Regional identity as a looking backward, Jakub Machek
In my project, I tried to compare two regions, Moravia and Saxony - because of their similar past as well as development in modern era. Both of them used to be independent feudal state, which have been later included in bigger national state. The centre of the state is out of region now and the national identity is prevailing now both in the entire state and in the researched region.
In the case of Moravia, the regional identity is based mainly on traditions and on the reminiscence of the great history of the region. Traditions are used to be manifested in connection with countryside, folklore and dialect. My aim was to research, how these elements connected with Moravian regional identity are used in everyday life, i.e. in popular culture. The task was, whether similar elements connected with traditions is possible to find on the streets of Saxony and whether they are used to create similar kind of traditional identity.
In the case of Moravia, folklore is still lived there, as we can see from the pictures shot in Brno (Pictures 1-3). Group of young people is enjoying the folklore music during some organised event as well as later, when the musicians got gathered and started to jam on the Brno’s main square. Folklore motives and folklore costumes are used to sell the goods as well. (Pictures 4, 5).
There is possible to find folklore motives in Saxony too, but very rarely and they look to be connected just with traditions and country side, not with the whole Saxony, as in Moravian case. (Pictures 6-8)
The big difference are in regional dialects – in Saxony is associated with DDR times and its officials as I was told (illustrative picture 9), but in Brno the dialect is the matter of self-esteem and it is used to propagate things, that are not popular at all (picture 10 – municipal advertisement to propagate the move of the main railway station.)
Very interesting area to research, as it turned out, are traditional restaurants. They are in both regions, but they are connected with particular town (municipal hall restaurants – picture 11) or with countryside (picture 12,13) in Saxony. To the contrary, there is strong notion about so called Moravian restaurant in Czech republic, such kind of venues with resembling design is possible to be found everywhere in Moravia as well as out of the region (for example Brno, Olomouc, Havířov, Mariánské lázně, Špindlerův mlýn – pictures 14-19). The very specific example, but it testify my hypothesis about the notion of Moravian Restaurant and it commercial capacity, is the existence of “typical Moravian” fast food in Brno – picture 20.
The recent past is presented in Saxony often, but it is connected again more with DDR than with the region and the linkage to DDR is used to commercial reasons the very same way as the notion of Moravian in Czech republic. The nostalgic DDR products are sold not only in special Ostalgic shops, but in ordinary market as well (picture 21-24).
Hence the only utilization of the notion of Saxony I found are pictures 25 and 26. But they are presented as the word itself, with no connection to the rest of regional elements as in Moravia.
There is a dense web of connotations connected with Moravia, Moravian past and traditions, that is popular among dwellers, and thus it is intensively used for commercial promotion (out of its lived character). In the case of Saxony, there are present same elements related to the past and tradition, but their using is fragmented and it is not used to build some cohesive notion of Saxony.
authors of pictures:
Stefanie Schroeder: 1-3
Ondřej Daniel: 9, 10
pictures propagating restaurants from theirs websites: 4, 14-20