Lecture: Andrew Behrendt, Colorblind Cats and Local Nationalists: Tourism and Two Kinds of Homeland in Austria and Hungary, 1930-1938

Hungarian tourism promoters in the 1930s gnashed their teeth in frustration at a sluggish domestic travel market. In their minds, Hungarians were disloyal and ungrateful tourists, ignorant of their country and therefore unwilling to spend their vacations “at home” rather than abroad. The solution, these promoters decided, was to appeal to Hungarians’ sense of patriotism and guilt them into traveling. But in neighboring Austria, another post-imperial country with its own struggles to stimulate tourism, such arguments were nowhere to be found. Austrians, it seems, did not need to be goaded into “seeing Austria first.” What explains this disparity? In part, it has to do with two different visions of “homeland,” one which defined the nation as an expression of local identity (and vice versa), and another that saw the state belonging to a single, fixed nation awaiting “discovery.” This talk, adapted from a chapter of Mr. Behrendt’s dissertation-in-progress, proposes that a comparison of these cases helps us to a better understanding of how societies adapting to the end of empire have (re-)imagined the idea of “home” as the national and regional boundaries changed around them.

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