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Complicity: A Crisis of Participation in Testimonies of Totalitarianism in Contemporary German-language Literatures

Complicity: A Crisis of Participation in Testimonies of Totalitarianism in Contemporary German-language Literatures


The aim of COMPLIT is to analyse the role of language in structures of complicity in humanitarian, political, ecological, moral and other wrongdoings that raise the question of what democratic participation means.
The research project aims at interdisciplinary innovation, relating recent research in law and social sciences to testimonies of totalitarianism in contemporary German-language literatures by Herta Müller, Aglaja Veteranyi, and Elfriede Jelinek. The project expounds the comprehensive role of language in structures of participation and involvement, and highlights that the concern of testimonies of past totalitarianism is for the present: They outline modes of partaking in institutional violence that draws on heritage, culture, social, and gender distinctions still active in the globalized world of the present. The outlook onto the broader academic discussion and current societal problems strengthens the stance of humanities research by demonstrating its relevance to citizens at large.
The scientific rationale of the project is a two-way knowledge transfer in the training-through-research of the applicant, who is an experienced researcher in the field of comparative literature with special regard to law and literature, and currently a research fellow at Yale University in the US. While transferring knowledge about an interdisciplinary, comparative approach to literature with a strong outlook onto societal challenges on highest international academic standards to the host institution, Universität Wien, the applicant will be reintegrated into the European research network.
The COMPLIT project is of clear relevance to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions programme because it contributes to a better understanding of the current crisis in European integration and the backlashes onto democratic freedom by resentments and beliefs from Europe’s violent past in addressing structures of public discourses and institutions that foster antidemocratic, totalitarian notions.
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Universitatsring 1
1010 Wien


Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 186 167,04

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 835494


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 September 2019

  • End date

    31 August 2021

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 186 167,04

  • EU contribution

    € 186 167,04

Coordinated by: