« Une autre politique du monde ne reposant plus nécessairement sur la différence ou l’altérité, mais sur une certaine idée du semblable et de l’en-commun, est-elle possible ? »
– Achille Mbembe, Politiques de l’inimitié
The Minor Universality project aims to contribute to the debate on universality after Western universalism. Starting from the essential role narration plays in collective imaginaries, it seeks to understand how a new consciousness of universality is under way of being produced in contemporary social practices and cultural expressions such as oral transmissions and narrations of the self, literatures and archives, films and festivals, curatorial spaces and museums. Building on the importance of such concepts as concreteness, reparation, relation and translation, it wants to re-expand the material and medial turns to processes of experience, reflection and agency.
Universalism & concrete (hi)stories
An Encounter with Giovanni Levi (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
Historian Giovanni Levi is in conversation with the Minor Universality research team about the tradition of the microstoria, which he co-founded in Italy in the 1970s. The historiographic approach of the microstoria, which found a resounding echo first in Europe, and then later in the United States, responded at the time to a crisis of the discipline by proposing to abandon the study of masses and structures, and to place individual actors and concrete narratives at the centre of its inquiry. Looking at ordinary worlds through a microscope, as it were, produced the kind of shift that changed our understanding of History. For this reason, the microstoria has for years been debated within the framework of a global history. What resources does the microstoria offer to rethink universalism?
New book series: Beyond Universalism. Studies on the Contemporary / Partager l’universel. Études sur le contemporain
The first volume 1769-1989: The Epoch of Universalism / L’époque de l’universalisme, ed. by Franck Hofmann & Markus Messling, has just been published.
2019 witnessed the 30th anniversary of the German reunification. But the remembrance of the fall of the Berlin Wall coincided with another event of global importance that caught much less attention: the 250th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s birth. There is an undeniable historical and philosophical dimension to this coincidence. Napoleon’s appearance on the scene of world history seems to embody European universalism (soon thereafter in the form of a ‘modern’ imperial project); whilst scholars such as Francis Fukuyama saw in the events of 1989 its historical fulfilment. Today, we see more clearly that the fall of the Berlin Wall stands for an epistemic earthquake, which generated a world that can no longer be grasped through universal concepts. Here, we deal with the idea of Europe and of its relation to the world itself. Picking up on this contingency of world history with an ironic wink, the volume analyses in retrospect the epoch of European universalism. It focusses on its dialectics, polemically addressing and remembering both 1769 and 1989.