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December 23 , 2009

Polemical Austria

The Rhetorics of National Identity from Empire to the Second Republic


Austria today offers the picture of a small, neutral, and economically successful country in the heart of Europe. Yet modern Austria is the product of a complex and violent history. After the First World War, Vienna changed overnight from being the capital of a large continental and multi-ethnic Empire to being an alpine Republic surrounded by larger states. This study examines Austria’s transition from a major power and multi-ethnic Empire to a militarily marginalised alpine Republic, and asks how those often sudden and violent changes, including two world wars and one civil war in the twentieth century, have been reflected in the way Austrians have perceived themselves. Whilst many studies map out the political events, this study places special emphasis on the language used by Austrians as they struggled to define themselves.

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