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Haus der Kulturen der Welt presents conference Die Zivilisationsfrage

May 27–29, 2022

In 2022, HKW is seeking to instigate conversations on the structuring forces of this moment of danger. The questions that need asking are unsettling and pressing: hence we call them Zivilisationsfragen.

Tackling them, however, requires that received histories about the development of humankind and civilization are scientifically being challenged and that revised and new stories enter into the schoolbooks.

In their book The Dawn of Everything (2021), David Graeber and David Wengrow unmask what they call “the standard narrative” of human history and the development of civilizations. They describe the still-dominant evolutionist model of human history established over the last three hundred years as a mind trap to legitimize Western supremacy and violence, and speak of histories and practices of human freedom and political life radically different from the liberal orthodoxy of modern capitalism and state-rule, unsettling the prevalent imagination of what constitutes the difference between modern and so-called pre-modern societies.

The conference Die Zivilisationsfrage takes these considerations as a basis for a broad conversation among archeologists, anthropologists and activists to discuss empirical findings, the need for a new synthesis, situated emancipatory practices as well as the lingering fundamental assumptions still underlying most narratives of human history. What is called for by these conversations might be nothing short of a completely new understanding of what it means to be “civilized”.

Organized by Anselm Franke and Bernd Scherer together with David Wengrow and Erhard Schüttpelz.

With contributions by Christina von Braun, Mirjam Brusius, Claudine Cohen, Rana Dasgupta, Forensic Architecture, Alfredo González-Ruibal, Yannis Hamilakis, Karin Harrasser, Brian Holmes, Robin D.G. Kelley, Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz, Angela Melitopoulos, A. Dirk Moses, Johannes Müller, Robbie Richardson, Brigitte Röder, Elif Sarican, Alain Schnapp, Erhard Schüttpelz, Alpa Shah, Liv Nilsson Stutz, Margarita Tsomou, David Wengrow

And performance Fight Club with Nika Dubrovsky, Jamie Kelsey-Fry, Savitri D., Jacques Servin

You can find the full program here.

Press contact: Jan Trautmann, Head of Press and PR

Please send accreditation inquiries and interview requests to [email protected]

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 12–8pm

T +49 30 397870
F +49 30 3948679
[email protected]
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