Imperial Subjects and Social Commitment:

An Endowment History from 1750 to 1918

16-18th November 2016
University of Vienna, Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies

In the past two decades historians have paid increased attention to endowments, foundations and donations as social and religious phenomena. By acting as patrons of art, culture and education, but also by promoting social welfare and healthcare, benefactors conceive their beneficiary actions as charitable works. In addition to that endowments were traditionally embedded in a religious context and could be connected to religious intentions, like the benefactor’s remembrance and the commemoration of his deceased soul.

We regard endowments as indicators of central importance for the construction and representation of the benefactor’s identity as well as a pivotal strategy of economic and social integration in the host environment used by members of diaspora communities. We propose as thematic approaches:

micro-historical case studies for the analysis of the impact of the endowment practices on welfare systems
studies about the administration of endowments in particular in the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires
the analysis of the relationship between the benefactors (their wills and intentions) on the one side and the organizational structure and administrative practices connected to endowments on the other
the role of the state and its legal system on the administration of endowments
inter-confessional and inter-religious studies (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim) on the memorial function of beneficiary practices
perspectives on European endowment history of the early modern and modern period.
The central aims of the project and the workshop are on the one side to foster an understanding of European endowment history, which is sensible towards intercultural and transnational requirements, and on the other side to contribute to the regional, social, economic and migration history of Vienna from the 18th to the 20th century.

We are happy to announce that our keynote speaker will be Michael Borgolte, whose work on the historical study of endowments and related practices has had enormous influence on the field. The working language of the workshop will be English.

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