Summer School "Multiple Modernities" (1 - 5 September 2014)

Explicitly or implicitly, the Euro-American path to modernity has long been taken as a standard model, indeed as a definition of modernity in general. Individualization, the rule of law, technologisation, social differentiation, and secularization were seen as its inevitable manifestations. Regions of the world falling short of this "package" have been considered as in need of development by colonial rule or other forms of tutelage. Cultural difference was imagined in terms of temporal difference that could only be overcome, albeit gradually and perhaps never altogether, by embracing the Western model of modernity.

Sociologist Shmuel Eisenstadt set out to criticize these assumptions with his concept of "multiple modernities", pointing out that there was more than one isotropic condition of modernity. His assumptions were quickly taken up, in part because they allowed to emphasise the specific modernity of often syncretic cultural phenomena from outside of Europe and the U.S. which embraced and appropriated both global (and putatively modern) and local (supposedly traditional) conditions of production. Nevertheless, the notion of "multiple modernities" was beset by a range of theoretical and ethical problems and is increasingly confronted with harsh criticism, especially from postcolonial theory. Foremost among these are the allegations that it shares with older theories of modernity an essentialist definition of culture and that by "decomposing modernity" it retranslates development into hierarchy, and risks essentialising economic asymmetries into cultural difference, thereby depoliticising contemporary globalization.

This summer school, targeted at doctoral candidates and early postdocs, aims at a critical reflection of modernization theory up to its most recent guises and critiques and seeks an engagement with cultural and aesthetic practices that express the seeming contradictions of contemporary global modernity. These may include, but are not narrowed to: literature and the arts, media, fashion/clothing, food, urbanisation, religious practice. It hopes to foster exchange between young researchers from diverse cultural backgrounds and disciplines in the social sciences and humanities whose work is related to theoretical implications and cultural, social, and aesthetic phenomena of global modernity.

  • Confirmed Keynotes:

  • Monday, 09/01/2014,10:00, Alte Sternwarte,
    Gurminder Bhambra (University of Warwick): Modernity, Multiple Modernities, and Postcolonial Critique

    Christoph Dipper (Technische Universität Darmstadt): Modernity: A Historian's Perspective

    Tuesday, 09/02/2014, 10:00, Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum, R. 0.606/0.607
    Gauri Viswanathan (Columbia University): Untouchability, Modernization and the Caste Question

    Wednesday, 09/03/2014, 10:00, Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum, R.0.606/0.607
    Parama Roy (University of California/Davis)
    Empire's Proximities

    Thursday, 09/04/2014,10:00, Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum, R.0.606/0.607
    Stefan Haas (Universität Göttingen): The Globalization of Historiographic Narratives: Homogenization or Diversification?

    Friday, 09/04/2014,10:00, Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum, R. 0.606/0.607
    Lars Eckstein (Universität Potsdam): Pirate Modernities

  • Public Reading

  • Thursday, 09/04/2014, 20:00, Literarisches Zentrum Göttingen,
    Alain Mabanckou (Los Angeles/Paris): Black Bazaar

    Pre-sale 7/9 Euro ; box office 8/10 Euro


Julia Hauser

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin
Graduiertenschule für Geisteswissenschaften
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Friedländer Weg 2
37085 Göttingen
Tel +49 (0)551/ 39-21124
Academia Seite von Julia Hauser
Hauser GSGG

Jens Elze

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
Graduiertenschule für Geisteswissenschaften
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Friedländer Weg 2
37085 Göttingen
Tel +49 (0)551 / 39-21123