Thesis Open Access
Hechl, Stefan Patrick
While the topic of Austrian national identity is well-researched, most studies focus on the years after the State Treaty in 1955 as well as the 1970s and 1980s. This thesis assesses processes of nation-building and the formation of Austrian national identity by using digital methods to analyse a large corpus of Austrian daily newspapers from 1945 to 1948, a period largely neglected by existing research. The corpus covers a wide ideological range from left to right and from pro-US to pro-Soviet, containing the complete text of all issues of five Austrian newspapers that appeared daily from April 1945 until December 1948. Since daily newspapers provided one of the best ways for political parties and the Allied powers to spread unfiltered information and propaganda throughout the population, they are a valuable source when researching the formation of national identity. Digital text mining methods, such as diachronic frequency analyses, word correspondence analyses or topic models, can provide insights and highlight trends and hidden patterns that would otherwise not be visible.
The research shows that while discourses on Austrian identity were not as explicit in the years 1945 - 1948 as they became after 1955, some important groundwork for the formation of national identity was laid in the immediate aftermath of World War Two. Especially the year 1945 is notable in this regard, while the following years gradually saw a return to a certain post-war daily routine with less discussion on topics connected to national identity. However, frequency analyses show that this topic closely correlates to various events related to negotiations regarding the Austrian state treaty, and that in general, the formation of Austrian national identity was strongly connected to external factors within the context of the beginning Cold War. The dimensions of the past and the future also played an important role in the discourses surrounding the early formation of post-war Austrian identity, as can be quantitatively deduced from the corpus. In this regard, the analysis was able to quantitatively prove some hypotheses previously formulated by scholars without access to the corpus, and to discover previously unknown quantitative textual patterns regarding the topic of Austrian national identity.