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Simon Wiesenthal Lectures

 

The Simon Wiesenthal Lecture series has been held in collaboration with the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) and the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna since 2007, when the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) was still being established. As an important aspect of the task of education on recent academic insights in the fields of Holocaust research and genocide studies, the lecture series has developed into the VWI's education flagship.

 

The lectures take place every six to eight weeks, with renowned scholars presenting the most recent research insights on the Holocaust to a professional audience as well as a broader public. They showcase the impressive spectrum of this discipline, its numerous questions and issues ranging from empirical-analytical historiography to topics of cultural scholarship, and involve young scholars as well as established academics.

 

The Austrian State Archive as our co-operation partner has since June 2010 provided us with the perfect location for our lectures: the rooftop foyer of the “Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv” at Minoritenplatz in Vienna. This location at the rear façade of the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria is symbolic of the reappraisal of the Holocaust in Austria: After all, this history had been marginalised for decades, just like its immediate historical antecedent, Austrian antisemitism, was cut out of history, its appraisal shoved aside for victims and their descendants to deal with. This has only changed in recent times. The Shoah has simultaneously been moving ever closer to the centre of Austrian historical awareness. It has slowly emerged from the repressed periphery and out of the realm of taboo and silence and into the focus of understanding of Austria’s most recent history. Thus, the Simon Wiesenthal Lectures are held at a place that represents the symbolic and real centre of the Republic and is at the same time also an instance of this turn in the Austrian perception of its own history.

 

 

Simon Wiesenthal Lecture
Zygmunt Bauman: A natural history of the evil
   

Thursday, 22. March 2012, 18:30

Dachfoyer des Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchivs, Minoritenplatz 1, 1010 Wien

 

In the 36.525 days of the twentieth century, between 100 and 160 million civilians lost their lives at hand of mass-murder, slaughter and massacres – that is an average of more than 3.000 innocent deaths per day. The pace has not slackened in the new millennium: statistically speaking, September 11 was an ordinary day.

In his lecture, Zygmunt Bauman will outline and analyse the efforts made to solve the mystery that more perhaps than any other keeps ethical philosophers awake at night: the mystery of unde malum (Whence the Evil?) and, more specifically and yet more urgently, of “How do good people turn evil?”. The latter is, succinctly put, the secret of the mysterious transmogrification of caring family people and friendly and benevolent neighbours into monsters.

Zygmunt Bauman(*1925) is a Polish-born sociologist. After having left Poland in the aftermath of the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968, he became professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, England and has since held professorships at numerous other universities, among them Berkeley, Yale, St. John’s and Copenhagen. Bauman has become best known for his analyses of the links between modernity and the Holocaust, the ambivalence of modernity, postmodernity and consumerism.

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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:

 

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