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In the age of man – the Anthropocene – we have to ask ourselves the question: Has our influence on the planet become too extreme? Answers can be found at the World Reception.


This year’s Weltempfang at Frankfurter Buchmesse is dedicated to the relationship between culture and nature. A coexistence in which man has increasingly dominated his environment. But in the near future, this will no longer be the case– as we have already plundered nature in many forms.

With consumption of oil and coal, we allowed the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere to virtually explode. To the same extent, we have deprived plant and animal species of their habitat. With scientific and technical leaps, such as artificial


intelligence, we are driving evolution further and further – but to what end if we are continuously destroying our own biotope?

Weltempfang is a collective project of Frankfurter Buchmesse and the German Federal Foreign Office, and in 2019, will once again be the spot for an open exchange of ideas and political dialogue. Something we need now more than ever.


Events and topics

In round table discussions with international figures, we will shed light on the Anthropocene Age as a whole. Together, we will answer the basic questions, such as: How does man position himself within nature? Or outside of nature? What are the limits of our growth? And what happens when these are reached?

3.00-4.00 pm

"Cruel husbandry. The relationship between man and animal in industrial husbandry"

What to expect:

Jean-Baptiste Del Amos's novel “Animalia” (Fitzcarraldo Editions 2019) recounts the fate of a pig-farming family and the development of a farm into an industrial scale pig farm. As the people brutally exploit the resources of animals, they grow ever distant to nature. A discussion round with Robert Habeck will look into how we can counter this development through modern agriculture policies.

Participants: Robert Habeck, Jean-Baptiste Del Amos

Moderated by: Cord Riechelman

4.30-5.30 pm  

"Opening Event: The Anthropocene - the last age?"

What to expect:

This year's Weltempfang is dedicated to the relationship of culture and nature. The Anthropocene – this year' s focus – has not been scientifically confirmed, but many of our current problems are unquestionably the result of microplastics, overfishing, increased soil sealing, the loss of biodiversity, weather changes and many other man-made issues. This concept of the humanized age has found its way into language and the influence we have on "our" planet is visibly increasing. Man, once at the mercy of nature, has become the (main) influencer. Our impact can be seen high in the Himalayas and kilometres-deep in the oceans. We claim territory as our own, even beyond the boundaries of our planet. Expected scientific and technological advances, such as artificial intelligence, will further humans’ ability to seize upon nature as an object and to (over-)exploit it for their own purposes. In contrast, general awareness is on the rise concerning the complex interdependencies on and within nature and planetary processes, about the sensitivity of entire ecosystems, about what has been lost, and about phenomena that cannot be grasped or controlled. To what extent has man become the main influencing factor; to what extent is he at the mercy of the processes? Where are the limits of growth? What happens afterwards? What (self-)definitions does man choose about and as part of nature? Will we ultimately choose not to save nature, but to save ourselves through some kind of survival strategy?

Participants: Friederike Otto, Harald Welzer, Maja Lunde

Moderated by: Gert Scobel (angefragt)


2.30–3.30 pm

"Between Nature and Technology – Future Visions from China" Discussion (German/Chinese)

What to expect:

Climate change, pollution, rapidly growing megacities – Chinese science fiction always responds to current controversial issues. Chi Hui imagines what would happen if people lost control over the processes they set in motion. How far are we from these futuristic visions from China? Can we still save the world?

Participants: Chi Hui, Science Fiction author, latest publication in German translation “Insektennest” (The Insect Nest) in Kapsel – Fantastische Geschichten aus China Nr. 1 (Frühwerk 2017), Prof. Song Mingwei, Professor of Chinese Literature at Wellesley College and expert in Chinese Science Fiction

Moderated by: Vera Tollmann, cultural scientist, freelance author and research assistant at the University of Hildesheim

4.30–5.30 pm

"Trends in Children’s Literature – Arab and German Voices"  Panel Discussion (German/English/Arabic)

What to expect:

Children’s books, their topics, narrative styles and design preferences always reflect society’s ideas about being a child. How do the ideas of current children’s books from the Arab World compare to those from Germany? Which stories are told? What role does a child’s daily life play? What role does fantasy play?

Participants: Hussain Al Mutawaa, author and photographer, winner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2019 for the children’s book “I Dream of Being A Concrete Mixer” (Al Hadaek Group, 2018), Dr. Christiane Raabe, director of the “Internationale Jugendbibliothek” (International Youth Library), Munich , Stephan Trudewind, publisher at Edition Orient for children’s books from the Arab world

Moderated by: Stefan Weidner, Arabist, author and translator, latest publication “Literaturen des Orients” (Literatures of the Orient), (Edition Converso, 2019)


1.30-2.30 pm 

"British Writers on Brexit"

What to expect:

The Brexit vote brought about a political and constitutional crisis and opened a deep divide in British society. What is the background to what some consider the greatest democratic exercise in British history and others a dangerous triumph of populism, an attack of democracy that threatens to break up the United Kingdom and sever its alliance with the rest of the EU? Writers from England, Ireland and Wales offer their perspectives on the causes and impact of Brexit.

Participants: Jan Carson, Bonnie Greer, Patrick McGuinness

Moderated by: Alexandra Büchler


3.00-4.00 pm

"Keep or give back? Working with collections from colonial contexts"

What to expect:

The topic of how to deal with collections from colonial contexts is gaining importance in Germany due to the Savoy/Sarr Report and other factors. At the same time, both human remains and cultural assets have already been returned to their countries of origin, such as the Witbooi Bible’s transfer to Namibia. How should the process be structured in future and who should be involved? What forms of repatriation can be considered and what role can digitalisation and the production of replicas play? What forms might future bilateral and international cooperations take?

Participants: Inés de Castro, Rebekka Habermas, Felwine Sarr (angefragt)

Moderated by: Bartholomäus Grill

4.00-5.00 pm

"No critique wanted? Civilised society under pressure"

What to expect:

Our discussion deals with the current issue of pressure from politics, economics and society on the free press, civil society and critics. We also look beyond the German horizon to (Eastern) Europe. We plan to fill the podium with the following experts: Heribert Prantl as a representative of the press; Jürgen Resch from Deutsche Umwelthilfe, who could report on direct attacks on his person; József Péter Martin from Transparency Hungary, who currently has to work from British exile and would expand the discussion on the European perspective; and Carolin Emcke, who would comment on the situation from an intellectual point of view.

Participants: József Péter Martin, Jürgen Resch, Heribert Prantl (angefragt)

Moderated by: Dr. Rupert Graf Strachwitz, CEO Maecenata Stiftung, Director Maecenata Institut

4.30-5.30 pm

"The depiction of women in novels"

What to expect:

Mercedes Rosende and Elif Shafak are internationally successful and multiple award-winning authors. Their novels introduce readers to women in the roles of murderous nannies, murdered prostitutes, sex and food addicts, police commissioners and outsiders. Are they writing counter to women’s pre-determined roles in novels? What do they think about women's roles in literature?

Participants: Mercedes Rosende, Elif Shafak

Moderated by: Juergen Boos


12.00-1.00 pm

"30 years after the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution"

What to expect:

In Germany, along with all of Middle and Eastern Europe, the year 1989 stands for the beginning of fundamental changes. History offers few such examples of when, within just a short period of time, so many countries simultaneously experienced a complete and fundamental change in the system of government that reached all the way from the political to the economic and cultural spheres.  

Participants: Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth, František Mikloško, Petr Pithart 

Moderated by: Werner D´Ink

3.00-4.00 pm

"Between hope and helplessness – Is climate change unstoppable?" 

Participants: Prof. Uwe Schneidewind, President of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy, author of “Die Große Transformation”, Fischer Verlag 2018, 3rd edition; Luisa Neubauer, climate activist, co-organiser of “Friday for Future” protests; Thore D. Hansen, author of “Die Reinsten”, Golkonda Verlag 2019

What to expect:

The living conditions on our planet are changing, and the effect of mankind has never been so great. What does science have to say about the state of the Earth, and what hope lies in technologies like artificial intelligence? What visions of the future are coming out of the literary scene when it envisions climate change? What happens as a result of the protests of young people; what fears do they have?

Moderated by: Ulrich Noller, Journalist and author

In cooperation with: Frankfurter Buchmesse



Our influence on the planet: indisputable

The romantic concept of untouched nature no longer exists. It’s no wonder – since 1960 the world’s population has rocketed to over seven billion people. We have become the driving force of change on Earth – and make this abundantly clear with mountains of rubbish, dried up lakes, and polluted oceans, to name just a few of the images characterising the Anthropocene Age.

What do you need for an inspiring fair experience?

A ticket. Buy one now and take it all in, network, and discuss at Frankfurter Buchmesse.