Coming back from Algiers, I just realized that I haven’t yet put the abstract for my presentation in Algiers online.
Germany’s colonial history is often neglected and the ties between Germany and the Maghreb, the former Ottoman Empire and the Arab world in general seem to have faded out of the academic disciplines that are not explicitly dealing with either the Islam, North Africa or the arab-speaking countries. References to classic non-western scholars are rarely found and if people talk or write about them their value
sometimes seems to be only anecdotal. This talk will focus on the places and persons who bring Ibn Khaldûn into German sociological discourse. The obstacles that have to be overcome while carrying Ibn Khaldûn into the realms of accepted academia are manifold: the ignorance of non-western academic traditions has already been mentioned, knowledge about the history of the Maghreb cannot be expected from German students, the two German translations of the Muqaddimah are incomplete and out of print (one of them has been published in 1992), the established canon of sociological works tends to start with Auguste Comte, and including an Arab scholar into a syllabus might be regarded as irritating or even suspect. However, there are also several factors that make Ibn Khaldûn a compelling subject for sociological study in Germany: general interest in the Arab world seems to be rising, the number of people with an Arab background or of Islamic confession who find their way into academia
is growing, and post-modernist theory may have strengthened the position of “alternative voices” in sociological discourse. How do protagonists of Ibn Khaldûn cope with these obstacles, what are their resources and why do actually take the step and include Ibn Khaldûn? Based on German texts on Ibn Khaldûn and interviews with
several sociologists, this talk will analyze the images and usages of Ibn Khaldun and trace the ways in which German sociologists appropriate Ibn Khaldûn.
Some more information may be necessary: Three days ago I presented a paper on the international conference called Figures d’Ibn Khaldûn – Appropriation, usages (Arguments). The conference was sponsored by the Algerian Ministry of Culture, and the opening speech was held by the Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika himself. I will post another entry soon – the conference was very interesting and it was my first stay in the Arab-speaking world!>