OCTANT is the centre for Austrian Studies and Culture which operates under the auspices of the University of Antwerp. Its mandate is the academic development and implementation of projects which address the topic of Austria as a modern and historical cultural entity. The goal is to encourage a cultural dialogue between central and northwestern Europe (BENELUX countries, France and Germany) rather than to promote a single national culture.
FIELDS OF ACTIVITY
- Planning and implementation of research projects on topics of relevance to Austria. Providing academic support and networking for corresponding undertakings at other institutions (eg. Master's theses, dissertations, post-doc research projects).
- Publication of all research findings in essay and/or book format. See e.g the Germanistische Mitteilungen or www.kakanien.ac.at
- Staging of approximately four cultural events yearly. These include symposia and presentations as well as author readings, film screenings and exhibitions of art and literature.
- Assisting other bodies involved in the organization of cultural activities specific to Austria.
- Circulation of a free newsletter announcing events sponsored by OCTANT and other sources. It appears 3-6 times a year (Subscribe here)
- Building up an Austrian library within the general library of the University of Antwerp
- A collection of Austrian movies within the library
- Fostering an awareness of Austria within the Belgian media and general public.
- Spearheading educational initiatives including support for student projects and continuing education seminars for German instructors.
- Promoting cooperation with similar institutions both locally and abroad.
The centre is a Austrian-Belgian joint venture. The University of Antwerp bears all costs for offices, academic infrastructure, mailing etc. Running projects are financed on an individual basis by Austrian and Belgian subsidies.
OCTANT was provisionally established in 1993/94 by a local Antwerp initiative, since there was no official Austrian Cultural Institute in nearby Brussels. In 1998, OCTANT-founder Dr. Clemens Ruthner acted as a regional curator for the art section of the Austrian Federal Chancellery and helped organizing cultural events in connection with the first Austrian EU-presidency. After several years of successful probational operation, OCTANT was recognized in 1999 by the academic senate of the University of Antwerp as a legal body ("centre"). In 2003, Dr. Roland Duhamel, co-founder of OCTANT, was awarded the Medal for Science and Art of the Republic of Austria.
Situated in the historic centre of the city, the office of OCTANT are currently housed in the Germanic Institute of the University of Antwerp, which boasts state-of-the-art lecture facilities as well as an exhibition room for events. In the future, the endowment of a dedicated Austrian section in the new Humanities library of the university will make the standing collections widely accessible to the public. They are currently available only to academic users.
Mag. Sabine Moll
is managing director of OCTANT and Austrian lecturer at the University of Antwerp, Dr. Michael Limberger (historian with the KUB) Roland Duhamel and Vivian Liska (German literature) along with Joachim Leilich (Philosophy), Helma Houtman-De Smedt (History) and Herman Van Pelt (Social and Communication Studies), all professors of the University of Antwerp, make up the advisory body of OCTANT.