A New Existentialism?

with Nikolaj Schultz and Nanna Heidenreich



27 May 2024, 6 p.m.

A New Existentialism?

On the Many Ways of ‘Becoming Sensible’ in the Anthropocene

with Nikolaj Schultz and Nanna Heidenreich

In the wake of the Anthropocene, the human and social sciences have in recent decades experienced an important ontological-analytical shift of focus towards the non-human beings that humans co-exist with and whom their livelihoods depend on. This turn has been crucial in re-distributing agencies towards nonhumans, and in restoring a sensibility for other living beings and humans. However, in this talk Schultz argues that getting closer to non-humans is not the only analytical strategy we need if we wish to face our present crisis of sensibilities.

Instead, based on his book Land Sickness, Schultz argues that we also need descriptions of how the existential conditions of the human being have transformed in the Anthropocene, how the human has transformed into another kind of being, one leaving behind a set of destructive traces that is slowly but certainly destroying its own species’ conditions of subsistence.

In recent years, Danish sociologist Nikolaj Schultz (1990), PhD Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, has emerged as an influential voice in social theory and ecological thinking. 

Schultz was a close collaborator of late French philosopher Bruno Latour (1947-2022) in the years before his passing. In 2022, Schultz and Latour co-authored On the Emergence of an Ecological Class. A Memo (translated from French by Julie Rose, Polity Books, 2023), a short text on how to construct from below a strong political subject ready to fight for the habitability of the planet in the wake of global climate change. A year after its publication, the book was translated into more than a dozen languages and quickly became a point of inspiration for political actors such as the Green Party in France (EELV) and the German Climate Movement (in German: Zur Entstehung einer ökologischen Klasse, Suhrkamp 2022). Later the same year, Schultz published Land Sickness (Polity Books, 2023), currently translated into eight languages, a hybrid text that he calls an “auto-ethnografictive essay” on the sociological and existential questions that the Anthropocene forces us to pose. It is available in German as Landkrank (translated by Michael Bischoff, published by Suhrkamp 2024).

Lecture by sociologist Nikolaj Schultz

Moderation: Nanna Heidenreich – Prof. Transcultural Studies, University for Applied Arts Vienna

Venue: Angewandte Interdisciplinary Lab, Georg-Coch-Platz 2, 1010 Vienna
Date and time: 27 May 2024, 6 p.m.

The event is held in English.

For more details visit please: A New Existentialism? | AIL (angewandte.at)

The event is organised by the Department for Transcultural Studies in cooperation with AIL and is supported by ERSTE Foundation.

Cover picture: Cover, Landkrank, Suhrkamp Verlag

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Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.