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Pedro Erber: 2014 Colloquium Abstract

Contemporaneity as Method

My presentation approaches contemporaneity as a methodological question for the humanities today. Drawing upon the work of scholars such Johannes Fabian, who conceptualized coevalness as an experience of dialogical sharing of time, and Marc Augé, who thematized the contemporary as a “condition of generalized cultural circulation,” I discuss the globalized present as an epoch of growing contemporanization of diversity. I further inquire about the implications of our contemporary condition for scholarship in the humanities. How to think comparison and cultural translation beyond the paradigm of universal equivalence? What is the role of theory and its relation to literature, art, and history when the world is no longer conceivable in terms of the division of intellectual labor between “the West and the rest”? How to address the persistent discourse of crisis in the humanities from the point of view of contemporaneity? In engaging with such questions I explore the “contemporary” as an organizing concept for the future of the global humanities.


Pedro Erber, Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies, specializes in Brazilian literature, intellectual history, and visual culture. He holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University (2009), M.A. from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2000), and B.A. from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1998). He is the author of Política e Verdade no Pensamento de Martin Heidegger (P.U.C.-Rio/Loyola, 2003) and articles on political thought, Brazilian and Japanese art, literature, and aesthetics. His recently completed monograph Breaching the Frame: The Rise of Contemporary Art in Brazil and Japan is forthcoming with University of California Press. His further research interests include articulations of art, politics, and economics; peripheral modernisms; the philosophy of the Kyoto School; Lusophone literature and culture. At Cornell he teaches courses on Brazilian critical theories, Brazilian and Lusophone literatures, Brazilian visual arts and cinema, aesthetic theory, and core courses on Brazilian studies.

Pedro Erber's bio page

2014 Colloquium: The Contemporary - home