Research Group

Manuscript Cultures in Asia and Africa


Duration of the Projekt: 2008 - 2011

Many of the cultures of Asia and Africa were manuscript cultures; some still are. Even though the techniques of printing became widely known and popular for several genres or particular purposes, a considerable part of knowledge kept being preserved and transmitted in manuscript form. In contrast to the West European Middle Ages, the manuscript cultures of Asia and Africa are only partially known, this, despite the fact that contemporary national self-belief is, in many regions, leading to the rediscovery of this rich cultural heritage.

Interest in these manuscripts in the West is largely due to a methodical reorientation in the study of history, such as the recent focus on both material and everyday culture, as well as the new possibilities of analysis offered by digital technology. This comes along with a general interest in media sciences. Significantly, the current discussions on change from one medium of communication to another or on differences between the various means of communication is, despite very different points of view, based on a largely unrecognised presupposition, viz., the generalisability of the West European paradigm.

With this in mind, the goal of the research group is to contribute to historical and comparative research on manuscript culture by means of exemplary studies. The variety of the examined cultures will ensure that going beyond the narrow European horizon will not be reduced to a simple ("East vs. West") dichotomy.

Director: Prof. Dr. Michael Friedrich | Deputy director: Prof. Dr. Jörg Quenzer

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