“Philological Encounters” – Introduction

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by Islam Dayeh, the journal’s executive editor (Freie Universität Berlin / Zukunftsphilologie)

Brill_design_PHEN_def_coverPhilological Encounters is both the title of this journal and a scholarly perspective. If we agree that philology, as a critical method, is inseparable from any textual tradition, then wherever texts exist, a method of making sense of them exists as well. What forms did these methods take across the globe before and during the encounter with European philology? How do salient aspects of the philological method, such as care for textual difference and variation, attention to contingency and change, and the need to make texts accessible and available, appear in these non-European philologies, and what has become of them after this encounter?

Philological Encounters began before this journal’s establishment. The idea of dedicating a journal to the study of philology from a global and comparative perspective emerged out of a series of seminars, conferences and international academies organized by the research program Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship (Forum Transregionale Studien and Freie Universität Berlin). Since its inception in 2010, Zukunftsphilologie has supported research in marginalized and undocumented textual practices and literary cultures. The program’s objective is integrating texts and scholarly traditions from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as from Europe itself, through a critical recuperation of the craft of philology. Zukunftsphilologie strives to do this through two main strategies: first, by fostering research on understudied (mostly non-European) textual practices and methods in order to expand the canon of philological scholarship; and second, by critically examining the genealogies and genetic conditions of philological practice throughout the world.

A European/non-European dichotomy has shaped much of the debate about the discipline of philology thus far. Conscious of the risks of being entrapped by this bipolarization, Zukunftsphilologie sought to expand the scope of inquiry into encounters across Asia and Africa. Our notion of Philological Encounters refers to the careful study of intellectual exchanges between professionals and interpreters of texts, languages and cultures across the globe. This approach outlines an avenue of research dedicated to the study of tension, antagonism and polemic—as well as fascination, cooperation, appropriation and friendship—that transpired as a consequence of the meetings of scholars and the convergence of their modes of textual scholarship. Our attention to philological encounters is therefore not meant to flatten out asymmetrical situations caused by colonialism and imperialism, but rather to historicize these situations and account for them from a global and comparative perspective.

These aforementioned issues have emerged in the context of discussions about methodological pluralism and philological universals. Yet other discussions have emerged from ethical and political considerations. In light of the appalling record of philology in its most recent actual history, what responsibilities lie upon us as scholars today as we try to recuperate philology for the future? What role could philology play in achieving justice and freedom, and how could philology be cultivated as a method of scholarly resistance to the one-dimensional, essentializing and inhumane views that persist today?

Philological Encounters aims to be a platform for such discussions. As the first journal of its kind dedicated to the historical and philosophical critique of philology, it is open to contributions in all fields studying the history of textual practices, hermeneutics and philology, displaced philologies, philological controversies, and the intellectual and global history of writing, archiving, tradition-making and publishing. The journal is neither confined to any discipline nor bound by any geographical or temporal limits. Rather, the focus lies on the philological problematic.

With the aim of complementing already well-established and erudite disciplinary journals, Philological Encounters locates itself at the intersections between philological disciplines, eliciting interdisciplinary and metaphilological investigation. The journal is open to theoretical contributions on philological concepts and methods as well as their application to particular texts and traditions. We welcome innovative and critical contributions in the form of articles and review articles (preferably of two or three related books from different disciplines). We also welcome special issues on particular themes or debates. Moreover, we plan to publish translations of important critical articles on philology written in languages other than English.

The fourteen articles presented in this inaugural volume vary in theme, genre and style, ranging from programmatic essays to critical surveys and case studies. Engaging various theoretical and historical perspectives from diverse vantage points, the articles are exemplary of the envisaged breadth, scope and inclusiveness of this journal. Philological Encounters is not only an invitation to a critical reflection on philological encounters of the past but also a hopeful contribution to our encounters today and to the shape and meaning of philologies yet to be.

The inaugural volume of the journal has been published with Brill in 2016. After registration via “Brill Online” individuals are eligible for free access using the access token (PHEN4U). You will then be able to read the articles of the inaugural volume:

“Introducing Philological Encounters” – Islam Dayeh

“Philology and Freedom” – Sheldon Pollock

“Qur’ānic Studies and Historical-Critical Philology” – Angelika Neuwirth

“Linguistic Justice vs. Linguistic Diversity” – Jürgen Trabant

“Text and Determination” – Markus Messling

“The Limits of Cyclization” – Christoph König

“Big Data, Global Villages” – Marcel Lepper

“Imperial and Philological Encounters in the Early Modern Era” – Adrien Delmas

“Calligraphic Africa” – Shamil Jeppie

“Cultures of Comparative Philology in the Early Modern Indo-Persian World” – Rajeev Kinra

“Holy Lives as Texts” – Mufti Mudasir

“Bīdil’s Portrait” – Prashant Keshavmurthy

“Textuality on the Brahmanical ‘Frontier'” – Travis L. Smith

“Cultural Geographies of the Malay World” – Sumit K. Mandal

“The Potential of World Philology” – Islam Dayeh

You will find more information, including a guide to activate your free access in four steps, on the journal’s webpage.

Islam Dayeh is assistant professor for Arabic studies at Freie Universität Berlin and head of the research programme Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship.

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Citation: Islam Dayeh, Tagungsbericht: »Philological Encounters« – Introduction, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 03.03.2016 https://trafo.hypotheses.org/3773

 


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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