Von den bedrohlichen zu den bedrohten Alpen – Aneignungsprozesse und Identifikationsfiguren alpiner Umweltschützer*innen in Tirol
While in the early days of the European history of culture the Alps were seen as forbidding, since the 1970s environmental activists have used this description, turning it the other way round — now it is the Alps that are increasingly threatened by today’s environmental problems. Noise, air pollution, deforestation and problems relating to ozone depletion threaten the ecologically sensitive Alpine range. The problems affect not just the Alps, but owing to geographical and topographic conditions their consequences are particularly strong here. Thus the Alps constitute a reference framework as well as a point of origin for the thematisation of ecological problems. Defenders of the Alps were especially critical of the claims — or, more openly, designs — of the European Union in the area of transport, tourism and energy. The relations between the Alps and the European Union constituted a unique moment in the discussion of environmental activists. On the one hand they styled the Alps as a model ecological region in contrast to the economy-focused European Union, and on the other the European Union served as a common enemy, which turned the Alps into a political argument in declaring unity of this space. This unity was, according to the defenders of the Alps, important in the context of securing and forcing through the region’s internal needs. To sum up, the Alps were presented as a place where various, partly opposing, economic, ecological and political interest met, and a place appropriated, depending on the context, as a living, cultural and economic space, as Europe’s roof and water tower, or as a holiday idyll and sports arena. Given the collaboration of Alpine environmentalists crossing state borders south and north of the Brenner Pass, and within the extraordinarily politically and socially heterogenous resistance movement in North Tirol, a question arises: to what extent have the Alps generated unique forms of identification for these figures? The author of the article argues that for Alpine environmentalists the Alps are both a discursive and a physical space, used as an identity-building element and space of activity.