World Philologies Seminar
Thu 02 Jun 2016 | 16:00–19:00

The Concept of Cultural Translation in American Religious Studies

Daniel Boyarin (University of California, Berkeley), Chair: Islam Dayeh (Freie Universität Berlin)

Freie Universität Berlin, Holzlaube, Raum 2.2051, Fabeckstr. 23-25, 14195 Berlin

For many years, Daniel Boyarin has been engaged in a project to discover how or why it makes sense to speak of “religion” as existing or not at a given time and place. In this project, Wittgenstein has proven to be an increasingly consequential compagnon de route. Boyarin takes the Philosophical Investigations not so much as a work of academic philosophy but as an attempt to describe how language actually works, how human beings produce meaningful speech and writing. The leading questions for the presentation will be: How can we better think what we mean when we say that there was/is no “religion” within a given cultural form? How ought those thoughts help refiguring the human sciences? In order to adumbrate some answers to these questions the thinking of Talal Asad about cultural translation is pitted against that of J. Z. Smith.

Daniel Boyarin is Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture at the University of California, Berkeley. As of next year he will hold an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship at the Freie Universität Berlin, together with a fellowship at the Max Planck Institute (Berlin), and the Max Weber Kolleg (Erfurt). His extensive research covers talmudic and midrashic studies, gender and sexuality in rabbinic culture, the question of ethnocentricity and the genealogy of “religion” and “Judaism” as key words and concepts, with a current interest in Josephus. His numerous publications include: Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash (1990), A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (1994), Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man (1997), Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism (1999), Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (2004) and Socrates and the Fat Rabbis (2009).

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