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Backpack AmbassadorsHow Youth Travel Integrated Europe$
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Richard Ivan Jobs

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226438979

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226439020.001.0001

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Youth Mobility and the Making of Europe

Youth Mobility and the Making of Europe

(p.11) One Youth Mobility and the Making of Europe
Backpack Ambassadors

Richard Ivan Jobs

University of Chicago Press

After WWII, Western European governments worked to establish, expand, and transform their national youth hostel networks away from domestic and toward international travel. It was a public-private cultural internationalism focused on reconciliation between belligerent nationalities and premised on the interpersonal interaction of the young, especially with Germany. Mass numbers of young people began to utilize and shape the development of a vast infrastructure to support their mobility. The frequency of their travels and the routes of their itineraries brought them in contact with one another through a transnational expansion of social space that was regionally limited to the western half of the continent due to the onset of the Cold War. As organized exchange groups or as independent hitchhikers, these young travelers became a cohort with shared interests via their circuits of travel in Western Europe. Some, such as the European Youth Campaign, demanded freedom of movement and protested against border controls. Thus, in the postwar period there was a complex top-down and bottom-up process of policies and demand which led to the emergence in the 1960s of a vast new travel culture which helped give shape to Western Europe as a democratic and “Europeanized” social space.

Keywords:   youth hostels, Germany, cultural internationalism, travel, mobility, hitchhiking, Western Europe, borders, reconstruction, European Youth Campaign

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