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Transposed Signs of Modernity: German Orientalism and the Indian ‘Timespace’
April 27, 2009 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
B. Venkat Mani
Resident Fellow (2008-2009)
The paper intervenes in recent scholarship on modernity, to diagnose a specific kind of insularity promoted in registers of “self-referentiality” (Luhmann: 1998) and “singularity” (Jameson: 2002). The paper tries to argue that conjectures of modernity in the Western European geo-cultural space, especially in Germany, inherently referenced the “Other,” turning the Other into a ‘timespace’ continuum that was selectively labeled as “antiquarian” or “pre-modern.” To illustrate these arguments the paper focuses on German engagements with Sanskrit texts in the early 19th century and the beginnings of the discipline of Comparative Philology.
B. Venkat Mani is Associate Professor, Department of German and faculty affiliate of the Center for German and European Studies, the Center for European Studies, Global Studies, Women’s Studies Research Center, and Program in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies at UW-Madison. Mani’s teaching and research interests include 19th and 20th century German and European literatures and philosophy. His work considers theories of multiculturalism, postcolonialism, migration, globalization, and cosmopolitanism. His publications include Cosmopolitical Claims: Turkish-German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk (University of Iowa Press, 2007). At the IRH he is working on his second book manuscript, Transposed Signs of Modernity, a study of German engagements with India.