Sheldon Pollock: “Philology and Freedom”

In his lecture Sheldon Pollock asks why, in a world of ever-diminishing resources and ever-expanding threats, do we have any need for philology. What is philology’s rightful place among the knowledge forms of the twenty-first century? The lecture “Philology and Freedom” – or how to free and be freed by philology – suggests some possible answers. Sheldon Pollock is among today’s most important philologists. His work in the fields of Sanskrit research and Indian cultural and comparative intellectual history has transcended the boundaries of his discipline – and it has considerably influenced the research program Zukunftsphilologie of the Forum Transregionale Studien.

Sheldon Pollock is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies. From 2005-2011 he served as the William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Columbia, and before that as the George V. Bobrinskoy Distinguished Service Professor of Sanskrit and Indic Studies at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1989-2005. He was educated at Harvard University, receiving his undergraduate degree in Classics (Greek) magna cum laude in 1971 before earning a Masters (1973) and Ph.D. (1975) in Sanskrit and Indian Studies. His areas of specialization are Sanskrit philology, Indian intellectual and literary history, and, increasingly, comparative intellectual history.

Occasion for the event was the arrival of some 35 international postdoc Fellows who will be commencing their stays in Berlin within the context of the Forum’s research program. At the same time it will be a prelude to the conference conceived by the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung, namely “Areas and Disciplines: Lessons from Internationalization Initiatives in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Area Studies in Germany” , which took place at the Musikinstrumenten-Museum, Berlin, from 18th to 19th October 2013. The lecture was being staged in cooperation with the Humboldt University Berlin.

Introductions to the lecture “Philology and Freedom”

Jan-Hendrik Olbertz  (President Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)

Andreas Eckert (Professor for African Studies, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Forum Transregionale Studien)

Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit (Director of the Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule für Literaturwissenschaftliche Studien at the Freien Universität Berlin)

Further contributions:

Laura Hofmann: Philologie für die Zukunft

Sheldon Pollock: Disciplining Areas and Arealizing Disciplines

Stefanie Rentsch: Philology and Textual Practices

Impressions of the lecture by Sheldon Pollock


Forum Transregionale Studien

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien promotes the internationalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. It provides scope for collaboration among researchers with different regional and disciplinary perspectives and appoints researchers from all over the world as Fellows. More...

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