Significant political events in Austria in the 1980s and 90s not only triggered the first public debate about Austria’s Nazi past but also gave rise to a young vocal generation of Jewish intellectuals, many of whom spearheaded protests against the right-wing populist political forces. More specifically, these developments were triggered by the younger Jews’ dissatisfaction with the response of the generation of Holocaust survivors. The book’s main focus lies on the discussion of works of literature and film by these Jews, who were joined a decade later by children of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Today they constitute a major contribution to Austrian literature and film.
The lens through which I analyse these texts is ‘space’. Adopting the suggestion of human geographers, that space is defined through stories, I look at the ways in which stories about Viennese landmarks – e.g. coffee houses and the Naschmarkt – constitute them as ‘Jewish places’ and thus confer upon their authors a particularly Jewish identity.
This research has been published in:
Reiter, Andrea (2013) Contemporary Jewish writing: Austria after Waldheim, New York, US, Routledge, 244pp. (Routledge Studies in Religion).
This book examines Jewish writers and intellectuals in Austria, analyzing filmic and electronic media alongside more traditional publication formats over the last 25 years. Beginning with the Waldheim affair and the rhetorical response by the three most prominent members of the survivor generation (Leon Zelman, Simon Wiesenthal and Bruno Kreisky) author Andrea Reiter sets a complicated standard for ‘who is Jewish’ and what constitutes a ‘Jewish response.’ She reformulates the concepts of religious and secular Jewish cultural expression, cutting across gender and Holocaust studies. The work proceeds to questions of enacting or performing identity, especially Jewish identity in the Austrian setting, looking at how these Jewish writers and filmmakers in Austria ‘perform’ their Jewishness not only in their public appearances and engagements but also in their works. By engaging with novels, poems, and films, this volume challenges the dominant claim that Jewish culture in Central Europe is almost exclusively borne by non-Jews and consumed by non-Jewish audiences, establishing a new counter-discourse against resurging anti-Semitism in the media.
Professor Andrea Reiter
Posted By : Lisa Bernasek