Is Reading Different? Philosophy of History and the Problem of Context

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  Friday, April 15, 2022
  4 - 5:30 p.m.
  340 Stephens Hall & Zoom
  Manan Ahmed, Columbia University

In this workshop, we will sift through the crudities of meaning-making—focusing especially on pre-colonial, non-European contexts—and how precisely are the standard tools of historical work—reading (close or distant), texts and contexts—construct or ameliorate understandings. The workshop requires a brief set of pre-circulated readings, listed below. All participants are asked to bring a page (any primary material, and a translation if needed) and a note on how you would situate a reading of it. The workshop will begin with a short presentation on the issues raised in the required reading, followed by our collective efforts to read together differently, or “We Must Learn to Sit Down Together and Read … "

Required readings:

1. Paul Ricoeur, “The Critical Philosophy of History,” *Memory, History, Forgetting* (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004)
2. Sylvia Wynter, "We Must Learn to Sit Down Together and Talk about a Little Culture: Reflections on West Indian Writing and Criticism: Part One and Part Two", Jamaica Journal 2:4, Dec 1968, pp 23-32 and Jamaica Journal 3:1, Mar 1969, pp 27-42
3. Stephanie E. Smallwood, "The Politics of the Archive and History's Accountability to the Enslaved,” *History of the Present* , Vol. 6, No. 2 (Fall 2016), pp. 117-132
4. Aziz Al-Azmeh, “Further to the Pre-Muhammadan Allah” *Arabica* 68 (2021): 419-435
5. Aditya Behl, “The Path of True Feeling: On translating Qutban’s Mirigavati” *Calque* 5 (2009): 68-113

Manan Ahmed, Associate Professor, is a historian of South Asia and the littoral western Indian Ocean world from 1000-1800 CE. His areas of specialization include intellectual history in South and Southeast Asia; critical philosophy of history, colonial and anti-colonial thought. He is interested in how modern and pre-modern historical narratives create understandings of places, communities, and intellectual genealogies for their readers. His writings include A Book of Conquest: Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia (Harvard University Press, 2016) and The Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India (Harvard University Press, 2020).

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314



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