Kolokwia Antropologiczne 2013, 8.10, prof. Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Prof. Thomas Hylland Eriksen,University of Oslo

7 października, 2013 r., Instytut Etnologii i Antropologii Kulturowej, Uniwersytet Jagielloński, ul. Gołębia 9, Kraków

 8 października, 2013 r., Wydział Historyczny, Uniwersytet Warszawski, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28, Warszawa

 9 października, 2013 r., Collegium Minus, ul. Wieniawskiego 1, Poznań


An overheated world: The anthropology of global crisis


No matter how one goes about measuring degrees of interconnectedness in the contemporary world, the only possible conclusion is that many more people today are much more connected than ever before in history. There are more of us, and each of us has, on average, more links to the outside world than our predecessors, through business travel, information, communication, migration, vacations, political engagement, trade, development assistance, exchange programmes and so on. The number of transatlantic telephone lines has grown phenomenally in the last few decades; so has the number of Websites and international NGOs. At the latest count (Feb 2013), about twelve per cent of the world's population were members of Facebook. Exponential growth can be identified in a broad range of networks to do with transnational communication. As a result, for the first time in history, a truly comparative global anthropology has been made possible.


The present era is often characterised by references to global crises or challenges facing humanity as a whole today. In this talk, I will argue that the metaphor of overheating can be a useful common denominator to the main crises of globalisation, as it calls attention to accelerated change and a heightened level of activity in the realms of economy and communication; and one may similarly, again metaphorically, speak of the quest for shared traffic rules on a global roadmap where traffic is growing by the minute. At the level of transnational policymaking, such concerns are at the forefront of all problem areas to be discussed, and which are also, arguably, the central defining challenges in a globalised world (with poverty and war seen, in this contextualisation, as effects of each of them): Finance/economics, climate/the environment, and culture/identity.


The presentation outlines some features of the global crises and proposes a methodology for studying these global crises and their interrelations with an emphasis on local life-worlds and diverse responses to the crises, drawing on examples from countries which are very differently positioned in relation to the global crises. It highlights the necessity of anthropologists to engage with critical global challenges.


Thomas Hylland Eriksen is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, where he took his Ph. D. in 1991. His main research interests are the cultural dynamics of complex societies, and he has published books and articles about ethnicity, nationalism and globalisation. Among his books in English are Engaging Anthropology (2006), Small Places – Large Issues (3rd edition, 2010), Ethnicity and Nationalism (3rd edition, 2010) andGlobalization: The Key Concepts (2nd edition, 2013). He is currently directing a research programme on local responses to global crises.