Austrian Studies Events

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Austrian Studies Events - Fall 2020

Presented in partnership with the North American Austrian Centers, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research of Austria and the Austrian Marshall Foundation.


Against the World: The Collapse of Empire and the Deglobalization of Interwar Austria
Tara Zahra, University of Chicago
September 21, 2020 |  Watch the recording here
Sponsored by the Center for Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota

For decades leading up to the First World War, the world seemed to be shrinking, in a form of globalization that many internationalists linked to progress, peace, and prosperity.  These illusions were shattered in 1914, when the First World War ushered in a quarter century of anti-global retrenchment. Austria-Hungary, once the largest free trade zone in Europe, became a laboratory and emblem of interwar deglobalization as the ties of mobility and trade that knit the Empire together and linked it to the world were ripped apart. This talk will examine the relationship between imperial collapse and anti-globalism in interwar Austria, focusing on popular movements that arose on the right and left to achieve greater individual and national self-sufficiency, as well as new forms of internationalism that aimed to reimagine and revive transnational relationships.

Tara Zahra is a professor of history at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the transnational history of modern Europe, migration, the family, nationalism, and humanitarianism. She is currently working on two book projects: a history of deglobalization in interwar Europe and, with Pieter Judson, a history of the First World War in the Habsburg Empire. Zahra is most recently the author of The Great Departure: Mass Migration and the Making of the Free World (Norton, 2016) and, with Leora Auslander, Objects of War: The Material Culture of Conflict and Displacement (Cornell, 2018). Her previous books include The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe's Families after World War II (Harvard, 2011) and Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands (Cornell, 2008).



Identity Politics and Armed Civil Conflict: Reflections on the Fall of Yugoslavia
Wolfgang Petritsch, Austrian Marshall Foundation
Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | Watch the recording here
Sponsored by the Austrian Studies Program, UC Berkeley; co-sponsored by the Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies

Three decades ago, when the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia took Western policy makers by surprise, interpretations of its causes ranged from economic explanations and the shifting geopolitics at the end of the cold war to theses of culture-based ancient hatreds implying the multi-ethnic, multilingual Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia never had a chance to turn into a viable state. Academic and political dissent about the origins of the conflict and its subsequent peace processes prevail to this day and continue to hamper democratic and economic progress in the successor states despite unprecedented foreign intervention and continued European assistance. In this lecture, Wolfgang Petritsch will map out the armed conflicts and the subsequent peace efforts – with a focus on Bosnia and the Dayton Accords – in the context of territoriality, expressed in the ethnic cleansing and the systematic destruction of cultural and religious monuments. In this way, he will argue that the fall of Yugoslavia and the creation of seven successor states was the first conflict in post-Cold War Europe fought under the banner of identity politics.

Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch was the EU's Special Envoy for Kosovo (1998-1999), EU chief negotiator at the Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet and Paris (1999), and then High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (1999-2002). He served as the Austrian ambassador to the UN in Geneva (2002-2008) and to the OECD in Paris (2008-2013). He was the Joseph A. Schumpeter Fellow at Harvard University (2013-2014) and currently serves as the President of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation. 



Lux et Silesia: Silesian Identity in the Art of Ireneusz Walczak
Ewa Wylężek-Targosz, University of Silesia, Poland
Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | Watch the recording here

Sponsored by the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies, University of Alberta

Silesia is a place in southern Poland located in the historic region known as the Upper Silesia (in Polish: Górny Śląsk) that was once one of the world’s greatest producers of coal. This peculiar position of the Silesian region, on the one hand, has undoubtedly enriched its inhabitants in cultural and historical ways but, on the other, has enclosed them in a so-called hajmat – a term that is understood as a private homeland. Hajmat is based on both a tangible stratum such as cuisine or card games, as well as on an abstract stratum, such as language and collective memory. Since people think in the language they speak, one can presume that Silesian language expresses highly personalized reality that is inaccessible to non-Silesians, so called gorols. This lecture’s objective is to examine ways in which Silesia communicates with the outside world and how the imagined Silesia may be/is translated into the non-Silesian Poland. In order to do so, I want to present works by one of the most prominent Silesian painters, Ireneusz Walczak. His canvasses, even though beautifully colored, revolve around linguistic signs. He transmogrifies English, Polish, and Silesian into a peculiar, vibrant communique sent from the very heart of the region – a mine.

Ewa Wylężek-Targosz is a lecturer at the Institute of Literary Studies in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland. She studied English Philology with major in Culture and Literature of English-Speaking Countries at University of Silesia as well as at Rovira i Virgili University in Catalonia, Spain. Her main academic interests are carnival, modernism, art history, and film studies. In 2019 she was a guest lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland. Currently, she teaches Introduction to American Film, Art History and Creative Writing, as well as Writing for the Media. She has recently published her first book titled Tropes of Tauromachy: Representations of Bullfighting in Selected Texts of Anglophone Literature. She is also a certified brewer (postgraduate course at University of Agriculture, Cracow).



South Tyrol - Amore Mio: Identity and Ethnonationalism in a European Borderland
Gerald Steinacher, University of Nebraska
Pre-recorded lecture available to stream on the Center Austria YouTube Channel | Watch here 
Monday, November 2 | 10AM PT - 12PM CT - 1PM ET | Register here
Sponsored by Center Austria, University of New Orleans

The province of South Tyrol, a borderland long the subject of territorial disputes between Italy and Austria, is mostly known for its beautiful Dolomite mountains. After a tumultuous history of war, ethnic cleansing, and dictatorships, the province today is an affluent Italian autonomous region with three official ethnic/linguistic groups. As such, it is also a fascinating case study of (national) identities. What role does ethnonationalism still play there? And what can the case of South Tyrol tell us about the “United States of Europe” project?

Gerald J. Steinacher is James A. Rawley Professor of History at the University of Nebraska. Dr. Steinacher’s research focuses on 20th Century European History with an emphasis on Holocaust, National Socialism, Italian Fascism, and intelligence studies. Dr. Steinacher is currently writing his next monograph with the working title Forgive and Forget? Catholic Responses to the Nuremberg Trials and Denazification, 1945-1950. In it he explores profound questions of guilt and responsibility, which allows him to compare and contrast competing models of transitional justice. Dr. Steinacher teaches classes on the Holocaust, Modern Jewish History, Modern German History, History of Immigration, and Intelligence and Espionage History.




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