Accepted Paper:

Afterness  
Ute Eickelkamp

Paper short abstract:

I ask if a model of tradition that pivots on 'afterness' can safeguard cultural difference in its own terms, drawing on Richter's Nachleben, where objects and ideas are defined by what they are no more and not yet.

Paper long abstract:

Loss of a way of life, I want to argue, becomes the cultural capital when the economy of future making needs symbolic returns. A retrospective orientation that merely gestures towards what was makes difference palatable, narratable, marketable. In the process, radical alterity is domesticated and potentially destroyed.

I begin with Gorz' observation that intellectual capitalism cannot produce the cultural traditions and meaningful symbols it harvests. Arguably, this is why strategies of continuity can persist otherwise. I ask if a model of tradition that pivots on 'afterness' can safeguard difference in its own terms, drawing on Richter's Nachleben, where objects and ideas are defined by what they are no more and not yet. Hence derives openness towards the future, one that flows from being anchored knowingly in the past.

The Anangu in northern South Australia and people in Germany's post-coal region of the Ruhr produce their own modes of afterness. If the Anangu have honed the existential skill of outliving (colonialism, racism, poverty), their idea of 'coming behind' is not only a figure of modernity; rather, it is grounded in their abiding cosmo-ontological concern with the trace. The workers in the Ruhr who had labored for the better future now seemingly at hand, are feeling 'left out and behind'; there are signs of disenchanted resignation in this gentrifying life-world. Recognition of diverse modes of afterness, I propose then, emerges as one critical dimension as humanity at large faces a most precarious future.

Panel C01
Polychronicity