Controversial debates, profound conversations, memorable transatlantic encounters: The Austrian Cultural Forum’s debates series serves as a platform for conversations between Austrian artists and intellectuals and their American counterparts. Current political, economic, and cultural topics are addressed without shying away from critical issues. The Cultural Forum, located in the heart of Manhattan, makes an important contribution to transatlantic dialogue.
Salman Rushdie and Alfred Gusenbauer
Cultural diversity and political rationality was the topic of one of the first podium discussions under Director Andreas Stadler. Staged in September 2007 in the theater of the Cultural Forum, the event brought together then Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and writer Salman Rushdie in a spirited discussion. American writer and human rights activist Kati Marton moderated the exchange, which concerned cultural and social integration policy in Europe and the USA and their effects on extremism and terrorism.
The speech of Iranian President Ahmadinejad at New York’s Columbia University introduced an additional element of controversy to the podium discussion since it took place on the same day and unavoidably led the discussion participants to address the topic of freedom of expression.
Europe and the US: A new honeymoon after the presidential elections
Another highlight in this new event series was a discussion in November 2008 with Austrian political scientist Anton Pelinka, ACFNY’s Director Andreas Stadler and Todd Gitlin, an American professor of journalism at Columbia University, just shortly after Barack Obama’s election as the new President of the United States. Of course “The Change” alone was reason enough to reflect on the complex political, economic, and cultural effects that have influenced European-American relations to date.
“What caused the collapse of the Austrian monarchy?” was the central question of another discussion at the Cultural Forum in October 2008. Austrian professor Gerald Stourzh and American professor Istvan Déak discussed the rich ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which both referred to as a historically unique structure.
The transcript of this lively discussion is available for download.