ilinx. Berliner Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft tests the potential and limits of cultural science. Its title (ilinx, gr. = vortex) is programmatic, since vortices emerge where different approaches, theories, and data collide, where calm continuous flow is disturbed and turbulently transformed by the reconfiguration of knowledge and things.
The second volume focuses on the techniques, agents, and methods that come into play at sites where similarities are being produced – whether in artistic, cultic, technological or scientific processes. Following Walter Benjamin all these kinds of mimesis can be understood as expressions of a “mimetic capacity” that encompasses the recognition as well as the production of similarities and thus combines cognitive, practical, and aesthetical dimensions.
Mimetic practices are at the same time both active and passive; they can be playful or strategic, intentional and goal-oriented or involuntary and aimless. While the “mimicry” of animals was interpreted as a strategy in the evolutionary “struggle for existence” by its discoverers in the 19th century, Surrealism made mimetic animals become icons of an economy of uselessness, excess, and play. Roger Caillois finally expanded the term into a theory of mimetisme that strived to expose analogies between biological and cultural phenomena of imitation, simulation and adaptation. Thus art, religion as well as cultural phantasms appeared as (dreamlike) repetitions of animal behaviour patterns. This background can serve as a point of departure to inquire into the ambivalence that is inherent in seeing similarities: The organization of the world according to similarities, to perceive patterns and make them legible through their semblance, is as much part of the creative economy as it is a characteristic of such forms of knowledge that are regarded as being pseudo-scientific.
This volume of ilinx calls for contributions that approach mimetic phenomena on different levels:
1. Practice. This line of inquiry focuses on mimesis as practice: acts of imitation, simulation, or assimilation. When do such acts occur under compulsion, when as a form of play? Which dangers do individuals expose themselves to when they show too little or too much willingness to assimilate? Can ‘normal’ and escalating forms of imitation such as Gabriel Tarde, Marcel Mauss, or René Girard have described, be the basis for social integration? The focus on practice also inquires into the protagonists of the “play of semblances”. Papers could, for example, reflect upon mimetic animals, all kinds of parasites, impostors and malingerers, field researchers and secret agents, epigones, followers and fans, mimes and magicians — and, last but not least, upon the cultural scientists themselves.
2. Technique. The second focus is centred on the relevance of mimetic processes for technology and art, architecture and design. Art and technology meet in their interest for structures, materials, and surfaces. Therefore, the “protagonists” of this section are structural and visual patterns; materials that pretend to be something else; camouflaged buildings that become part of the environmental “metabolism,” or bionic products that seek to imitate or even to improve on nature by technical means. How does this type of bio-mimetic research present itself? Which genealogies can be identified? To which anthropological assumptions and imaginary dimensions does this type of science refer?
3. Knowledge. The final focal point of this volume is the meaning of mimesis within the context of scientific procedure. This concerns all disciplines that observe or produce similarities by concentrating on rituals, symbols, or the correspondences between human and animal behaviour. Mimetic processes encourage reflection on the advantages and risks of cultural scientific inquiry. After all, the interdisciplinary claim of this field is often based on the recognition and production of structural similarities between phenomena that seem to be very far apart. To what extent does the pleasure offered by similarities give insight into the logics of segregated knowledge and into the “moral economies” of science (Lorraine Daston)? Does it point to the episteme of similarity’s continued existence?
ilinx offers two types of textual modality:
1. Articles of 30.000-35.000 characters length maximum (ca. 15 printed pages) that refer to the volume’s subject. Articles may be submitted in German or English and will be peer reviewed. One year after publication of the printed version they will be available via the ilinx-website.
2. Shorter texts, essayistic reflections, artistic contributions, interviews, or presentations of projects of 15.000 characters length maximum (ca. 7-8 printed pages). The contributions to this section may refer to this CfP’s subject, but do not need to.
ilinx is released in cooperation with the Institute for Cultural History and Theory at Humboldt University Berlin. Editorial Board of this volume: Jörn Ahrens, Eva Johach und Jasmin Mersmann.
Please submit abstracts of 1-2 pages until March 1st, 2010, to email@example.com. The deadline for the realization of the requested texts is June 1st, 2010. www.culture.hu-berlin.de/forschungsprojekte/ilinx
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