 9 Culture as a Space of Communication
      (pp. 187-208)
      Moritz Csáky

      With the end of World War I, the Habsburg Monarchy dissolved into a variety of nation-states. Thus, a development that had become increasingly predictable in the Central European region since the nineteenth century drew to its close: it had aimed at granting the various ethnic-linguistic “nationalities” autonomous, national rights. Up to the present day it is fairly usual to describe this historical development, which apparently culminated in 1918, from the perspective of a “national teleology.” Historiography thus remains predicated upon the national narrative of the nineteenth century; it rarely tries to see the constitutive linguistic and cultural differences of the...

  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 209-232)
  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 233-236)
  11. Index
    (pp. 237-246)