Political extremism and the refugee crisis

Our collaborative 10-day trip to Vienna in late May included seventeen students from both POL 242 “West European Politics” taught by Dr. Besir Ceka and GER 361 “Austria: 1900—Now” taught by Dr. Robin Ellis. We were accompanied by four other faculty members, Dr. Maggie McCarthy (German Studies), Dr. Roman Utkin (Russian Studies), and Dr. Natalie Deckard (Sociology), who each contributed areas of expertise to our investigation

The trip built on the foundations established in the two courses mentioned above and allowed students and faculty to deepen and expand the lines of questioning they had developed during the semester in an intensely interdisciplinary setting. Bringing together perspectives from cultural studies, history, and political science, we situated the contemporary refugee crisis and the rise of political extremism in Austria and elsewhere in Europe within a longer cultural-historical context reaching back to the multiethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire and the turmoil of the First and Second World Wars. Approaching contemporary political issues through a cultural and historical lens, we traced key developments in discourses of national, European, and Eastern/Western identity from the turn of the 20th century to the present.