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Anhaltende Liminalität: eine Herausforderung der Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften in der Pandemie

Doris Bachmann-Medick

Pages 509 - 520

Abstract: A crisis like the coronavirus pandemic affects the very core of human existence. But could it also endanger the existence of the humanities and the study of culture? Are we currently witnessing the emergence of a “pandemic turn” that could lead to a narrowing down of all research to issues of science, epidemiology, biology, medicine, and digital technology? This article presents a more nuanced picture of the challenges that the pandemic poses for research. It explores the phases and narratives of the pandemic so far, along with the concomitant phenomena of crisis management, i. e. restrictions of civil liberties, increases in social control, but also changes in patterns of work, spatial orders, and generational relations. The article argues that, in this new context, the humanities remain indispensable. By analyzing and constructing crisis narratives, exploring critical links with other global crises and framing new direction-settings, the humanities highlight a specific feature of the pandemic: its continuing liminality, uncertainty, and ambivalence. Conceived of as a form of translation studies, the humanities can reflect on the impact of their own research in social mediation processes from the perspective of liminality. The focus is here on the translation of academic and expert discourses into public discourses and the translation of current challenges into future concepts. By realizing that the liminality of the crisis could become a more permanent state, the humanities have potential to reach out beyond the exploration of mere coping strategies: they can develop new ethical and sustainable horizons for reflecting on and responding to the crisis.


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