New World Kakanien

posted by aug on 2007/09/10 19:50

[ New World Kakanien ]

Chicago is home to more Burgenlanders than Burgenland’s capital Eisenstadt. In addition to Austrians, many Hungarians, Czechs, Slavs, and Romanians have found there way to this city. I am currently in Chicago, which is my home town. And I have wondered, what happens when large groups from Central and Southeastern Europe find themselves thousands of kilometers from home, in the context of a new life in a new country? is Kakanien still relevant in this new world experience? is it still alive here? I would say that yes, it is still there- and it may even last for some time yet.

In Chicago, the Austrian identity has traditionally been expressed by nations throughout the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. The community of Austrians, which include Hungarians, Romanian, Czech, and Slavs, lives on as a cultural community. Many of the immigrants from those countries claimed German as a mother tongue, at least as recently as the 1970s. Culturally, the Austrian identity was important, and cultural interaction has served to maintain a broad Austro-Hungarian community.

A strict Austrian identity has never really existed. One finds that the broader Austro-Hungarian identity is more important, especially on the cultural level. The strongest identification, however, has been with regions or cities, rather than at the state level. These smaller, more localized communities then interact with each other, creating a much larger and diverse Austrian community.

For many years, Chicago was home to a neighborhood known as Little Burgenland. From about the turn of the 20th Century, until after WWII, thousands of Burgenlanders left Burgenland to find better economic possibilities. Today, they number around 40,000. Most of these emigrants came to Chicago, creating their own distinct neighborhood and community. Today this neighborhood has been replaced by an expressway. But the community still exists, on a smaller scale, in other parts of the city and in certain suburbs south-west of the city. The Burgenländische Gemeinschaft remains the most important German-language press for those with an Austrian identity. It has relevant news from Chicago as well as from Burgenland, maintaining a link with the homeland.

But as these communities enter into the second and third generation of American-born Austrians, how long can this identity last? Burgenlanders no longer share a neighborhood, no longer work together in the stockyards and in the railroad industry. Without the tight-knit community which existed in the past, how can the old identities be maintained?

There are many efforts to maintain links to the home country and encourage an Austrian identity. Each year, a Miss Burgenland is elected in Chicago, and she becomes a kind of Chicago-Burgenlander ambassador to Burgenland. The emergence of the web has helped link different cultural associations together. The monthly newsletter, Austrian-American, is published in Chicago, but it seeks to represent a larger identity. Through the expression of their culture, through the interest shown by the local communities to maintain ties with their parent communities in Europe, by cooperating as small groups which are flexible and open to other related communities, a multicultural identity is maintained, reflecting the diversity of the cultures and communities of the Hapsburg Empire. And so a Kakanien community is maintained, far from King and Kaiser.


Antworten

01 by ush at 2007/09/10 21:10 Bitte registrieren und/oder loggen Sie ein, um zu antworten

Chicago is home to more Burgenlanders than Burgenland’s capital Eisenstadt. In addition to Austrians, many Hungarians, Czechs, Slavs, and Romanians have found there way to this city. I am currently in Chicago, which is my home town. And I have wondered, what happens when large groups from Central and Southeastern Europe find themselves thousands of kilometers from home, in the context of a new life in a new country? is Kakanien still relevant in this new world experience? is it still alive here? I would say that yes, it is still there- and it may even last for some time yet.

I bet, the Burgenland Miss Burgendland would be quite keen on being an ambassodor in Chicago, on the other hand.

Anyways, identity is probably a good deal of stubborness. Sticking to something long lost. Plus, it suits the suggestions of the Man Without Qualities who kind of defines Austrianness/Kakanieness paradoxically as a coincidence of opposites.

Which leads me to the conclusion that identity is non-Aristotelian.
02 by PP at 2007/09/11 10:43 Bitte registrieren und/oder loggen Sie ein, um zu antworten

Chicago is home to more Burgenlanders than Burgenland’s capital Eisenstadt. In addition to Austrians, many Hungarians, Czechs, Slavs, and Romanians have found there way to this city. I am currently in Chicago, which is my home town. And I have wondered, what happens when large groups from Central and Southeastern Europe find themselves thousands of kilometers from home, in the context of a new life in a new country? is Kakanien still relevant in this new world experience? is it still alive here? I would say that yes, it is still there- and it may even last for some time yet.

And it works also the other way round: In Kroatisch-Minihof, for example, exists a street called "Sotbend". "Southbend"/Indiana (home of the University of Notre Dame; Albert-László Barabási, the world famous expert for Networks, teaches here) was the first place, where people from Kroatisch-Minihof settled down after their Emigration towards the US. And those who stayed at home remember that fact in some sort of dialect/dialectic.

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