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Materialising Identity: The Co-construction of the Gotthard Railway and Swiss National Identity
by Judith Schueler, Dave Lyddon and Kurt Vandaele
edited by Eric Venbrux
Amsterdam University Press, 2012
Paper: 978-90-5260-302-5 | eISBN: 978-90-485-2116-6
Library of Congress Classification TF92.G6S38 2008

Since 1882, the Gotthard Railway, with its fifteen-kilometer long tunnel under the Gotthard Mountains, has provided a crucial international link through the Swiss Alps, between North-Western Europe and Italy. Its symbolic meaning has never sunk into oblivion. In Swiss society today, references to the railway evoke images of a technological railway project, with allusions to Swiss history, alpine nature, and national identity. Reading this book helps us understand contemporary discussions about the future of the Gotthard Railway, the region in which it lies, and the Swiss national identity. To illustrate to what extent historical actors co-constructed the railway and Swiss identity, the book starts with an engineering discussion about tunneling methods. Then it examines reactions in Switerland to the inauguration of the railway line. Subsequently, it describes how the railway line was portrayed in travel guides of the belle poque. The last chapter captures the glory days of the Gotthard myth, before and during the Second World War, with a focus on novels and plays in which the Gotthard Tunnel construction occurs. This historical overview offers insight into the multiple roles that technology plays in the construction of a sense of national identity.

See other books on: Europe | Lyddon, Dave | Vandaele, Kurt | Venbrux, Eric | Women's Studies
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