The project “Feminist Psychological Voices in Vienna” aims at making the work of feminist psychologists and psychosocial practitioners working in Viennese women’s and girls’ counseling centers internationally visible. For this purpose, the project team consisting of Ass.-Prof. Dr. Nora Ruck, Emelie Rack, BSc. (Sigmund Freud University Vienna), Mag. Ing. Susanne Hahnl (Independent Researcher) and Dr. Barbara Rothmüller (Sigmund Freud University Vienna) will create at least 20 biographical profiles of these actors as well as a digital exhibition on women’s and girls’ counseling in Vienna, which will be published on the international multimedia website “Psychology’s Feminist Voices” by cooperation partner Prof. Dr. Alexandra Rutherford (York University Toronto). The biographical profiles will be based on oral history interviews with Viennese feminist psychologists and psychosocial practitioners and with the help of archival materials on their organizations and the history of the women’s movement in Vienna, while the digital exhibition will focus on the context and conditions for women’s and girls’ counseling centers in Vienna. The fact that feminist psychological knowledge was able to develop so strongly in the counseling context in Vienna indicates that there were and are conditions conducive to the founding and institutionalization of women’s and girls’ counseling centers in Vienna. This contribution of the City of Vienna to the production of feminist psychological knowledge will be elaborated in our digital exhibit and thus made internationally visible.

Project team

Project lead: 
Ass.Prof.in Dr.in Nora Ruck

Project members:
Emelie Rack, BSc.; Mag.a Ing.in Susanne Hahnl; Dr.in Barbara Rothmüller

Method

The research project is primarily based on oral history interviews with feminist psychologists and psychosocial practitioners, which provide insights into the subjective dimension of historical developments (cf. e.g. Ritchie, 2014; and on the complexity of “recent history” see Potter & Romano, 2012). As our project focuses on making feminist psychologists and psychosocial practitioners visible, our interviewees are mentioned by name in their biographical profiles. While oral history interviews are often kept open in order to allow the experiences of the interview partners to unfold in their own relevance, we work with the interview guide that the project team of our cooperation partner Alexandra Rutherford also uses for interviews within the framework of Psychology’s Feminist Voices. This guide is slightly modified for each interviewee based on archival research about the interviewee and their work context. Archival research and reviews of primary and secondary literature on the interviewees and their work and movement contexts in the project Feminist Psychological Voices in Vienna serve to contextualise and triangulate the interviewees’ narratives, prepare for the interviews and adjust the interview guide. If possible, the interviews will be recorded on video. We plan to use these video recordings at a later stage for a documentary on the history and present of feminist psychologies in Vienna. In addition, all transcripts will be archived in the keyword archive and thus made available to a (limited) public. Furthermore, archival, primary and secondary literature research is indispensable for a digital exhibit on Psychology’s Feminist Voices, which will be dedicated to the history and social contexts of women’s projects in Vienna.

Question(s) and hypotheses

Questions:

  • How has feminist psychological knowledge developed in Vienna?
  • What social, historical and local contexts conditioned and conditioned the development of feminist psychological knowledge in Vienna?

Scientific and practical relevance

Psychology’s Feminist Voices (PFV) is a research team and project led by Prof. Alexandra Rutherford. Headquartered at York University in Toronto, Canada, team members and collaborators can now be found on three continents, including the Vienna project team, which is part of the international PFV team.

In addition to research publications and lectures, the PFV team has produced the documentary film The Changing Face of Feminist Psychology, a series of short educational videos entitled Feminist Psychologists Talk About… and Gender Matters, a video series on the use of gender analysis in psychology. The main contents of the website are biographical profiles of (1) women in the history of psychology who obtained their highest university degrees by 1959 at the latest, and (2) feminist psychologists who have contributed to the (further) development of feminist psychological knowledge since the late 1960s. For the profiles of feminist psychologists, oral history interviews are conducted and processed into biographical profiles together with archival and primary material; in addition, in the spirit of open science, entire interview transcripts and video excerpts are often available alongside the interviews. The focus of the website is on the USA and Canada – the countries where feminist psychology is most firmly anchored in academic psychology. In addition, since feminist psychologies have become institutionalised at many universities in North America, biographical profiles of feminist psychologists from the academic field were mainly found for a long time.

Our grassroots project “The Psychological is Political” set out to strengthen the international visibility of Viennese feminist psychologists and psychosocial practitioners. Psychology’s Feminist Voices offers a platform with excellent reach: in 2020, the website recorded around 94,300 clicks and was displayed around 4.85 million times in internet search results. The website was thoroughly overhauled at the beginning of 2021, which included setting up a separate multilingual subpage for the Vienna project for the first time.

The primary objective of the project “Feminist Psychological Voices in Vienna” is in the field of science transfer and aims to make the rich diversity of Viennese feminist psychological knowledge production accessible to a broad and international public on the website Psychology’s Feminist Voices. Special consideration will be given to important autonomous counselling centres from an intersectional and queer perspective, feminist psychosocial services affiliated with Viennese public health care institutions, as well as feminist and queer psychologists and psychotherapists working in independent practice.

Biographical profiles of historical actors necessarily foreground the life stories and contributions of individuals, while context and collectives are relegated to the background. However, especially when researching women’s movements and women’s and girls’ counselling centres, the collectivity and situatedness of knowledge production must be taken into account. In addition to biographical profiles, the Psychology’s Feminist Voices platform offers the possibility to curate digital exhibitions, so-called “exhibits”. Through these, visitors to the website are introduced to a specific topic and existing profiles can be related to each other and embedded in a larger context. In order to increase the international visibility of the Viennese profiles as well as the broad feminist-psychological work in Vienna in general, the conception, creation and publication of such a digital “exhibit” on the topic of “Women’s Projects in Vienna” on the multimedia platform is therefore planned as part of the project “Feminist-Psychological Voices in Vienna”.      

Funding body

  • Stadt Wien Kultur, Wissenschafts- und Forschungsförderung (City of Vienna – Promotion of Culture, Science and Research)
  • Funding amount: 50.000€

Project duration

1st April, 2022 – 30th Sept. 2023

Cooperation partners

  • Univ.Prof.in Dr.in Alexandra Rutherford, York University Toronto
  • Scientific advisory board: Univ.Prof. Dr. Gerhard Benetka, Sigmund Freud University Vienna; Mag.a Ing.in Susanne Hahnl

If you are interested in a cooperation, please contact nora.ruck@sfu.ac.at or emelie.rack@sfu.ac.at