Universität Erfurt

Universität Erfurt


From the Coloniality of Natural Disaster to the Planthropocene. New Approaches to Planetary Crisis 01.10.2019 - 02.10.2019

Internationaler Workshop am Max-Weber-Kolleg.

  • Ort: Steinplatz 2 (Forschungsgebäude 2)
  • Referent(en): verschiedene
  • Veranstalter: Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
  • Kategorie: Workshop
  • Publikum: nicht öffentlich

Please register for the workshop until September 25th via e-mail to:  pauline.schneider@uni-erfurt.de . For the key note lecture on October 1st no registration is required.

The last two decades have seen various important shifts in scholarly and public discussions of disaster, catastrophe and crisis that are described as “natural” or “environmental” in their causes and effects. Not only has it become rather common to highlight how the consequences of floods, hurricanes and land slides (especially their augmenting death tolls and the destruc-tion of things they cause) are influenced by the actions of humans (e.g. their tendency to build themselves “into harms way”). Such actions have also been increasingly understood as being at least partially causal for them, even in their very “naturalness”. Moreover, and in connection to this, have different singular catastrophic events been linked to each other and to larger (dis-astrous) processes, such as climate change and the overall geological transformation of the earth and its different spheres resulting from certain forms of production and consumption, associated e.g. with industrialization and its “big acceleration”.
The workshop will examine how these shifts in the understanding of disaster, crisis and catas-trophe, emerged within different (techno-)scientific discourses, public policy and debate, as well as in the realm of social activism, and in the overlapping spaces between these fields.
It will analyze how they were linked to the increasing popularity of certain concepts, such as the “anthropocene” but also that of “toxicity”, “metabolism” or “slow violence”, and discuss their analytical and political usefulness and pitfalls. It will e.g. focus on the criticism that the “anthropocene” concept has been subjected to for not only reproducing a problematically an-thropocentric world view, but for also obscuring with the unifying category of “the human” that it promotes the dramatically unequal geographical and social distribution of disastrous events and process. – Of processes often seen as a direct result of the violent forces of dynam-ics such as capitalism and colonialism. This critique of the anthropocene model and the alter-native frameworks and “aspirational epistemes” that feminist science and technology studies scholars have brought forward will serve as a starting point for a more in depth reflection on the coloniality of (natural) disaster and the more established ways of thinking them.


Tuesday, 1.10.2019 (Venue: Max Weber Center, room 803)

  • 9 am: Welcome and coffee
  • 9.30 am: Introduction by Bernhard Kleeberg (Max Weber Center) and Cécile Stehrenberger (Max Weber Center)
  • 10-11.30 am: Daniel Lorenz (Free University Berlin): Colonial Pasts and Futures of Forest Fires in Germany Comment: Hannah Holleman
  • 11.30 am -1 pm: Alexandra Toland (Bauhaus University Weimar): The Unbearable Heaviness of Dust – A Reflection on Ecosystem Services in Toxic Times Comment: Julia Bee (Bauhaus University, Weimar)
  • 1-2 pm: Lunch
  • 2-3.30 pm: Martin Repohl (Max Weber Center): Chernobyl as World-Catastrophe: Worldrelationship in a Contaminated World
    Kate Brown (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge): The Great Chernobyl Ac-celeration (via video)
  • 3.30-5 pm: Hermine Bähr (Max Weber Center): tbd Comment: Iñaki Prádanos (Miami University, Ohio) (via video)
  • 6.30 pm: Keynote by Hannah Holleman (Amherst College): No Empires, No Wastelands: The Necessity of Forging a Real Ecological Solidarity for the 21st Century

Wednesday, 2.10.2019 (Venue: Max Weber Center, room 803)

  • 9.30-11 am: Cécile Stehrenberger (Max Weber Centre): Annobón 1988: Toxic Waste, Coloni-alism, and the Franco Dictatorship Comment: Sven Bergmann (Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum, Bremenhaven)
  • 11-12.30 am: Sven Bergmann (Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum, Bremenhaven): Speculative Ecologies - Knowledge Production in Environments of Toxic Uncertainty Comment: Martin Repohl (Max Weber Center)
  • 12.30 – 1.30 pm: Lunch
  • 1.30-3 pm: Discussion of text material by Natasha Myers, Hannah Holleman and Iñaki Prádanos

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