Society for the Anthropology of Europe
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In the town of Hlucin, Czech Republic, preparations for the 2020 celebration marking the centenary of the region’s existence have started. The region, with its difficult German Wehrmacht heritage and present-day Czech national affiliation, has often struggled to balance the two temporalities, particularly during such celebratory occasions and commemorative activities. In the Czech Republic, an ostensibly ethnically homogenous nation-state with ‘one language, one culture, and one history’, being different is often seen as problematic. The fact that the residents of the Hlucin region refer to the arrival of Czechoslovak troops in 1920 as an annexation rather than a liberation and that nearly every family had its members serving in Wehrmacht imposes significant questions and challenges for the national imaginaries of ‘Czechness’ in the region. To prepare a large-scale anniversary celebration that would adequately represent the region as it is understood by its residents and at the same time to reconstruct the past hundred years within the framework of Czech national sentiments requires careful planning and diplomacy. What and whose aspirations, worries, visions and hopes are put into the planning? Based on an ethnographic study of the region, I examine the political use of the past in negotiations between the region’s cultural representatives and the state apparatus over the formation of the region’s identity and its relation to the country’s visions. I shall support my arguments with reference to the preparatory activities undertaken for the centenary celebrations of the Hlucin region’s existence as a part of the Czech Republic.