Globalization and Documentality: à propos „Documentality“ by Maurizio Ferraris

With contributions by Petar Bojanić (Belgrad/Rijeka), Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg (Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota), Maurizio Ferraris (Turin), Werner Gephart (Bonn) and Barry Smith (Buffalo).

Turin philosopher of worldwide renown Prof. Dr. Maurizio Ferraris – a student of Hans-Georg Gadamer and co-author of Jacques Derrida – develops a theory of documentality in his comprehensive work that accords documents not an epistemological, but rather an ontological status. His theory turns Derrida’s negative deconstructive grammatology into something positive and reconstructive that is interested in the legal, political and economic consequences of an overabundance of technical documents, how they are processed and archived. By insisting on the epochal character of modern societies as a “société de l'enregistrement et du document”, Ferraris is attempting no less than to establish a fascinating and tense link between classical philosophical concepts and theories and the real global borderlessness achieved by a “documental society” that – even in light of the secret documents revealed in the NSA eavesdropping scandal – seems to still be far from reaching its peak.

During the event, Maurizio Ferraris, currently fellow at our Center, will begin by presenting his approach of “Documentalità” from the perspective of normative considerations. Lectures by Prof. Dr. Barry Smith from the University in Buffalo, dealing with the topic “Documental Acts. The Ontology of Globality”, and by Prof. Dr. Petar Bojanić from the Universities of Belgrade and Rijeka, who will be speaking on “Documentality: The ‘Life’ of Institutions”, will follow and further expound on the documentality approach. Social Anthropologist Prof. Dr. Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg, also fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”, will report on her current study of migrants in her lecture entitled “Documents of the Undocumented: African Migrants’ Experiences”. The lecture will delve into migrants’ experiences with documents and the related debate on the border between legality and illegality. We will end by turning to the principle of “Aktenmäßigkeit der Verwaltung” – i.e. the documentality of the bureaucratic age – as a basic category of bureaucratic rule originally identified by Max Weber.