Join us for the official launch of Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge on 25 August 2018 with an exciting program of speakers and discussions.

Beyond Pluralism: Contrapuntal Responses to Culture Wars, New Nationalisms, and the Challenges of the Anthropocene

Perhaps no two phenomena mark our planetary community more than globalization and climate change. These two phenomena have fundamentally changed the planet we inhabit, so much so that many scientists are now saying we live in a different geological era – the Anthropocene. Part of the problem with such sweeping nomenclature is that it overlooks the unequal responsibility that humans from various parts of the world bear for the causes of global climate change and other global crises, and suggests instead that humans are all equal contributors to these crises. Furthermore, it perpetuates the cultural belief that the human being (anthropos) can or should be in a position to control the entire planet. The Anthropocene narrative (unwillingly) underpins one response to the problems of global climate change and globalization: the continuation of neoliberalism as usual. From this perspective, we can continue using the planet, as long as we become better stewards of it. Another reaction to the perceived ills of globalization has been a return to nationalism, which we see in many countries around the world. Counterpoint seeks to promote a third response: charting a course in which we acknowledge the benefits of the pluralism brought about by globalization, but also address the ills (climate change, economic inequity, and species loss, among other issues) and work to develop an earthly community that addresses the needs of all planetary citizens, both human and more-than-human. But where do we begin?

Navigating knowledge to find solutions to these global problems is a major challenge. This launch event of the Counterpoint Center will clearly address the existing challenges and identify programmatic paths toward solutions to our most pressing problems. Two questions in particular will serve as a framework for opening up new vistas and initiating innovative ways of thinking about how to bring a large spectrum of knowledge systems to the table and how to use such knowledge for the benefit of the planetary community:

  1. Around the world, processes of globalization are perceived as a loss of local identity, as cultural uprooting and homelessness. Often, the response is an overemphasis of local and national identities, with a clear distinction between “us” and “them,” and the universalization of the values and worldviews of one’s own group (defined by race, gender, class, worldview) or nation. How can we deal with global pluralistic developments without falling back into nationalism and cultural partisanship? Is it possible to develop a contrapuntal perspective in which we explicitly consult alternative knowledge systems – even conflicting ones – as a welcome counterweight to hegemonic discourses?
  2. In order to build a platform to support such a discussion, dominant knowledge systems have to seriously open up and be challenged and changed by other knowledge systems. Can a think tank such as Counterpoint really serve this goal? What are the theoretical and practical implications of a serious contrapuntal conversation that includes scholars, activists, artists, politicians, journalists, and representatives of various cultural groups, religions, and worldviews?

The launch event of Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge will help us formulate tentative answers to these questions, which will then serve as a basis for the work of Counterpoint in its start-up phase.

PROGRAM

2:00pm Welcome and introduction by Whitney A. Bauman and Kocku von Stuckrad, Directors of Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge
2:30 Keynote Address by Anthea Butler: “Race and the New Nationalisms”
Anthea Butler is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. A historian of American and African American religion, Professor Butler’s research and writing spans religion and politics, religion and gender, African American religion, sexuality, media, religion, and popular culture. She is the author of Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World on The University of North Carolina Press. She is currently completing a book project on religion, politics, and evangelicals from the 2008 to the 2016 election, which will be published with the New Press, and is starting work on a new grant project on Prosperity gospel and politics in Nigeria. A sought-after media commentator on the BBC, MSNBC, CNN and other media outlets, Professor Butler also provides op-ed on contemporary politics, religion, and race at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. She has also served as a consultant to the PBS series God in America and the American Experience on Aimee Semple McPherson.
3:30 Break with coffee, tea, and snacks
4:00 Roundtable discussion
Chair: Claudia Bruns, Professor of Historical Anthropology and Gender Studies, former Director of the Institute for Cultural History and Theory, Humboldt University, Berlin.
Panelists:
Rachel Alliston, Director of Decad, Berlin. Decad is a not-for-profit art space in Berlin which takes as its focus the reciprocity between contemporary art and critical discourse within the public sphere.
Jens Tuider, Chief of Staff and Executive Assistant at ProVeg International. He also used to work for Beyond Carnism and Animal Equality. Jens heads an interdisciplinary working group on animal ethics at the University of Heidelberg, Germany (Interdisziplinäre Arbeitsgemeinschaft Tierethik, IAT), and runs an online database with arguments in defence of animal rights (www.animalrights.info).
Michael Scaturro, a freelance contributor to the Guardian and the New York Times. Previously, he was a staff reporter at Bloomberg, and the journalist-in-residence at the Anne Frank House. His work has also appeared on NPR and in The Atlantic.
Anthea Butler

Whitney A. Bauman

Kocku von Stuckrad
5:30–6:30 Drinks
Also, starting at 5:30, there will be a press conference / Pressekonferenz (conducted in German)

Location:      Almodóvar Hotel, Boxhagener Straße 83, 10245 Berlin (see location on map)

The event is free of charge, but the number of participants is limited. Please register by sending an email to [email protected].

 


3 Comments

Rafael Kasischke · July 10, 2018 at 10:03 PM

To change the world. To change our systems. To educate the young generation in order to take care of the new world. To bring a higher awareness into the world.

    George Meller · July 24, 2018 at 8:23 PM

    This sounds like a fascinating lecture….Yes I would love to go…Will you be in Berlin – be MY guest. Will you or shall I reserve space?

Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge Successfully Launched – Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge · August 28, 2018 at 8:29 AM

[…] Responses to Culture Wars, New Nationalisms, and the Challenges of the Anthropocene” (see the launch description), the event addressed two of the most pressing challenges for the planetary community […]

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