Sub Projects

Research Staff

Andreas Enderlin-Mahr

Informal ways to the Emperor’s Desk – governance networks, political practice and culture in the 19th century

In my Ph.D. project I explore the practice of informal governance and policy making by analyzing the multifaceted networks of Adolf Braun, director of Francis Joseph’s cabinet office between 1865 and 1899. Governing in the Habsburg Empire was built on negotiations between various actors as well as on attempts of politicians, members of the regional and central governments, mediators, and the emperor to establish compromises in politically sensitive questions. Political negotiations were informed by activities within informal networks. Following the lead of theoretically advanced political sciences (Grunden 2014; Rüb 2014) I embark on a systematic analysis of those communicative spaces and the ways in which individual, collective, and corporate actors employed informal policy networks to influence decisions to their favour.

The empirical basis for a historical analysis of informal policy networks are published diaries and correspondences that meticulously document politically relevant meetings. I consider the data from the first group of sources as complementary information, while turning my attention mainly to the papers of Adolf Braun. The letters preserved among Adolf Braun’s papers provide for the reconstruction of an ego-centered-network. My focus on this diversified network demonstrates how the cabinet office, especially its director Adolf Braun, operated as a nodal point in the communication between government, parliament, high positioned mediators, citizens of the monarchy and the emperor.

About the author

Andreas Enderlin-Mahr, Doctoral Fellow at the Vienna Doctoral Academy: Theory and Methodology in the Humanities, works as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Austrian Historical Research, University of Vienna, as part of the FWF-Project ‚The Emperor’s Desk: A Site of Policy Making’. His Ph.D. thesis deals with policy networks and informal practices within the Emperor’s Cabinet Office during the Reign of Francis Joseph I. He also holds the position of a Research Associate at the Institute of Modern and Contemporary History, Johannes Kepler University Linz.

Prior, he received a BA in History from the University of Vienna (2013) and a MA in History from the same institution (2016) with a thesis on ‚Broken Man in Medical Care. Masculinities in the specialized discourse of the Austrian Medical Field 1910–1928’. He specializes in the History of the Habsburg Empire, Masculinity Studies and Digital Media Studies.

twitter: @krisengentleman


Marion Dotter

Ennoblements of the Austrian Empire in the “Kabinettskanzlei” under the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I. (1849–1916)

My doctoral thesis is dedicated to the nobility of the Habsburg monarchy under the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I. (1849–1916). As this dissertation is part of the project “The Emperor´s Desk”, it seeks to connect questions of social change in the nobility with the administrative work of the “Kabinettskanzlei”. Thereby it concentrates on the ennoblements, the improvement in the noble hierarchy and the confirmation of ancient or foreign titles.
For the emperor himself the practice of ennoblement was a very important aspect of his work and his self-concept as a monarch. While his influence on several policy fields diminished due to the installation of the parliament and the constitution, he controlled the conferment of titles in both parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until his death. The ennoblements were one central facet of the Habsburgian symbolic policy that presented the dynasty and especially the Emperor as a unifying factor of the multinational state. To analyze the symbolic policy this thesis works with the concepts of loyalty and social capital.

The complete corpus of sources generated by the “Kabinettskanzlei” makes it possible to examine the connection between nobility and official institution with a variety of questions and methods: Firstly, a quantitative evaluation allows to compare the practices of ennoblement in the different territories of the Empire und gives a statistic overview of its development and changes over time. The applicants for a title of nobility will be examined regarding their nationality, confession and occupation. In a second step, selected submissions will be analyzed with textual tools to reconstruct the ways and possibilities, applications where presented to the emperor. With this method, personal and institutional actors and their connections will become visible. These results will lay the ground for a final network analysis. The last phase of the study will include the sources of the archive of nobility in the interior ministry (Adelsarchiv im Innenministerium) as well as the documents of the local governments in the crown lands.

About the author

Marion Dotter was born on December 13th 1991 in Vienna. Between 2002 and 2010 she attended the Gymnasium der Dominikanerinnen. Afterwards she studied History and German Philology at the University of Vienna and received her Master´s degree in 2017 with a Master thesis under the title “Italienische Kaufleute im Donauhandel in der ersten Hälfe des 18. Jahrhunderts“. The thesis derived from the FWF-supported project “Der Donauhandel in der frühen Neuzeit. Erschließung und Analyse der Aschacher Mautregister“ (Institute for Austrian History, University of Vienna), in which she worked as a project assistant from 2013 to 2015. Her interest in the political, economic and cultural connections between Austria and Italy deepened as an assistant of the project “Die rechtliche Bedeutung des Vertrags von St.Germain” (University of Graz and Austrian Academy of Sciences), for which she provided scientific literature and archival material in Vienna and Rome.

Marion supported young students as a mentor at the Institute of German Studies and as a tutor of the course “Geschichtswissenschaftliche Arbeitstechniken und Archivkunde” at the Institute of History. From 2016 to 2017 she worked as a student assistant of the DSPL Historische Kulturwissenschaften in Vienna. Her doctoral thesis examines the nobility of the Habsburg monarchy under the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I. Her research interest focuses on Austrian/Habsburg as well as Italian history from the 18th to the 20th century with a strong emphasis on administrative and economic history.

Nadja Weck

Austrian Railway Politics during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I. – a Policy-Analysis

During the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I the biggest expansion of the Habsburg railway network took place. When Franz Joseph took over government affairs in 1848, the length of the railway tracks amounted to less than 1,500 kilometres. About seventy years later it was more than 23,000 kilometres and a ramified railway network with many junctions emerged. The long-lasting reign of the emperor was during the age of the railway, and the expansion of the railway network was an ongoing topic in his government business. The large number in entries in railway projects at the time in the cabinet office’s protocol books show that the emperor was well-informed about the newest developments in the expansion of this important infrastructure network. The planning, construction and operation of every single section of the railway network could, at times, turn out to be an unsolvable problem. This was not so much connected to technical or geographical challenges rather than to the various interests at a communal, district, and state level which were tied to the new means of transport. In addition, representatives of the chamber of Commerce, private railway enterprises, the army and financial investors had a vested interest in the implementation of railway tracks and wanted their voices to be heard.
The abundance of people and institutions which were involved in construction and operation of railway tracks on different levels lend themselves to the reconstruction of political networks and the analysis of communication processes. In my research project I focus on a selection of railway tracks which emerged at different times and in different regions of the Habsburg Empire. By reconstructing the history of its development, I want to find the answer to the question of what way different actors influenced the construction of a railway line. Looking at policy making in the field of railway politics will therefore be crucial to deepening the knowledge about networks of governance, the involvement of individuals, collective and corporate players at different stages of policy making – from agenda setting to then decision making and then to the implementation. While tracing back the history of the development of the railway line from Lemberg (Lviv) to Brody and Tarnopol, (which later was extended to the Russian border), I was able to perceive how complicated the preparations could be before a new railway line were opened. This railway project was characterised by a conflict of interests on different levels. Several railway companies, different cities and two empires were involved in the construction of this line and delayed it in the end.

About the author

Nadja Weck (born March 29, 1978) is a graduated historian. Her research focus is on urban history and railway history with a specialisation on Central Europe and the Habsburgian Empire. As a research assistant at the Institute of Austrian Historical Research she works within the FWF/DFG project “The Emperor’s Desk: A Site of Policy Making”. In her current project she deals with Austrian railway politics during the reign of Franz Joseph I.
Nadja Weck was born in Berlin and studied Eastern European History and Literature in Frankfurt (Oder). In 2006 she earned a diploma and wrote her final thesis on “Geschichtspolitik und selektives Erinnern. Der Umgang mit dem Holocaust im westukrainischen Sambir” / “History of Politics and Selective Memory. Dealing with the Holocaust in the Western Ukrainian Town of Sambir”. From 2010 to 2014 she was a PhD-student on the doctoral program “Austrian Galicia and its multicultural heritage” (University of Vienna).

Her thesis on “Eisenbahn und Stadtgeschichte in Zentraleuropa am Beispiel der Stadt Lemberg (Lwów, L’viv)“ / „Railway and Urban Development in Central Europe. The Case of Lemberg“ was awarded the “Otto Borst Prize” in Esslingen in 2017.

As a student, she worked on several projects which had a focus on crimes against humanity during the “Third Reich”, such as:

  • Anne Frank Zentrum, Berlin (1999 – 2008)
  • Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt (now branch of The German Resistance Memorial Center) (1999 – 2008)
  • Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (2007)
  • Brandenburg Memorial Foundation, Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen (2000 – 2002)

She repeatedly spent time abroad for research purposes and language stays:

  • Research in archives and libraries in Lviv (Ukraine) and Cracow (Poland) (2011, 2012)
  • Internship in the German Historical Institute Moscow (2007)
  • Internship within the project “Voluntarily against forced labour. Mentoring programme for former forced labour workers from Central and Eastern Europe” in Moscow, German-Russian Exchange Service (2002)

Associated Researcher

Clemens Ableidinger

Psychiatry as policy and discourse: Establishment and development of mental health as a policy field during the reign of Francis Joseph I.

In my PhD-project I want to investigate how questions of mental health turned into an area of political discourse, and how, as a policy field, it developed over the course of Francis Joseph’s reign. Employing a combination of historical network analysis and discourse analysis, I aim to identify not only the relevant actors within the policy field but also discover interdependencies between polity, science and public health, both as a policy area as well as a social institution.
My research is being conducted in close cooperation with the FWF-project „The Emperor’s Desk: A Site of Policy Making“, aiming to contribute to an increase in understanding the many ways policy was being made in the Habsburg Empire.

About the author

Clemens Ableidinger, born in Amstetten, Lower Austria, studied history as well as English and American Studies at the University of Vienna and the Université de Bourgogne, Dijon. He graduated with a diploma thesis (Mag. phil) on the – social as well as pathological – influence of the First World War on the patients of the lower Austrian psychiatry in Mauer-Öhling.
Between 2015 and 2018, he worked as a Parliamentary Secretary and Policy Advisor at the Austrian Federal Council. In addition, he worked as a Project Assistant at the Institute for Jewish History in Austria, St. Pölten from 2016 to 2017. As a freelance historian, he contributed to the “Sparkling Science”-project of the Institute for Jewish History on the history of Mauer-Öhling funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.
In 2018, he was awarded the “Uni:Docs”-scholarship for his PhD-project on mental health as policy and discourse during the reign of Francis Joseph I, which is carried out at the Institute of Austrian Historical Research at the University of Vienna.



  • (upcoming) with Philipp Mettauer, „Verpflegsklasse und E-Kost: Mauer-Öhling 1914-1945“ (work-ing title). In: Lern- und Gedenkort Schloss Hartheim (Hg.), Krieg und Psychiatrie. Lebensbedin-gungen und Sterblichkeit in österreichischen Heil- und Pflegeanstalten im Ersten und Zweiten Weltkrieg (2019). [peer reviewed]
  • „Die religiösen Pflichten ihrer Confession“. Jüdinnen und Juden in der Kaiser Franz-Joseph-Landes-Heil und Pflegeanstalt Mauer-Öhling 1914-1918. In: Institut für jüdische Geschichte Ös-terreichs (Hg.), Für Kaiser und Vaterland. Jüdische und nichtjüdische Erfahrungen im Ersten Weltkrieg (Juden in Mitteleuropa, 2017) 60-67.

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