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We investigate social and political processes and practices that have shaped and transformed public spaces of remembrance in Vienna during the last two decades. The investigation’s thematic focus is on symbolic representations of political violence during the time of Austro-Fascism and National Socialism.

The transformation of public spaces triggered by politics of remembrance can be understood as contested political terrain. This terrain provides space for identity formation as well as for symbolic politics such as the politics of regret. Manifestations of the politics of remembrance in public spaces thus provide information about social and political relationships of power. And ultimately, this is also a matter of negotiating control over the design and use of the public sphere. The dramatic increase in the number of visible signs of collective commemoration calls for explanation. The emergence and development of a specific policy area, the decision-making process, as well as the perception and use of monuments, signs and sites of remembrance and other commemorative interventions are subjects to be investigated.

Our research will tackle the following questions: Who are the protagonists of politics of the past in Vienna? How is it shaped and regulated? What meanings are ascribed to practices of remembrance? Which interpretation frames and narrative structures characterize the „memory boom“ in Vienna? Which changes to the form and usage of the public sphere are ascertainable?

The research design foresees an interdisciplinary mix of methods to be applied along three research axes:

1. Investigation of the ways historical commemoration projects are proposed and negotiated, and the decision-making processes regarding their implementation with emphasis on mnemonic actors (network analysis of the policy area)

2. Analysis of the significance ascribed to politics of remembrance on the municipal, national and transnational level (discourse analysis of the politics of history)

3. Finally, the analysis of public places as spaces of remembrance in the area of tension and interplay between politics of history and everyday use and perception (socio-spatial analysis).

WWTF-Projekt Politics of Remembrance
Institut für Staatswissenschaft
Universität Wien
Pramergasse 9
1090 Wien




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