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Fellow Lecture "King Yu’s Space Colonies: Planetary Futures in Contemporary Chinese Fiction" by Dr. Johannes Kaminski

Nov 23, 2021 | 06:00 PM s.t. - 07:30 PM
Dr. Johannes D. Kaminski

Dr. Johannes D. Kaminski

This lecture is presented within the framework of the Joint Center for Advanced Studies "Worldmaking from a Global Perspective: A Dialogue with China" as part of the project “Epochal Life Worlds: Man, Nature and Technology in Narratives of Crisis and Change”.


Facing the consequences of the climate crisis, liberal democracies appear incapable of taking the necessary transformational changes toward energy transition. In this wake, authoritarian systems promise greater environmental adaptation. While media debates in liberal societies display an alarmist mindset, public discourse in the People’s Republic of China remains optimistic about humanity’s future, which also shows in more ambitious CO2-saving goals.

This talk will address Chinese perspectives on the ecological crisis, tracing two lines of argument in contemporary essays and novels, including the fiction of Liu Cixin and Zhao Defa. First, there is a common perception that the “West” bears responsibility for climate change; after all, Cartesian materialism has shaped the present world order. Allegedly, Chinese philosophy avoids the pitfalls of modernity. Second, there is the conviction that technology can allow humanity to transcend the predicaments of present and future ecological crises. When push comes to shove, goes the argument, humanity may as well leave planet Earth and transplant its civilisation into space.

About Dr. Johannes Kaminski

Johannes D. Kaminski’s research interests are German literature, Chinese classic novels and contemporary global science fiction. He received his PhD in German Studies at the University of Oxford in 2011 with a thesis on Goethe. He was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2012-2015) and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Academia Sinica (2015-2017) in Taipei, Taiwan. From 2018 to 2020 he held a Marie Curie Fellowship at the University of Vienna. He is currently based at the Institute of World Literature, Slovak Academy of Sciences. Recent articles include ‘The Neo-Frontier in Contemporary Preparedness Novels’ (Journal of American Studies 55.1, 2020) and ‘Leaving Gaia Behind: The Ethics of Space Migration in Cixin Liu’s and Neil Stephenson’s Science Fiction’ (World Literature Studies 13.2, 2021). Dr. Kaminski is currently fellow at the Joint Center at Heidelberg University.

Time & Location

Nov 23, 2021 | 06:00 PM s.t. - 07:30 PM

CATS Seminar Building, Room 010.00.06
Voßstr. 2
69115 Heidelberg