Fifth Annual Convention of the Centers for Austrian Studies Meets in Budapest

15 December 2011

Joseph F. Patrouch

Originally appeared 1 December 2011 on HABSBURG H-Net Discussion Site

From October 26 through October 30, 2011 representatives of the seven centers for Austrian studies supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research met in the elegant Festetics Palais of the Andrássy Gyula University in Budapest. These centers are affiliated with the University of Vienna, the University of Alberta, the Andrássy Gyula University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Leiden, the University of Minnesota, and the University of New Orleans. For the past five years the ministry has organized and hosted an annual meeting at which the institute directors or their delegates, ministry officials, and scholars affiliated with the centers come together to exchange information, network, and coordinate plans for the future.

Each year a different center has hosted the event, providing the opportunity for convention participants to engage with local researchers in each location. Next year it is planned that the Institute of East European History of the University of Vienna will host. The reports of the institute directors as well as selected papers presented at the conference are published. For the results of the 2010 conference, which was hosted by the CenterAustria of the University of New Orleans, see Marija Wakounig and Karlo Ruzicic-Kessler, editors, _From the Industrial Revolution to World War II in East Central Europe_. (Vienna: LIT Verlag, 2011).

The research and programming being conducted by the students and faculty at the various institutions reflects a broad definition of Austrian history. This is not limited to the confines of the Second Republic but encompasses much of the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and beyond. Graduate student researchers from the Austrian centers presented research projects at various stages of completion dealing with Austrian topics narrowly defined such as the role of Archduke Johann as an army reformer and commander (Mark van Hatten, Leiden) or an analysis of the Gurk Lenten Veil (Lotem Pinchover, Jerusalem), or Austrian silent film music (Anna Katharina Windisch, Alberta). Others, however, went farther afield, studying topics such as pogroms in Poland (Eva Reder, Vienna), public space and the Hungarian _romkoscma_ (ruin pub) (Kevin Humbert, Minnesota), and political prisoners in 1950's Czechoslovakia (Klara Pinorova, Alberta). The approaches taken and methods employed varied and revealed a vibrant and interdisciplinary approach to Austrian studies which augers well for the future of the field. Although literary studies played a significant role, as did more traditional history, other fields such as music history, art history, cultural studies, international relations, and legal studies were also represented.

The Austrian government's initiatives to support the study of Austria and central Europe abroad were started in the 1970's. With the success of the expansion of the network of Austrian centers in the decades following, and now more recently with the establishment of the yearly conference of scholars from these centers, the field will continue to be marked by a good degree of international exchange and the fruitful perspectives which such exchange encourages.