Theresa Gillinger
ifk Junior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2021 bis 30. June 2022

The Ambivalent Rhetoric of Austrian Social Democrats in the Migration Debate Prior to 1914


Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, migration was one of the most hotly debated issues in media and politics. Since the foundation of Social Democratic Party, the movement promoted solidarity beyond borders for the growing working class. This said, in the nineteenth century, social democrats already started to portray »newcomers« as a threat on the job market and for German culture and language. Therefore, solidarity did have limits. Gillinger's thesis investigates how early Austrian Social Democrats, including Otto Bauer and Adelheid Popp, navigated through this immanent ambivalence. Habsburg Austria, characterized by its different nationalities, was confronted with increasing migration, both national and international. This project explores a previously neglected aspect of the connection between migration and political rhetoric, and will produce relevant results for other historians and scholar from other academic disciplines, notably migration and refugee studies.


Theresa Gillinger’s main research interest are anti-Semitic and xenophobic discourses in the labour movement in the late Habsburg monarchy. She developed this interest in 2017, while researching the media reception of the Jewish-Viennese vaudeville theatre »Budapester Orpheumgesellschaft.« In her Master’s thesis, she discovered the social democrats’ ambivalence regarding migration (prior to 1914) as an underexplored field of study. Since 2020, she is Project Assistant of Tamara Scheer at the Institute of Eastern European History, University of Vienna. As part of her activity at the institute, she has contributed to international academic research projects and collaborated with an international team; e.g. by helping to organize the conference »Zwischen Kronen und Nationen« in Rome. Her conference report was published in the journal »Spiegelungen.«


»Zwischen Kronen und Nationen. Die zentraleuropäischen Priesterkollegien in Rom vom Risorgimento bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg«, in: Konzepte des Kollektiven, Spiegelungen 15 (69), 2.20, S.137-144 (auch veröffentlicht auf h-soz-kult am 30.04.2020)

16 May 2022
  • Lecture
Theresa Gillinger


Otto Bauer schrieb 1907, dass sich die Arbeiterklasse »[...] nicht allen Formen der Einwanderung gegenüber gleichartig verhalten [...]« kann.1 Die Rhetorik österreichischer Sozialdemokrat*innen war bereits in Migrationsdebatten der späten Habsburgermonarchie ambivalent. Inwiefern offenbarte sich dieses Spannungsverhältnis?