Focal Point

The world in pieces

123 articles

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Clifford Geertz predicted that the world would be characterized by ‘deep diversity’, ‘a sense of dispersion, of particularity, of complexity and of uncenteredness’ rather than unified world order, as stipulated by the then consensus.

In an age of identity politics and culture wars, Geertz’s insights sound even more powerful today than they did at the time. According to the American anthropologist, our task is ‘to penetrate the dazzle of the new heterogeneity’ and analyse the paradox that confronts us: the world is both more global and more divided than ever in human history. The sense that we find ourselves in ‘a scramble of differences in a field of connection’ is even more immediate, as is the realization that there is a multiplicity of alternative, sometimes conflicting and clashing, visions of the good.

This focal point, inspired by a lecture that Geertz delivered in 1995 at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, summarized in the institute’s magazine, will engage with these issues. It follows the launch of a research programme of the same name at the institute in January 2023, coordinated by Clemena Antonova.

The collection of essays is an extension of earlier focal points ‘Eurasia in Global Dialogue’ (2018-2023, led by Clemena Antonova) and ‘Russia in Global Dialogue’ (2012-2018, led by Tatiana Zhurzhenko). Further texts have been contributed by journals in the Eurozine network.

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