We inhabit a world in crisis. Or, more precisely, we live in a world in which the language of crisis has become the most common way of representing a series of situations we face. We have global economic crises, eurozone crises, refugee crises in Europe and the Middle East, leadership crises in the United States and Venezuela, institutional crises in Hungary and Poland, nuclear crises in North Korea and Iran, humanitarian crises in Yemen and Congo, food crises in South Sudan and the Horn of Africa, environmental crises in the Arctic and the Amazonia, as well as identity crises, legitimation crises, solidarity crises, security crises, gender crises … and even crises in the social sciences.
This ubiquity of the idea of crisis tells us something about the actuality as well as the imaginary of contemporary societies. One can regard it literally as a sign of our times: It signals something important about the present. The project, Crisis: A Global Inquiry Into the Contemporary Moment, seeks to analyze this objectively identifiable and subjectively experienced notion of crisis. It will explore, through a multi-sited study conducted on five continents and mobilizing different disciplines, the multiplicity of the forms of, and responses to, crises.
James D. Wolfensohn Professor
Institute for Advanced Study