CU 322 - Austria in Text and Film II: 1945 to Present
From 1945, Austria, the country that was left when the borders of Europe were redefined after WW I, tried to (re-)establish itself as a nation. Similar to the problem of German national identity, the Austrian definition of a nation widely uses language as the main means to explain what is Austria and who is Austrian. Based on this definition, political and social discourse often has to deal with the same unfortunate pro-German sentiment that lead to Austria’s annexation in 1938, and also with a rather strong sentiment against Austrian minorities identified by their different languages. While official politics was (and still is) rather reluctant to address these issues, and while populist politicians have abused these sentiments to enhance the nationalistic feelings of Austrians (thus also promoting xenophobia), artists and writers, in particular, have expressed in their art their concern about such tendencies. With their works, they have succeeded in raising the awareness of such issues with many Austrians, and they have promoted a public discussion of these problems, a discussion which is now generally accepted but was not tolerated for decades after WW II. Austrian post-war thinkers have found ways to communicate their ideas despite the general taboo to talk about Austrian involvement in WW II, e.g., and a large majority of modern Austrian writers and filmmakers continue to discuss issues official Austria tries to play down, especially but not only since a populist-lead party with neo-nazi elements was invited to share government responsibilities as recently as 2000 and won over 25% of votes in the Viennese election of 2010.