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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.

 

 

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Simon Wiesenthal Lecture
Enzo Traverso: Rethinking Primo Levi
   

Thursday, 12. December 2019, 18:30 - 20:00

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

 

One century after the birth and more than three decades after the death of Primo Levi, the time has come to go beyond his posthumous canonisation, and to   historicise his life and work by considering the distance that separates us from  his age. This means carefully distinguishing between his own present and the current uses of his writings. Whereas the destiny of a classic author is to be permanently reinterpreted, this reassessment sometimes results in significant misunderstandings,  which are the topics of Enzo Traverso’s lecture. He will analyse respectively Primo Levi’s position in Italian culture, his definition as a Jewish writer and his role as a literary witness of the Holocaust.

Enzo Traverso is the Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. His work deals with modern European intellectual history. His books, all translated into many languages, include The New Faces of Fascism (2019); Left-Wing Melancholia: Marxism, History and Memory (2017); and Fire and Blood: The European Civil War 1914-1945 (2016).

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

 

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