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What 'Things' Can Do: Writing Entangled Histories of Early Modernity

Thursday Lecture Series, Altered States

dateFebruary 11, 2016 timeThursday, 12:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Benjamin Breen
  • Audience open exclusively to Columbia faculty, students, and invited guests
  • All others interested in attending, please email SOF/Heyman at [email protected].
Historical drawing of three people, one in East Asian attire, one in South Asian attire, and one in Central American attire

Global histories of modernity often reproduce rather than challenge Eurocentric narratives. “Entanglement” is a term of the zeitgeist, finding favor among physicists, philosophers and historians, among others. For scholars in the humanities the attraction is related to a desire to escape these Eurocentric accounts of modernity. The talk will explore why “entangled” is a metaphor that is “good to think with.” Entangled histories of “things,” in particular, can foreground the importance of technologies, aesthetics, rituals (as well as beliefs), and doesn’t exaggerate the importance of slippery and sometimes essentializing concepts such as “epistemology,” “cosmology,” or ““ontology.”