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a.r.t.e.s. forum 2019 “Politics of Sensemaking”

Friday, July 5, 2019, 10:00
Tagungsraum, Seminargebäude, University of Cologne (Universitätsstr. 37, 50931 Cologne)

Sensemaking as a cultural practice and a crucial strategy for knowledge production and political executive has seemingly shaped today’s scientific and political discourse. The fact that America’s sitting President increasingly and actively uses Twitter as a vehicle by which to broadcast his eclectic, improvisational and often contradictory statements regarding current affairs, an act that exposes us to the reality that we are now living in a post-truth era, and that political practices are constructed to appeal mainly to emotions and sentiments rather than logics and facts, attest to a paradigm shift in the conditions and means by which political and scientific discourses are being produced and propagated.

The a.r.t.e.s. forum 2019 offers us the opportunity to deal with this paradigm shift within two main frames. The first seeks to introduce and discuss the traditional ongoing conflict between rationality and emotionality. In recent times, journalists and scholars alike have observed a sweeping change in social and political discourse. Since this change is often understood to be a direct result of a rise of affective practices and the decline of rational thinking, we are now obliged to ask if in political discourse these two perspectives, the rational and the emotional, exist solely in opposition to each other or have managed to converge to create a new form of political discourse? Moreover, if we were to endeavor a more controversial interpretation, could it be that the problem within the apparent paradigm shift exists only when placed in conjunction with contemporary practices of sensemaking?

The second frame focuses on the mediality and materiality of the strategies and practices of sensemaking. With the evolution of the digital age, mass media is no longer considered a new phenomenon. Mass media has not only enabled global communication but has also decisively shaped the conditions of sensemaking in political and academic discourses. Furthermore, social media seems to have replaced traditional channels of communication and is often used to establish direct and unfiltered connections among individuals around the world. However, what changes will we have to face with this “New Media”? Which practices of sensemaking would be revealed if we were to take a media-historical perspective to sensemaking?

Furthermore, new forms of political organisations, which have appeared as movements that were neither technologically nor institutionally organised, have gained significance by going viral and consequently earned their influence first within the digital sphere and later, the political. How, then, are the conditions and the structures of public discourse affected when the masses are granted information by uncensored, largely unregulated sources; uninformed individuals who are afforded the opportunity to act as “informed” mediums of information? Moreover, to what extent do we have to focus on and critically analyse the responsibility of users operating outside established power structures?

Both thematic fields lead to a multifaceted subject matter, which we have entitled “Politics of Sensemaking”. Politics of Sensemaking is not restricted to making only the most recent results regarding the fluctuating processes of knowledge production and decision-making a subject of academic discourse. It also challenges the science itself to negotiate new practices of knowledge production under the changing conditions of sensemaking.



Welcoming address // 10:00
Andreas Speer (University of Cologne)

Jan Slaby (Freie Universität Berlin)
Affective Institutions and the Politics of Sensemaking

Response: Marco Cavallaro (University of Cologne)

Wolfgang Fach (Leipzig University)
Fakt ist…Über das Verhältnis von Wahrheit und Gewissheit

Response: Georg Heinzle (University of Cologne)

Monica van der Haagen-Wulff (University of Cologne)
Securing Privilege: Historico-political Narratives of Dangerous Bodies

Response: Tom Menger (University of Cologne)

Stephan Packard (University of Cologne)
Do internet bots dream of electric sheep? The Affects of Counting in So-called Post-Factual Populism

Response: Johannes Paßmann (University of Siegen)

Panel discussion: Politics of Sensemaking // 16:00
Mareike Haass (University of Cologne), Moritz von Stetten (University of Bonn),
Laura Solzbacher (University of Bonn), Mario Anastasiadis (University of Bonn)

Moderation: Thiemo Breyer (University of Cologne)