CfP: "Precarious Archives, Precarious Voices - Expanding Jewish Narratives from the Margins", Workshop at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI)

Mirjam Wilhelm's picture
November 17, 2021 to November 19, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Jewish History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies


Precarious Archives, Precarious Voices:

Expanding Jewish Narratives from the Margins


November 17th- 19th 2021

Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI)


Organised by

Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI)

Leo Baeck Institute (NY/Berlin)


With the support and cooperation of the

Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe

Institute for East European History of the University of Vienna

Women’s and Gender History Research Group of the University of Vienna (Forschungsschwerpunkt Frauen- und Geschlechtergeschichte)

Deadline for abstracts: April 30th, 2021



“Like belongings washed upon the seashore, testimonial objects of survivors – albums, collages, sketches, difficult to decipher manuscripts – are being collected and, because of the precariousness inherent in their message and authenticity, they are passed from one to another.”

Mona Körte, Flaschenpost. Vom „Eigenleben“ jüdischer Erinnerungsarchive, p. 275.



Recent years have seen ground-breaking archival survey projects taking place across Europe, in a range of public and private archives, revealing a wealth of documents related to Jewish history and the Shoah which remained hidden or inaccessible until now. Simultaneously, scholarly definitions of archives are expanding, and methodologies used for approaching archival material are complementing this expansion.


The archival turn in contemporary art, the opening of archives in Eastern Europe, the third generation’s ongoing quest to interpret fragments of familial papers, and the new digital availability of smaller archival collections suggest that our access to historical material and sources has been democratised. Expanding definitions of source material have animated researchers to implement new methodologies for reanalysing old narratives or examining narratives marginalised until now. What overlooked narratives are being found in newly accessible archives and how can they be framed and presented? How can new sources be approached and what issues or hurdles arise in working with “new” material? To what extent must the history of the archival material itself be incorporated into an analysis of the same?


This workshop seeks to make visible voices which have been unheard until now and discuss new methodological lenses demanded by this material. A particular emphasis will be made for papers exploring gender dimensions in their work and interdisciplinary approaches. We welcome contributions from a range of disciplines, including projects by artists working at the interface of art and academia.


The Call-for-Papers is seeking projects:

  • working with archival collections or documents made recently accessible (since circa 1990), either as a result of formal administrative decision or through the opening of borders
  • working with private, inherited, or found archival materials (outside of official repositories)
  • with an explicit gender or women’s history dimension
  • questioning or unsettling established narratives
  • focused on marginalised voices, these can include:
    • women and children
    • queer and LGBTIQ* experiences
    • smaller Jewish communities, i.e. micro-historical studies
    • minority Jewish groups within larger towns (i.e. Yiddish or Ladino speaking communities in otherwise linguistically assimilated settings)
    • survivor narratives in the immediate post-war period (i.e. narratives of re-migration, early testimonies)
    • narratives of the Jewish poor
    • narratives of those who remained in Vienna during World War II (forced labour, children in hiding etc.)
    • post-war Jewish experience
  • utilising various artistic mediums for interpreting archival material including but not limited to music, film, graphic art
  • working with fragmented material (including discussion of the challenges herein)


Geographically, the projects should relate in some way to present-day Austria, the territories of the former Habsburg Empire, or neighbouring and/or closely affiliated regions. 


Applications in German or English including title and abstract of the topic no longer than 300 words as well as a brief CV and a list of publications (3 to 5 lines) are to be submitted by April 30th, 2021 to


The conference is currently being organised as an in-person event, with online participation being possible should conditions not allow for travel.


Travel Costs:

Travel from within Europe and accommodation for two nights may be covered up to a certain amount, pending funding.



CfP deadline: April 30th, 2021

Participants will be notified at the beginning of June 2021.


Concept and organisation: Marianne Windsperger, Mirjam Wilhelm, and Julie Dawson

Contact Info: 

Mirjam Wilhelm

Contact Email: