Workshop programme

International Workshop for Early Career Researchers

“Visibility and Performativity in Urban Life: Migrants, Margins, Meanings”

September 6-8, 2007
York University, Toronto, Canada





Thursday, September 6


4:30 – 6:00 (CCGES, 230 York Lanes)

            Opening Reception


6:30 – 9:00 (ACE 004)

Film Screening – Langsamer Sommer (1976, dir. John Cooke)

Introduction and Discussion – Michael Loebenstein

(part of the York Department of Film Independents Series)



Friday, September 7 (all sessions to be held in 305 York Lanes)


10:00 – 11:30

Keynote – Siegfried Mattl, “Migrationstadt Wien


11:30 – 12:00 Coffee


12:00 – 1:30

Wladimir Fischer, “Approaching the Center of Darkness: Access and its Denial in Central European Discourses and Lifeworlds around 1900


Carson Phillips, “Queering Urban Austria


1:30 – 3:00 Lunch


3:00 – 4:30

Andrea Strutz, “Auswanderung von Österreich nach kanadischen Städten nach 1945 bis in die 1960er Jahre


Tatyana Shestakov, “Travestie and the City"

Evening Program at the Culture of Cities Centre, 3rd Floor, 561 Bloor Street West, Toronto



Saturday, September 8


10:00 – 11:30

Keynote – Roger Keil, "Racism is a Weapon of Mass Destruction: Toronto's Multiculturalism and the Experience of Infectious Disease"


11:30 – 12:00 Coffee


12:00 – 1:30

Natalia Barykina, “Architecture, Performance and Spatial Practices in Post-Communist Minsk: Oktiabrsky and Independence Squares


Leonhard Weidinger, “Open Media – Open Sources – Open Cities?"


1:30 – 3:00 Lunch


3:00 –4:30

Marie Yazdanpanah, "'Afrikaner = Dealer': Operation Spring und Sichtbarkeit"


Klaus Neundinger, "Urbaner Fremdsprachenerwerb"


4:30–5:00 Coffee



Concluding Keynote and Wrap-Up Discussion – Markus Reisenleitner, “The Color of Modern London’s Underground in 20th-Century Detective Fiction and Film



Participants/Teilnehmer and Abstracts



Natalia Barykina, Communication and Culture, York University

“Architecture, Performance and Spatial Practices in Post-Communist Minsk: Oktiabrsky and Independence Squares”

Considering the architectural ensemble of the city of Minsk in terms of the production of meanings, memories, and ideologies, this presentation focuses concretely on how public space is involved in such productions and considers as well how various resistances to state power emerge as urban spatial practices in contemporary Minsk, Belarus. Part of an ongoing investigation into ideologies and narratives of history as represented and performed in the streets, the architecture, and other public and private spaces in the city, this paper theorizes spatial interactiveness, which signals more than the mere acceptance or rejection of government or corporate ideology. My paper illustrates how urban space under authoritarian control is complexly lived, practiced, resisted. In this respect, I analyze Independence and Oktiabrsky Squares, which are equally rich in symbolic resonance and illustrate how specifically Soviet spaces have been re-contextualized and contested in recent years. Oktiabrsky and Independence Square are parts of Soviet Minsk, which were laid out according to a city design that emphasizes squares, monuments, grand boulevards, and massive state buildings. Minsk was completely rebuilt after WWII in the style that art historians refer to as “Stalinist ampir” (Empire style). I look at this city space not only as a place for repressive political practices, but also as a site of everyday life and interactive social practices, focusing particularly on the strategies of resistance of individuals, civic groups, and networks in the urban space. Using the category of space as a main concept for my work, I turn to the ideas of the post-Marxist “critical urban geographers” such as Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, and others who theorize the production of space. Following these theorists, I argue against the idea that city space provides a neutral ground on which events occur.  Rather, these approaches suggest that the space of the city is saturated with relations of power and hierarchy.


Wladimir Fischer, Postdoctoral Fellow, Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und Forschung, Österreich

“Approaching the Center of Darkness. Access and its Denial in Central European Discourses and Life Worlds around 1900”

The second part of the 19th century was the heyday of exclusivist discourses in Europe, comprising such infamous examples as social Darwinism and racism. Central Europe contributed at the end of that century linguistic-ethnic nationalism and anti-Semitism, two discourses with a longer history that infamously discharged into fascism/ national socialism. These movements achieved mass bases for the first time in the late 1800s. This paper discusses exclusion in Austria-Hungary in the framework of a larger European development, while trying not to privilege one kind of exclusion over the other. The basic idea is that discourses and mechanisms of exclusion/inclusion develop their actual impact in the single case of one person or group, whereby in the majority of cases, people are not excluded along a singular boundary but by exclusionary discourses and mechanisms that overlap at certain points which lead to their amplification. The second basic assumption is that exclusion should be studied as it worked in everyday practice and/or experience. The paper thus proposes to study life stories of producers of discourse at critical amplifying discursive intersections of late imperial Austro-Hungary.


Roger Keil, City Institute @ York, York University

"Racism is a Weapon of Mass Destruction: Toronto's Multiculturalism and the Experience of Infectious Disease"

The SARS outbreak in Toronto, which killed 44 and made hundreds sick, tested the common multicultural model, which is often described as the reason for making this a livable global metropolis. Billed as the ‘Chinese disease’, SARS, on one hand, connected seamlessly and traditionally with previous periods of racialization of disease assumed to originate from migrants and foreigners in North America. Yet when restaurants in the city’s three Chinatowns remained empty for weeks and close contact with Chinese citizens was avoided by others in public, the dynamics that unfolded also tied in with a new development in Toronto: the formation of the global city. As news on the SARS outbreak spread and the intricate details of travel patterns and infection-pathways became clearer, the relationships of Toronto diaspora communities and business ties with other globalizing cities like Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Singapore became obvious and Toronto’s vulnerability in the network of global flows of finance, culture, commodities and people was exposed.

Our paper will provide a narrative of the racialization of infectious disease in the context of Toronto’s multiculturalism and the region’s formation as a major global city. We will provide evidence of racialization in public discourse, everyday practices and institutional policies. We will advance the hypothesis that the SARS outbreak strained the usually happy appearance of this particular multicultural urban fabric of diversity. This analysis is part of a larger, long term research project at York University on SARS and the Global City, which studies, besides racialization of the disease, the network connectivity of Toronto in the global city hierarchy under influence of this and perhaps future infectious disease; and the re-scaling of the health governance system in Toronto in the wake of the SARS outbreak.


Michael Loebenstein, Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Wien

Films sometimes perfectly encapsulate discourses and conflicts that exist "below" a given society's mainstream media current. "Representation" of deviant designs of living ( the artist, the drop-
out, the bohemian, the migrant) in dominant media as described by Peter Watkins' famous polemic against the "Universal Clock" of television is a contradiction in itself, since it fails to acknowledge the fundamental differences in terms of temporal and spatial arrangement of people and places such a narrative calls for. European cinema (Neorealism, the nouvelle vague) and the New American
Cinema have embraced alternative modes of narration – that which Gilles Deleuze has dubbed the "Time-Image" – between the 1940s and the early 1970s. Austrian Cinema after World War Two overcame the "crisis of representation" by basically ignoring it: genre cinema (such as the "Heimatfilm") and the historical drama stubbornly stick to the order of the "movement image".

John Cook's semi-documentary SLOW SUMMER in all its charming unobtrusiveness radically questions this mode of representation. Shot in a documentary fashion on Super-8 by a self-taught Canadian immigrant the film introduced contemporary audiences (not that there were many, unfortunately) to characters and places very different from the cinematic Vienna of the time. More importantly, Cook's film suspends traditional modes of representation of time and space: there's not much happening, the pacing is slow, action is substituted for debates and a sleepy laziness, and the city's landmarks give way to suburban areas.

In introducing the film (projected from DVD in a subtitled version – the original copy has only recently undergone restoration and is unavailable) I'm going to direct the audience's attention to the film's importance in regard also to the most recent developments in Austrian fiction film.


Siegfried Mattl, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Universität Wien

“Migrationsstadt Wien"

Migration ist mit den 1990er Jahren zu einem der zentralen politisch umstrittenen Themen in Europa geworden. Auch in einer Stadt wie Wien stand der Aufstieg rechtspopulistischer Parteien in direktem Zusammenhang mit der Zuwanderung. Großteils handelt es sich dabei um einen Konflikt mit imaginärem Charakter, in dem die antimigrantischen Bewegungen die (kulturelle) „Andersheit“ der MigrantInnen (insbesondere mit ethnoreligiösen Kontexten) betonten. (Derzeit beträgt der Anteil von Menschen mit migrantischem Hintergrund rund 1/3 der Wiener Gesamtbevölkerung, wobei Ex-Jugoslawien, Deutschland und die Türkei die mit weitem Abstand größten Gruppen stellen).

In meinem Vortrag möchte ich anhand unterschiedlicher Wellen und Formen von Zuwanderung nach Wien in den Jahren nach 1945 die jeweiligen kulturellen Konstitutierungsbedingungen von Integration, Assimilation und Zurückweisung vorstellen. Dabei handelt es sich um so diverse Kollektivbewegungen wie das ungarische Asyl nach dem Aufstand von 1956, die unter staatlicher Kontrolle erfolgende Arbeitsmigrationen von YugoslawInnen und TürkInnen beginnend mit 1964, und die afrikanische Zuwanderung seit den 1990er Jahren, die jeweils gänzlich unterschiedliche Konfigurationen, Artikulationsformen und Registrierungsweisen zum Vorschein bringen.


Klaus Neundlinger, Postdoctoral Fellow, Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und Forschung, Österreich

"Urbaner Fremdsprachenerwerb"

Aufgrund der Entwicklung der Zuwanderung in den letzten Jahrzehnten hat das öffentliche Interesse an der Praxis der Fremdsprachendidaktik in den westeuropäischen Ländern zugenommen. Vor allem in den jüngeren Wahlkämpfen in Österreich wurde die Kenntnis der deutschen Sprache immer mehr zum Gegenstand rassistischer Parolen („Deutsch statt nix verstehen“). In Deutschland wurde die so genannte „Leitkulturdebatte“ entfacht, deren Befürworter in der Sprache ebenfalls ein Instrument von Dominanz und Repression erblickten.

Der Beitrag versucht eine Rekonstruktion der Fremdsprachendidaktik, in der gezeigt werden soll, dass diese durchaus von Konzepten alternativer und experimenteller Pädagogik beeinflusst und transformiert wurde. Vor allem in den 1970er und 80er Jahren gab es viel Raum für die Entwicklung innovativer Lehr- und Lernkonzepte, wie etwa der Methode des „Fremdsprachenwachstums“. Wie ließe sich im Sinne einer „Erziehung zur Demokratie“ an solche Konzepte anschließen? Die Fremsprachendidaktiker haben sich jedenfalls zu Wort gemeldet, als die konservative Regierung das so genannte „Integrationspaket“ verabschiedete, das einen Zwang zum Spracherwerb vorsieht. Man gründete die Initiative „Sprachenrechte“, die einen anderen, pädagogisch und didaktisch sinnvolleren Weg in Richtung Integration durch Sprachenlernen nahelegt.

Da ich selbst 6 Jahre als Lehrer für Deutsch als Fremdsprache gearbeitet habe, möchte ich die Rekonstruktion mit einer Reflexion über meine persönliche Erfahrung verbinden.


Carson Phillips, Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, York University

“Queering Urban Austria”

One of the primary sites of Spannung/tension between the Austrian state and its citizenry is anchored in issues of sexual orientation identity concepts. Their correlating representation and acquisition of human rights further complicates this evolving, yet uneasy relationship. Throughout its history, Austria has remained an essentially heterosexist state that reinforces a set of heteronormative values. While the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article 21, prohibits any discrimination on the grounds, inter alia, of sexual orientation in the application of EU law by member states, the dilemma is heightened by the fact that the overwhelming majority of the member states, including Austria, assumes that its citizens are heterosexual. Laws and treaties have reinforced a set of heteronormative values while entrenched societal institutions such as marriage have bestowed privilege upon the heterosexual married couple. Typically, requests for equal treatment by gays and lesbians must be specifically introduced, especially in cases dealing with private and family life, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, the right to marry and found a family, and the principle of non-discrimination. It is not until sexuality becomes more prominent in academic discourse on the Austrian state, and enters the public sphere in a meaningful way, that change can occur.

This paper will examine a move already underway to increase the visibility of the queer community in urban Austrian communities. By encouraging the pride and power that can come from visibility within the wider community, the Austrian activist group HOSI-Wien has generated an advertising campaign aimed as much, if not more, at the Austrian queer community as it is at the general community. With an imaginative use of iconic images that incorporate provocative phrases such as ,,Coming-Out. Was sollten wir denn zu verbergen haben?” HOSI-Wien seeks to energise the Austrian queer community demonstratively through Foucault’s belief that power is directly tied into the economy of discourse itself.

Markus Reisenleitner, Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, York University

“The Color of Modern London’s Underground in 20th-Century Detective Fiction and Film”

This paper explores how the London Docklands’ Lime House district, now part of the massive Canary Wharf gentrification but evoked in the popular literature and film of the pre- and immediate post-WW II period as the city’s sinister Chinatown, has recently been musealized as a distant, nostalgic memory of an earlier incarnation of the global city. It traces how cultural inscriptions of Sino-British working-class encounters in liminal and transgressive spaces (such as the port, the river, and the sewers) have been erased or re-signified to shape the new global centrality of London’s East End.


Tatyana Shestakov, Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, York University

“Travestie and the City”

In my presentation I discuss how the genre of Travestie has become visible in German urban life in the last 30 years. Travestie used to be considered as a “common” element of a traditional Kleinbühne performance in the 1930s and then became “excluded” from and – later – marginalized in German theater practice due to the fact that this genre was traditionally attributed to the gay community and therefore was almost illegal before the article 175 was banned from the German Law.

Over the past 30 years, Travestie has  “moved” from the Kleinbühne to prominent venues becoming extremely visible in the German theater landscape, transforming itself from an element of a gay subculture, or exotic “other,” into a legitimate, well-known, openly performed, and hetero-audience-oriented genre and an integral part of the urban cultural environment.

Travestie has moved up not only the social and theatrical scale but it also has relocated from small towns to big cities. If we consider New York as one of the main characters of “Sex and the City,” we should not forget that Berlin is one of the main characters in the process of growth and development of the genre of Travestie in Germany. Some of the most successful Travestie shows were written for the people of Berlin (e.g. “Mary in Berlin” and “Schillernde Zeiten”), and Berlin lives and breathes in them becoming an accomplice, a partner of the performance. As this presentation will establish, Travestie is a migrant: from town to city, from invisible to visible, from marginalized to prominent.


Andrea Strutz, Cluster Geschichte – Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Gesellschafts- und Kulturgeschichte, Graz

“Auswanderung von Österreich nach kanadischen Städten nach 1945 bis in die 1960er Jahre”

In meinem Beitrag beschäftige ich mich mit dem Thema der Arbeitsmigration von Österreich nach Kanada nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg. Im Fokus dieser Arbeit stehen ÖsterreicherInnen, die in der Nachkriegszeit – zumeist aus wirtschaftlichen Gründen – nach Kanada auswanderten. Kanada, das zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts für viele europäische MigrantInnen als „Umsteigebahnhof“ in die USA fungierte, betrieb bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg eine sehr restriktive Einwanderungspolitik. Nach Kriegsende veränderte Kanada seine Haltung und wurde auf Basis einer aktiven Einwanderungspolitik (gesteuert von bevölkerungs- und arbeitsmarktpolitischen Motiven), zu einem Land des wirtschaftlichen Aufschwunges. So nahm Kanada zwischen 1945 und 1960 allein rund zwei Millionen ZuwanderInnen auf, worunter sich schätzungsweise auch 24.000 ÖsterreicherInnen befanden.

Die historische Recherche für dieses Forschungsprojekt steht allerdings noch ganz am Beginn, daher soll dieser Beitrag als „work in progress“ aufgefasst werden. Nach Abschluss der Vorarbeiten (v.a. Erkundung relevanter Quellenbestände in österreichischen und kanadischen sowie Kontaktaufnahme mit potentiellen InterviewpartnerInnen über Österreicher-Clubs) wird ein Antrag auf Finanzierung des Forschungsvorhabens beim österreichischen Wissenschaftsfonds eingebracht (FWF).

Das Projekt gliedert sich derzeitig in mehrere Teilbereiche. Dazu gehört eine systematische Analyse der „hard facts“ wie die Erhebung der Quantität der AuswanderInnen, der wirtschaftlichen Rahmenbedingungen der Nachkriegszeit (in Österreich und Kanada) und der push and pull Faktoren, die eine Auswanderung nach Kanada begünstigten. In einem weiteren Schritt ist eine qualitative Analyse (über Oral History) geplant. Dabei sollen die Motive für die Auswanderung, die positiven und/oder negativen Erfahrungen der Immigration in Kanada, sowie die Beziehung der AuswanderInnen zu ihrer ehemaligen Heimat erfasst werden. In diesem Zusammenhang ist auch die Weitergabe von Erinnerungen/kulturellen Werten/Sprache der ehemaligen Heimat an die zweite oder dritte Generation von Interesse. Ich möchte den Workshop in Toronto nun gerne dazu nützen, um mein Forschungsvorhaben vorzustellen und meine inhaltlichen und methodischen Ansätze mit den TeilnehmerInnen des Workshops zu diskutieren.


Leonhard Weidinger, Austrian Commission for Provenance Research at the MAK - Museum for Applied Art / Contemporary Art

"Open Media – Open Sources – Open Cities?"

The so-called “Arena,” squatting in the St. Marx slaughterhouse in summer 1976, brought with it – with some years delay – the feeling of 1968 to Vienna. For three months students, artists, and young workers, as well as hobos and homeless kids, tried to build up and live an alternative society model – a city in the city. The Arenauts were aware of the importance of media. They published their own newspapers and sent out statements to the press. And the public reacted: television and all important newspapers in Austria reported about this new cultural phenomenon and made it visible. Two topics will be discussed:
1) As with other subcultural movements, the Arena was the result of and cause for changes in the hegemonic culture during the 1970s. What were the correspondent changes in media structures?
2) The Arena, as an object of research, “produced” different types of sources: written and printed texts, photos, films, radio and TV features. Computer-based media offer possibilities to embed sources into texts. Are these possibilities a chance for cultural studies or are websites and interactive DVD-ROMs just fashion fads?


Marie Yazdanpanah, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Universität Wien

"Afrikaner = Dealer": Operation Spring und Sichtbarkeit

In meinem Vortrag werde ich die von Politik, Medien, Polizei, Justiz konstruierten bzw. geförderten Gleichungen Afrikaner = Dealer, Migration = Kriminalität unter dem Aspekt der „Sichtbarkeit“ afrikanischer MigrantInnen in Österreich im Zusammenhang mit „Operation Spring“ (der Polizeiaktion und dem Film) thematisieren. Dabei auf verschiedene Formen von Sichtbarkeit, die auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen erkennbar sind, eingehen.