The Concept of Logoclastic Violence in Carinthia
The Ortstafelsturm, the ‘storm on the town signs’, was a series of political events in 1972 in Carinthia, Austria, in which up to 300 individuals participated in tearing down bilingual street signs that were erected days before by the Austrian government in areas where an autochthonous Slovene minority lives. Jennifer M. Gully (2011) refers to these events as instances of logoclastic or ‘language-breaking’ violence. With this term Gully identifies a rather complex political phenomenon that involves a conflict over bilingualism. The term, however, goes otherwise undefined. In this paper I try to reverse-engineer Gully’s notion of logoclastic violence from the particular phenomenon it is applied to. With reference to Benedict Anderson’s and Ernest Gellner’s theories of nationalism, I argue that it can be understood as a struggle between monolingual and multilingual conceptions of an imagined community.
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