Annual Conference: Knowledge and Society in Times of Upheaval

On 20-21 November 2018, the Annual Conference 2018 of the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung, “Knowledge and Society in Times of Upheaval”, will take place at the Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung Berlin (WZB). It will be convened by Andreas Eckert (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / Forum Transregionale Studien), Simone Lässig (Deutsches Historisches Institut Washington D.C.), and Franz Waldenberger (Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien Tokyo).

Program    Poster     Abstracts

© Georges Khalil

The concept of a knowledge society has featured prominently in both academic and public discussions. In recent years it has been supplemented by the internet, digitalization, big data, and the specter of artificial intelligence. While knowledge is always socially constructed, access to knowledge is economically and politically determined. Knowledge and its dissemination define, control and sustain power relations and social rank. In its applied form as technology and skills, knowledge constitutes a productive asset essential for competitive advantage, innovation and growth. But what happens when knowledge becomes data? How do technological innovations transform the relationship of the individual or the community to state and society? How do societies cope with the unprecedented growth of knowledge and the scale of its dissemination and control? What are the links between knowledge, technology and the transformation of publics and labor?

We live in times of great upheaval. The political and epistemic order established in the 19th and 20th centuries appears in disarray as new authoritarian movements and unprecedented forms of control challenge both the ideas and practice of liberal democracy. This change is increasingly perceived as a crisis, and the mobility of people, goods and ideas have emerged as issues of controversy and containment. The conference will focus on four constitutive relations: 1) new infrastructures as drivers of change, 2) discourses and publics, 3) migration and mobility, and 4) labor and technological change. A closing roundtable discussion will address the question of knowledge and society in light of the state of Europe today.

The conference is part of the strategic cooperation between the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung – Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland. It is arranged in a collaboration with the Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung Berlin (WZB) and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

Please find more information about the conference here. Due to limited capacities, we kindly ask for registration. Please send an email to before 19 November 2018.

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