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The Brownbag Sessions offer a platform for international visiting scholars as well as colleagues working in Regensburg to present their research in a more informal setting over lunch. Colleagues and students from across the disciplines with diverse regional specialisms are welcome to attend and meet researchers from around the world. The format was developed at CITAS. An archive of past events is available on its website.

18 October 2023, 14:00, SG.214

David Diop (Université de Pau) | Representations of non-European languages in 17th- and 18th-century travel accounts

This Brownbag Session is organized by DIMAS and PD Dr. Susanne Greilich (Romance Studies, UR), who is, together with Prof. Dr. H.-J. Lüsebrink (Saarbrücken), leader of the DFG project Transatlantic Knowledge Transfer and the Dynamics of Cultural Translation. We warmly invite all colleagues and students from UR and IOS to join us for this talk on Wednesday, 18 October at 14:00 in SG. 214.

Within the framework of the DFG research project "Transatlantic Knowledge Transfer and Cultural Translation Dynamics. Textual Filiations, Cultural Transformations, (Post)Colonial Asymmetries" (DFG-SPP 2130; Director: PD Dr. S. Greilich, Regensburg; Prof. Dr. H.-J. Lüsebrink, Saarbrücken), the French scholar and author PD Dr. David Diop from the Université Pau (France) will be a Mercator Fellow at the UR's Institute of Romance Studies from 7–21 October 2023.

David Diop is a specialist in 18th century and sub-Saharan African Francophone literature, with a particular research focus on European-European relations, translation and knowledge transfer processes, and colonial history. He has also made a name for himself internationally as a writer. His second novel Frère d'âme (Engl: At Night Our Blood is Black), which has been translated into several languages, has won numerous prizes, including the International Booker Prize 2021 and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens 2018.

Also as part of the DFG research project, the international conference "Nouveaux savoirs du monde/Savoirs du Nouveau Monde: encyclopédisme, processus de traduction et réorganisations du savoir au siècle des Lumières" [New World-Knowledge: Encyclopedism, Translation Processes, and Rearrangements of Knowledge in the Age of Enlightenment] will take place from 12 to 14 October 2023 at the University of Regensburg in the Vielberth Building, H 25. At this event, David Diop will give another talk on the topic "Accueillir les savoirs du monde: la langue de l'Autre dans l'Histoire Naturelle de Michel Adanson".
Find the programme here.

Abstract: Representations of non-European languages in 17th- and 18th-century travel accounts

Joseph-Marie de Gérando, a pioneer of ethnology in France, complained in the late 18th century that travelers claimed to know a non-European society without mastering its language: To him, they are all impostors. There were indeed Europeans who learned non-European and especially African languages in the 17th and 18th centuries. Their motivations were varied and depended on their activity as missionaries, slave traders or scholars.

Among missionaries, there was a tradition of learning indigenous languages in order to spread the Gospel. Their actual mastery of these languages can nevertheless be questioned: for example, they often misinterpreted the names of the gods associated with local religions (see Réal Ouellet for North America). The glossaries and vocabulary tables at the end of the European slave traders' travelogues, in turn, focus on terms related to trade and political organization.

Finally, a traveler such as the naturalist Michel Adanson learned the language for scientific reasons, in order to be able to speak directly with African scholars about botany and pharmacopoeia. Beyond this pragmatic aspect, he claims to find a form of beauty in the Wolof language spoken in Senegal. This aesthetic assessment is all the more striking given that African languages are generally judged to be lexically and syntactically rudimentary in European travel accounts of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The lecture (in French with German translation) explores the outlined aspects with examples.

Past DIMAS Brownbags

Tuesday, 13 June 2023, 12:15-13:45
Room VG2.38 (Vielberth Building, UR)

Avishek Ray (National Institute of Technology Silchar, India) |
Digital Mediation and Urban Spatialities in Post-Pandemic India

Following the pandemic, the ways in which mobile bodies are being administered and governed are in sync with advanced techniques of demographic control and digital surveillance on mobilities. Conversely, the neo-liberal economic order reifies speed/mobility and ‘flows and networks’ as important paradigms in a globalized world. From within this apparent dichotomy emerges a thrust toward normativizing digitally-aided mobility, which has a profound impact on how urban spaces are being reconfigured, curated and navigated. This talk examines the evolving nature of urban spatialities in the context of post-pandemic India. It explores the recent interferences of digital infrastructures, their ‘affordances’ in light of the pandemic, and how digitality as a phenomenon brings into ‘being’ certain conditions of spatialities otherwise illegible.

Avishek Ray is an assistant professor at the National Institute of Technology in Silchar, India. He works at the intersection of literary, media and cultural studies. He is author of the book The Vagabond in the South Asian Imagination: Representation, Agency & Resilience (2021, Routledge) and co-editor of the volume Nation, Nationalism and the Public Sphere: Religious Politics in India (SAGE, 2020).


Vorstand | Board: Prof. Dr. Anna Steigemann and Prof. Dr. Rike Krämer-Hoppe

Geschäftsführung | Manager: Dr. Paul Vickers

Sekretariat | Secretary dimas@ur.de
Tel. +49 941 943 5966