On January 27th we commemorate the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945 by the Red Army. But the end of the Holocaust did not mean the end of antisemitism, which still concerns us today. The causes, effects and manifestations of contemporary antisemitism have so far been little researched. However, we encounter it on the Internet and social media, on the political fringes, and sometimes among immigrants from the Middle East and in the middle-class. The Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) now seeks to close this research gap by setting up an internationally anchored and interdisciplinary Center of Excellence in the field of antisemitism research.
OeAW President Heinz Faßmann: “Antisemitism is still a relevant topic. Science can negate this or deal with it seriously. We choose the latter and will deal with contemporary antisemitism, with the role of social media, political guise, school education and much more. We will work together with universities and non-university research institutes in Austria and abroad. And we will set a counterpoint to the politically charged controversies.”
The renowned historian Heidemarie Uhl heads the new focus at the OeAW, which is based at the Institute of Culture Studies. This research institution has already developed an exceptional reputation with interdisciplinary work on National Socialism and the memory of it in a large number of projects. With the new research focus, the institute is establishing itself as an important center in the Austrian research landscape.
Appraisal, fellowships, monitoring, networking
Research on antisemitism at the OeAW will essentially comprise four research activities:
Appraisal: The basis for further research is the identification of new topics and methods as well as research controversies. Uhl: “The aim of the new focus is to record the international state of research and to gather the questions, topics and methods of the most important international research institutions. From this, the more precise orientation of the content of antisemitism research at the OeAW will follow.”
Helga Embacher, Professor of Contemporary History at the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, will lead the appraisal.
Fellowships: The first research projects on the subject of “antisemitism today” have already been advertised. Projects that deal with the dynamics, challenges and effects of contemporary antisemitism are funded. The fellowship program will cover a wide range of topics and geographies, initiate international cooperation, and enable a flexible orientation of the research focus.
Monitoring: The third focus comprises empirical survey of the perception and attitude of the population living in Austria towards antisemitism. This is currently being carried out by Parliament. The OeAW has access to the data, which is now being analyzed in more detail.
Networking: Many national and international institutes work on the subject of antisemitism. In the future, the OeAW seeks to establish itself as a platform for exchange and cooperation by holding workshops, international meetings and conferences.
An internationally oriented scientific advisory board will accompany the focus on antisemitism research and support networking with the scientific community.