Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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Manuela Bank-Zillmann

Telefon: +49 345 55-21004
Telefax: +49 345 55-27404

Universitätsplatz 8/9
06108 Halle


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Peter Pels: 'Future Matters - further thoughts on time and the decolonization of anthropology'

Termin Dienstag, 30. April 2019, 16.15 - 18.00 Uhr
Veranstaltungsart Vorlesung/Vortrag
Einrichtung Philosophische Fakultät I
Veranstalter Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung und Seminar für Ethnologie der MLU
Veranstaltungsort Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung, Großer Seminarraum
Straße Advokatenweg 36
PLZ/Ort 06114 Halle (Saale)
Ansprechpartner Bettina Mann
Telefon +49 345-2927501


This presentation elaborates on my basic proposition that the near-absence of a systematic anthropology of the future signals the unfinished business of anthropology’s postcolonial reflexivity (Pels 2015: 779). In the meantime after finishing this essay, I became convinced that this can be phrased more radically: that a (perhaps typically positivist) failure to reckon with the socially and culturally constitutive dimensions of time – instead of constantly reminding us of that our most universal aspirations are materialized in the present, and therefore always remain only contingently true - often prevents anthropology from realizing some of the goals of decolonization that it set itself at least since the 1960s. Even stronger: to the extent that social science has replicated this stance in the study of modern societies (especially by endorsing developmentalism or “globalized” forms of modernization theory), it has so far prevented us from a full cultural understanding of modern times in general.

I will illustrate this general thesis (at least for anthropology) by concentrating on the current transformation of museums and heritage (especially in so-called “museums of world cultures”), with particular emphasis on their revision of the modernist epochal conception of time (which pits tradition against modernity), the modernist tendency to reduce time to linear history, and the humanist reduction of objects to the time of their human manufacture. (speakers abstract)



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