Wed 19 Jun 2013 | 18:15–20:00

La fabrique des origines: philologies européennes entre science et religion | The Fabrication of Origins. European Philology Between Science and Religion

Maurice Olender (EHESS, Paris); Welcome by Joachim Küpper (Dahlem Humanities Center/Freie Universität Berlin); Introduction by Markus Messling (Universität Potsdam) DHC Lectures / Zukunftsphilologie Conference

Freie Universität Berlin, Seminarzentrum, Raum L115, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

Keynote Lecture in the context of the International Conference "Semitic Philology within European Intellectual History. Constructions of Race, Religion and Language in Scholarly Practice", June 20-21, 2013 at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin.
Title: "La Fabrique des origines: philologies européennes entre sciences et religions" ("The Fabrication of Origins. European Philology Between Science and Religion")
DHC Lecture with a welcome by Joachim Küpper (Dahlem Humanities Center/Freie Universität Berlin) and an introduction by Markus Messling (Universität Potsdam).

Lecture (held in French, translation provided)
The ancient appropriation of Hebrew by the Church Fathers was followed, in 19th century Europe, by an erudite readiness to construct new forms of discourse based on Sanskrit, in order to suggest new Aryan origins to the Western Tradition. In a world governed by Romanticist visions and driven by colonial aspirations, between a Christianity weakened by the Enlightenment and the propagation of a scientistic secularism, certain learned fables of an Indian origin succeeded in replacing the Hebrew ones as a figure of heritage. In this fabrication of origins, the new “Aryan Bible” called for a new language of Paradise: Sanskrit. The methodologies of “comparative philology,” long serving as a synonym for “language sciences,” could bear the mark of raciologic knowledge that had, often until the 1940s, guided both the Humanities and the natural sciences.

Maurice Olender is professor of history at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, with a formation in archaeology and philology. He has lectured at different European and U.S. American universities (Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Columbia), in Israel and at the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences in Beijing. Since 1981 he has been the chief editor of the journal Le Genre humain; in 1985 he founded the series Textes du XXème siècle (‘texts of the 20th century’) with Hachette; in 1989 he launched the series La librairie du XXIème siècle (‘library of the 21st century’) with the Seuil publishing house.
His historical and anthropological research is concerned with figures of thought and discourses regarding sexual, religious, linguistic and ethnic origins in mythological and scientific systems of knowledge since Antiquity.
Publications (selection): Les Langues du Paradis, with an introduction by Jean-Pierre Vernant, Paris: Seuil 2002 (Points essais), awarded by the Académie française, and translated into several languages (German: Die Sprachen des Paradieses, revised edition, edited with an introduction by Markus Messling. Berlin: Kadmos 2013; English: The Languages of Paradise, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP 1992); Race sans histoire, Paris: Seuil 2009 (Points Essais), awarded the Prix Roger Caillois for essay writing, published simultaneously as Race and Erudition with Harvard UP; Matériau du rêve, IMEC 2010 (Le Lieu de l’archive).

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