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A Land on the Threshold

South Tyrolean Transformations, 1915–2015

Edited By Georg Grote and Hannes Obermair

Among the many commemorations of World War I, little was made of the 100th anniversary of the secret Treaty of London between Italy and the Western War Allies in April 1915, which sealed the fate of South Tyrol for the duration of the twentieth century by passing it from Austria to Italy. In May 2015, a symposium was held in the medieval Prösels Castle in the Italian Dolomites to mark this historical moment. Contributors set out to explore the political, social and cultural impact of South Tyrol’s existence «on the threshold» during the twentieth century.

Individually and collectively, the essays in this volume challenge the simplistic reading of South Tyrol as merely a geographic region torn between Germanic and Italian cultures; instead, they explore the dynamic effects of its geographical, political and cultural history since 1915. South Tyrol, as a modern regional state in Europe, faces many of the same problems as other European regions, be they individual states or sub-state regions. Most of the contributions in this volume are from academics and intellectuals within the Province of Bolzano/Bozen who negotiate and discuss these issues through their native languages: German, Italian and Ladin. By making their research accessible through English translations and abstracts, this volume seeks to bring their work on historical and contemporary developments in South Tyrol to a wider European and global audience.


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Part V: Renegotiating Belonging


part v Renegotiating Belonging Antonio Elorza 16 Alsace, South Tyrol, Basque Country (Euskadi): Denationalization and Identity abstract Antonio Elorza presents a comparative analysis of three processes of denationalization in Alsace, South Tyrol and the Basque Country. In all of these cases, the policies of French, German, Italian and Spanish governments tried to suppress the identities of the aforemen- tioned border regions through hard measures of political and cultural repression, in order to force their total integration in the respective nation-states. The competing pressures in Alsace and South Tyrol were settled on a higher level according to the result of World War II, while the end of Franco‘s dictatorship guaranteed identitarian survival in the Basque case. By denationalization we mean the progressive removal of the cultural char- acteristics and values of a human group through the political action of one State, with the purpose of their substitution by the culture and language of another social group which holds political power. This process leads to a deep transformation in the conscience and in the image that the denation- alized group has about itself, once it has suffered the humiliation caused by the continuous pressure and prohibitions exercised by the authorities, whose result could only be the loss of identity. Denationalization may take place, not only in big political entities, like nations or regions, but also in more reduced political spaces. We have an example in the small town and district of Olivenza, close to the Portuguese border, with 12, 000 inhabitants...

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