How do we conceptualise the end of the world? What of the many worlds that have already ended? As anthropogenic climate change, increasingly polarized politics, and the COVID-19 pandemic anticipate the end of worlds, the idea of the apocalypse is gaining traction in popular and scholarly discourses. Apocalyptic imaginaries saturate artistic practices, media-narratives, political debates, socio-economic discourses and speculative imaginations.

Simultaneously, apocalypses and their imagined aftermaths produce emancipatory and creative potentials that engage the possibility of plural worlds, embodied futurities, and non-linear temporalities.

Research Focus

The first funding period of CAPAS explores ideas of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic worlds resulting from global transcultural and transversal processes. It will establish a theoretically sharpened terminology, and gather a culturally, disciplinarily differentiated, yet transdisciplinary imaginary of the (post-)apocalyptic. Special attention will be devoted to the main regional research foci at Heidelberg University: South/East Asia and the Americas.

Due to current events, the first groups of fellows will analyse the apocalyptic imaginary that frames the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other imaginaries with a special focus on in Asia, Europe and Latin America, and will take into account the respective “post-apocalyptic” vision or course of action.

Following fellow groups will continue to address apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic imaginaries with a special focus on Europe and (Latin) America and on Europe and Asia respectively.

The last group of fellows of the first funding period focuses on the synthesis of previous research: It analyses (post-)apocalyptic imaginaries in a comparative perspective. The aim is to distinguish them from other scenarios of radical transformation such as change, crises, or catastrophes.