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The Construction of Political Criminality in the Courts of the Dollfuß-/Schuschnigg-Regime, 1933–38

This project examines the various constructions of political criminality at court during the Dollfuß-/Schuschnigg-Regime (1933–1938). It aims to study the transformation from democracy to autocracy. The project focuses on the different strategies for the (linguistic) construction of political criminality towards Social Democratic, Communist, and National Socialist suspects in the statements of police, prosecutors, and judges within the court proceedings. There, questions of political marginalisation at court will be of particular interest, as well as the limits of plurality, political participation and (accepted) deviancy, as reflected in the penal practice of the regime. A case study will also address differences in the judicial prosecution of religion as a political category.

Methodologically, this project combines quantitative, computational, digital and qualitative methods in the sense of a multi-methodological embedded digital humanities framework. In the project, court records of the Dollfuß-/Schuschnigg-Regime will be digitized and converted into a machine-processable format via Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The text corpus will then be analyzed in a (semi-) automated way using computational methods of text and data mining, corpus linguistics (NLP), and network analysis. The project thus contributes to the field of computational history. This work is currently under progress, and started in late 2021.