Materialising Identity

The Co-construction of the Gotthard Railway and Swiss National Identity

Judith Schueler

Materialising Identity
Bookmark and Share

Judith Schueler

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

197 pages | 6 3/5 x 9 2/5 | © 2008
Paper $38.50 ISBN: 9789052603025 Published March 2009 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
Since 1882, the Gotthard Railway, with its fifteen-kilometer long tunnel under the Gotthard Mountains, has provided a crucial international link through the Swiss Alps, between North-Western Europe and Italy. Its symbolic meaning has never sunk into oblivion. In Swiss society today, references to the railway evoke images of a technological railway project, with allusions to Swiss history, alpine nature, and national identity. Reading this book helps us understand contemporary discussions about the future of the Gotthard Railway, the region in which it lies, and the Swiss national identity. To illustrate to what extent historical actors co-constructed the railway and Swiss identity, the book starts with an engineering discussion about tunneling methods. Then it examines reactions in Switerland to the inauguration of the railway line. Subsequently, it describes how the railway line was portrayed in travel guides of the belle poque. The last chapter captures the glory days of the Gotthard myth, before and during the Second World War, with a focus on novels and plays in which the Gotthard Tunnel construction occurs. This historical overview offers insight into the multiple roles that technology plays in the construction of a sense of national identity.
Contents
Introduction: The Gotthard as a national image
  Two aspects of the Gotthard
  Studying identity and technology as co-construction
  The Gotthard Railway as a lens
1. National building practices at stake
  Engineering practices as a lens
  Drilling the Gotthard Tunnel
  Swiss tunnelling in retrospect
2. Celebrating the Gotthard Railway
  Looking through the lens of events
  Celebrating the Gotthard Railway
  Bringing the news
  Positioning Switzerland
3. Travelling the Gotthard
  Through the lens of travel guides
  Inviting tourists to the Gotthard
  The Gotthard Railway as experiencing Switzerland
4. Re-writing history
  Literature as lens for studying technology and culture
  Switzerland's withdrawal to Heimat and Gotthard
  The Gotthard as homeland
  Projecting Heimat onto the Gotthard
  The co-construction of Swiss identity and the Gotthard Tunnel
Conclusion
  The Gotthard: metaphoric synthesis of tensions

Epilogue
Endnotes
Bibliography
Summary
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style |

Cryptonym Blog: Amsterdam University Press

RSS Feed

RSS feed of the latest books from Amsterdam University Press. RSS Feed