21 February 2009

At the History of Chronology conference, Kapil Raj gave a lecture on "Connecting Chronologies: The Making of Modern Science through Intercultural Encounter, South Asia and Europe in the 18th and 19th Centuries."

"Conventional wisdom conceives that, along with their discontinuous cultural traits, different ethnic groups also have discontinuous chronologies until being steam-rolled by the globalising effects of western imperialism and industrialisation. Based on an analysis of the sustained contact between South Asia and Europe in the domain of knowledge practices at the crucial period of the rise of European imperialism and of the Industrial Revolution, this talk will show, on the contrary, that modern science, and indeed significant traits of modernity itself are the result of making European and South Asian chronologies commensurable."

Dr. Kapil Raj followed the story of Sir William Jones who had learned Arabic and Persian, travelled to Calcutta and came into contact with a mixed chronology designed to legitimise Arabic rule over the Hindus. This ultimately led to Jones' theory for the underlying connection between the languages of Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, and which led to his new map of humanity, locating Noah in Persia, the origin, and then theorised about people's spread around the world. Today, William Jones is known for being the founder of modern philology.


Post a Comment