Going deutsch: heritage tourism and identity in German Texas

dc.contributor.advisorHoelscher, Steven D.en
dc.creatorAdams, Joy Kristinaen
dc.description.abstractPrimarily qualitative research, relying heavily on interviews and surveys of event participants and local residents, revealed that German-themed festivals in Fredericksburg, New Braunfels, and Brenham, play an important role in the maintenance of ethnic identity for German Americans in central Texas. My research supports the contention that ethnicity is becoming largely symbolic and voluntary for many white Americans, who are increasingly identifying with a non-differentiated “Europeanness” than with specific national origin groups. Thus, significant numbers of non-German whites also participate in these events; however, Hispanics and African Americans are underrepresented among participants, relative to their representation in the region’s population. Hispanics were better represented than blacks among festival participants, and they reported fewer perceptions of possible ethnic or racial discrimination, suggesting the persistence of a black/white color line within the region. Despite a recent and sustained influx of Anglo and Hispanic residents into central Texas, the study communities continue to represent themselves as “German” places, perpetuating social myths of German predominance that emerged in the nineteenth century. Currently, there appears to be no widespread objection to this image; however, with the continued growth of non-German populations, competition over the cultural capital afforded by tourism development may occur among residents. While each community has a history of German settlement, the degree to which German heritage is promoted is dependent upon the presence of ethnic signatures within its cultural landscape. Thus, Germanness is least emphasized in place promotion in Brenham, where Anglo settlement predated the arrival of Germans. German-themed events and tourism development have not encouraged significant alterations to the cultural landscapes of German Texas, especially compared to other North American communities that have undergone substantial “Bavarianization” to enhance their appeal to potential tourists. Further, I contend that the study communities each display several different symbolic, ephemeral place identities that reflect the largely symbolic and voluntary nature of the ethnic identities of their residents and visitors. Specific times and places have been set aside for the display of German heritage, which gives way to the promotion of other place identities at different times and places over the course of the year.
dc.description.departmentGeography and the Environmenten
dc.rightsCopyright is held by the author. Presentation of this material on the Libraries' web site by University Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin was made possible under a limited license grant from the author who has retained all copyrights in the works.en
dc.subject.lcshGermans--Texas--Ethnic identityen
dc.subject.lcshHeritage tourism--Texasen
dc.titleGoing deutsch: heritage tourism and identity in German Texasen
thesis.degree.departmentGeography and the Environmenten
thesis.degree.grantorThe University of Texas at Austinen
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophyen

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