Die Veranstaltungen des Instituts für Kulturanthropologie und Europäische Ethnologie der letzten fünf Jahre.


13.07.2022, Lucy Suchman (Lancaster University): Demilitarisation, open worlds, and reparative futures

The closed world is a trope, articulated most famously by historian of science Paul Edwards (1996), for the technopolitical imaginary of dominance and containment that underwrote the Cold War arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union at the close of the 20th century. Set against this imperial stand-off is a decolonial imaginary named by anthropologists Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser (2018) as “a world of many worlds.” A world of many worlds is a pluriverse that exceeds the imperial closed world, comprising multiple ongoing processes of worlding that are partially connected, but also ultimately incommensurable and uncontainable.

Through a critical examination of the current U.S. project of Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), this talk examines the rebirth of artificial intelligence (AI) as the promissory technological fix aimed at securing militarism’s future. I turn from there to recent challenges to this technopolitical imaginary, based on critical scholarship, investigative journalism, and creative diplomacy, which provide evidence for the continued escape of conflict from the frames of rational action and control on which militarism depends. These counter-stories challenge the military’s attempt to make clean demarcations of enmity within complex relations of affinity and difference, recovering the realities that escape military operations and opening spaces in which to consider demilitarisation and the possibilities for reparative future-making.


22.06.2022, Andrea Ballestero (University of Southern California): Aquifers: Ethnography and Responsibility at the Edge of a Concept

Imagining what life will become in the near future, public officials and community members on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast are coming together to take responsibility for underground water worlds. In the process they oscillate between two concepts: groundwater and aquifers. Groundwater efficiently conveys a sense of water as a fungible unit that can be exchanged, banked, or spent. In contrast, the figure of the aquifer activates a grounded concept whereby land, liquid, and history are inseparable. In this talk, I query how people move from groundwater to aquifers, and back. I ask what are the stakes of doing so, and what kind of responsibility for subterranean water worlds are possible in that movement? More broadly, I examine what happens to responsibility when people live and act at the edge of a concept?