Since the 1980s, the transformation of the former Eastern bloc, Germany’s reunification, the enlargement and deeper integration of the European Union, together with persistent debates about migration, have focused ever more attention on issues of historical and cultural identities. Indeed, seemingly established collective, national identities became contested political terrain and the focus of political struggles. Moreover, threats and crises of various kinds have re-invigorated discussions of national/nativist or cultural identities across Europe, alongside the rise of far-right populist parties and movements. In my lecture, I illustrate these developments with the results of a recent research project about the Discursive Construction of Austrian National Identities – 2015. After presenting the theoretical and methodological framework (the Discourse-Historical Approach in Critical Discourse Studies) and the data set, including political speeches, commemorative events, (social) media, group discussions as well as in-depth interviews, I focus primarily on the media representation of asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants during the „refugee crisis“ 2015 and the changing border and body politics. I conclude with a longitudinal perspective on the discursive construction of (Austrian) national identities.
Ruth Wodak is Emerita Distinguished Professor of Discourse Studies at Lancaster University, UK, and affiliated to the University of Vienna. Besides various other prizes, she was awarded the Wittgenstein Prize for Elite Researchers in 1996 and an Honorary Doctorate from University of Örebro in Sweden in 2010. She is member of the British Academy of Social Sciences and of the Academia Europaea. Her research interests focus on discourse studies; language and/in politics; prejudice and discrimination; and on ethnographic methods of linguistic field work. Recent book publications include The Handbook of Language and Politics (Routledge 2018, with B. Forchtner); Kinder der Rückkehr. Geschichte einer marginalisierten Jugend (Springer 2018, with E. Berger); The Politics of Fear. What Right-wing Populist Discourses Mean (Sage, 2015; translation into the German Politik mit der Angst. Zur Wirkung rechtspopulistischer Diskurse. Konturen, 2016), and The Discourse of Politics in Action. Politics as Usual (2011 Palgrave). See http://www.ling.lancs.ac.uk/profiles/Ruth-Wodak for more information on on-going research projects and other recent publications.