Accounting for Uncertainty: Prediction and Planning in Asia's History II

Michael Lackner (IKGF), Dagmar Schäfer (MPIWG)

May 3, 2017 - May 4, 2017


IKGF Seminar Room, Building D1
Hartmannstraße. 14,
91052 Erlangen

We plan our future on daily basis. Some kinds of planning are straightforward, such as arranging daily activities on our smart phones. The others involve more calculations, such as whether we should bring our umbrellas. Simple or complex, planning not only concerns gathering and arranging information into a possible pattern of the future, it also concerns realizing the pattern through material means. In this project, we aim to examine the process of how knowledge about the future is realized through objects in different cultures throughout history. The overall goal of this project is twofold. On the one hand, we would like to respond to a current trend in the field of history of science; we want to find a research language and methodologies to study subjects that are conventionally marginalized in the field, such as divination. On the other hand, we intend to examine divination under the lens of material culture and cultural archaeology. We seek to juxtapose prognostication with other methods of predicting and planning the future in order to find common denominators of predictive methods in different societies throughout history. On May 3rd to 4th, we will have our fourth meeting for the project. This meeting follows up on the discussions of complexity from the last meeting. During the last meeting, the issue of terminology arose. For example, we discussed how scholars from different disciplines used the concept "complexity", and to what extent we should follow the definition of the concept based on established scholarship, in this case that of complexity theory. In coping with this issue, the fourth meeting invites the project participants to present certain terms that are relevant to prediction as well as the scholarship on them. In this way, we seek to draw a common understanding of certain concepts based on existing scholarship in order to move further as a group. In the first term of the project from 2016 to 2017, six scholars have joined the project: Dr. Anna Andreeva from the University of Heidelberg studies Japanese religion and medicine. In the joint project she works on the rituals, diagnoses, and divinations surrounding childbirth in Medieval Japan. Professor David Bello from Washington and Lee University studies environmental dynamics especially in the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), and in this project he focuses on locust infestation in Early Modern China. Dr. Daniel Burton-Rose from North Carolina State University studies how the literati of late imperial China used spiritual writing and prophecy to cope with civil examinations. Professor Chen Jinhua from the University of British Columbia is an expert on the religious and cultural history of Buddhism, and in the project he works on propitious signs (ruixiang 瑞相) in Medieval Buddhism. Dr. Stéphanie Homola from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales is an anthropologist of divination in contemporary China and Taiwan. In the project she specifically focuses on hand mnemonics and counting skills. Professor Kerry Smith from Brown University is a historian of Modern Japan. In the project, he studies earthquake prediction in 20th century Japan and its social and intellectual backgrounds. This project is a collaboration between the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities "Fate, Freedom, and Prognostication - Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe" (Director: Prof. Michael Lackner) at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (Department III, Artefacts, Action, and Knowledge, Director: Prof. Dagmar Schäfer).




May 3, 2017

9:30 - 10:30 Complexity Theory
David Bello (Washington & Lee University/MPIWG)
10:30 - 11:30 Formation of Expertise & Evaluation Systems (I)
Anna Andreeva (Universität Heidelberg/IKGF)
12:00 - 13:00 Formation of Expertise & Evaluation Systems (II)
Stéphanie Homola (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales/MPIWG)
14:00 - 15:00 Safety (安全 vs 安心) & risk society
Kerry Smith (Brown University/MPIWG)
15:00 - 16:00 Evidence (zheng 證)
Daniel Burton-Rose (North Carolina State University/IKGF)
16:30 - 17:30 Propitious Signs (ruixiang 瑞相) & Sympathetic Responses (ganying 感應)
Chen Jinhua (Brithish Columbia University/IKGF)

May 4, 2017

9:00 - 10:00 Zhu Xi 朱熹 and Divination
Michael Lackner (IKGF/FAU)
10:30 - 11:30 Sericulture Planning
Dagmar Schäfer (MPIWG)
11:30 - 12:30 Roundtable Discussion

International Consortium for Research in the Humanities

"Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe."

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Hartmannstr. 14
91052 Erlangen
Telefon: +49 (0)9131 85 - 64340
Fax: +49 (0)9131 85 - 64360