Indigenous knowledges have traditionally been treated as a field of research for anthropologists and as ‘mistaken epistemologies’, that is, un-scientific and irrational folklore. Within the framework of the environmental humanities, however, a strong interest in non-anthropocentric approaches and epistemic injustice has emerged, with a focus on animism  as a powerful critique of modern epistemology and an alternative to a Western worldview. The lecture argues that treating indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing as a (potentially) decolonizing and liberating practice could help build a more inclusive and holistic knowledge of the past. Following recent works by anthropologists and archaeologists such as Nurit Bird-Rose, Graham Harvey, and Tim Ingold, ‘New Animism’ will be considered as an alternative (relational) ontology that allows for a radical rethinking of the problem of matter and agency and that goes beyond human exceptionalism.

Ewa Domańska is professor of human sciences at the faculty of history, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań and, since 2002, visiting professor at the Department of Anthropology/Archeology Center/DLCL at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the methodology of history, contemporary theory and history of historiography, comparative theory of the humanities and social sciences, new trends in the humanities, as well as the environmental humanities, ecocide and genocide studies. Domańska’s recent publications include: ‘The Paradigm Shift in the Contemporary Humanities and Social Sciences’, in Philosophy of History: Twenty-First-Century Perspectives, ed. by Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (2020); ‘Unbinding from Humanity: Nandipha Mntambo’s Europa and the Limits of History and Identity’, Journal of the Philosophy of History, 14 (2020), ‘The Environmental History of Mass Graves’, Journal of Genocide Research, 22,.2 (2020), and ‘Prefigurative Humanities’, History and Theory, 60.4 (2021).

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Organized by Jenny Haase and Kathrin Thiele as part of the DFG research network ‘Dispositiv der Menge’ in cooperation with ICI Berlin, Universität Siegen, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, and Utrecht University

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