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Apostles of the AlpsMountaineering and Nation Building in Germany and Austria, 1860-1939$
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Tait Keller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625034

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625034.001.0001

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Peaks and Progress

Peaks and Progress

Alpine Reveries, Bourgeois Dreams, and National Fantasies

(p.47) 2 Peaks and Progress
Apostles of the Alps

Tait Keller

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how bourgeois values colored the Eastern Alps in the late nineteenth century. During this time, Germany and Austria witnessed the formation of a powerful middle class whose sensibilities were based on affluence and achievement. Among the bourgeoisie’s shared values was an emphasis on personal development (Bildung). The Alps served as a proving ground for bourgeois notions of progress, both individual and societal. The Alpine Association framed the mountains as the natural expression of German-Austrian unity and positioned itself as the representative of this broad cultural community. But attempts to use the mountains to meld heritage, history, and geography into a progressive “Greater German” identity produced mixed results. Antagonisms among Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish climbers, as well as between bourgeois and proletarian tourists, assumed chauvinistic overtones. The project of nationalizing the mountains began to unravel. Despite the rhetoric of harmony and the tropes of peace and tranquility, on the eve of the First World War the Alps were already an arena of class and religious conflict as rival groups struggled to command the heights.

Keywords:   Bourgeoisie, Bildung, Social progress, Greater German, Religious conflict

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