Since the 1980s, the transformation of the former Eastern bloc, Germany's reunification, the enlargement and deeper integration of the European Union, together with persistent debates about migration focused ever more attention on issues of historical and cultural identities. Indeed, in some member states of the European Union, the propagation of a new European identity was accompanied by the emergence or re-emergence of fragmented and unstable national, sometimes even nativist, and ethnic identities. Seemingly established collective, national identities became contested political terrain and the focus of political struggles. Moreover, threats and crises of various kinds have re-invigorated discussions of national or cultural identities across Europe, alongside the rise of various far-right and right-wing populist parties and movements. In my lecture, I illustrate the considerations above with the help of a case study about the discursive construction of Austrian national identities 1995-2015. First, I will briefly present my theoretical and methodological framework (the Discourse-Historical Approach in Critical Discourse Studies) and then provide an overview of the types of discourse and data analyzed, including political speeches, commemorative events, media, group discussions as well as in-depth interviews. Covering crucial analytical categories, I discuss our findings in comparison to data collected in 1995 and 2005 and conclude with a longitudinal perspective on the discursive construction of (Austrian) national identities.
Ruth Wodak is Emerita Distinguished Professor of Discourse Studies at Lancaster University, UK, and affiliated to the University of Vienna. Besides various other prizes, she was awarded the Wittgenstein Prize for Elite Researchers in 1996 and an Honorary Doctorate from University of Orebro in Sweden in 2010. She is past-President of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. In 2011, she was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria, and in 2018, the Lebenswerk Preis for her lifetime achievements, from the Austrian Ministry for Women’s Affairs. She is member of the British Academy of Social Sciences and member of the Academia Europaea. In 2008, she was awarded the Kerstin Hesselgren Chair of the Swedish Parliament (at University Orebro).
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