Contradictions in Time: Fascism’s use of ‘Woman’ and Feminist Resistance in Austria

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Taking as its starting point Ingeborg Bachmann’s comments that the National Socialist ‘virus of crime’ was not surpassed, but merely retreated into the fabric of society’s moral codes, this article examines how non-synchronous notions of time (Bloch, 1935) are engaged with in art in the aftermath of National Socialism in Austria. Austria, a context which was both first to embrace National Socialism in 1938, and first to be ‘freed’ from dealing with this history in 1943, saw protest and political action most often led by artists and artistic forms. The most incisive political and social critique appeared in the realm of art and literature. By looking to the work of artist and filmmaker VALIE EXPORT and novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek, this article asks how film and literature – specifically, works that address gender relations critically – follow in Bachmann’s footsteps and engage with a notion of para-history. Moreover, I argue that such works help us to understand residual tendencies and continuities in relation to both media and gender, in resurgent fascism today. By looking to the film, theatre-texts and essays by EXPORT and Jelinek I situate them in their historical context, and reread them as a history of feminist resistance to and urgent critique of contradictory forces which make fascism appealing, both in the decades following World War II and again today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-373
JournalThird Text
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


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