Core Project Reduction

The ICI Berlin announces 12 fellowships for the academic years 2020–22

Critical discourse has little patience with reduction. One of its most devastating charges levelled against theories, analyses, and descriptions is that of being reductive or of amounting to a full-blown reductionism. Conceptual frameworks are scolded for being impoverished and descriptions for being too sparse or flat. And conversely, to call something ‘irreducible’ seems to confer an immediate and indisputable dignity to it. Yet the history of science and knowledge in general cannot be told without acknowledging the importance of reductionist programmes, from Stoic physics or mechanistic materialism to cybernetics and structuralism. Reductive paradigms have also periodically revitalized the arts, from neo-classicism to modernist design, from abstraction to minimalist investments or self-imposed arbitrary restrictions and aleatoric principles. Any attempt to reject these programmes will have to contend with their ambiguous effects and paradoxical investments, such as their ability to generate radical innovations, produce understanding, radically enlarge and unify theories, or promote progressive aesthetics and politics even before current ecological fears of mass extinction.

What lies at the root of such different attitudes towards ‘reduction’? How might their tensions be made productive? Or can one embrace forms of reduction that are not in the service of production, allowing for the possibility of a ‘less’ that would no longer have to amount to ‘more’?

The ICI Berlin’s new core project will explore the critical potentials of notions and practices of ‘reduction’, within and across different fields and approaches, from the sciences, technology, and the arts to feminist, queer, and decolonial approaches, inquiring in particular into the transversality of different economies of reduction and production, and into possibilities of escaping them.

Scholars from all disciplines are invited to engage in a joint exploration of ‘Reduction’. We especially welcome applications from individuals who will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in scholarly research.

The committed exchange between fellows is a central aim of the Institute. Applicants should be interested in a theoretical reflection on the conceptual and intellectual basis of their projects and in discussing it with fellows from other disciplines. In particular, fellows will be expected to participate in the weekly colloquia, bi-weekly informal meetings, and other activities of the Institute, to contribute to a common publication, and to be resident in Berlin for the duration of the fellowship.

The fellowships announced are for the academic years 2020-22 (14 September 2020 – 15 July 2022). There is no age limit, but applicants should have obtained their doctoral degree within ten years of the date of appointment or have submitted their dissertation by the time of application. Stipends range from EUR 1900 to 2100 per month.

Interested applicants should read also the full description of the Reduction project and follow the application instructions.

Application deadline:
19 January 2020 (23:59 CET)

Posted on 16 January 2020