Maximilian Herchen

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Universitätsplatz 5, 18055 Rostock

Religion in the Public Sphere during the First Republic of Austria: a study of selected feasts

My project aims at analysing the relation of politics and religion that is characterized by a conflict about the power of interpretation (Deutungsmachtkonflikt). This interpretational conflict was fought out between the two dominating political camps in the First Republic of Austria, the „Christlichsozialen“ and the „Sozialdemokraten“. The fight manifested itself publicly in the numerous feasts. They represented not only a fundamental part of the two competing world interpretations but were at the time an important medium of them. The dissertation project analyses the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Feast of Christ the King, the International Workers' Day and the Spring Festival, restricted to the area of Vienna, by accession of as many different sources as possible e.g. movies, photographs and newspapers. In order to compare the ideologies of both camps, the study defines religion as a taxonomic concept that incorporates sign systems and modes of communication which imply a certain worldview as well as guidance for action. In addition to this, the analysis is carried out following a hermeneutic and an aesthetic approach to religion. The findings are then again included in debating the relation of religion and politics. Other central questions of analysis are the following: In what ways did the fight over the right social order express itself? What kinds of power and which claims of interpretation were behind this? In which way did the feasts affect the participants? What inward and outward effect were the feasts supposed to have and did they accomplish their purpose? What was the relation of politics and religion in the context of the conflict over the power of interpretation?