As a result of colonial expansion and the technologies that made long-distance communication and travel possible, the 19th and 20th centuries witnessed an accelerated rate of individual interactions across the globe, including scholarly encounters. Individual scholars became more conscious of the commonalities that they shared with fellow humans all over the world, which they expressed in universalistic projects in philosophy, philology, the life sciences and other fields of human inquiry. Yet the encounter also brought about an articulation of differences. “Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Philological Encounters” is a conference dedicated to exploring the personal (and especially self-reflective) dimensions of academic knowledge production by studying scholars (i.e., producers) and their contexts (i.e., institutions and societies) in relation to their objects of study.
Knowledge is always embedded in institutions and is produced by individual scholars whose choices are shaped by their biographies as much as by the subjects they study. Thus, “Philological Encounters” refers to the discovery of difference that came about due to the real-life encounters between professionals and interpreters of texts, languages and cultures across the globe.
This conference outlines an avenue of research dedicated to the study of tensions, antagonisms and polemics – as well as fascination, cooperation, appropriation and friendship – that transpired as a consequence of the meetings of different scholars and their dissimilar modes of textual scholarship, made possible through international cooperation in the form of conferences, journals, academic associations and student exchange.
The conference objective was not hagiography, but rather historicizing seemingly monolithic categories – such as “orientalism”, “philology” and “history” – by localizing the role of individual actors in the process of knowledge formation, in the colonial and post-colonial periods. The conference addressed this by looking at first-person accounts of conferences, reports, travel writing, correspondences, memoirs, auto/biographies, polemical essays, and translations, among other writings.
Convened by Islam Dayeh (Zukunftsphilologie/Freie Universität Berlin), Umar Ryad (Utrecht University) and Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn (CNRS Paris).
A full conference description including program, abstracts and biographies is available for download here: conference program PDF