Accepted paper:

Staging, consuming and contesting empire in the Viennese coffeehouse.


Giulia Carabelli (Queen's University Belfast)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is about preserved Habsburg coffeehouses in Vienna, Budapest and Trieste. It discusses how these historical places have been restored to become tourist hotspots often exasperating local customers who feel as they are losing key socialising spaces in the city.

Paper long abstract:

This paper offers a comparative analysis of the preservation, marketization, and everyday usages of Habsburg coffeehouses in Vienna, Budapest, and Trieste. Mobilizing post-colonial, de-colonial, and critical sociological theories, I engage with the 'imperial café' as a key site of urban socialization but also a privileged space to promote heritage tourism. This is also because, since 2011, Viennese coffee culture has been added to the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List boosting tourism not only in Vienna, the former Imperial capital, but also in other cities where the imperial tradition of the coffeehouse has been preserved. This paper focuses on the workings of affect as a site of political intervention and it explores how imperial atmospheres, and affective attachments to them, are re-created, inhabited, and embodied in the coffeehouse as a unique residue of imperial legacies. In so doing, the paper explores how heritage preservation becomes a matter of re-creating atmospheres that could be apprehended and consumed by tourists whilst, at the same time, they create contested feelings among the local population that often feel excluded from spaces in the city, such as the coffeehouses, which have been key to urban socializing.

panel Econ04
"Bring back my neighbourhood!": heritage, expressive cultures and the production of urban ambiances for tourist consumption in the contemporary city