Faisal Devji, Oxford University, Gender and the Generic Muslim Subject
Starting sometime in the latter half of the nineteenth century, European criticism of the status women in Islam spurred a debate on gender roles among Muslims in many parts of the world. While these discussions have received ample scholarly attention, this lecture will focus on the contradictory way in which the ‘Muslim Woman’ became Islam’s generic subject in the process. How might a woman represent Islam, and what shifts in gendered subjectivities result from it?
Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris / CNRS, The Dynamics of Disciplinary Organization. Center and Periphery of Knowledge at International Orientalist Congresses
The first session of the International Congress of Orientalists was organized in 1873. By this date, the professionalization of Oriental studies had already begun long ago. However new languages continued to be added to the common core.
The congress responded to a holistic vision of Orientalism expressed through a twofold objective: on the one hand, to overcome the segmentation of knowledge induced by a growing specialization, and on the other hand to present to the world the most recent and comprehensive state of Orientalism. Hence the newest areas of knowledge were included into the program and the definition of Orientalism was constantly revised. This paper will show how the history of the Congress can be used to study the dynamics of relations between the different branches of Orientalism as well as between their representatives from different parts of the world.
Constanze Güthenke, Oxford University, “The Last Arcadians” – American Classicists, Modern Greece, Old Europe
This paper suggests to look for “other others” in the narratives of the encounter of Western-trained classical scholars with contemporary Greece in the 19thand 20thCentury. Of specific interest for me is the perspective of American classicists who view Greece from a point where their own relationship with Europe, as an ‘old’ origin and the site of a modern, progressive discipline at the same time, is complicated. The Western origin narratives regarding ancient Greece are a familiar trope, as is the ambiguity vis-à-vis modern Greece as a place that can provoke connotations as both Western and Eastern, and they have been well documented for European scholars and travellers. What is less known is that for some American scholars Greece was also a possible ground for exploring their joint “belatedness” with regard to the advances of Western Europe. Greece is figured as a place both elevated and tainted by the prospect of modern science; and like America, it may thus also be a possible sibling site for resisting the drawbacks of such modernity when one chooses to highlight its paralysing limitations in the form of established, dull scholarship. In other words, Greece can become a projecting ground for a competitive and emancipated (yet still fraught) “other” Europe. Looking at such tangled relations allows to highlight not only the national but also the transnational features of American narratives; and, by bringing in an American perspective, it extends the frame of what counts as European, Eastern, or other from a purely European perspective.
Razak Khan, University of Erlangen, Fringe Orientalism: Jewish Orientalist Scholars of Islam in South Asia
This paper looks at the politics of knowledge production about Islam in colonial India by Jewish Orientalist scholars. It does so by looking at lived experiences and writings of two German speaking Jewish scholars in prominent Muslim institutions in Colonial India. These are namely Josef Horovitz( 1874-1931) who served as Professor of Arabic at Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College and prolific contributor to the journal Islamic Culture, Hyderabad and Leopold Weiss alias Muhammad Asad(1900-1992) at Islamia College and Punjab University as well as editor of the Journal Islamic Culture. This paper hopes to situate German speaking Jewish Orientalist intellectuals in colonial India and trace the journey of these actors and ideas as they engaged with the other exemplary “problematic minority” – Muslims in South Asia. Such minority pasts have remained on the “fringe” and merits further research in studies of larger global histories of intellectual encounters and entanglements. They also allow us to bring into conversation the issue of minority Jewish and Muslim histories together within the larger global histories of knowledge production about Islam in Germany, South Asia and Palestine.
Patricia Berg, Swedish Literature Society/University of Helsinki, Nineteenth-century Orientalism in Finland, as Reflected in the Writings of Georg August Wallin
In the 1840s the Finnish Orientalist Georg August Wallin (1811–1852) travelled in the Middle East, where he collected material on Arabic dialects. In order to make contact with the local inhabitants he assumed a Muslim identity as the physician ʽAbd al-Wālī. During the journey Wallin wrote letters and a diary, mostly in his native language Swedish – sometimes with Arabic script to evade detection. Wallin’s texts have now been published in their original form within the publication project Georg August Wallin’s Writings. The project includes seven volumes and it was completed in January 2017. As an observer Wallin was both inquisitive and sharp-eyed, and was able to document daily life among the people he stayed with and the places he visited. The paper will present Wallin’s views on the people and cultures he encountered during his travel and on the western influence in the Middle East.
Mikko Viitamäki, Helsinki University, Origins of Sufism according to Capt. Wahid Bakhsh (d. 1995).:A Pakistani Sufi’s response to the orientalists
The paper explores the engagement of a twentieth-century Sufi master, Capt. Wahid Bakhsh, with orientalist scholarship on Sufism. In his English work titled Islamic Sufism (first published in 1984), he refutes the views of orientalist scholars who have located the origins of Sufism outside Islam, and attempts to prove its Islamic origins. While trying to reclaim the definition of the history of his tradition, Wahid Bakhsh nevertheless resorts to a number of terms used by the orientalists in connection to Sufism, most notably ‘mysticism’ itself.
Timo Kaartinen, University of Helsinki, Snouck-Hurgronje’s Inverse Orientalism and Islamic Education in Indonesia
Indonesia’s Islamic schools and universities have been shaped by a confluence of religious and secular visions about education and personal development. Starting in the colonial period during the mid-19th century, state officials charged with the surveillance of the nascent, Islamic school system supported the creation of an Islamic curriculum that would be based on a canonical understanding of Islam and create colonial subjects informed by an acceptable form of legal subjectivity and ethical self-knowledge. This combination of civic and religious aims is still present in the Islamic education of contemporary Indonesia, practiced in state-funded Islamic universities and colleges as well as the religious schools supported by the country’s religious organizations. This paper explores the role of Christiaan Snouck-Hurgronje in the surveillance and development of Indonesia’s system of Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) before his career as a leading Orientalist scholar in the Netherlands. Through his ethnographic study of Indonesian pilgrims to Mecca in 1884-1885, Snouck knew the Islamic scholars who, on returning to Indonesia, developed the curriculum of Islamic education now known as Orthodox Islam among the Santri movement. This Southeast Asian interpretation of Islam continues to define Islamic education in today’s pesantren and the Indonesian understanding about the relationship between religion and the state. A question raised by this mutually formative interaction between Islamic and Orientalist learning is how, and to what extent, the specificity of Southeast Asian interpretations of Islam is an expression of their reflective relationship to Islam in the Middle East, as well as to Snouck and other Orientalist scholars. In moving from a textual into ethnographic interest in Islam, Snouck and his students represent an inverted Orientalist view that overlaps with the Indonesian Orthodox view when it looks at the Middle Eastern Islam as an outside influence – a view that persists in influential Islamic discourses of today’s Indonesia.
Bonnie Effros, University of Liverpool, Berbers as the Ancient Maures: Missionary Work and Archaeology in the French Protectorate of Tunisia
In 1874, a young French priest named Alfred-Louis Delattre (d. 1932) joined the Société des missionnaires d’Afrique (Pères blancs), and was entrusted with care of the orphans taken in by Archbishop Charles Lavigerie (d. 1891) following the Algerian famine of 1867-68. However, from 1876, Delattre received permission from Lavigerie to shift the bulk of his duties to archaeological exploration of Christian sites in and near Carthage. Lavigerie was enthusiastic about the potential of the ancient city, with its wealth of martyrs, not only to advance research on early Christianity but to support the conversion of the Berber population from Islam. Inspired by the example of Giovanni Battista de Rossi in the Roman catacombs, Lavigerie and Delattre believed that religiously grounded archaeological research would hasten the restoration of Christian Africa as it was in the time of Augustine of Hippo (d. 432). In this paper, I will explore the place of faith-based archaeology on missionary work in the early years of French Protectorate of Tunisia (established in 1881) and the way in which it allowed the French to obfuscate Berber identity and culture with an ancient, Romanized history. This case study will allow me to re-examine some of the implications of connecting ancient Christian archaeology to the largely unsuccessful colonial project of reviving Christianity among the Berbers in North Africa.
Svetlana M. Gorshenina, Gerda Henkel Stiftung / Observatoire “Alerte Héritage,” Paris, Receptions of photographs of Russian Turkestan in social networks: instrumentalization of the past or revival of colonial representation schemes?
The presentation analyzes the process of creating mental maps of the past based on some examples provided by several FaceBook groups dedicated to the Russian Turkestan’s old photography. The reconstruction of the visual image of Tashkent, the capital of the Governorate-General of Turkestan, is based on a specific sample of visual documents, strongly linked to the tsarist propaganda, and on the Soviet experience of the past. The aim of the presentation is also to understand the mechanisms of instrumentalization of photographs of the period of the Tsarist Turkestan in the context of independent Uzbekistan, in particular, the revival of specific orientalized representation schemes established in the colonial context.
Henning Trüper, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Orientalism as Seen from its Fringes
In this paper I will discuss the restlessness of Orientalist objects and subjects of knowledge. I will first look at a number of cases in order to illustrate a record of what one might regard as ceaseless curiosity or a severe attention deficit, a failure to clearly delimit a domain of pertinence, but also a dynamism of thematic innovation. I will then propose and test a number of possible explanations for the restive character of orientalism, among which the patterns of invasive imperial exploration, of a ceaseless aggregation of knowledge within disciplinary philology, of a contrarian attitude within the cultural production of “others” and “other others,” and a pattern of imposed or deliberate self-marginalization through the pursuit of marginal knowledge. In a third step I will then discuss what the restive character of Orientalism might help to explain more fully.