Many social commentators today, cultural anthropologists most of all, speak of an emotional turn: feelings and emotions dominate the public sphere like never before – even on the Continent. In my talk I discuss this turn, especially the increasing displays of physical affection in our celebratory culture. My central claim is that these behaviors are not as new as they seem. Until the Protestant Reformation, emotions set the tone during public celebrations. Today customs have shifted again, and passionate ecstasy is granted wide latitude, much to the consternation of those entrusted with keeping the peace. Pleasure – Lust – has become the new motor of behavior. Behind this development lies a need for physical closeness and a deep-seated desire to be noticed.
Günter Schenk is a journalist and writer whose reports have appeared in Germany’s leading newspapers, as well as on radio and in television. His work has taken him across Europe, where he has investigated and photographed celebrations in all their variety. He is the author of Mainz, wie es singt und lacht (2004); Christliche Volksfeste in Europa: Prozessionen, Rituale, Volksschauspiele (2006); Fastnacht zwischen Brauch und Party: Karneval total (2007); Mainzer Fastnachts-ABC (2011); and a number of city guides (Antwerp, Bruges, Gent, Brussels, Liverpool, Rotterdam, Heidelberg, and several other cities).