The Munich Oktoberfest : generator and vehicle of Bavarian identity.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The aim of this thesis is to explore how the Oktoberfest impacts on regional identity in Bavaria, with particular focus on its capital, Munich. Over the last decade, a conscious revival of Bavarian traditions at the event has become noticeable. This thesis investigates why there has been a revival of Bavarian characteristics at the Oktoberfest and seeks also to explain why this revival is occurring at this particular point in time. My investigation of the revival of regional Bavarian identity was conducted with a qualitative approach and placed in the wider context of Germany and Europe. Using theories around 'imagined communities' (Anderson, 1991), 'communities' boundaries' (Cohen, 1985) and 'invented traditions' (Hobsbawm, 1983), I show that, alongside the historical and political background of Bavaria, wider trends and developments in the course of Europeanisation and globalisation have played a significant role in the increasing interest in and emphasis on Bavarian identity in Munich. The research showed that the Oktoberfest offers the most prominent occasion for the Munich locals to display Bavarian traditions. Moreover, it serves as a 'celebratory stage' for the locals to reassert their identity, which is stressed as being distinct from the German nation. Also, the celebration of Bavarian tradition can be interpreted as people's 'return' to their regional roots in their search for stability in a rapidly globalising world.