Deutsches Haus at NYU and the Department of German at NYU present a talk by Elisabeth Weber on “Bewilderments. On Western-Indigenous Translative Curiosity.”
Emanuele Coccia’s The Life of Plants proposes to “reopen the question of the world” through the deceptively simple, yet radical fact that all breathing living beings breathe because of plants. Refuting the metaphysical assumption that breath as spirit (psyché rather than pneuma) inhabits a higher ontological order than matter, Coccia fundamentally adjusts the claim of animal superiority over plants. As original as this approach might be in contemporary Western thought, for Indigenous traditions, it is age-old. Not deterred by the “epistemic disconcertment” (H. Verran) between disparate knowledge traditions the – Western/Northern and Amerindian –, the Potawatomi scientist-botanist-ecologist Robin Wall Kimmerer engages in a practice of translative curiosity which, in the age of climate disaster, is more critical than ever.
Elisabeth Weber is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is also an instructor for the ‘Foundations in the Humanities’ Prison Pedagogy Correspondence Program of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. She currently serves as the Charlotte M. Craig Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rutgers University. She is the author of two books: Persecution and Trauma. On Emmanuel Lévinas’ Autrement qu’être ou au-delà de l’essence (1990, in German) and Kill Boxes. Facing the Legacy of US-Sponsored Torture, Indefinite Detention, and Drone Warfare (2017). She has edited several volumes, in particular Questions au Judaïsme, a collection of interviews with, among others, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-François Lyotard (1996, English translation 2004), and Living Together. Jacques Derrida's Communities of Violence and Peace (2013), as well as three books by Jacques Derrida. Together with Julie Carlson she also co-edited Speaking about Torture (2012). Currently she works on environmental humanities, with an emphasis on literary and cultural plant studies.
“Bewilderments. On Western-Indigenous Translative Curiosity” is funded by the DAAD from funds of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA).
Date and Time: Thursday, November 30th 2023, from 6:00 PM-7:30 PM
Location: Deutsches Haus at NYU, 42 Washington Mews, New York, NY