Diversifying Vienna’s heritage through histories of migration and multispecies collaboration

Annika Kirbis


In her doctoral research, Annika explores the musealization of the Siege of Vienna (1529, 1683) and its implications for the city‘s memory narratives. She specifically engages with the figure of the “Turk” as the “eternal enemy” in order to examine how its commemoration has been instrumentalized for political goals of right-wing movements in Austria and their anti-immigrant rhetorics. Following her analysis of exhibitions dealing with the histories of migration to Vienna, Annika argues that when simply adding histories of migration to the city‘s memory narratives, the Siege narrative remains intact. In order to debunk its potential to foster exclusion and xenophobia, Annika thus advocates for a critical distancing to the Siege narrative by critically engaging with its historiography and instrumentalization, and by making explicit its implications for narrating histories of migration in Vienna. In her most recent research, she explores how xenophobic narratives on the Siege and the “Turk” can also be traced in conceptualisations of nature. Along with the evolution of an abandoned imperial wasteland into a natural monument, where a former Habsburg brickworks was once located, Annika investigates how empire employed “nature” as a border-making tool through the notion of domestic versus foreign and invasive species. Furthermore, she examines the role of multispecies collaboration in heritage-making and its potential to counter xenophobic narratives that hamper processes of diversifying Vienna‘s heritage.

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