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AIAS Conference

The Human Condition - Reinventing Philosophical Anthropology

24-26 June 2015

Conference description

In recent years, prominent anthropologists have identified a certain lacuna. Inspired by a renewed interest in ethics and human agency, provoked by the all too rigid schematics of social reproduction, by trends commonly referred to as ‘post-‘ or ‘transhumanism’, and by the findings of biological anthropology and the cognitive sciences, they have in various ways articulated the desire for something like a philosophical anthropology: that is, an approach to the question of the human that not only depicts the plurality of human life forms in their socio-cultural, ethical and normative diversity, but that moreover dares to ask for features common to all humans qua being human. Simultaneously, prominent philosophers have suggested a similar move towards philosophical anthropology, often in order to provide a more solid grounding for an all too specialized discourse in philosophical ethics or philosophy of mind, thereby echoing a certain reluctance to altogether dismiss ideas of humanism, despite of the dubious reputation of this term in late modern philosophical thinking.

The term 'philosophical anthropology' thus enjoys a certain interest across the disciplines that compose its name. However, it is by no means clear what kind of approach this term actually refers to. Perhaps philosophical anthropology reflects the peculiar status of its subject – the human being – as it is a label for something whose essential characters remain elusive. The project of Philosophical anthropology would hence refuse any methodological dogmas and remain a project and an ongoing effort to be reinvented anew.

The conference presents a number of prominent speakers from anthropology and philosophy all of whom have, in some way or the other, occasionally or more systematically, articulated the urge for a new philosophical anthropology.


Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS), Aarhus University, Buildings 1630-1632, Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. See location on a map.

International speakers

  • Veena Das, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University, USA.
    For more information read here
  • Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor, IAS Princeton, USA
    For more information read here
  • Timothy Ingold, Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Unicersity of Aberdeen, UK.
    For more information read here
  • Michael D. Jackson, Distinguished Visiting Professor of World Religions, Harvard University, USA.
    For more information read here
  • Michael Lambek, Canada Research Chair, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada.
    For more information read here
  • Bernhard Leistle, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton Unicersity, Canada.
    For more information read here
  • Jonathan Lear, Professor, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Chicago, USA.
    For more information read here
  • Jarrett Zigon, Associate Professor,Dept. of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
    For more information read here
  • Jason Throop, Associate Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, University of California, USA.
    For more information read here
  • Sverre Raffnsøe, Professor, Dept. of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business school, Denmark.
    For more information read here

Local speakers

  • Line Ryberg Ingerslev, Dept. of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark.
    For more information read here

  • Lotte Meinert, Professor with Special Responsibilities at Anthropology, Dep. of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark.
    For more information read here
  • Cheryl Mattingly, Dale T. Mortensen fellow at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS), Aarhus University, Denmark and Professor of Anthropology, University of Southern California, USA.
    For more information read here
  • Maria Louw, Associate Professor in Anthropology, Dept. of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark.
    For more information read here
  • Thomas Schwarz Wentzer, Associate Professor, Philosophy and the History of Ideas, Dept. of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark.
    For more information read here
  • Rasmus Dyring, PhD Fellow, Philosophy, Dept. of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark.
    For more information read here

Programme and abstracts

See the programme here. 

Time schedule

  • Tuesday 23 June:
    PhD Workshop: 9.00-12.50
    Epicenter workshop: 12.50-16.30
  • Wednesday 24 June:
    17:30-19:00 Welcome reception
  • Thursday 25 June:
  • Friday 26 June:

Pre-conference workshop

A pre-conference workshop is held on Tuesday 23 June 2015 at the AIAS. The format will be a 20 minute paper followed by 20 minutes of discussion. Aside from the organizers a number of the prominent conference speakers will be discussants in the workshop. 

The organizers invite PhD students in anthropology and philosophy to present and discuss their ideas of a project or closely related projects to the conference theme.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 350 words by 12 April 2015 to filrd@cas.au.dk.

Acceptance will be notified two weeks after the deadline.

3 ECTS-points will be granted for participation with paper and full attendance in the main conference.

Read the Call for Papers and the description of the workshop.


The conference is funded by: