Margrit Pernau, 'Emotions and Temporalities. On Ghosts, Jinns and their Exorcism'
3 May 16:00
Oxford South Asian Intellectual History Seminar
Venue: Online - Zoom
Speaker(s): Margrit Pernau (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
Chair: Zobia Haq
If we think about emotions today, we tend to imagine them as interior to a subject with well-defined boundaries, deciding which emotions to let in and which expressions to let out. The history of emotions in South Asia has contributed to destabilize this notion. Until the 19th century at least, subjects saw feelings as floating between porous subjects.
My talk explores whether something similar might have happened for temporalities. How can the ways Muslims in North India thought about time help us to think about the present as porous, open to visits by ghosts and jinns from the past as well as from the future? How can we talk about presence in the present and what is the role of emotions in this?
Margrit Pernau is Senior Researcher at the Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin) since 2008, and Extraordinary Professor at Freie Universität Berlin since 2012, with research interests in the History of Emotions, Indian history 18th-20th centuries, Transnational History and History of Entanglement, and Historical Semantics and Translation Studies. Her most recent publication is entitled Emotions and Modernity in Colonial India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2019), which uses an archive of sources in Urdu to map the history of emotions in India between the uprising of 1857 and World War I, situating the experiences, interpretations, and practices of emotions of the time within the context of major political events. Recent publications also include Ashraf into middle classes: Muslims in nineteenth-century Delhi (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013), and the co-authored volume Civilizing emotions: Concepts in nineteenth-century Asia and Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). Alongside many awards, honours, and fellowships, Pernau was Research Fellow at the International Centre of Advanced Studies: Metamorphoses of the Political, Delhi (March 2020), Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Department of South Asia Studies (March 2016), and Visiting Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Institut des Etudes de l'Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman, Paris (March 2013). She is Co-Editor (with Jan Ifversen and Jani Marjanen) of Contributions to the History of Concepts (2017-present), Elected Member of the board of editors of Geschichte und Gesellschaft, the foremost German history journal of historical Social Sciences (2009-present), and Chair of the Advisory Board of the India Branch Office of the Max Weber Foundation, Delhi (2020). Pernau is currently working on two projects: “Emotions and Temporalities - Feeling for the Future (South Asia 1912-1970)”, which examines the feelings evoked by and guiding the interpretation of the present and the imagination of the future, taking as its empirical basis North India and Pakistan between 1912 and 1970, and which aims to demonstrate how the history of emotions can be integrated into the history of temporalities; and “The Emotions of New Education - A Transnational History of Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi”, which focuses on the history of the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and traces how its pedagogical and national vision drew both from a reinterpretation of Indian traditions and transnational encounter, and which argues that emotions were central for the diagnosis of the contemporary crisis of civilization as well as its overcoming through a new form of holistic education.