Thursday, June 26, 2014

Meteorologies of Modernity. Climate Change and Weather in the Contexts of Postcolonialism and Globalization | LMU Munich | June 26-28, 2014

Third Conference of the Postcolonial Europe-Network in collaboration with the DFG Research Training Group Globalization and Literature: Representations, Transformations, Inventions

LMU Munich, June 26-28, 2014

Meteorologies of Modernity.
Climate Change and Weather in the Contexts of 
Postcolonialism and Globalization

The conference sets out to explore weather, climate and climate changes, both past and present, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The aim is to broaden existing theoretical frameworks and to examine, historicize and contextualize discourses on climate and weather. Particular consideration will be given to literature and the arts, which we consider as an archive where specific meteorological knowledge is not only registered but also scrutinized and produced.
As the title Meteorologies of Modernity suggests, one cannot understand global warming without addressing its social, economic and political dimensions: the history of industrialization and colonization, or the (western) notions of, e.g., time, space but also freedom and, finally, the human. By putting a particular focus on weather, the conference proposes to examine another inherently modern phantasm and its relation to and/or repercussions for present discourses on global warming: namely, the ability to not only observe and predict, but to actually control and even produce weather and climate.
The conference takes at its starting point the claim put forward by various scholars that the present climate change calls for a reformulation of the concepts, methodologies, and institutional structures of contemporary humanities in general. According to historian Dipesh Chakrabarty, the planetary crisis of global warming has brought about a collapse of the distinction between the humanities and sciences: Due to the sheer number of human population and the excessive use of fossil fuel and other resources, humankind has now come to possess a geological force that is not only capable of shaping local environment, but of determining climate, weather and environment on a global scale. Consequently, these phenomena are no longer clearly pertaining to the realm of the “natural,” and therefore an object of study of the sciences. Chakrabarty’s idea of the “anthropocene” as the geological epoch in which humans constitute a geophysical as well as political agent poses a number of challenges to traditional approaches, both on a theoretical and methodological level. As the historian points out, what is required is to “bring together intellectual formations that are somewhat in tension with each other: the planetary and the global; deep and recorded histories; species thinking and critiques of capital.”[1] The conference proposes to do this by putting into dialogue postcolonial studies and theories of globalization and by exploring questions of (postcolonial) justice, capitalism, and history.
Scholars in the field of postcolonial studies and ecocriticism in particular are in the process of developing frameworks in which to address questions of environmental (in)justice in national and global formations of domination, i.e. to understand the historical and political dimensions of how and why the effects of global warming affect certain communities, regions or nations more strongly than others. While most scholars would probably agree with Elizabeth Deloughrey and George Handley’s claim that postcolonial ecology must be more than an extension of postcolonial methodologies into the realm of the material world, it remains an ongoing task to explore the profile, methodologies and frameworks of such a postcolonial ecology. In what ways are the modern notions of the political, such as the nation state, affected and possibly altered? How, indeed, can we visualize notions of time and space that extend our familiar, i.e. modern temporal and spatial imagination? What temporalities does the discourse on climate change itself produce or forestall, by the use of, i.e., the affectively highly charged word “crisis”? How is our sense of history affected when all the future seems to bear is the advent of humanity’s end?
The conference wants to explore these and other questions, particularly by drawing on the methodologies of literary and cultural studies, by bringing to the fore how literature and the arts allow us to critically and imaginatively engage with the representational challenges the discourses about climate, climate change and weather have to offer. As, for instance, a renewed interest for the topic in the context of cultural and literary studies has shown, weather bears a specific affective as well as metaphorical potential. Particular attention has moreover been given to cultural practices of “meteorology” – i.e. the daily practices of observation, cataloging, charting, and measuring oneself, the weather and the environment – as they constitute and shape (modern) subjectivities and a sense of relation to environment and being in the world. We would like to analyze to what extent narratives of weather and climate crises of different epochs display a “global consciousness,” how this is reflected in their narrative strategies, and which new knowledge systems and power constellations are being formed.
By contextualizing and historicizing meteorological knowledge from the viewpoints of historiography, literary studies, and cultural studies, the aim is to bring perspectives from postcolonial studies, ecocriticism and globalization theory into dialogue and to reflect upon the wider implications of climate change for the concepts, methodologies and institutional structures of contemporary humanities. The conference will have as contributors both established and young scholars of the various disciplines.


Confirmed Speakers:

Dipesh Chakrabarty  (University of Chicago)  

ElizabethDeLoughrey (University of California, Los Angeles)

Eva Horn (University of Vienna)

Graham Huggan (University of Leeds)

Bernhard Malkmus (Ohio State University)

Mirko Bonné (Writer in Residence, Weather Stations Project, Berlin)

Cornelia Lüdecke (University of Hamburg/TU Munich)


Conference Program

Thursday, 26 June 2014
Conference Venue: IBZ, Amalienstr. 38
13.30: Introductory address (Sarah Fekadu, Fabienne Imlinger, Sandra Ponzanesi)
14.00: Panel I: Charting a Challenging Terrain (Chair: Sarah Fekadu)
Robert Stockhammer (LMU Munich) Philology in the Anthropocene?
Nicole Seymour (LMU Munich) Climate Change, Cinema, and “Bad” Affect

16.00–16.30: Coffee break

Panel II: Mapping Climate Zones: From the Temperate…
Oliver Grill (LMU Munich) Unpredictable Weather. Meteorologic Calculations in Humboldt’s Kosmos and Stifter’s Nachsommer
Bernhard Malkmus (Ohio State University) Man in the Anthropocene: Max Frisch’s Eschatological Meteorology

18.30–19.00: Coffee break

19.00 Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago)
         Beyond Capital: Time, Scale, and the Climate Crisis

20.30 Reception

Friday, 27 June 2014
Conference Venue: IBZ, Amalienstr. 38
9.00 Panel III …to the Polar…(Chair: t.b.a.)
Cornelia Lüdecke (University of Hamburg/TU Munich) The International Polar Year 1882/83 and the Investigation of Climate Change around 1900Lars Jensen (Roskilde University) The Island that came in from the Cold: Greenland, Climate Change, and the Scramble for the Arctic
11.00–11.20: Coffee break
Prem Poddar (Roskilde University) Writing on Water: East India Himalayas

12.20–13.20: Lunch

13.20: Panel IV: …to the Tropical… (Chair: Fabienne Imlinger)
Eva Horn (University of Vienna) Tropes of the Tropics: The Anthropology of Hot Climate
Patrick Ramponi (Hagen University) Weather Manipulation and Weather Stress: Literary Meteoropathics and Climate Theory in a Global Age

15.20–15.40: Coffee break                

Hanna Strass (Munich) “There’s going to be a drought. A wrong thing was done.” Weather Phenomena in Linda Hogan’s People of the Whale
Antonia Mehnert (Munich) Strange Flight Behavior: Climate Change, Butterflies, and Eco Cosmopolitanism in Barbara Kingsolver’s Latest Cli-fi Novel

17.40-18.00: Coffee break

18.00 Reading by Mirko Bonné, Writer in Residence Weather Stations Project / Berlin

19.30 Dinner

Saturday, 28 June 2014
Conference venue: French Library, Ludwigstr. 25, 4th floor

9.30: Panel V: Island Climates (Chair: Sandra Ponzanesi)
Johannes Ungelenk (LMU Munich) The Climate of the Isle: Shakespeare’s Tempest

10.30–11.00: Coffee break

Elizabeth DeLoughrey (U.C.L.A.) The Sea is Rising: Visualizing Climate Change in the Pacific
Graham Huggan (University of Leeds) Unlucky  Country? Australian Literature, Risk, and the Global Climate Challenge

13.00: Closing remarks (Sarah Fekadu, Fabienne Imlinger, Sandra Ponzanesi)

From Right: Tobias Doering, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Sandra Ponzanesi, Paulo de Medeiros, Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Sarah Fekadu, Fabienne Imlinger.


Hosts: Prof. Robert Stockhammer (Comparative Literature, LMU Munich), Prof. Tobias Döring (English Literature, LMU Munich)
Organizing team: Dr. Sarah Fekadu (English Literature, LMU Munich), Dr. Fabienne Imlinger (Comparative Literature, LMU Munich), Dr. Sandra Ponzanesi (Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University)


Postcolonial Europe Network (PEN) is funded by NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research). 
The project, conducted by Sandra Ponzanesi (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) in collaboration with European partners, aims to establish an international platform for developing research into new forms of conceptualizing Europe from a multidisciplinary perspective engaging several disciplines (literary, media, gender studies) in the Humanities and the Social Sciences (sociology, political theory). PEN aspires to develop theoretical and methodological tools for representing and imagining Europe in a postcolonial and postimperial perspective.
International partners: Utrecht University, University of Leeds, University of Munich, London School of Economics, University of Naples, University of Roskilde and University of Iceland, University of Warwick.

The Research Training Group Globalization and Literature: Representations, Transformations, Inventions is funded by the DFG (German Research Fund). The DFG Research Training Group sets out to examine the function of the literary in processes of globalization from a broad historical perspective, ranging from antiquity to the present day. The research interests focus on the interaction between literature and globalizing dynamics: on the one hand, the transformation of the functions of literature by historically variable media relations (e.g. the changing status of books in societies in which communication is globalized by means of the internet); on the other hand, the ways in which literature not only represents and reflects, but also criticizes and intervenes in globalization processes.

[1] Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2009. “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry 35: 197-222. P. 213.


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