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Ergebnisanzeige "At the Crossroads between Magic and Positivism: Walter Benjamin and Anthropology"
RessourcentypCall for Papers
TitelAt the Crossroads between Magic and Positivism: Walter Benjamin and Anthropology
BeschreibungAt the Crossroads between Magic and Positivism: Walter Benjamin and Anthropology

An International Symposium at the University of Oxford, 1-3 September 2009

"Der unmittelbare Rückschluss von der Weinsteuer auf [Baudelaires] 'L'Âme du vin' schiebt den Phänomenen eben jene Art von Spontaneität, Handgreiflichkeit und Dichte zu, deren sie im Kapitalismus sich begeben haben. In dieser Art des unmittelbaren, fast möchte ich wiederum sagen, des anthropologischen Materialismus steckt ein tief romantisches Element [...]. [S]o könnte man sagen, die Arbeit sei am Kreuzweg von Magie und Positivismus angesiedelt."
(Adorno, Benjamin, Briefwechsel, 368)

"The direct connection drawn between the wine tax and [Baudelaire's] 'L'Ame du vin' ascribes to phenomena the very spontaneity, tangibility, and density that capitalism has stripped from them. In this kind of unmediated - I would almost say anthropological - materialism lurks a deeply Romantic element [...]. [O]ne might say that [your] work has situated itself at the cross roads of magic and positivism."
(Benjamin, Selected Works, Vol. 4, 101-2)

As Theodor Adorno's response to Walter Benjamin's Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire implies, anthropology plays a complex role in Benjamin's writings, where it is situated between such divergent forces as materialism and romanticism, positivism and magic. This anthropological dimension of Benjamin's approach is frequently cited or evoked; 'What is the effect of industrial-capitalist technology on the organization of the human senses, and how does it affect the conditions of experience and agency, the ability to see connections and contradictions, remember the past, and imagine a (different) future?' (Miriam Hansen). However, the possible roots and implications of this method still merit more detailed attention. To what extent was Benjamin (as a reviewer and researcher) familiar with current anthropological debates? What was the focus of his engagement, and how did it influence his own writings and methodology? Does Benjamin's interest in the discipline change in line with his increasing focus on political questions, or does anthropology, on the contrary, provide a sense of continuity between the 'early' Benjamin and his later works? What role did anthropology play in contemporary political and intellectual debates, and to what extend did Benjamin participate in and contribute to such discussions?

The symposium, part of the Oxford-Princeton Research Partnership BENJAMIN ENCOUNTERS, will pursue the links between Benjamin and anthropology from three connected points of view: in addition to the function and development of anthropology in Benjamin's own writings, it will also enquire into the impact of anthropological research on Benjamin's wider context (e.g., the Frankfurt School), as well as into Benjamin's own contributions to ongoing anthropological debates.

To enable a broad and interdisciplinary discussion, we invite proposals from researchers working in literary studies, philosophy and anthropology, but also in fields such as history, politics, art history, cultural and media studies.

Possible questions to be addressed include:

- Benjamin's anthropological materialism
- anthropology and collecting: in search of the object
- Benjamin as a commentator on the history of anthropology
- anthropology at the crossroads of magic and positivism
- the anthropological foundations of language
- the child, toys and education
- the roots of civilisation
- an anthropology of literature, arts and the media
- political anthropology: Benjamin's Marxism
- anthropology and religion

The deadline for proposals is 27 April 2009. Proposals for 30-minute papers (in English) should be sent to Carolin Duttlinger ( or Tony Phelan (, who can also provide further information.

Dr Carolin Duttlinger
University Lecturer in German
Fellow and Tutor in German
Wadham College, Oxford OX1 3PN
Great Britain

Quelle der BeschreibungInformation des Anbieters
PersonName: Duttlinger, Carolin [Dr.] 
Funktion: Ansprechpartnerin 
SchlüsselbegriffeLiteratur 1880 - 1945
Klassifikation16.00.00 Jahrhundertwende (1880-1914) > 16.15.00 Zu einzelnen Autoren; 17.00.00 20. Jahrhundert (1914-1945) > 17.18.00 Zu einzelnen Autoren
Ediert von  H-Germanistik
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