Ralph Buchenhorst

Ralph BuchenhorstNetwork Member

Ralph Buchenhorst is associate professor and faculty coordinator at the Turkish-German University in Istanbul, Turkey. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna (Ph.D. thesis about Heidegger’s philosophy of art and Paul Celan’s theory of poetry) and his habilitation (German qualification for full professorship) from the University of Potsdam (on the philosophical discourse on the representation of the Holocaust). Buchenhorst has been a DAAD guest professor of philosophy and cultural studies at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (2002-2006), at the European Forum of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (2013), and at Emory University Atlanta, USA. He is a specialist in Critical Theory, genocide studies and memory discourses on the Holocaust and on the victims of the last dictatorship in Argentina.

He is co-editor of “Surviving genocide: On what remains and the possibility of representation” (Routledge, forthcoming), and author of “Das Element des Nachlebens. Zur Frage der Darstellbarkeit der Shoah in Philosophie, Kulturtheorie und Kunst” (The Element of Afterlife. On the Limits of the Shoah’s Representation in Philosophy, Cultural Theory and Art, Fink 2011) and has published extensively on aesthetic representation and remembrance.

Current position
Associate Professor
University affiliation
Turkish-German University, Istanbul

Research

1. The Berlin Humboldt Forum as a laboratory for research on the Anthropocene

Historical and cultural studies today are obliged to engage in self-reflection and self-criticism to detect the limitations of modernity. Modernity was (and still is) both: the project of enlightenment and improvement of general living conditions for the present and the future, but also the process of creating social, technical and economic inequalities. While the brothers Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt certainly stand for the former, systemic dysfunctionalities are responsible for the latter. On the one hand, this means questioning the idea of unlimited progress by analyzing the consequences of industrial revolution and the post-industrial age. On the other hand, the reappraisal of the colonial past has shown that strategies of comprehensive exploitation of nature and human labor were already developed and applied in the pre-industrial age. These strategies were based on forms of domination during European feudalism and its self-image of scientific, technical and cultural superiority. Clarifying the entanglement of European culture and science in these hegemonic structures is therefore another crucial project for Western societies. This is where my project comes in. It consists of bringing together two perspectives that coincide with the interests of the Humboldt Forum. I have been researching alternative conceptions of nature in Latin America for years. Buen Vivir and Sumak Kawsay are such concepts, and they have made it into the state constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador. Both concepts see themselves as alternatives to strategies of capitalist modernization. As climate change demonstrates, such alternative conceptions of nature and society are necessary to reshape global social contexts. I am interested in how cultural and scientific forums respond to this demand. Related to this topic, I analyze intercultural communication and representation techniques that deal with post-decolonial arguments and strategies. When objects and cultural forms of knowledge have been appropriated, rewritten, or corrupted in colonial contexts, there is an obligation to make these processes visible and critically reflect on them. My project seeks to scrutinize how the Humboldt Forum deals with objects and symbolic forms deriving from colonial past.

2. Contested history in the field of violent pasts: How to create a common European memory?
Historical narratives are crucial for the creation and stabilization of a collective identity. These narratives are still bound to national borders and resist attempts to melt into a common European memory. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, politicians have been taking steps to institutionalize a common memory as the core of a European identity. The research project wants to scrutinize European memory sites to answer the question if these sites approach a national or European perspective, or both. It will be analyzed if national memories still apply competitive concepts or try to intertwine remembrances following the idea of a multidirectional memory.

3. Transatlantic travelling models: theories of modernity between Europe and Latin America.
The methodological focus of this research project is on the motion of people, artefacts, and models in contemporary and historical contexts. Along its path, these movable elements change as they enter new contexts and adapt accordingly, bringing along the transformation of both the new and the original context. On a less open-ended level, my research interest lies in embedded ideas of the concept of modernity that move in a mediatized form – i.e. through epistemological orders or works of art. Neither the preconditions nor the consequences of the global movement of European theories of modernity are sufficiently understood, nor are the new frameworks for the integration of these elements. Therefore, elements of European theories of modernity (by authors like Max Weber, Walter Benjamin, Anthony Giddens, Ulrich Beck et al.) are being tested by confronting them with critic approaches to them in Latin America, where authors like Walter Mignolo, Anibal Quijano and Enrique Dussel cooperate in a critique of modernity from outside the mechanisms of European models of progress and enlightenment.

Publications

  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (forthcoming) (2021) "Ich: Abgetaucht. Du: Denk Mal!" in Was Denkt das Denkmal? , edited by Tanja Schult and Julia Lange. Frankfurt/Main: S. Fischer.
  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (forthcoming) (2021) "Invoking the 'Yolocaust'? German Memory Politics, Cultural Criticism and Contemporary Popular Arts." in German Politics & Society, Special Issue: German Politics in Popular Culture.
  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (forthcoming) (2021) "Roads towards Trans-Modernity? A Comparison between Buen Vivir and Conviviality as Attempts to Overcome the Colonial Paradigm of Modernity." in We, Us, Unpredictable: A Book of Exercises in STS, Futures, and the Designs of Collective Life , edited by Sung-Joon Park and Richard Rottenburg. Manchester: Mattering Press.
  • Moradi, Fazil, Ralph Buchenhorst, and Maria Six-Hohenbalken (2017) "Memory and genocide: On what remains and the possibility of representation." London and New York: Routledge.
  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (2017) "Field, forum, and vilified art: Recent developments in the representation of mass violence and its remembrance." in Memory and genocide: On what remains and the possibility of representation , edited by Moradi, Fazil, Buchenhorst, Ralph, and Maria Six-Hohenbalken. London: Routledge.
  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (2016) "Zur Matrix globalen Erinnerns: Das Gedenken an die Shoah im transnationalen Kommunikationsraum." in Geschichtspolitik und Erinnerungskultur global , edited by Claudia Fröhlich and Harald Schmid. Jahrbuch für Politik und Geschichte. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.
  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (2016) "Ding und Gedanken: Zur Bedeutung von Materialität und Authentizität in Erinnerungskulturen." in Materilitäten: Herausforderungen für die Sozial- und Kulturwissenschaften , edited by Herbert Kalthoff, Tobias Roehl and Torsten Cress, 113-132. München: Fink.
  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (ed.) (2015) "Von Fremdheit lernen: Zum produktiven Umgang mit Erfahrungen des Fremden im Kontext der Globalisierung." Bielefeld: Transcript.
  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (2015) "'... as if the shame before the victims would be offended' - Adorno's verdict on Arnold Schoenberg's A survivor from Warsaw." in Music and genocide , edited by Wojtek Klimczyk and Agata Swierzowska, 155-170. Frankfurt am Main [et al.]: Peter Lang.
  • Buchenhorst, Ralph (2011) "Erinnerung als Netzwerk: Offener Bezug in Prozessen der Aufarbeitung von Vergangenheiten." in Erinnerung schreibt Geschichte: Lateinamerika und Europa im Kontext transnationaler Verflechtungen , edited by Inga Luther, Nina Elsemann, Franka Bindernagel, Stefan Rinke. Stuttgart: Akademischer Verlag.