Ethnicity, Inc.

DAI - Großer Saal

  • Prof. Jean Comaroff (Chicago)
  • Vortrag

Eine gemeinsame Vortragsreihe von: Exzellenzcluster ?Asia and Europe? der Universität Heidelberg & Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut Heidelberg

The politics of cultural identity, far from receding with the modernity, appears to have taken on new force in the wake of the cold war — especially with the spread of neoliberal orientations on a global scale. This has yielded many efforts to explain the continued salience of ethnicity in a “new” world order that, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was widely predicted to dissolve difference in the face of global flows of people, objects, currencies, signs, styles, desires. Less attention, however, has been paid to a subtle shift in the nature of ethnicity: its commodification. This lecture is devoted to showing that, increasingly, ethnic groups across the planet are beginning to act like corporations that own a “natural” copyright to their “culture” and “cultural products” — framed in terms, also, of heritage and indigenous knowledge — which they protect, often by recourse to the law, and on which they capitalize in much the same way as do incorporated businesses in the private sector. Why is this occurring? What are its political, economic, social, and ethical consequences? How is it transforming the nature of ethnicity and citizenship in the nation-state? And what are its theoretical implications for understanding such foundational social science concepts as culture and identity? It is these questions, finally, that the lecture is addressed.

Jean Comaroff is the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and the University of Chicago, and Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory. She has published widely on religion, colonialism and historical transformation in South Africa, and on the body, healing and magic. Earlier publications include Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance (1985) and with John L. Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution (2 vols.,1991 and 1997). More recently, she has been working on the nature of postcolonialism and the neoliberal global order, especially as regards issues of nation-state transformation, social dis/order, and translocal religious movements. Publications on these latter topics include “Beyond and Politics of Bare Life: AIDS and the Global Order” (2006) and (with John L. Comaroff) Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism, and Law and Disorder in the Postcolony.

Freier Eintritt.