Novelty and the Emergence of the Western Global in the Early 16th Century

17:00 - 19:00 | 28 October 2019 | Room S2, Alison Richard Building, University of Cambridge.

gloknos is delighted to welcome Prof Luis Lobo-Guerrero (University of Groningen) to present as part of our annual lecture series.


Novelty disrupts order. Because of its disrupting character, it exposes the fallibility of pre-existing ways of knowing, thinking, and being. It betrays the operation of particular ways of experiencing the world that are always imbued with specific forms of power relations, forms of subjectivity, and systems of rule. Observing novelty and the ways in which it emerges, always in precise historical moments, allows for an understanding of the conditions under which something is deemed possible and real. Its usefulness transcends the anecdotic and relates to the possibility of introducing new ways of labelling the outcome of experience, of creating new narratives and grammars for describing what had not yet been encountered or thought, of reflecting about a real without recourse to the strictures of theory and dogma, of creating new markets for ideas and products, and, as explored through this book, of creating spaces of governance.

This lecture engages with a very particular moment in the history of a Western experience of knowing life, space, and governance. It explores claims to novelty in XVI C. Spain in the context of the Columbian trips of discovery and the early conquest of America. It does so by exploring the seminal contribution made by José Antonio Maravall, a Spanish historian of culture and mentalities, to the understanding of the problem of novelty through what he considers to be its three conditions of possibility: i) the pretension of originality, ii) the interest for the invention, and iii) the curiosity for the strange.

Prof. Luis Lobo-Guerrero is, since 2013, Professor and Chair of History and Theory of International Relations at the University of Groningen where he is also Director of the Centre for International Relations Research. His interests converge around two broad areas: the politics of global connectivities, and modes of reasoning about order, power and governance. An edited volume that begins to bring them together is forthcoming in 2019, as part of the Global Epistemics book series, under the title of Imaginaries of Connectivity: The Making of Novel Spaces of Governance (Rowman and Littlefield).

Attendance is free but spaces are limited, so please email to reserve your seat. Light refreshments will be served beforehand, from around 16:30. Please be aware that we will take an audio recording of this event, which may include any questions and responses delivered by the audience.

Want to share this event? Click the poster below to download a copy for print.