Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
Dehumanization: New approaches to understanding the politics of human nature
6-8 april 2016
International and interdisciplinary conference with historians, scientists, philosophers and artists discussing the phenomenon of dehumanization from roughly the 18th century onwards.
Guido Abbattista, Eyja M. Brynjarsdóttir, Lukas Einsele, Victoria Esses, Friederike Eyssel, Nick Haslam, Carla Lessing, Edouard Machery, Mari Mikkola, Erika Milam, Gerald Posselt, Gunnar Sigvaldason, Magdalena Smieszek, David Livingstone Smith, Johannes Steizinger
Organized by: Maria Kronfeldner
The international and interdisciplinary conference "Dehumanization: New approaches to understanding the politics of human nature" brings historians, scientists, philosophers and artists together in order to discuss the phenomenon of dehumanization. The need for such an interdisciplinary setting arises since scientific literature on dehumanization ignores by and large philosophical debates on human nature and essences; at the same time, philosophical literature on the concept of human nature (and the underpinning essentialism) by and large ignores scientific dehumanization studies (even if dehumanization is mentioned as an issue). If the two are brought together, tensions become visible. Both areas rarely consult historical literature on ‘human nature,’ ‘essence’ and actual historical cases of dehumanization in science, society and art. Finally, artists often address the issue in their works and try to rehumanize people through art.
The conference is meant as a first step to bring the four perspectives – the historical, the scientific, the philosophical and the artistic – into a constructive dialogue. Historically the conference will concentrate on the modern era. At issue will be whether and how one guiding categorical divide – animal/human – has been conceptually and socially traversed and used to dehumanize or rehumanize people in science, society and art from roughly the 18th century onwards.