Research outlook and themes

In 1998 Salzburg author, essayist and critic Karl-Markus Gauß published a book with the title Ins unentdeckte Österreich. Nachrufe und Attacken (Into Unexplored Austria. Obituaries and Attacks). In it he accuses both glorifiers and detractors of Austria of a strong tendency to ignore or deny history. The line in Gerhard Fritsch’ poem Österreich, “ein Landstrich, von dem die Geschichte Abschied genommen hat”[1] (an area of which history has taken its leave), for Gauß it turns into “a country that has taken leave of its history”. Gauß had reacted to the distinct turns in Austrian development, i.e. the case of Waldheim and Austria joining the EU, with two pamphlets. While the silence about the period of National Socialism had since been broken, the silence about the last decades of the Habsburg Monarchy endured. Gauß is concerned with the squandered heritage and the compromised legacy of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. His assessment matches the recently published theories of US historian Pieter M. Judson, who calls into question past interpretations of the Habsburg Empire.

In the last 30 years there has been extensive research into the Habsburg Empire and its legacy, with some fundamental revision of previous views. Large research projects explored, for instance, the Wiener Moderne, post-colonial structures of the Habsburg Monarchy and constructions of identity in 20th century Central Europe. The Austrian Studies DP ties in with these efforts and tries to capture the cultural space called “Austria”, which is not necessarily identical to today’s republic, in multiple spatial dimensions (European, Central European, national and regional), and to approach it from different academic disciplines.

The DP serves to take an interdisciplinary look at the research area Austrian Studies. It involves numerous disciplines from five faculties at the University of Innsbruck: history, literature, philosophy, art history, musicology, architecture, geography and law. Coherence is ensured by the themes and through regular cooperation of teachers and doctoral students in various formats. 

The DP is closely linked with the Research Area Cultural Encounters – Cultural Conflicts, the Research Centers Digital Humanities, Concepts of Europe, and Migration and Globalization. It aims to offer doctoral students optimum conditions during their work on their theses, to ensure interdisciplinary exchanges and to encourage international networking of all involved, esp. the doctoral students. The DP will also strengthen the cooperation of scientists locally and the visibility of specific competences available at Innsbruck.  

[1] Gerhard Fritsch (1989): Österreich. In: Lächelnd über seine Bestatter. Österreich. Lesebuch. Von 1900 bis heute. Ed. by Ulrich Weinzierl, Munich, pp. 359-361. 

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