Accepted paper:

Folk culture in Vienna: urban utopia in the 1930ies


Magdalena Puchberger (Museum für Volkskunde Wien)

Paper short abstract:

In the interwar period members of the Youth- and Homeland-Movement ‚invented' and practised (especially in Vienna) THE folk culture by mixing elements of Viennese popular cultures with rural heritage. This genuine urban culture sought public attention as well as ideological and cultural supremacy.

Paper long abstract:

This proposed paper analyses the special urban setting in Vienna in the 1930ies. It presents the players, networks and especially the practices of the circles which dealt and argued with folk culture. Their main venue was the Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art in Vienna, their elite consisted of young ‚Volkskunde' scholars, who were also part of the Youth Movement. They met at the museum and conceptualised the emotional, practical and theoretical superstructure of ‚folk' and ‚homeland' (‚Volkstum' and ‚Heimat') in Austrias capital and evolved the Museum into a ‚trading zone' for various folkish influences and practices. They combined popular entertainment and scientific knowledge with the goal of a standardised and national homogenised folk culture. Folk culture seemed to be primarily oriented towards a better past, to tradition and national heritage but in fact it was a very present concept. It was an urban utopia, that intended to reconcile social and national differences by standing up for a harmonising and paradoxically combative folk culture. On the basis of a "competitive" folkdance festival in 1934, that took place in Vienna's public sphere (in front of town hall, the Ringstraße,…), the paper illustrates specific strategies and objectives that were connected to the popularisation of folk cultural formats and compares them to other urban dance cultures as well as to other European folk cultures. It shows the interconnectedness of Viennas folk culture-propagandists to ideological and pragmatic players in Austrias cultural policy in the transitional period from democratic to totalitarian systems.

panel Urba006
Shaping urban and regional space in the context of competition for funding