2 min

Collaborative research into hunger and immigration

First conference of the Research Network Interdisciplinary Regional Studies (FIRST), 20th and 21st of November

View of the St. Pölten UAS

Last year, five Lower Austrian institutes for the humanities, social and cultural sciences based at Danube University Krems merged to form the Research Network Interdisciplinary Regional Studies with the acronym FIRST. St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences is involved in two research collaborations on the topics of immigration and nutrition.

Immigration in Lower Austria

In the FIRST network, the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research at St. Pölten UAS surveys current inclusion and exclusion practices with regard to certified refugees in rural Lower Austrian communities. "It is about recording the perspective of the refugees, their positive and negative experiences but also the experiences of other residents present in the communities," said Katharina Auer-Voigtländer, Junior Researcher at the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research.

Up to now, integration has been the approach most used in dealing with immigration. This should be extended to social inclusion. "In contrast to concepts of integration, it is not a question of the absorption of individuals or groups into a larger whole or of integrating oneself, but rather, an aspiration to a new form of living together", explained Johannes Pflegerl, Head of the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Social Inclusion Research at St. Pölten UAS.

Food and inequality

In the second research collaboration entitled "Nutrition Makes Inequality", the sub-project "Biographies of Food" at St. Pölten UAS investigates how disruptions in life histories affect nutrition. These disruptions include: poverty, chronic illness, homelessness, addiction, divorce or release from prison. Researchers in the Ilse Arlt Institute interview those affected as well as social workers in social institutions. Their purpose is to determine what and how the people concerned eat and how meal invitations or help from their circle of friends are dealt with.

"There is still hunger in Austria, but this hunger is hidden in life histories. In comparison to historical hunger crises, the responsibility for this hunger is individualized. Most people today do not starve, but some repeatedly have nothing to eat for several days", said Gabriele Drack-Mayer, Junior Researcher in the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research. According to Drack-Mayer, the above-mentioned disruptions in life histories that lead to hunger are often similar. Society should therefore catch people before they fall through the cracks in the social network. The aim of the project is to take greater consideration of nutritional aspects in social work.

1. First conference: Collaborative Research - Nutritional Inequality | Immigration

November 20th-21st, 2017 - Lower Austrian Provincial Library, St. Pölten

More information

Links to the projects (in German)

Research Network Interdisciplinary Regional Studies (FIRST)

In the FIRST Network, two institutes located in St. Pölten, the Institute of Rural History (IGLR) and the Institute for Jewish History in Austria (INJOEST) have joined forces with the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture (IMAREAL) of the University of Salzburg based in Krems and the Raabs branch of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research on War Consequences (BIK). The framework for this is provided by the Research, Technology and Innovation Programme of the Province of Lower Austria (FTI programme). The two research collaborations for immigration and nutrition are supported financially by the Lower Austrian Science Department. In these collaborations, FIRST cooperates with the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research at Pölten UAS and the Centre for Immigration Research located in the provincial capital.