CAPAS identifies three integrated research areas, that enable us to study apocalypses and post-apocalypses in a systematic way:
- An archive of imaginaries of the apocalypse. Images, tropes, discourses of the apocalypse and post-apocalypse, relating to actual catastrophic events as well as imagined ones.
- Historical experiences of the apocalypse and post-apocalypse. Research on historical events that were perceived as apocalyptic and their aftermath, from antiquity to the near present.
- Apocalypses of the present. Departing from the premise that we are already “living in the end times” (Žižek) because the unsustainability of our way of life has been revealed, scholars and scientists conduct research on current phenomena that are perceived as existential risks, and their possible aftermath. Projects may ad- dress global crises (global warming, pandemics), other ends of world on an individual level (disease), or the breakdown of consensus in social groups and communities, when the original project is impugned at the moment of existential crisis.
The rationale of the research area organization is merely heuristic; the fellows’ projects ideally address aspects traversing any of these areas. The purpose of this structure is to establish a dialogue between the humanities, and the social and natural sciences, creating innovative forms of transdisciplinary research. CAPAS invites researchers from all academic disciplines working on apocalypses, existential risk, system collapse, and the respective aftermath of these breakdowns. Researchers are expected to engage in a discussion of the cultural, social, technical means of (re) action, prognosis, and designs for the future.
The exchange of (trans)disciplinary knowledge cultures must not remain within the confines of academia, but rather it should engage in a dialogue with non-academic protagonists and thinkers. We invite artists interested in the topic of apocalypse and post-apocalypse. We also welcome the contributions of representatives of indigenous groups facing existential threats. The intellectual exchange with indigenous activists is an antidote to Eurocentric epistemologies, rooted not in a particular region but in academic institutions across the world.
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.