Public History

On the one hand, public history is a sub-discipline of historical studies,  both basic and applied, that is theoretically, empirically and pragmatically committed to studying historical and present contexts in which references to the past are put to use. On the other hand, public history refers to the object of this historical sub-discipline: past-related identity discourses in their materiality, mediation and functionality.


Research and development focus: A digitally enhanced cultural anthropology of Austrian places of remembrance of national relevance

We know to some extent what Austria’s monuments and memorials, which are meant to shape the national consciousness of Austrians, look like and where they are located. However, no consensus exists on which of these sites may claim to be “national,” nor why and since when. In many cases, there has been insufficient research into the foundation and construction of these objects, and into how they make use of the past. The processes of unravelling these entangled histories will help to map and to reveal  the dynamics of past and present national meaning-making and attribution.

In addition, we have very little empirically grounded knowledge about what happens at these sites today. We need to know more about how they are used, by whom, and for what. We need to understand how people think with them and whether they add something to their image of history. Are they merely welcome but replaceable sightseeing destinations or do they  carry significant cognitive or emotional weight?

This last question has become eminently political in recent years, as public memorials have come under attack across the global West, a process that is perceived by some groups in society as significantly disturbing. The Austrian writer Robert Musil claimed that nothing is as invisible as a monument. This view is more doubtful than ever today.

Our research and development focus will pursue this questions cooperatively in a transdisciplinary way on the basis of cultural anthropological, historical and social scientific methodologies and methods. This work might very well become of exemplary interest far beyond Austria’s borders.




Chair: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Marko Demantowsky (as of October 1, 2021)

University Assistant (PostDoc): N.N.

University Assistant (PraeDoc): N.N.

Student Assistance: N.N.

Office: J. Fally



 Text © Marko Demantowsky, July 6, 2021





Image Source:

Wolfgang Glock, Heldenberg Kaiserallee, marked as public domain, details at Wikimedia Commons