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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Important Dates

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CANCELLED +++ Keynote - Erhard Schüttpelz - "The World in a Nutshell: The Deep History of Media Within and Out of Africa" +++ CANCELLED 

10.02.2020 - 16.00 - 18.00


+++ The keynote had to be cancelled due to health reasons. The workshop will take place as planned +++

Recently, there have been two fundamental changes in the research literature on the Origins of Mankind and the Deep History of Humans Settling the Earth: First, the story of different population waves of humans emerging out of Africa and substituting each other by driving each other to extinction has been modified by acknowledging the genealogical tree is not a tree but a bush, and that genetically, humans have mingled time and again. In other words, after more than 150 years and many announcements of this possibility, the „racist explanation“ of prehistorical extinctions has been challenged. The second change is as profound as the first: in Africa itself, there is not one origin region, but there are thousands of years with multiple centers and their exchange before the Out of Africa movement of anatomically modern humans. This may not be a big surprise, after all, Africa still has the most comprehensive genetic diversity as well as the most comprehensive linguistic diversity, so the option of multiple centers makes more sense both for prehistory and later historical trajectories. The two changes should be seen in the light of an epistemological change, too. This change has been systematically developed by the preshistorian Clive Gamble, but it was already consistently proposed by one of the founding fathers of Cultural Anthropology, i.e. Franz Boas: The most decisive developments of mankind can neither be described as „revolutions“ nor in the vocabulary of „origins“, but only as „convergences“ that draw on previously independent developments, and in the form of a „drift“ or a „cline“ of inventions that are gradually linked to form a new technological ensemble or ’state of the art'. Neither origins nor revolutions, only regional convergences and long-term drift - this view runs counter to deep-seated narrative wishes, but it links well with the two changes outlined above. What are the consequences for the Deep History of Media and Technology, Out of Africa and within Africa? The talk wi ll try to draw some of the consequences of a history of drift and convergence.

Find more information on the workshop here.

Webmaster: Dr. Doris Löhr

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