Featured Thinker: Arjun Appadurai

Arjun Appadurai

On June 17, 2010, Social Anthropologist and theorist of culture Arjun Appadurai spent a day with interested PhD students, postdocs and scholars in Göttingen. Appadurai is professor for media, culture and communication at the New York University. Because of his association as a senior research partner with the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity he often stays in Göttingen resulting in the wonderful opportunity to start a discussion about his diverse work. The Center for Theory of Culture and Society (ZTMK) in Göttingen seized this opportunity and organized together with Appadurai the first event of a new series of workshops called "Featured Thinker Day". About 50 participants appeared to talk about Appadurais work on the topics of globalization, post colonialism, media and urbanity.

The discussion started with Appadurais groundbreaking essay "The Social Life of Things" (1986) and moved on to his conception of value and materiality and further to more general concepts like ?ethnoscape" and "financescape" and the role of imagination for the construction of human identity in a global world. Appadurai spoke open about his research and provided insights in the foundation of his work in the fields of history and the history of ideas as well as the theory of culture. He answered all questions with sympathy and empathy. The workshop ended with a debate about Appadurais newest publication, "An Essay on the Geography of Anger".

For all participants, the workshop was an intense and exiting experience, which provided the opportunity to engage with a renowned scholar. Because of the success, the ZTMK plans to continue the "Featured Thinker Day" series in the following years.