Reviewing 1945: Eleven new perspectives

This exhibition is the first joint presentation of the House of Austrian History and the ten state museums of Austria and South Tyrol
It provides new insights into the end of the Second World War. At this time, the territory of present-day Austria faced extremes: while in some places Nazi rule continued a reign of terror, elsewhere processes of democratisation were initiated. Eleven extraordinary objects open up new perspectives on the last days of Nazi terror, the founding of the Second Republic and the long-term impact of these contradictory times.

Visit the exhibition at https://1945.hdgoe.at/

In Between: Photographs of Spring and Summer 1945

75 years after the end of Nazi rule, this digital exhibition examines the ways in which contemporaries visualised their experiences at the time. Photographs of such events are never neutral: At the end of the war, it was important for many Austrians to prove their status as victims – so they constantly emphasised the destruction and scarcity they suffered. By contrast, the occupying powers initially wanted to draw attention to their own prowess during the war, going on to show how quickly they managed to create order and normality. Some of these photographs are voyeuristic. They make use of the fascination that war exerts as an extreme situation. For example, military offensives were repeated for the camera and scenes of triumph re-enacted.

Have a look at the exhibition here.

Was heißt da „neues Biedermeier“? Von der Entzauberung der Häuslichkeit

Covid-19 und die Folgen: Ohne seinen Gegenpart des „Öffentlichen“ hat sich das „Private“ als Trugbild entpuppt. Die Überhöhung des Privaten ist auffallend schnell einer Desillusionierung gewichen.

Kurze Zeit schien es, als würde in Europa die Rede vom Krieg wieder Überhand gewinnen. Ausgerechnet in einer Krise, die weder national noch militärisch zu fassen ist, waren jene Stimmen am lautesten, die nationalistische und martialische Vorstellungen bedienten. In Retrospektive auf einen Monat, in dem der Ausnahmezustand vermittelt, eingeübt und jetzt auch verhandelt wurde, zeigt sich aber, dass ein anderes Thema durch die Corona-Krise länger anhaltend Bedeutung gewinnt: Häuslichkeit ist schon seit rund zehn Jahren ein starker Bezugspunkt von Hipster-Populärkulturen – in einem sehr widerspruchsreichen Feld zwischen Fünfzigerjahre-Kitsch und MeToo-Debatte.

Publiziert in: Die Presse, Spectrum, 29.4.2020

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2018 Non-committal memory: The ambivalent inclusion of Romani suffering under National Socialism in hegemonic cultural memory

Stefan Benedik, Non-committal memory: The ambivalent inclusion of Romani suffering under National Socialism in hegemonic cultural memory. In: Memory Studies. 

https://doi.org/10.1177/1750698018818220


Abstract


This article compares the place of Romani migrants in contemporary Austrian society to their position in memory debates. It analyses official forms of commemoration which had the intentions not only to remember the victims of past atrocities, but also included a normative, moral aspect – namely, the promise that memory of past injustice would somehow be a useful device against racism, injustice and discrimination in the present day. In this understanding, history, especially the history of National Socialism would ideally teach societies valuable lessons about the treatment of minorities, thus also the Romani communities, in the present. While this still is the predominant political discourse about these forms of memory, the author suggests that memory culture can by contrast be described by what he refers to as non-committal memory. He argues, that when looking at Central European examples, it immediately becomes transparent that memory is only applied in abstract discussions while all immediate connections between contemporary discrimination and historical suffering are neglected. Thus, non-committal memory disconnects present and past policies, and delegitimises a comparison between the persecution of past victim groups and the criminalisation of present-day migrants. The author contends that this is visible by the fact that the majority of memorials that honour Romani victims of National Socialism (in Austria, but also across much of Europe) fail to include or contribute to an understanding of the plight of contemporary Romani people, especially Romani migrants. Arguably, this resulted from the strategies by which activists decided to copy memory politics related to Jewish victims of National Socialism as a ‘successful’ model of integration.



2018 Shifting the agency of remembering: Inventing the loyal Romani victim in the context of Austrian memory debates

Stefan Benedik

Shifting the agency of remembering: Inventing the loyal Romani victim in the context of Austrian memory debates

in: Ethnicities, first published: October 31st, 2018

https://doi.org/10.1177/1468796818807327


Abstract
Many paradoxes characterise the case of Romani communities, who have been dubbed one of Europe’s most eminent ‘problems’. On the one hand, European states are increasingly acknowledging Romani people as a victim group of National Socialism and the Second World War while, on the other hand, politics and public debate continue to discriminate against contemporary Romani communities. As part of identity politics, Romani organisations have been highlighting their history of persecution, a process initiated at the time when the memory of National Socialism has become established as the core of European collective memory. This paper examines how narratives of a violent past have been integrated into Austrian ‘national memory’ and how this intersects with the construction of Romani victimhood history – often as a consequence of Romani organisation’s own efforts of telling their community’s history. I argue that the mainstreaming of Romani suffering is first due to a successful integration of Romani victims into the framework of a new understanding of ‘racially’ diverse Austrian victimhood. Second, I trace the role of individual protagonists within these processes of acknowledgment and highlight the relevance of gendered positions in developing a new racialised history of persecution.

2017 Irritierte Körper, verfestigte Ordnungen – Einübungen hegemonialer Geschlechter- und Körperbilder in einem Metamorphosen-Kartenlegespiel

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Stefan Benedik: Irritierte Körper, verfestigte Ordnungen – Einübungen hegemonialer Geschlechter- und Körperbilder in einem Metamorphosen-Kartenlegespiel. In: Heidrun Zettelbauer, Stefan Benedik, Nina Kontschieder, Käthe Sonnleitner (eds.): Verkörperungen · Embodiment. Transdisziplinäre Analysen zu Geschlecht und Körper in der Geschichte · Transdisciplinary Explorations on Gender and Body in History. Göttingen. S. 87–104.

2016 "Bettlerhauptstadt". Bedrohungs- und Feindbilder in der Berichterstattung über Armutsmigrant_innen.

Stefan Benedik: "Bettlerhauptstadt". Bedrohungs- und Feindbilder in der Berichterstattung über Armutsmigrant_innen. In: Katharina Scherke (Hg.): Spannungsfeld "Gesellschaftliche Vielfalt": Begegnungen zwischen Wissenschaft und Praxis. Bielefeld. transcript. 2015. p. 75–96., 2015

In this paper, I'm discussing some of the most prominent narrative strategies and metaphors as used by Austrian journalists and politicians to criminalise the presence of beggars. As a case study, I'm looking at the two Austrian cities of Salzburg and Graz and aim at understanding the notable difference in media representation of mendicancy. While some of the results seem inexplicable at the first glance, they indeed guide us towards a better understanding of how public sentiment towards begging is more often shaped by the specific situation and history of a city than by the social practices of beggars.

2016  Menacing Victims. Racialised and Gendered Negotiations about “Begging Migrants” in Central Europe

Stefan Benedik:  Menacing Victims. Racialised and Gendered Negotiations about “Begging Migrants” in Central Europe. Phd-Thesis. Graz 2016.

In this PhD-thesis, I analyse intersecting dynamics in the production of “race” and gender in the context of post-1989 Central European migrations often labelled “Romani”. In an analysis of images in public media discourses, my goal is to challenge tendencies of Romani and Migration Studies to reify notions of deviance and the invention of romanticised and/or criminalised images of the “other”. While Romani migrations have gained notoriety in public perception recently, my thesis attempts to provide broader historical and cultural frameworks from a transnational Central European perspective. Against the backdrop of the shared assumption of a “begging problem” in many “Western” European cities, I analyse the representation of a complex form of migration (i.e. transnational and ambiguous forms of movement). My point of departure is the discussion in the self-declared “begging capital of Europe”, the Austrian city of Graz, where images such as the “workshy” Romani migrant or the “begging-boss” have been used excessively since 1989 in the Austrian and Slovak press. The historical and gendered subtext of these stereotypes has been vital for the racialisation of migrants “Romani”. Additionally I argue that the images in question transgress the political realm and are trans-medially exchanged between various media including visual and written sources, such as the press, novels, visual arts, documentary film and theatre performances. My research highlights processes that lead to the categorisation and homogenisation of groups. Consequently, I emphasise the position and agency of Romani people in regional public discourses, which in turn, allows me to deconstruct the insider/outsider categorisation. This analysis thus seeks to challenge current popular, political and academic tendencies that perceive Romani people as homogenous and a-historic. In doing so, this dissertation shall contribute to the dissection of invisibility and biologisation of “race” and gender in unified Europe.

Stefan Benedik: Ambivalenzen der Armut. Annäherungen an Romani Migrationen am Beispiel des Grazer Falls als Beitrag zu einer Zeitgeschichte Zentraleuropas nach 1989. In: Beiträge zum Österreichischen HistorikerInnentag 2012. St. Pölten: 2016.

2017 Embodiment. Transdisciplinary Explorations on Gender and Body in History.

view table of contents and introduction here
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Heidrun Zettelbauer, Stefan Benedik, Nina Kontschieder, Käthe Sonnleitner (eds.): Verkörperungen · Embodiment. Transdisziplinäre Analysen zu Geschlecht und Körper in der Geschichte · Transdisciplinary Explorations on Gender and Body in History. Göttingen.

Wie werden Konzepte von Körper im sozialen bzw. kulturellen Raum hergestellt? Ausgehend von dieser Frage stellt dieses Buch interdisziplinäre Zugänge zur Geschlechtergeschichte vor und bezieht dabei Kontexte vom Mittelalter bis in die Gegenwart ein. Die Beiträge nehmen nicht allein historische Körperdiskurse in den Blick, sondern zugleich Prozesse des Herstellens, des Einübens, der Affirmation, aber auch der Subversion von Körperidentitäten in der Geschichte: Wie spielten vergeschlechtlichte Körpervorstellungen und Körperperformanz in unterschiedlichen historischen Epochen zusammen? Wie setzten sich Individuen und soziale Gruppen in Beziehung zu hegemonialen Gender- und Körpernormen? Wie greifen körperliche Erfahrungen und wirkmächtige kulturelle Körperdiskurse ineinander? Welche spezifischen Funktionen nehmen vergeschlechtlichte Körperbilder in macht- und kulturpolitischer Rhetorik ein?

 

How are concepts of the body represented in a social or cultural context? Starting with this question, this book presents an interdisciplinary insight into the history of gender, using contexts from the Middle Ages up to the present day. These contributions take a look not only at historical discourses of the body, but also at processes of the production, the practise, the affirmation, as well as the subversion of body identities throughout history: How did gendered body representations and physical performance coexist in different historical epochs? How did individuals and social groups relate to hegemonic gender and body norms? How do physical experiences and effective cultural body discourses interblend? What specific functions do gender images of the body have in rhetoric based on power and cultural politics?

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Stefan Benedik: "Bettlerhauptstadt". Bedrohungs- und Feindbilder in der Berichterstattung über Armutsmigrant_innen. ("Capital of Beggars". Images of Menace and Hostility in Media Coverage of Poverty Migrations.). In: Katharina Scherke (Hg.): Spannungsfeld "Gesellschaftliche Vielfalt": Begegnungen zwischen Wissenschaft und Praxis. Bielefeld. transcript. 2015. 75–96.

Stefan Benedik: Von der „Verletzung kultureller Gefühle“ bis zum „Schandfleck, der ausradiert gehört“. Bedrohungsbilder über BettlerInnen in österreichischen Medien (From “Harming cultural feelings” to “A black spot that needs to be eliminated” Images of menace about beggars in Austrian media). In: Gaismair-Jahrbuch 14 (2015). p. 26–33.

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Barbara Tiefenbacher, Stefan Benedik: Der unnütze Fleiß der "Arbeitsscheuen". Unterstellte Arbeitsunwilligkeit als Kontinuität rassistischer NS-Festschreibungen von RomNija. In: Lisa Bolyos, Katharina Morawek: Diktatorpuppe zerstört, Schaden gering. Kunst und Geschichtspolitik im Postnazismus. Vienna: Mandelbaum 2012. 189–195.