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“What is the Human?” – Anthropological Perspectives

Public Lectures Commission UZH Interdisciplinary (UZH-i)

"What is the human?” This question has been foundational for the social sciences and humanities and for sociocultural anthropology (Ethnologie) in particular. On the one hand, these disciplines have been grounded in distinctions of the human from animals, plants, things, machines, and gods. In current debates about the “Anthropocene,” they discuss the special role and responsibility of humanity for our planet. On the other hand, the very same disciplines have frequently questioned the epistemics, politics, and singularity of “the human” and attempts to specify a human nature have met with strong criticism. In addition, the social sciences and humanities have been both complicit in and critical of further dividing “humanity” into races, sexes, ethnicities, etc.

As part of the 50-year jubilee of the discipline Ethnologie at the University of Zurich, this lecture series engages current approaches in sociocultural anthropology and neighbouring disciplines in a conversation on how to think “the human” today.


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