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The politics and poetics of toponymy, identity and place in multilingual areas. A comparative study of Carinthia, Austria, and the Těšín Region, Czech Republic
Project Id16-34841L
Main solverPhDr. Přemysl Mácha, Ph.D.
Period1/2016 - 12/2018
ProviderGrantová agentura ČR
Statesolved
AnotationModern cultural geography and cultural anthropology recognize place names as essential mediators between human beings and space as well as a key factor in the formation of close relations between place names, places and space-related identities. This results in a political and societal meaning of place names. Departing from these assumptions the project investigates the role of place names for the relation between human beings and space in two multilingual situations: the Těšín area in Czechia and southern Carinthia in Austria. Both are characterized by a historically rooted social stratification of a dominant (the Czechs in the Těšín area and the German-speakers in Carinthia) and a non-dominant group (the Poles in the Těšín area and Slovenes in Carinthia). Moreover, in both areas place names gave reason to political conflict in recent times. Although especially Carinthian toponymy is well-investigated in linguistic terms, also here cultural-geographical studies on the roles of place names as mediators between human community and space are missing, i.e. on aspects such as space-related identity building by place names, place names as supporters of emotional ties between human beings and place or the ambivalent attitudes also of some minority members towards minority place names in the public sphere. In this context the project will try to answer the following research questions: (1) What do place names mean for the identity of human communities in general and more specifically for linguistic minorities? What is the relationship between language, place and identity and how do we make ourselves at home through place names? (2) What toponymic strategies have been employed by different actors in establishing, maintaining, and subverting ethnic/national boundaries and what are the principal social forces structuring the contemporary toponymic landscape and everyday toponymic praxis? (3) How are the multilingual/multiethnic city-text and linguistic landscape produced, pe
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