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On the transmission of the Sanskritic culture in the colonial period: Philology and print in South Asia

The panel aims to explore the transmission of texts of the Sanskritic culture in colonial South Asia by looking, in particular, at the publishers’ entrepreneurship and the philological activity (namely editorial and interpretative practices) concerning Sanskrit texts.

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· Cristina Pecchia OEAW (Wien, Austria)

Long Abstract

Sanskrit literature preserved in manuscript (and oral) form was first printed in South Asia during the colonial period, when print technology was massively adopted in South Asia. The reproduction of Sanskrit works in print was the result of printer-publishers’ entrepreneurship and of an intense philological activity, based on editorial and interpretative practices. The contours of both dimensions, namely publishing production and philology, are still quite nebulous. Valuable information can be gathered through an investigation of printed books, catalogues, library registers etc., and a comparison between the texts or textual corpora in manuscripts and printed books. The papers of the panel On the transmission of the Sanskritic culture in the colonial period: Philology and print in South Asia will look at interpretative and editorial practices applied to Sanskrit texts, and explore publishing projects of printer-publishers. Furthermore, they will reflect on the impact and consequences that philological practices and publishers’ entrepreneurship exerted on the transmission and diffusion of Sanskrit literature and, through it, of indigenous knowledge systems such as (but not limited to) philosophy, Yoga, or Ayurveda. Crossing disciplinary boundaries is a necessity as well as a challenge in this kind of investigation, since we need to explore how the Sanskritic culture extends into the colonial period. Also, we need to consider aspects of the social and cultural history of manuscripts and printed books, and their complex interplay in 19th and 20th century South Asia.