This essay reexamines tourism’s role in the reconstruction of Austrian national idenity after 1945. Moving beyond a common critique of tourism as a cultural surface phenomenon that covers up the “reality” of the Austrian nation, I argue that tourism-related cultural texts, ranging from images, guidebooks, and government memos to educational brochures and newspaper articles, form a discourse of tourism that offers insight into constructions of “normality.” I link this discursive view of tourism with interpretations of national identity in the context of Judith Butler’s concept of “performativity” and show how tourism contributed to the paradoxical construction of a post-1945 Austrian identity that was simultaneously “new” and “old.” The former allegedly shielded Austria from responsibility for the crimes of the National Socialist past, while the latter allowed for the transformation of pre-1938 Austrian identity narratives with a Germanic bent into evidence for a quasi-historical Austrian national and ethnic autonomy. As I show in this article, such a performative reimagination of Austrian national identity facilitated the pleas for Austria’s reentry into the international community by political, economic, and cultural agents between 1945 and 1955.


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pp. 51-76
Launched on MUSE
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