May 13th 2021

How does a city—while weathering an economic crash, public health crises, and burgeoning political populism—develop the capacity to tackle the greatest social challenges of its time? The Formation of Fin de Siècle Vienna project looks for answers in turn-of-the-20th-century Austria, which contemporaries described as a “little world in which the big one holds its tryouts.” The project mobilizes new archival materials from the City of Vienna’s administrative library to reconstruct the city administration’s evolution from the emperor’s executor to an autonomous actor and behemoth of social welfare. Using natural language processing methods, the research team is exploring the organizational dynamics that unfolded during a time of cultural critique, tumultuous urbanization, and political polarization that ultimately enabled the rise of Red Vienna. Participants at this event will look at these materials as a way of considering cities’ capacity to act, with commentary on the contexts of Imperial Austria, Renaissance Florence, and Ancient Greece.



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