Broken Identities curated by Isolde Charim
We live in a pluralistic society. That is a relatively new fact. And it is an inescapable fact: we cannot go back. There is no way back to a non-pluralistic, to a homogeneous society. That is a simple statement. Not quite so simple is the clarification of what exactly that means. What is a pluralized society? And what are its implications? In other words, what does it mean to live in a pluralized society?
In the common understanding, the answer is: There is a coexistence of different cultures. But that would mean that pluralization consists of an accumulation of cultural, religious and ethnic differences. An addition, where something new is added to something that already exists. The Austrians are then joined by Yugoslavs, Turks or, more recently, Muslims and refugees.
But this idea of pluralization is based on a fundamental misunderstanding: the misunderstanding that diversity leaves a society unchanged. This is the idea: through integration, through a certain degree of adaptation, society can remain as it was before. Pluralization, however, is not an external process. It is not a coexistence that leaves the parts untouched. Rather, pluralization means that process in which diversification, in which diversity, brings about a fundamental change.
It is a change of all participants – natives and migrants. But it is also a change in political forms, a change in social agreements, consensuses and lines of conflict.
The Bruno Kreisky Forum would like to address this issue in a new series. Its thematic scope will range from the question of the relationship between pluralization and rampant populism to the question of possible, new models of democracy for just such societies that „no longer share a worldview“ (Charles Taylor).
This series took place in 2018.
Diaspora. Explorations of a Life Model curated by Isolde Charim
Why do we actually speak of diaspora? Why not parallel society, multiculturalism, exile, migration or integration? Because of course these are all topics that are dealt with here in one form or another. But all these terms are master categories, as Saskia Sassen calls them, categories whose immediate, plausible unambiguity obscures the shifts and changes we want to bring into view.
Parallel society (once aside from its political connotation), like exile, focuses on demarcation and fails to recognize that there is always also – no matter how segregated a community may live – an interaction with the surrounding reality of life. Migration and integration capture movements, but remain entirely one-sided.
And multiculturalism satisfies our longing for the genuine and original, but at the price of making the stranger the bearer of an authentic and unambiguous identity. Against these unambiguities and one-sidednesses, then, a concept was needed that contradicts what a concept is supposed to accomplish: It needed an ambiguous concept. It is precisely this paradox that „diaspora“ fulfills. That is the conceptual explanation for this choice.
This series took place from 2015-2017.
The Crisis of Enlightenment curated by Philipp Blom.
The culture and history of modernity are closely and dialectically related to the phenomenon of the Enlightenment. This connection, however, does not imply that core ideas of Enlightened thought – freedom, human rights, empirical models of thought – are progressively asserting themselves. In fact, in recent years, with the renewed rise of religious fundamentalisms and illiberal political models, the opposite seems to be the case.
Under the title „The Crisis of the Enlightenment,“ this series of lectures and discussions sets out to explore different aspects of the history and present of the Enlightenment.
This series took place from 2014-2018.
The Crisis of Enlightenment Programme