Over the last three hundred years, the republic of Austria and before it the Habsburg Empire repeatedly experienced situations in which in a very short time a large number of refugees sought temporary or permanent asylum in the country. Certainly, the numbers of people arriving as well as the frequency of refugee crises have tremendously increased during the twentieth century. Still, some reactions and policy measures have remained astonishingly unchanged.
My article on the representation of Galician Jews on the local, regional and central state level was just published in the latest issue of East Central Europe.
Free download of this article: “The Rise and Limits of Participation. The Political Representation of Galicia’s Urban Jewry from the Josephine Era to the 1914 Electoral Reform,” East Central Europe 42/2-3, 2015, 216-248.
ABSTRACT This article provides an overview of the political representation and integration of Galician Jews on the municipal, provincial, and central state level under Austrian rule. It demonstrates that political representation on the latter two levels started only after the revolution of 1848 and was rather modest considering the numeric and economic weight Jews enjoyed in Galicia. Even though representation in municipal councils started earlier, the position of Jews depended very much on local circumstances. After the turn of the century, the widening of the electorate to the lower classes led to a broader Jewish representation and participation not only in terms of numbers but also within the political spectrum. This is particularly true for the paper’s second part. In this section, the text explores the reform of the electoral system for Galicia’s provincial parliament and the attitude of Jewish politicians towards the compromise eventually found in 1914. The article argues that among Jews the positive or negative assessment of the new voting system depended largely on their position in the larger antagonism between Jewish nationalists and assimilationists. The former complained that the entire reform was on the backs of the Jews ignoring their numeric strength and their national rights. Assimilationists, on the other hand, were satisfied that, against all counterclaims of Zionists and Anti-Semites, the compromise legally established that Jews were Poles.
My survey article on several national compromises in the late Habsburg Empire was just published in the current issue of Ethnopolitics.
Free download of this article: “Habsburg Austria: experiments in non-territorial autonomy,” Ethnopolitics 15/1, Spring 2016, 43-65.
ABSTRACT In the early twentieth century, three provinces of the Austrian half of the Habsburg Empire enacted national compromises in their legislation that had elements of non-territorial autonomy provisions. Czech and German politicians in Moravia reached an agreement in 1905. In the heavily mixed Bukovina, Romanian, Ukrainian, German, Jewish and Polish representatives agreed on a new provincial constitution in 1909. Last but not least, Polish and Ukrainian nationalists compromised in spring 1914, just a few months before the outbreak of the First World War vitiated the new provisions. Even though the provisions of these agreements varied substantially, new electoral laws introducing national registers were at their heart. These were designed to ensure a fairer representation of national groups in the provincial assemblies and to keep national agitation out of electoral campaigns. The earliest compromise in Moravia went furthest in consociational power sharing. However, the national bodies within the provincial assembly had no right to tax their respective national communities, and the provisions of the provincial constitutions kept the non-nationally defined nobility as an important counterbalance. The compromises in Bukovina and Galicia, even if they categorised all inhabitants nationally, contented themselves with even less autonomous agency for the national bodies in the provincial assemblies and rather emphasised the symbolic elements of national autonomy. The non-territorial approach in all three crownlands, however, was an instrument to reorganise multi-ethnic provinces that increasingly became the model for national compromises in other Austrian provinces.
The French newspaper Libération published an interview analysing the striking similarities of today’s refugee crisis with the situation at the Austro-Russian border following the pogroms in the Russian Empire in 1881 and 1882.
I was awarded a research grant of the City of Vienna (1,700 €) for a peer reviewed article on national compromises in the late Habsburg Empire.