The Austro-Arab Encounter

This research aims to investigate the Austro-Arab encounter, including both the established Arab population in Austria and the newly arrived refugees. It substitutes the common narrow foci on “community” studies and “integration” for a broader focus on the “encounter” between different worldviews and on the way this encounter connects Austria, Europe, and the Arab Middle East. The Austro-Arab encounter is here thus conceived both in terms of mutual representations and worldviews, and in terms of social relations. This way, this research proposes conceptualizing the broad panorama of the Austro-Arab encounter by: a) answering how both Arabs in Austria and non-Arab Austrians mobilize ideas such as nationhood, ethnicity, and religion to engage with one another, how they represent each other, and what they expect from the other; and b) by evaluating how relatively important is this encounter for each of these groups. This innovative perspective will generate a comprehensive understanding of the social situation analyzed, which in turn can shed light, for example, on the subjects themselves, new prospects for the Arab Middle East, and anthropological questions at large. Some of these anthropological questions are: a) the nexus between refugeeness, suspicion and trust; b) ritualization, sacralization, and embodiment of affects, dispositions, moods, and practices; c) the nexus between nationhood, ethnicity, and religion; d) physical mobility versus the refugee and often immigrant experience of immobility.