On the postliberal condition, or: recursive anthropology beyond alternative facts and nostalgic positivism
CPSC lecture by Olaf Zenker (Anthropology and Philosophy, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany). Cosponsored by CERS.
Thursday, February 4, 202112:15 PM - 1:45 PM (Pacific Time)
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A profound disjuncture haunts our contemporary moment: on the one hand, the structural violence of actually existing liberalism discriminating race, gender, class, ethnicity etc. forcefully reinvigorates demands for a publicly engaged anthropology capable of taking a stand on the nature of things. On the other hand, liberalism as a hegemonic project has become severely challenged also in the Global North through markedly illiberal populist presidents, prime ministers and population groupings alike. At a time when critics “march for science”, nagging concerns have grown regarding an uncanny resemblance between the epistemic democratization emanating from Trump Tower and the one propagated over the past decades from various post-positivist Ivory Towers. Thus, how to ethico-onto-epistemologically struggle for alternative futures stabilized by good (enough) evidence without succumbing to either Kellyanne Conway’s instantly eternal “alternative facts” or to nostalgic positivism? Dialectically confronting anthropology’s postliberal critique with the postliberal provocation of contemporary right populism (both in troubling alignment and conflict with the former), this talk reflects on our postliberal condition as a potential new opening. It calls for a recursive anthropology capable to account for its own statement, thus substantiating its joint critique of both hegemonic liberalism and populist illiberalism.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Olaf Zenker is Professor at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. His research interests include political and legal anthropology (especially modern law; legal pluralism; bureaucracy; Identity and Conflict Studies.); linguistic anthropology; moral anthropology; philosophical anthropology; Social & Cultural Theory.
Cost : Free and open to the public. RSVP at above email for event link.
Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, Department of Anthropology - Culture, Power and Social Change