‘The politics and poetics of toponymy, identity and place in multilingual areas. A comparative study of Carinthia (Austria) and the Tesin area (Czechia)’ is a three year project (running from January 2016 until December 2018) conducted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna and University of Ostrava in Ostrava. The project looks at place names in the multilingual areas of Carinthia (Austria) and Tesin (the Czech Republic) from the cultural-geographical perspective.

Place names in multilingual areas form an important marker of minorities’ presence in the area. Their use and discussions surrounding them give us an insight into how various groups see their connection to the landscape and to each other. Through the study of place names we can see how people relate to the landscape they inhabit as well as to each other. The discursive aspects of place names come to the foreground in the multilingual areas where multiple variants are in daily use and carry political significance.

A team of researchers from Austria and the Czech Republic – cultural geographers, anthropologists and linguists – will look at multilingual place names in association with landscape, identity and minority rights. The researchers will use a variety of methods from archival research to discourse analysis of linguistic landscape to extensive surveys and interviews with local inhabitants to gain a better understanding of ways people relate to the space they inhabit through the place names they use.