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Congratulations: Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair, Jennifer Ndidi Iroh and Katarzyna Winieck awarded for their thesis

The Award for Scientific Works 2021/22 is awarded to Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair for her dissertation (IKW). The Honorary Awards go to Jennifer Ndidi Iroh for her Master thesis (IKW) and to Katarzyna Winiecka for her Diploma thesis (IKL).

Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair
Performing History. Public commemorations on the Second World War in Post-Soviet Space, Using the Ukrainian City of Lviv as an Example

The PhD project engages with commemorative assemblies in memory of events linked to the Second World War, which were held in the urban space of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv in 2016 and 2017. These are both ritualized ceremonies held annually on dates of historical or symbolic relevance, as well as spontaneous demonstrations or political activism. In the work, these events are understood as a condensed form of communication in which historical images are expressed and political demands are made. The field research took place mainly in cooperation with the historian Alexandra Wachter as part of the interdisciplinary project “Lviv. War Museum”. In light of the escalation of Russia's war against Ukraine in February 2022, the insights gained have taken on a wider/another poignant meaning.

The Jury’s statement:
Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair's dissertation "Performing History. Public commemorations on the Second World War in Post-Soviet Space, Using the Ukrainian City of Lviv as an Example" convinced the jury with her extremely differentiated and at the same time concise approach to an absolutely actual subject. The work, which is methodologically excellent based on interviews, offers a well-founded theoretical examination of this comprehensive and complex topic.

The significance but also the political instrumentalization of memorial days, gatherings and places of remembrance is clearly elaborated, especially by comparing the Ukrainian and Russian or Soviet Holocaust remembrance. The work, completed at the IKW, impressively discusses how remembrance depends on the time of remembrance and on the socio-political context and how it becomes socially effective.

Katarzyna Winiecka
Unmaking the Smuggler Narrative. Grenzverschiebungen durch Aktivismus, Kunst und Forschung in den hegemonialen Schleppereidiskurs am Beispiel der Interventionen von Fluchthilfe & Du [Shifting boundaries through activism, art and research into the hegemonic discourse of smuggling on the example of Fluchthilfe & Du and their interventions]

This thesis illustrates how territorial, social and also legal borders are sites of permanent contestation and transgression. Starting from the criminalization of refugee activists of the Refugee Protest Camp Vienna under the criminal charge of "commercial smuggling within the framework of a criminal organization", the impact of victimizing, criminalizing and heroizing discourses on refugee*migrant subjectivities is discussed. As a methodological tool, a triangle is designed that encompasses the reciprocal relations of the three figures victim, perpetrator and heroine in the discursive as well as linguistic field of “Fluchthilfe” [escape aid] and human smuggling. Using activism, art, and intersectional research approaches, the project will present ways to break down the hegemonic victimization of refugees, the heroization of humanitarian, unpaid escape aid, and the racialized and gendered demonization of paid human smuggling. Fluchthilfe & Du corresponds with the theoretical part of the work and is discussed as a possibility to elaborate a collaborative and solidary practice of knowledge production and mediation within the art field.

The Jury’s statement:
Katarzyna Winiecka deals in her Diploma thesis "Unmaking the Smuggler Narrative" (IKL) with an up-to-date topic that she discusses from theoretical, artistic and activism-reflective perspectives. She combines a well-founded theoretical discourse with her own artistic-activist positions and uses a clear and powerful language which makes “Unmaking the Smuggler Narrative” extremely worth reading.