Jewish history and critical (contemporary) history
Jewish history cannot be seen in isolation from general world history. Jews have always acted and moved within societies and in interaction with their non-Jewish environments. Taking this into consideration, Jewish history needs always to be understood as an intervention in traditional (regional) historiography, which often followed nationalistic narrative patterns and sought to exclude Jewish history from general history or did not/does not understand it as its subject of research.
To counter this, the CJS primarily focuses on Jewish regional history and critical (contemporary) historical research. CJS scholars focus on the Jewish history of the 19th and 20th centuries in Austrian resp. the Habsburg regions as well as questions of antisemitism, persecution and deprivation by the National Socialists and (Jewish) post-war history. The latter includes questions of memory studies as well as the coming to term with National Socialism and the atrocities committed during that time in Austrian society, culture and politics. The CJS has established itself within the research landscape of Graz as a center of critical (contemporary) historical research and is actively involved in current historical and socio-political debates.
The field of Jewish literatures deals with the multitude of linguistic and cultural forms and interactions that have emerged in the literary-textual field since the Haskalah. Shaped by imperial, post-imperial, national or post-national experiences, they each show moments of entanglement, negotiation and mediation. Processes of encounter, transfer, translation and transformation, the negotiation of difference and similarity, contributed to the development of Jewish language cultures in the German and Russian speaking world as well as to the emergence of modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature. From a comparative point of view, questions are asked about the objects, forms of representation and interactions of Jewish literatures that develop(ed) in the European context and in migration.
The focus on European-Jewish literatures, whether they are written e.g. in German, Russian, Yiddish or English, contests the dichotomies of periphery and center, of disruptions and continuities, and discusses the relations between the national and the transnational. Thematic aspects such as humour, portrayal of World War I and memory, offer in addition to their relevance for European literary and cultural history, new perspectives on the interweaving and negotiation of life worlds, knowledge, culture and language, on forms of self-perception and external perception, and on the conceptualisation of world literature.
Lived and conceived togetherness
The cultural studies-oriented research focuses on encounters and interactions between Jewish and non-Jewish communities as well as their effects on people's lifestyles. In doing so, experiences and practices from everyday life as well as their cultural processing are examined. The category Space forms the central analytical instrument used in the context of this research.
One subject focus of the research conducted on forms of Jewish and non-Jewish coexistence is the analysis of narrative formations in the field of Jewish studies, as a result of which new methodological approaches are tested and developed. This is an essential contribution to overcoming the theoretical disparity of Jewish studies still prevalent.
Current research focuses on pop-cultural activities and forms of entertainment, migration processes and communication and interaction spaces between Jewish and non-Jewish communities. This research takes into consideration possibilities for overcoming the dichotomies between Jews and non-Jews. This is achieved among other methods through the cultural studies concepts of performance and similarity.
Gerald LamprechtCentrum für Jüdische Studien
Beate KoneckyCentrum für Jüdische Studien