Topic: DECODING SWISSNESS – How the myth of Switzerland was resemiotized | A tribute to Roland Barthes


What images do you think of when you hear the word Swissness? The white cross on a red background? The Alps? Or do you think of banks, watches and chocolate?

Landscapes, art, architecture and craftsmanship have always had the function of producing identity. When Switzerland staged its appearance at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900, it was in the form of a «Village Suisse» with the aim of promoting tourism. Over the years Switzerland became a symbol of an idyllic ideal. But at the same time, it was the beginning of a constructed national identity with far-reaching consequences lasting up to the present day.

The lecture traces this path: It decodes the myth of «Swissness» by reviewing many picture examples and concludes by analyzing today’s efforts to resemiotize national identity.