Historical Research at the Imperial Academy of Science in Vienna: Programs and Procedures between 1847 and 1902

The project addresses the social, institutional, scientific and political preconditions of historic research from 1847, the year in which the Imperial Academy was founded, to the beginning of the 20th century. Using compiled sources from original Academy material, and with the help of modern theoretical scientific methods, the topic will be subjected to in-depth study. The concept of the “(scientific) field” (Pierre Bourdieu) will be taken into consideration: Within this field, the actors engage in ongoing dialogue and grapple with the definition of the rules of the game under which research is conducted and knowledge is continuously being generated. 


The Academy cannot be seen as an isolated institute, yet as a result of this study a new and sharper picture will evolve. Within the “field of research” mentioned above, scientific experience was exchanged in a constant dialogue, in the course of which standards were defined, challenges met, projects formulated, and strategies for their implementation developed. In the course of this process, various methods and skills for the recording, finalization and publication of historical material were established, methods and skills which contributed to the creation of the profession of historian. Within the context of the implementation of personal, academic, and (power) political concerns one should in addition investigate the profile of the Academy as an elitist institution for erudition and scholarliness as well as one creating identity in a phase of consolidation for the historical discipline.  In addition to the study of the role and implementation of power-play at the individual, academic, and political levels, the profile of the Academy will also be subjected to scrutiny: In view of the general consolidation for the historical discipline the Academy can maybe be seen as an expression of erudition and elitism. Within this context, this project can be seen as a contribution to the investigation of the Austrian academic culture of the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, which still still influences contemporary research in Austria today.