Concepts of Wholeness in Cultural Constructions of ›Our Home Planet‹
May 29 – 31 2014, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
To call upon the ›whole Earth‹ has become a common way to evoke significance. Claiming the ›global‹ importance of a problem, a place or a practice aims for the mobilization of attention and resources that exceed the potential of groups and societies in a traditional, pre-globalized sense. This rhetorical strategy implies a community which supersedes nationality, ethnicity, and even the difference between nature and culture. ›Earth‹ itself has become available. Maps, traffic and trade routes, telecommunication and education hold the possibility and the promise to see the whole world with one’s own eyes for each and every individual (today even without leaving one’s desk). But even a photo of Earth can only ever show half of it, just as the (visible) profit of globalization only reaches part of the ›global‹ society. At the same time (world-wide) conflicts that originate in cultural and economic differences, claims to protect diversity, and concerns about the destruction of ›the environment‹ raise considerable doubts about the existence of ›Earth‹ as an already united entity and point out the utopian potential of this notion.
Despite the limitations, globalization has become a fact and the effectiveness of imagined unity and wholeness cannot be denied. The successful dissemination of these notions raise several questions concerning the conditions, purposes and areas of success: How are the notions of one Earth, our Planet or the World imagined and distributed? What is the role of cultural imagination and practices of signification in the imagination of »the Earth«?