Prof. Dr. Heike Egner


Summer-/Wintersemester 2019


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Heike Egner

Host: Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Anton Escher (Cultural Geography, Geographisches Institut) 

Interkulturelle Herausforderungen im Anthropozän: Wie begegnet man geologischen Subjekten?

Lecture Thursday, December 12, 2019


The Anthropocene hypothesis challenges the sciences in a very fundamental way, replacing the traditional dichotomy of nature and culture, questioning the world of natural laws and the world of ideas. In societal terms, the Anthropocene hypothesis brings the first fundamental changes, that, in addition to many others, puts our (inter-) cultural understanding to the test. In 2016/2017, three Federal Constitutional Courts (in India, Colombia, New Zealand) independently from each other came to a completely surprising jurisdiction: they granted personal rights to a river in their country. The rivers thus receive personal status, more precisely: the status of a “legal person” that can claim “for itself”, the right to protection, conservation, sustainability and restoration of a “healthy state” from the state. The question of the possibilities and conditions of interculturality widens radically, as we – human beings – are asked to develop ways of dealing with “geological persons”. The lecture revolves around the conditions of possibility and the social consequences of these Supreme Court decisions.

Heike Egner finished her dissertation in 2001 at the Department of Geography at Johannes Gutenberg University with a thesis on “Trend- und Natursport als System. Die Karriere einer Sportlandschaft am Beispiel Moab/Utah. (Trend and Nature Sport as a System. The career of a sports landscape using the example of Moab / Utah)” under the supervision of the host. In 2007, she received her habilitation also in Mainz with a work on “Gesellschaft, Mensch, Umwelt – beobachtet. Ein Beitrag zur Theorie der Geographie. (Society, man, environment – observed. A contribution to the theory of geography)”. She taught and researched in Frankfurt am Main, Kassel, Munich, Vienna, Innsbruck and Klagenfurt. Among this she was invited as a Research Fellow to the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich (2010), the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) in Bielefeld (2011) and the Institute of Advanced Studies at Durham University (2015).

In her research Heike Egner deals with the interactions and interrelations between “society | nature” and “human | environment” and considers them above all from a socio-geographical / sociological perspective. At the center of her current research is the question of social conditions and the consequences of the hypothesis of the Anthropocene, which from her perspective represents a fundamental challenge for all sciences. The term as well as the diagnosis of the Anthropocene contribute to the collapse of the traditional and fundamental distinction between natural history and cultural history; at the same time, our fundamental distinction between nature and culture as a whole collapses. The Anthropocene inevitably requires a re-definition of ourselves as human beings and at the same time changes the starting point of all scientific disciplines. These aspects should be deepened during the stay at the JGU. The intention is to plan a conference on the topic.

Publications (topic-related selection):

Egner, Heike & Moremi Zeil (in rev.): A watershed decision! How to do justice to a river? In: Andreas Koch & Gottfried Schweiger (Eds.): Spatial In/justice. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Egner, Heike (2019): Mattering matter in radical constructivism. In: Theo Hug, Josef Mitterer & Michael Schorner (Eds.): Ernst von Glasersfeld (1917–2010). Radical constructivism – past, presence and future. Innsbruck: Universität Innsbruck Press, 351–365.

Egner, Heike & Moremi Zeil (2019): Das Anthropozän – ein begriffliches Erdbeben (nicht nur für die Geographie). In: Heike Egner & Horst Peter Groß (Eds.): Das Anthropozän. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf eine Krisendiagnostik. München: Profil-Verlag (Klagenfurter Interdisziplinäres Kolleg 8), 15–32.

Egner, Heike & Horst Peter Groß (Eds.).(2019): Das Anthropozän. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf eine KrisendiagnostikMünchen: Profil-Verlag (Klagenfurter Interdisziplinäres Kolleg 8).

Egner, Heike & Michael Jungmeier (2018): Non-territorial nature conservation? On protected areas in the Anthropocene. Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft 160: 115–142.

Egner, Heike (2017): Neither realism nor anti-realism: How to approach the Anthropocene? In: Christian Kanzian, Sebastian Kletzl, Josef Mitterer & Katharina Neges (Eds.): Realism – Relativism – Constructivism. Proceedings of the 38th International Wittgenstein Symposium in Kirchberg am Wechsel. Berlin: De Gruyter, 153–166.

Egner, Heike (2017): Was bedeutet das Anthropozän für uns als Gesellschaft? In: Nationalpark Hohe Tauern (Ed.): Anthropozän – ein neuer Blick auf die Erde als unseren Lebensraum. Großkirchheim 25./26.09.2017. 17–21.

Egner, Heike (2016): The IPCC's Interdisciplinary Dilemma: What Natural and Social Sciences Could (and Should) Learn from Physics. Insights 9 (5): 1–7.

Aufenvenne, Philipp, Heike Egner & Kirsten Von Elverfeldt (2014): On climate change research, the crisis of science, and second-order science. Constructivist Foundations 10 (1): 120–129.