Language, Science and Aesthetics. Summer Academy in Beirut

OIB Summer schoolThe International Summer Academy „Language, Science and Aesthetics – Articulations of Subjectivity and Objectivity in the Modern Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia“ is organized by  the Orient-Institut Beirut,a research Institute of the Max Weber Stiftung and the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien.

It is chaired by a group of scholars that include Monique Bellan (Orient-Institut Beirut), Nadia Bou Ali (American University of Beirut), Dahlia Gubara (Orient-Institut Beirut), Hans Harder (Heidelberg University), Bodhisattva Kar (University of Cape Town), Stefan Leder (Orient-Institut Beirut) and Dhruv Raina (Jawaharlal Nehru University).

The Academy takes place September 11-19, 2014  in Beirut.

Please find further information on the OIB blog Mish ma32ool.

Entitled „Language, Science and Aesthetics – Articulations of Subjectivity and Objectivity in the Modern Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia“, this Summer Academy offers early-career scholars an opportunity to follow up on the debates about modernity, its preconditions and its aftermath by focusing on the multifarious processes and often unique ways in which societies outside Europe have adopted, translated, rejected or produced the global, the modern and tradition since the seventeenth century. It places a specific focus on the notions of subjectivity and objectivity, the individual and the subject, as key  notions of modernity, and addresses systems and practices of knowledge production, communication and authority as they developed in the region that extends from Morocco to Indonesia. The Summer Academy engages with the debates on the writing of a more global history by paying particular attention to changing textual and aesthetic practices and language policies.

The Summer Academy aims to adopt a transregional perspective by looking at transfers and translations, resistances and counter-movements of linguistic, scientific and aesthetic practices, and the circulation of concepts and ideas within the region stretching from contemporary Morocco to Indonesia as well as between these societies and “the West”.

The Summer Academy revolves around three main axes of debate:

Language

While in the regions under investigation language has long been a primary field of scholarly inquiry, it has emerged as a central trope for the remaking of the self in the name of modernity. The project of ordering, collecting and reshaping language was undertaken in many language communities. In which way did the work on language and translation relate to the emergence of modern identitarian categories? What kinds of new boundaries were created by processes of canonization, and what kind of texts were rendered ‘homeless’ by the choice of a particular tradition? We think it is important to link research on these fields of intellectual production to their socio-historical contexts for a comparative study of the emergence of language as an object of pioneering scientific inquiry and a renewed medium of articulation. Potential themes of inquiry are, for example:

  • The opposition between orality and literacy, vernaculars and written languages
  • The ‘grammatization’ of language and the collection of lexicons as well as modern encyclopedias and pedagogic texts
  • The evolution of new concepts as well as neologies and phrases

Science

Modernity and science are intractably linked in multiple constitutive ways, and both notions are connected to the emergence of the autonomous subject and its historical becoming. In recent years, the history of science has developed and refined a genealogical approach of embodied practices, whereby science is not a transparent concept but one imbricated in its discursive, institutional and social sites of production, transmission and consumption. It might therefore be interesting to explore continuities and losses in the modes of knowledge production. Attention will thus be given to the multitudinous and always-situated understanding of the concepts and practices of knowledge production itself. Broad questions for exploration include:

  • Which institutional sites (laboratories, universities, archives etc.) gave scientific discourses their authority? And how did they compete with, transform or supersede other spaces of scientific production?
  • How are different conjunctions of science’s empirical, methodological and theoretical dimensions generative of modern knowledge?
  • Under what conditions did particular theories and disciplines become institutionalized, and with what social and political consequences?

Aesthetics

Aesthetics in this context is understood as a configuration of aesthetic practices extending to the reception of art works and evolving theoretical reflection. This section is concerned with the question of whether the transformations that took place from the seventeenth century onwards led to an ‘aesthetic turn’ that resulted in new perceptions, practices and social realities constitutive of an increasingly educated middle class. It is thus an enquiry into the actors of change, into concepts and modes of articulation together with their institutional and technical prerequisites. To what extent do subjective approaches (i.e. gaze, perception, taste, interest, aesthetic experience) and the emergence of new artistic forms and practices as well as perceptions of reality affect the development of categories (i.e. history of art, canonization of knowledge) and of institutional sites in terms of academies or art schools? Possible questions researchers may engage with are:

  • What are the aesthetic and linguistic references used for the description of artistic practices and aesthetic experience?
  • What are the parameters for the forming of individual taste and an aesthetic self and how are they related to the notion of the subject?
  • What is the relationship between art and culture?

Forum Transregionale Studien

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien is a research organization that promotes the internationalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. The Forum provides scope for collaboration among researchers with different regional and disciplinary perspectives and appoints researchers from all over the world as Fellows. In cooperation with universities and research institutions in Berlin and the rest of Germany, it carries out research projects that examine other regions of the world and their relationship to Germany and Europe systematically and with new questions.

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