Chronology of the Institute’s Activities

2013

  • The year 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the Ustinov Institute. The Institute welcomes this opportunity to look back at the milestones of its previous work and seeks to give a comprehensive summary of the prejudices and stereotypes that are most influential at the present moment.
  • The Hungarian philosopher Prof. Ágnes Heller was the 2013 Ustinov Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna.
  • The 2013 Symposium took place in May and was devoted to the topic“Ressentiment und Konflikt. Vorurteile und Feindbilder im Wandel” (“Ressentment and Conflict. Prejudices and Stereotypes in Transition”).
  • The Ustinov Institute started an operational cooperation with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights.

2012

  • The historian Prof. Götz Aly was the 2012 Ustinov Visiting Professor offering a lecture series and seminar at the University of Vienna.
  • The 2012 Symposium was dedicated to the topic “Populismus” (“Populism”)and took place at the Palais Epstein in Vienna in May.
  • Prof. Anton Pelinka resigned as chair person of the Ustinov Institute’s Academic Advisory Council. The position was taken up by Prof. Manfred Nowak.

2011

For the Ustinov Institute, the year 2011 was marked by the analysis and discussion of current social and political developments that were related to prejudice.

  • With the aim of advancing the discussion about the causes and effects of prejudice, the Institute launched an online dialogue forum on prejudices on its website in September 2011. The first subjects put up for discussion in the dialogue forum were: “The Islamic Boogey Man” and “Euro-skepticism”. The starting points were impulse statements by renowned scientists on these controversial topics.
  • The 2011 symposium was devoted to the analysis of the phenomenon of “Fundamentalism” and took place with broad public participation in the Vienna City Hall in May 2011.
  • The Ustinov Institute placed a special focus on scientific publications and the preparation of educational material as a support for teachers. We published theconference proceedings “Fundamentalismus” (“Fundamentalism”) as well as theeducational textbook “Kompetenz im Umgang mit Vorurteilen” (“Competency in Dealing with Prejudices”) featuring teaching materials for secondary school (5th to 8th grades).
  • Professor Shalini Randeria, an ethnologist at the University of Zurich, was the Ustinov Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna in 2011. The topic of her lectures and seminar was: “Reproduction, State Interventions and Women’s Bodies: Global Designs and Local Life-Worlds”.
  • The website of the Institute was refurbished and modernized.

2010

  • Professor Dr. Andrei S. Markovits (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) was the Ustinov Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna. The topic of his lecture was: “Sports Culture in a Global Comparison – with a special focus on aggressiveness, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism and other prejudices in the sports field and in society”
  • On 10th  and 11th May 2010 the Conference “Rassismus – eine soziale und politische Konstruktion” (“Racism – A Social and Political Construction”) took place under the patronage of Mayor Michael Häupl and the scientific direction of Professor Wolfgang Benz (TU Berlin) in the Vienna City Hall.
    During the conference, current developments, which are characterized by racism, as well as the lack of evidence of “racial” differences in intelligence, emotional or physical properties, and the unfortunate use of racist arguments for the exploitation of interests were explained and discussed.
  • The conference proceedings “Rasse – eine soziale und politische Konstruktion” (“Race – A Social and Political Structure”), published by Braumüller, were presented by Prof. Wolfgang Benz at the Berlin House of Literature in November 2010 and at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna in January 2011.
  • The book “Vorurteil und Genozid – Ideologische Prämissen des Völkermords”(“Prejudice and Genocide – The Ideological Premises of Genocide”, published by Böhlau, was publicly presented by the editor, Professor Wolfgang Benz, in Berlin in November 2010.
  • In November, contracts were signed for the publication of “Arbeitsbehelf II, Kompetenz im Umgang mit Vorurteilen” (“Teaching Aid II – Competency in Dealing with Prejudices”) developed for teachers in primary schools and the lower grades of secondary schools. Gertraud Diendorfer was responsible for the management of this project. Financially, the project was enabled by the Federal Chancellery, Vienna, Respekt.net and the Ustinov foundations Frankfurt/Munich and Geneva.

2009

  • Professor Dr. András Kovács (Central European University, Budapest) took on theUstinov Guest Professorship. The topic of his lectures was Roma, Juden und andere Minderheiten in Osteuropa: historische Vorurteile aus sozialwissenschaftlicher Perspektive. (Roma, Jews and other minorities in Eastern Europe: historical prejudices viewed from the social-science perspective)
    The focus was on national prejudices and stereotypes, anti-Semitism in the communist systems, animosity towards Jews and the situation of the Roma as well as prejudices and discrimination in the Eastern European post-communist societies.
  • The topic of the research conference was Zuwanderer als Feindbild (Immigrants seen as enemies) (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 18 and 19 May 2009).
    Among the subjects addressed was the fact that more often than not immigrants, especially those who are poor and displaced, meet with unwarranted animosity and that in our time the corresponding threat perceptions have become more widespread and forceful than ever. Special attention was paid to the following questions: the “immigrant” as an inimical figure: what is the cause and what the effect? Prerequisites and positive effects of successful “integration”, guidelines for dismantling the enemy image.
    The research conference was documented in a book published by Verlag Braumüller in the autumn of 2009.
  • The English-language edition of the Handbuch der Vorurteile was published by Cambria Press NY under the title Handbook of Prejudice.
  • The first part of the support for teachers and school administrations designed for elementary schools was finalised and circulated. (For more information see separate section)

2008

  • Professor Verena Kast (Universität Zürich) took on the Ustinov Guest Professorship. The topic of her lectures was: Die Schatten und die Komplexe – Vorurteile aus tiefenpsychologischer Sicht (The shadows and the complexes – prejudices viewed from the depth-psychology perspective).
    She described the mechanisms that cause prejudices to develop and that may influence them, focusing on the interaction between prejudices and emotions, such as anger and frustration, fear, shame and envy, and on the role played by the feeling of self-esteem in the emergence of prejudices.
  • The topic of the research conference was Feindbilder in Europa – was kann dagegen getan werden? (Threat perceptions in Europe – how to counteract them) (Österreichisches Parlament, Palais Epstein, 2 and 3 April 2008).
    It was demonstrated that powerful threat perceptions are still holding sway in Europe; threat perceptions that continue to make groups of Europe’s population appear as hostile elements – be it between nations, between nations and minorities and across borders, between majority society and minority groups. Moreover, cases in which hostile perceptions vanished – for example between France and Germany – were studied in the quest for counter strategies.
  • A documentation of the specialist conference was published by Verlag Braumüller in 2008 under the title Feinbilder in Europa. It was presented at an event at the Ustinov Foundation Düsseldorf/Munich on 24 November 2008 and at an event at the Diplomatische Akademie Wien, on 29 January 2009.
  • The publication of the book Vorurteile und Genozide was arranged with Professor Wolfgang Benz, as editor, and a number of renowned authors. The funding of the project was secured through sponsors. (For more information see separate section)
  • A concept was drafted for the publication of materials for teachers and school administrations (title Kompetenz im Umgang mit Vorurteilen – How to deal with prejudices) and agreed with the partners in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The need for such materials had become apparent at the research conference 2007 onVorurteile in der Kindheit (Prejudices in childhood). The idea is to facilitate education that takes account of prejudices. (For more information see separate section)

2007

  • Professor Dr. Wolfgang Benz, head of the centre for anti-Semitism research at Technische Universität Berlin took on the Ustinov Guest Professorship. The topic of his lectures was Völkermord im 20. Jahrhundert. Zur Geschichte des Genozids – vom Vorurteil zur ‚ethnischen Säuberung’ (Genocide in the 20th century. On the history of genocide – from prejudice to ‘ethnic cleansing’). The lectures evidenced the pronounced share of prejudices and threat perceptions involved in the genocides committed in the 20th century in Europe, Africa and Asia.
    To spread the word about this topic to a broader public – as it were as a warning against the consequences arising from demonising population groups – talks with Professor Benz on the publication of a book were initiated.
  • The topic of the research conference was Vorurteile in der Kindheit: Wie entstehen sie? Wie kann man gegensteuern? (Prejudices in childhood: What is their origin? How can they be counteracted?) (Jugendstiltheater des Otto Wagner Spitals Wien, 8 March 2007).
    Among the subjects addressed were the consequences of the fact that prejudices arise already in early youth and may cause children and young people to become either perpetrators or victims. The point was made that it is never too early to counteract prejudices, since the contempt experienced by children makes them feel denigrated and discriminated against and that causes them harm.
  • A documentation of the research conference was published by Verlag Braumüller in 2007 under the title Vorurteile in der Kindheit, Ursachen und Gegenstrategien.

2006

  • Peter Loewenberg (UCLA) took on the Ustinov Guest Professorship. The topic of his lectures was: Kulturgeschichte und psychoanalytische Tiefenpsychologie in der modernen amerikanischen Geschichtsforschung (Cultural history and psychoanalytic depth psychology in modern American historical research). He addressed, inter alia, the role of historical literature and biographies, the fact that traumata are handed down from generation to generation and the psychology of the modern nation state.
  • The research conference was devoted to Der Westen und die Islamische Welt: Fakten und Vorurteile (The West and the Islamic world: facts and prejudices) and addressed stereotypes, prejudices and hostile perceptions on both sides as well as their roots in history (Kreisky Forum Wien, 4 und 5 May 2006).
    Special attention was given to the fact that cultural and religious content is frequently interchanged, to Islamism as a phenomenon of modernity, to the Islamic world as a heterogeneous configuration, to the causes underlying the view of the Islamic world as menacing and outdated as well as to the implications of fears of forfeiting jobs and of being swamped by foreign influences in Europe and of identity loss in the Islamic world.
  • A documentation of the research conference was published in 2006 by Verlag Braumüller under the title Der Westen und die islamische Welt – Fakten und Vorurteile (The West and the Islamic world – facts and prejudices).

2005

  • Professor Dr. Aleida Assmann (Universität Konstanz) took on the guest professorship. The topic of her lectures was Geschichte, Gedächtnis, Identität(History, memory, identity).
    She explained how, when and from what sources people formed their philosophy and to which pressures for change it is subjected, e.g. by the generation leaps or by the social environment; in this context she emphasised the significance of objectifying institutions, such as museums. As to identity, she mentioned with reference to Europe that it could be strengthened by both values shared in the past and common notions of the future.
    Many of the ideas she put forward in her lectures found their way into Professor Assmann’s book Der lange Schatten der Vergangenheit – Erinnerungskultur und Geschichtspolitik (The long shadow of the past – Culture of remembrance and the politics of history), which was published in 2006.
  • The Institute’s first research conference was devoted to Europa – USA: Values and Prejudices (Diplomatische Akademie Wien, 29 May 2005). The evolution of anti-Americanism was analysed, starting from colonial times, and the development of different moral concepts in Europe and the United States (as to state, religion and law) was highlighted. It was the sense of the conference, that prejudices should be combated, while different moral concepts should be respected.
  • Negotiations were concluded on the publication of a Handbook of Prejudicebetween voestalpine AG as the sponsor and the Institute of Conflict Research as the partner responsible for content.

2004

  • Dr. med. Dr. phil. Horst-Eberhard Richter (Universität Gießen) was the first to take on the Ustinov Guest Professorship at the University of Vienna. The topic of his lectures was Umgang mit dem Bösen (Instrumentation of evil).
    Prof. Richter expounded on the Wirkungsgeschichte des Bösen – Vorurteilsbeladene Weltbilder (History of the effects of evil – prejudice-laden philosophy) and went into the role of “evil” as an instrument in political power play (e.g. “rogue states”) and of the churches (e.g. “witch hunt” and “inquisition”). He put special emphasis on “scapegoat mechanisms”.
    Many of the ideas ventilated in his lectures found their way into Professor Richter’s book Die Krise der Männlichkeit (The crisis of virility), which was published in 2006.
  • Sir Peter died that year on 28 March. He had planned a public presentation of “his” Institute. This presentation had to be replaced by a conference entitled Achtung! Vorurteile (Beware! Prejudices) organised by the Institute in his honour at the Vienna City Hall on 19 May. At this conference the well-known publicist Dr. Hugo Portisch chose the example of France and Germany to demonstrate that even deeply rooted prejudices can be dismantled. Also present were Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric, Arabella Kiesbauer and Professor Anton Pelinka.
  • The Institute’s homepage was set up.

2003

The Institute was founded on 11 August 2003. The Board was appointed at a General Meeting on 4 September 2003. Sir Peter took the chair and the Institute became operational.