Accepted paper:

Intimacy and European social imaginary in Austrian TV police series


Brigitte Hipfl (Klagenfurt University)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation will explore the representation of crisis in Austrian TV police series and discuss this as examples of cultural intimacies that support a European social imaginary fuelled by old ways of coping with crisis.

Paper long abstract:

TV crime fiction and police series have become one of the most popular genres on television. The presentation claims that they are not only examples of continuous repetitions of scenarios of crisis, but also of cultural intimacies in the sense that they represent "that part of a cultural identity that insiders do not want outsiders to get to know yet that those same insiders recognize as providing them with a comfort zone of guiltily non-normative carryings-on" (Herzfeld 2013, 491). A close reading of one highly acclaimed example of the most popular TV police series in the German-speaking context, TATORT, shows an 'othering' of crisis: Crisis is located elsewhere and gets transported into Austria through migrants and through trafficking. In this case, (Angezählt, 2013), it is Eastern-European countries like Bulgaria that are constructed as defined by economic turmoil and patriarchy, exemplified by the victimized female migrant forced into prostitution. I argue that this construction fuels cultural racism where the migrants' cultures are seen as less civilized and women are automatically oppressed. I claim that examples of popular culture like this particular TATORT episode do not contribute to a new European social imaginary that overcomes the fortress Europe mentality nor does it go beyond current ways of coping with crisis defined by strategies that have been successful in the past.

panel P021
Crisis, intimacy, and the European subject