Charismatic Substances


Venue: Internationales Kolleg Morphomata

Concept: Stefanie Gänger

Contact: Participants are asked to register via email with: Larissa Förster

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This workshop looks at substances with “that elusive something” we call charisma – kinds of matter that, like the political leaders sociologists have long studied, exert a peculiar influence over us, evoke deference and devotion, rearrange our perceptions, upend routines, or become the seeds around which new orders take form.

Contributions trace the charisma of substances to the interstices between their imbrication with human subjectivity – to how their rarity, symbolism or economic value endow them with salience – and the influence that arises from their material properties – to how their shininess, ductility, or medicinal properties give them purchase on our souls and senses.

Thinking substances through charisma opens up novel perspectives on symbolic capital, commodity chains, and power relations; it reintegrates attention to the somatic dimensions of the most abstract social relations and to the instances of material presence that bind our world together.

Contributions to the workshop are accessible at the following blog: