Disappearing Realities.
On the Cultural Consequences of Social Change


Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. XXX
IWM, Vienna 2011 [Published on the Web]

Edited by: Anne Dwyer and Marta Bucholc

Contributions by: Marta Bucholc, Anne Dwyer, Julia Hertlein, Jan Kühne, Olena Palko, Anastasia Platonova, Olga Tyapkina, and Iryna Vushko

Disappearing Social Realities – Introduction

  Vienna is a unique place on the European map of disappearances. The lands and peoples of the Habsburg Empire disappeared with the Empire itself. Some of them joined other polities in order to share their very different fates. Some of them vanished from the European social and cultural history in one cruel coup, virtually …
Read more

Policing the Empire:
Austrian Gambling Regulations during the Napoleonic Wars

In this paper I analyze gambling practices and their suppression by the police in the Habsburg monarchy during the Napoleonic wars (1792-1815). I focus on the so-called Glückshafen, a variation of Lotto, a popular gambling institution that was forbidden by the Austrian authorities in 1807. I use this institution as a prism through which to explore imperial connections in the Habsburg monarchy. This paper highlights the multi-vectored relations between Vienna and its provinces. I explain how decisions regarding one province impacted social norms and politics in the entire monarchy, how Vienna’s decisions concerning Italy were contingent upon the situation in (formerly Polish) Galicia, and vice-versa.
Read more

Ukrainian National Communism in International Context

Abstract: In this paper I analyze national communist ideology in Ukraine during the early 1920s. Ukrainian national communism is argued to be one of the earliest attempts in European intellectual history to adapt Marxist theory to local conditions and to make the national state an area for socialist revolution. The main argument of this paper …
Read more

Sammy Gronemann´s Lessing

“Sammy Gronemann's Lessing” records yet another German-Jewish encounter, by tracing the literary imprints left by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing upon the German-Jewish writer Sammy Gronemann (1875-1952). The heritage of Lessing amounts to a legitimization of paradigmatic importance for Gronemann's German-Jewish identity. By imitating Lessing, as well as by entering into a critical discourse with his works, especially with his dramatic poem Nathan the Wise, Gronemann incorporates a German voice into his Jewish habitus, with which he himself learned to speak in a polyvocal space of assymetric identifications. Partly based upon hitherto unresearched material, I not only expose Gronemann's attempt to lend a German voice to the Jews’ plight - especially to those of Eastern European origin, but I also document the literary contribution, with which Sammy Gronemann enriched German culture. Gronemann attempted primarily to reach his own assimilated German-Jewish kinsmen. Thus we are presented in his work with a marvelous possibility to examine an early German Zionist perspective, and we may follow his reflection on which groups may raise their voice in Germany.
Read more

Critique in Context – Criticizing Critique

In the following synoptic text I discuss some of the most crucial pitfalls that arise when we talk about critique. Confronted with the proclaimed death of history, metaphysics and the subject, the project of emancipatory critique seems to have been in trouble for quite some time. Deprived of a single metanarrative which could provide a solid foundation for transformatory critique, recent debates on this subject have re-opened an interesting field of discussion. By first discussing two different but strongly interconnected aspects of critique (the more theoretical and the more social dimension), I reflect on the necessity to treat critique as an epistemological problem within the paradigm of “Situated Knowledges.” Against this backdrop I then discuss certain selected aspects of the aforementioned contemporary debates, which nail down a few important dilemmas like the immunization effect, or the local-versus-global problem. In my conclusion I argue for the urgent need of transdisciplinary communication between the Humanities and the Social Sciences when dealing with critique. In my opinion a meta-critical perspective on critique has to be combined with a sociological analysis of the social conditions (of both scientists and agents) which allow, encourage or frustrate transformatory critique.
Read more

Small Towns as a Phenomenon of Historical Urbanization from a Western European Methodological Perspective

One of the main questions of urban history in Russia is the theoretical understanding of the small town phenomenon. In this paper I analyze the main methodological concepts of historical urban development in Europe. I begin with Karl Marx and continue through modern trends in the humanities and historical studies which examine cities from different perspectives. The object of this article is to answer the question of when and how small towns have become the subject of scientific research in the West. It implies comparing these theories and applying them to the Russian and Siberian models of urbanization with a view to elaborate a new approach in the studies of historical urban development in Siberia.
Read more

Politics as Art of Translation.
Max Weber’s Political Ethic in Light of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s and Norbert Elias’s Theories of Language

Max Weber’s concept of the ethic of responsibility is frequently treated as a relic of previous stages in the development of political sphere, which has allegedly entered the phase of postmodern and postpolitical transformation. In this text I argue that Weber’s distinction between the ethic of responsibility and ethic of ultimate means can still be applicable in contemporary political philosophy provided that it is adjusted to the multicultural reality of our societies. This may be achieved by enriching Weber’s perspective by elements of philosophy of language. I propose drawing on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s description of language socialization based on following a rule as well as trial and error in order to explain in linguistic terms the diversity of separate value worlds envisaged by Weber under the term “polytheism”. I also refer to Norbert Elias’s theory of language as a symbolic activity combining thinking, speaking, memorizing and knowing related to external world, in which elements of objective accuracy and fantasy are always interwoven. This allows me to conclude that politics of responsibility in a multicultural world is an art of translation between closed linguistic worlds, which may only be performed by sifting the matter-of-fact contents of human imagery from its fantastic correlate.
Read more

Responsibility in Technological Civilization:
In Search of the Responsible Subject

Abstract: In our days responsibility has become the most problematic aspect of almost all human actions, including influencing nature, scientific prognostication, and simulation of the future. The problem of responsibility is a sign of the crisis which we experience now, resulting from the gap between activities and knowledge about their consequences. Human activity has a …
Read more