ResearchOpening of the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies

Press release No. 96/2021
11 October 2021

Official inaugural ceremony for the new transdisciplinary research centre at Universität Heidelberg with philosopher Slavoj Žižek

Official opening of the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies (CAPAS) at Heidelberg University: while work at the transdisciplinary research centre, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), started back in March, an inaugural ceremony to mark the start of operations at full capacity is to take place on 14 October 2021. The two CAPAS directors Prof. Dr Robert Folger and Prof. Dr Thomas Meier expect those present to include not only members of the centre and university but also other representatives of academia and society. The keynote speech will be held by the eminent Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic, Prof. Dr Slavoj Žižek, and the event will be livestreamed.

At CAPAS, scholars from various academic disciplines are investigating apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic notions and scenarios – in particular, with regard to present global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. Starting from the phenomenon of prophesying the end of the world, which is recurrent in different cultures and in different ages, the transdisciplinary research studies will focus on how disasters and apocalyptic scenarios impact on societies, and also on individuals and their immediate environments.

With its Käte Hamburger International Centres, the BMBF has funded top-flight research in the humanities in Germany since 2008. As one of two research groups now doing cross-disciplinary work, CAPAS understands itself as a platform for cooperation between the humanities, and the social and natural sciences. To that end, each year up to ten international visiting scholars come to Heidelberg for a period of up to twelve months. The CAPAS directors underline that CAPAS is thereby establishing itself not only as an international magnet for researchers from all over the world but also as an interface between academia and society.

The inaugural ceremony, in English, will be opened by Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University, and the CAPAS directors. Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, will bring a greeting. Following this comes the keynote by Slavoj Žižek, professor of philosophy at Ljubljana University (Slovenia) and International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in London (UK). A decade ago the philosopher and cultural critic noted that social distortions, the bio-genetic revolution and the ecological crisis had us approaching an “apocalyptic zero-point”. His thinking rotates around the question of whether – in end-times − it is possible or not to reveal an absolute truth, something we still take for granted.

The event will be livestreamed from 19:00 for the general public.

Information for newsrooms

Media representatives who would like to attend the inaugural ceremony on 14 October in the Great Hall of the New University for reporting purposes (it is otherwise booked out) must please send their request by email to capas@uni-heidelberg.de. The 3G rule applies and a mask must be worn. Entry begins from 18:00.