Participatory action and migration biographies of Romani migrants in Vienna

In Vienna, the majority of the Romani population (estimated 100.000) has migrated from Southeast and East Europe during the last few decades. Romani migrants are perceived as a ‘new minority’. As such they are confronted with specific forms of discrimination and marginalisation that are directed against them both as Roma/Romnja and migrants. The socio-political inclusion of Romani migrants in Vienna is hampered not only by antigypsyism and xenophobia but also by the heterogeneity of Romani communities. Romani migrants experience different challenges and needs regarding their integration into society due to various national and religious affiliations as well as internal differences regarding age, gender and socioeconomic position. Thus, the ‘postmigrant experiences’ (Hill and Qildiz 2015) of migrants in general and Romani migrants in particular challenge the hegemonic perceptions of integration. Despite the experience of discrimination as well as a heterogeneity of experience and needs, Romani migrants in Vienna are actively voicing their interests and demands vis-à-vis mainstream society and politics. Whereas the political mobilisation and representation of autochthonous Roma/Romnja in Vienna is very well documented, there is an academic void regarding the participatory action and postmigrant experience of Romani migrants.

The interconnection of migratory experience and the participatory action of Romani migrants is the starting point of the research project that is guided by the following questions: How and under which circumstances does civil participation of Romani migrants develops? Which resources and networks do Romani migrants use? How do Romani associations and the involved actors deal with the heterogeneity of Romani communities? Focusing on the agency and possibilities of political participation of Romani migrants the project aims to look beyond dominant discourses on integration and ‘parallel societies’ as well as images of Romani victimhood and passivity.

Hard Facts

Project duration: January – December 2019

Funding: Magistratsabteilung 7, City of Vienna

Project Leader: Robert Pichler (Institute for modern and contemporary historical research, ÖAW)

Project Staff: Sabrina Steindl-Kopf, Sanda Üllen

Project Website:

FEDCIT - Federal state against cities: Immigrant incorporation in the context of new immigrant reception

The unprecedented number of newcomers in the past year provides an immense challenge to federal state and local authorities, who have to co-ordinate the provision of policies and funds for incorporating immigrants into society. This comparative study seeks to understand the role of federal states for the incorporation of immigrants in the context of the recent influx of asylum seekers in Germany and Austria in 2015.

Few studies have so far investigated the role of federal states in immigrant incorporation and no research has yet been carried out on the character of federal state immigrant incorporation policies that captures institutional structures, officials and immigrant spokespersons’ agency as well as the role of power in the design and implementation of these policies. By bringing together debates on multi-level governance as well as cities as scale the research advances our concepts of the governance of immigrant incorporation in a globalised and interconnected world.

Using mixed methods, the project applies an institutional ethnography of federal state ministries responsible for immigrant incorporation that allows tracing internal processes of policy development and observing interactions between the involved institutions and actors. The yielded thick description is combined with economic data as well as interview data and policy documents.

By deploying a comparative research design that consists of case studies in four federal states (Baden Württemberg and Saxony, Upper Austria and Burgenland), two of which are located in Germany and two in Austria, the project identifies the impact of different factors on federal states’ immigrant incorporation policies, namely the national level’s stance towards immigration, the regions’ economic positionality, and local actors’ active lobbying on the federal state level.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: September 2018 - August 2020

Funding: Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (H2020)

Project Leader: Ayse Caglar

Project Staff: Maria Schiller

Living right: an anthropological study of far-right activism

This project seeks to investigate new forms of civic engagement pursued by far-right movements and to understand their increasing appeal among “ordinary,” socially established citizens. Instead of studying extreme right political parties or subcultures, the predominant topics in current scholarship, I will look closely at day-to-day activism, using hitherto neglected anthropological methodologies that offer unique insights into the motivations for involvement and the relations between ideas, beliefs and practices. Focusing on far-right groups acting within and between several European countries, the project will investigate the processes of translation between locally grounded and transnational far-right practices and ideologies and the tensions produced as they try to orient themselves around both transnational and local concerns.

Combining participant observation with life stories interviews and a study in the history of ideas, the project aims to explore moral claims and lived experiences of present-day far-right activists. In so doing, it calls into question well-established categorizations (West/East, moral/immoral), emphasizes the importance of emic understandings and motivations of far-right actors, and investigates the different facets of far-right organizations, which, contrary to the common label “hate groups,” increasingly put forward “humanitarian” claims and “positive” visions (of community, society, the future). It aims to bring greater clarity to political discussions within Europe by problematizing a simplistic right-left binary that obscures the nuances of different and overlapping political positions. In addition to making a critical methodological and theoretical contribution to the study of a resurgent European far right, this project will also engage with a set of more enduring issues—the shifting understanding of social solidarity and reciprocity, different means of civic engagement, and the place of morality in politics.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: September 2018 - August 2021

Funding: Elise Richter Programme (FWF)

Project Leader: Agnieszka Pasieka

REFUGEeICT – Multi-local Care and the Use of Information and Communication Technologies Among Refugees

Since the Arab Spring in 2010 and the subsequent crises and wars, many people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have sought refuge in Austria, with a peak in 2015. By accepting around 89,000 asylum seekers in 2015, Austria became the fourth most important host country in the European Union. Prevailing political discourses and media representations depicting the refugee both as a problem and as a suffering subject accompanied their reception, thereby reducing and restricting them to the roles of “the other” and of “care recipients”. The various care relations refugees foster, including their role as active “care providers,” have generally been left out of focus.

The REFUGEeICT project addresses the urgent need to study the life worlds of recently arrived asylum seekers and refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq in Vienna by investigating the responsibilities and care relations they maintain in this specific urban context and in view of wider national and supra-national refugee policies. In particular this study explores the Internet in connection with the mobile phone and how these new communication technologies are adopted to maintain care relations across distances but also to meet care responsibilities in the new country of residence.

The two central questions of this study are: How can we understand the manifold care relations refugees are involved in? And what are the specific meanings of as well as practices and strategies involving new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as “media of care”? The study will explore refugees’ interpersonal (kin) care relations as well as refugees’ interactions with the state and non-governmental institutions that provide social services and how these realms influence each other. Moreover, it will give detailed insights into the specific role new ICTs play in these care relations.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: August 2018 - July 2021

Funding: Elise Richter Programm (FWF)

Project Leader: Monika Palmberger

entire project abstract

Translating Socio-Cultural Anthropology into Education (TRANSCA)

TRANSCA is a project that will state what social anthropology can do for education as a sustainable response of the European educational sphere to on-going and new societal challenges such as diversity, immigration, socio-economic disparities and exclusionary politic.

TRANSCA is a strategic partnership with the goal of  further developing the cooperation between teacher education and socio-cultural anthropology in order to address the crucial issue of social inclusion in schools by implementing e.g. tools for self-reflexivity and hierarchical positionality.

TRANSCA aims to promote, and in some countries initiate, the process of transferring relevant aspects of socio-cultural anthropological knowledge into teacher education in Europe by building on existing approaches and experiences and adding new and innovative didactic assessments and practices with regard to core societal issues and social science concepts (such as interculturality, diversity, migration, integration, gender, intersectionality etc.).

Hard Facts

Project Duration: September 2018 - August 2020

Funding: Erasmus +

Project Leader: Wolfgang Kraus

Project Staff: Christa Markom, Jelena Tosic



Most human activity in the Arctic takes place along permafrost coasts and these coasts have become one of the most dynamic ecosystems on Earth. Permafrost thaw is exposing these coasts to rapid change, change that threatens the rich biodiversity, puts pressure on communities and contributes to the vulnerability of the global climate system. NUNATARYUK is a HORIZON 2020 project and will determine the impacts of thawing coastal and subsea permafrost on the global climate, and will develop targeted and co-designed adaptation and mitigation strategies for the Arctic coastal population.
The project encompasses 26 institutions from various disciplines - amongst others the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Our researchers are involved in the Work Packages 9: Adaptation and Mitigation [] and 7: Natural Resources, Economy and Coastal Community Planning []. WP9’s aim is to integrate the knowledge collected in the other WPs in order to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies at the local, regional and global scales. The WP will also develop indicators of change to monitor the impacts of these strategies in the future. WP7’s aims are to create new datasets on the socio-economical status of the Arctic coastal zone, including the growth of new opportunities associated with climate change and to develop a framework for natural resource management affected by permafrost thaw.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: 2017 - 2022

Funding: EU Horizon 2020, BG-2017-1

Projekt Leader: Peter Schweitzer

Project Staff: Susanna Gartler, Alexandra Meyer


Configurations of “remoteness” (CoRe) - Entanglements of Humans and Transportation Infrastructure in the Baykal-Amur Mainline (BAM) Region

The Arctic and Subarctic have gained a surprising amount of attention in recent years. What used to be the ‘remote’ backwaters of global economic and political currents has morphed into a new frontier of geopolitics, resource extraction, and developmental designs. New transportation infrastructure often plays a critical role in the transformation of ‘remoteness’. The effects of new transportation infrastructures – accessibility, the shrinking of social and physical distance, the increased speed of connection – are not uncontested. On the one hand, those for whom ‘remoteness’ has been an asset, are often among the opponents of such developments. New transportation infrastructures are often not built to make the lives of local residents easier but to move cargo from point A to point B. Thus, there are ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of such infrastructural developments.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: July 2015 - July 2020

Funding: FWF

Project Leader: Peter Schweitzer (Scientific Lead)

Project Staff: Alexis Sancho-ReinosoOlga Povoroznyuk, Gertrude Saxinger, Sigrid Schiesser, Christoph Fink (nicht mehr aktiv)

Student Collaborators: Gertraud Illmeier, Ilya Krylov


Ethnographische Datenarchivierung

Forschung in der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie findet meist im engen persönlichen Kontakt mit den Beforschten statt. Die eigene Person und die eigene Biografie sind immer Teil dieses Prozesses. Ethnographische Forschung stellt hohe Ansprüche an methodische Kenntnisse, aber auch an Reziprozität, Reflexivität und Ethik. Aus diesen Gründen bringen die Archivierung und Nachnutzung von ethnographischen Daten große Herausforderungen pragmatischer, ethischer und rechtlicher Art mit sich – Herausforderungen, denen sich das Pilotprojekt stellt, um eine an die Eigenarten ethnographischer Forschung angepassten Archivierungsstrategie zu entwickeln.

Hard Facts

Projektdauer: Februar 2017 - ongoing

Projektleitung: Wolfgang Kraus, Birgit Kramreither, Igor Eberhard