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Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 1/2022, Schwerpunktheft: Moderne Zeitlichkeiten und das Anthropozän

Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift (KWZ) 1/2022. 2022. Unverändertes Open-Access-eJournal der 1. Auflage von 2022. 122 Seiten.
978-3-7873-4390-4. eJournal (PDF)
DOI: 10.28937/978-3-7873-4390-4
EUR 0,00
Open Access unter der Lizenz CC BY SA 4.0.


Ingwersen, Moritz; Steglich, Sina: Einleitung: Moderne Zeitlichkeiten und das Anthropozän.

Framed by the difficulty of coming to terms with the disruptive temporalities of the climate crisis, the proposition of the Anthropocene invites a critical re-contextualization of modern concepts of time and subjectivity. The declaration of the human as an agent of geological stratification both re-inscribes and challenges the temporal self-image of western modernity as an anthropocentric narrative of progress and ontological supremacy. Establishing a dialogue between historiography and the environmental humanities, this article embeds the Anthropocene hypothesis in recent scholarship on the pluralization of modern temporalities and suggests opportunities to revisit and decenter the specific hegemonic preconceptions and implications of considering modernity and the Anthropocene as temporal regimes with universalist, yet contingent claims on divergent conceptions of being-intime. Contextualized with references to the emergence of historicism in the late 19th century and decolonial critiques that help frame the articulation of western modernity as a practice of temporalized hegemony, this article provides a stepping-stone and introduction to what it might mean to revisit and pluralize modern times against the backdrop of the Anthropocene.

Richter, Tilman: Das „diplomatische Jahrhundert“: Mediatisierung von Zeitverhältnissen in den Staatswissenschaften des 18. Jahrhunderts.

This essay argues that the assessment of the Anthropocene as a geological period characterized by the irreversible influence of human action on its environments should be supplemented by the consideration of media that shape the notion of history and its temporal structures – and therefore allow for such an assessment in the first place. For this purpose, the text examines practices of paperwork in early modern Germany. Reconstructing Johann Gottfried von Meiern’s concept of a past formed by historical records that can be collected and edited, it considers how practices of editing contributed to an understanding of a mediated past accessible through writing, allowing both for a better perception of the present and the planning of the future. The paper then also looks at practices of administrative writing through the example of Friedrich Karl Moser’s reflections on the contra-signature and examines how these practices helped shaping an environment of paperwork that individuals and institutions had to work through. The essay argues that these media practices shaped the concept of media as an environment that could be used as a resource but also needed to be controlled. Hence, early modern paperwork can be understood as part of the prehistory of discourses that complement the notion of the Anthropocene with the concept of a Mediocene.

Steglich, Sina: Vom Ausgang der Erde aus der Welt des Menschen, oder: Wie das „Prä-“ vor die Geschichte kam.

The anthropocene discourse is a fascinating intervention into the current understanding of the human sphere and its environment, stimulating the re-shaping of “natural” as well as disciplinary, epistemological boundaries. But the vivid circulation of this vibrant term seems to hide the fact that the binary of the natural and the cultural sphere is not a recent invention nor is it itself a “natural” differentiation. This article will therefore shed light on its intellectual predecessors and its diachronic depth discussing contributions to European enlightenment historiography around 1800 and their narrowing understanding of “universal history” as human, written history – and as such clearly separated from the history of the earth and other species. Analyzing this crucial episode of modern historiography is of genuine importance: this specific understanding of history as limited to humans has to be regarded as the fundamental epistemological shift separating the two worlds of nature and culture that remains influential until the present day and is currently challenged by the anthropocence discourse.

Savina, Mariya: Walter Benjamins Eschatologie der Katastrophe: Fortschritt, Unterbrechung und das Ende der Geschichte.

The paper analyses Walter Benjamin’s conceptions of time in the context of Anthropocene thought. In the paper, I study Benjamin’s figures of time and discuss their contribution to understanding the Anthropocene as a critical present. I analyse Walter Benjamin’s temporalities of modernity, focusing progress and primal history (Urgeschichte) in the light of Benjamin’s idea of catastrophe. I start by explaining Benjamin’s ideas in the context of the Anthropocene discourse. I then proceed to the analysisof specific figures of time, namely of primal history (Urgeschichte), progress, catastrophe and nowtime (Jetztzeit). Questioning the ambiguity of Benjamin’s concept of history, I show a hypothetical, in Benjamin’s sense revolutionary side of the Anthropocene time. In the light of Benjamin’s thought, the latter depicts the utopian, to some extent apocalyptical horizon of the absent border between man and nature.

Probst, Simon: Wie die Geschichte(n) der Erde bewohnen? (Literarische) Kompositionen von planetarer Zeit zwischen Moderne und Anthropozän.

As human activities increasingly shape the material reality of the earth, it becomes important to embed the temporalities of human experience and history in the larger context of planetary temporalities. In this article I ask for a composition of planetary time that allows as a theoretical framework to explore the manifold relations between human and more-than-human kinds of time. In a first step, I show how the relation of geological ‘deep time’ to historical time in modern geology is dominantly constructed as a dichotomy and how this dichotomic construction troubles the Anthropocene discourse, for example in Dipesh Chakrabarty’s seminal essays. In a second step, I argue that planetary temporalities should not be reduced to the geological construction of deep time. As an alternative, I propose to conceive of planetary temporality as a plurality of ‘sympoietic times’. Thinking with Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing, this approach highlights the ways in which heterogenous kinds of time entangle in world-making processes that shape the earth. Finally, I show how literary representations of geological time can be seen as a reservoir of knowledge about the manifold sympoietic relations between the temporalities of human experience and the time scales of earth history.

Pötzsch, Justus: (Re)Synchronisierung auf dem Boden der Tatsachen? Die Pedosphäre als Übersetzungsregion anthropologischer und geologischer Zeitlichkeit.

The new geological epoch defined by hu/man brings an end to the modern narrative and worldview of an independent anthropological agent who thrives on the passive and unlimited resources of nature and thus, one day, will transcend planetary boundaries to become truly liberated. Counterintuitively to its name, this new planetary time unit is characterized by a critical situation of formerly separated entities, hu/man and earth, which now prove to be inextricably bound together but struggle to find a common and thus livable ground. By taking ground (stemming from Greek pédon) in the sense of earth, soil and bedrock as a literally and materially relevant contact zone of our current geo-historical transformation, alternative relationships of mankind and planet can be developed. Especially the notion layers of time allows for a useful approach to both forms of horizontal manifestation, geological and historical strata, which express the interdependent reality or co-constructive worlding in the age of Anthropocene. Thus, the Anthropocene indicates an ambivalent and yet undefined dynamic for the planet and its inhabitants, since extensive geoengineering, the excavation and penetration of ground, signifies the undertaking of hu/man to realize dominance over the planet, while myriad human trace fossils are giving an ominous sign of mankind’s wasteful and self-destructive lifestyle, signaling an imminent return to the earth it originally emerged from.

Doil, Lukas: Zukunftspolitik im Technozän. Der Technikfolgendiskurs in den 1970er Jahren.

At the end of the post-war economic boom in the late 1960s, a new paradigm of futures studies emerged in “western” nations and institutions. Following an era which saw a broad, albeit ambivalent, influx of cybernetic planning discourses and a euphoria for growth and science, undesired and unplanned consequences of scientific and economic expansion were now chiefly problematized. This article traces the discourse of Technology Assessment (TA), a political and scientific process in development to “foresee” harmful effects on environments, societies, and economies. It soon proved to be a field of action for both politicians who valued it as a means of technology control, and for experts of futurology to reappraise their methods under new auspices. TA and its scientific and institutional legacy in the present relate to the ongoing debate about the Anthropocene. While TA is in its essence oriented towards a progressive and positivistic outlook on the future and knowledge thereof, the Anthropocene discourse has similar origins in futures semantics found in the 1970s. Both concepts should be historicized in regard to their scientific and political contexts.

Schüttpelz, Erhard; Steglich, Sina; Ingwersen, Moritz: Allochronie im Anthropozän: Ein Gespräch mit Erhard Schüttpelz.

Against the backdrop of the climate crisis and Anthropocene injustices, this conversation unfolds the concept of allochrony to examine modernity as a temporal regime that relied on the attribution of non-simultaneity to the populations of western colonies under the ethnographic gaze of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Positioning the racialized signifier of “the primitive” as a key concept and foil in understanding the articulation of modern subjectivity around 1900, modern temporalities are grounded in the construction of a temporal hierarchy that legitimized the dispossession of land and oppression of Indigenous peoples at the height of European imperialism. Drawing on cultural anthropology, media theory, and the history of science, this conversation provides a critical assessment of the Anthropocene by foregrounding the colonial violence and inherent paradoxes of modern epistemologies as a function of temporal categorization.