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Making Mountains Alpine: The «Global Alps» in the perspective of transoceanic transfers of knowledge, goods, and funds

During the European imperial expansion, the Alps in Central Europe were the model mountain range to which mountain landscapes around the world were compared to and sometimes named after (e.g., Japanese Alps, Australian Alps, Southern Alps, Alps of Sichuan etc.). In this way, the term «alpine» entered common parlance as a reference of high mountain areas, while at the same time representing a Eurocentric vision on how to make use of peripheral mountain landscapes for the emerging modern world.

In regard to the research on global entanglements and cultural hybridisation, this panel investigates how transoceanic transfers of knowledge, goods, and funds created «Alps» in every corner of this planet. It is argued that the reclassification of mountain ranges as «alpine landscapes» altered the trajectory of colonization and industrial projects thus changing the physical nature of these landscapes. On the other hand, however, the experiences overseas did also influence how the European Alps were perceived and made use of. We ask what knowledge and perceptions made a region «alpine», which agents and networks played a role in this, what vectors were crucial for the «alpinization», and how was the physical environment transformed in order to meet the necessary criteria?