World Philologies Seminar
Thu 12 Jan 2017 | 15:00–18:00

Provincializing Human History?

Olivier Remaud (EHESS Paris); Chair: Markus Messling (Centre Marc Bloch, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Freie Universität Berlin, Holzlaube, Room 2.2051, Fabeckstr. 23-25, 14195 Berlin

In a recent paper (“The Climate of History”, Critical Inquiry, 35-2, 2009), Dipesh Chakrabarty reminds us of the provenance of the category “History”. He claims that the impact on climate invalidates the common distinction between “human history” and “natural history”; and he concludes that we have to find for the future a “figure of the universal that escapes our capacity to experience the world”. Turning back to the viconian legacy, Chakrabarty not only suggests that conceptions of history without the participation of nature do not make any understanding of the present-day world possible. He challenges also indirectly the Weltliteratur statement that the “province” of the philologist is the “world of human history” (Erich Auerbach). A close reading of Chakrabarty’s paper will be the starting point of this talk. It will be argued that the cosmopolitan questions that arise from climate change and globalization are opportunities to reconsider the task of the world philologist in a broad sense including conflicting views of the “universal” across time and space.

Olivier Remaud is an associate professor of cultural and social philosophy at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris and the director of the Centre d'études sociologiques et politiques Raymond-Aron (EHESS-CNRS UMR 8036). His publications include: Solitude volontaire (Albin Michel, 2017); Un monde étrange. Pour une autre approche du cosmopolitisme (PUF, 2015); Les Archives de l'humanité. Essai sur la philosophie de Vico (Seuil, 2004); and Michelet. La magistrature de l’histoire (Michalon, 1998). He has co-edited: Faire des sciences sociales: Critiquer (I), Généraliser (II), Comparer (III) (EHESS Press, 2012, 3 vol.); War and Peace: The Role of Science and Art (Duncker & Humblot, 2010), with S. Nour; Civilisations. Retour sur les mots et les idées (Springer, 2008), with C. Avlami; L'épreuve de la nouveauté (ENS-LSH Press, 2005), with M. Gaille-Nikodimov & P. Girard; La Boétie. Le Discours sur la servitude volontaire (Vrin, 2002); Recherches sur la pensée de Vico (Ellipses, 2002), with P. Girard. A visiting professor in Chicago, New York, Berlin, Vienna and Oslo, he is a research awardee of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation.

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