The Krampus in Austria: A Case of Booming Identity Politics
In Austria, the Krampus has recently witnessed an unprecedented boom. Since the early 2000s, the number of troupes and organized events has skyrocketed. Most of these can be termed ‘invented traditions’ in Hobsbawm’s sense, as there are only a handful of places with a history of the practice from before the mid-twentieth century. Despite the vast differences between regions, young men in all of them dress up in masks that invoke associations with the devil or demons, wear long fur suits and roam the streets scaring and attacking onlookers with the switches they carry. Investigating contemporary Krampus practices in rural Austria, we argue that they serve as important sources of identity making, at the centre of which are relations between men and women, as well as between ethnic Austrians and immigrants. Through an engagement with anthropological discussions on identity, our article will suggest that the recent Krampus boom is indicative of new forms of white identity
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