The Hunter in the Blue Forest | Think & Talk | Seminar No. 3 & 4

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Oriental Heritage Without Borders e.V. would like to cordially invite you to attend its Third Seminar of the “Heritage Seminar Series | Orient in Context”, on Tuesday April 30th, 2013 as part of its “Think & Talk” scientific events. A series of monthly seminars -in form of short scientific lectures/interactive discussion groups- offered to present different facets of the oriental heritage as well as to create an alternative environment for developing interesting and exciting discussions in all aspects of the greater field of heritage studies.

The seminar would take place @ ENGAGEMENT GLOBAL gGmbH, Pangea-Haus, Trautenaustraße 5., 10717 Berlin, between 18:00-20:00, with a presentation entitled “The Hunter in the Blue Forest – Internationalism of Imagination – Part 1″ by Dr. Wouter Henkelman with discussions following afterwards.

The second part to this Seminar “The Hunter in the Blue Forest – Internationalism of Imagination – Part 2″ will further take place a week after on Tuesday May 7th 2013 at the same place and at the same time to which you are also welcome to attend!

Even before the spread of agriculture from the Near East, hunters moved through the silent forests of Europe to find their way to far-away sanctuaries. Some have called this time that of original magic, of pristine imagination. “Tief ist der Brunnen der Vergangenheit,” writes Thomas Mann (Joseph und seine Brüder), “Sollte man ihn nicht unergründlich nennen?” In the entire area known as the Ancient World (from India to Iceland) the same stories or folktales were and are still told. It is well possible that our hunters were the first not only to spread their DNA, but also the first to weave an international web of imagination. More than bed-time stories, folktales encode hopes and dreams and fears that have, from time immemorial, united cultures within the ancient world. The German pan-babylonist movement of the early 20th century intuitively tried to mine this overwhelming sea of stories and mythologies by postulating a single genesis, almost like a divine revelation, in the ancient Near East. Now condemned because of their lack of critical method and occasional inclination towards racism, their books have never received a proper analysis as the works of a literary movement, of scholars who believed in a universal history of imagination, a “Weltgeschichte der Märchen.” Today, their universalist approach deserves a re-appraisal for its vigour in demonstrating the profound interconnectedness of East and West.

The lectures are not intended as academic surveys in the narrow sense, but rather as literary, personal and indeed selective impressions. They will try to re-chart some of the territory lost in hyper-specialised research on (ancient) Near Eastern history and culture and build bridges between history and archaeology on the one side, and literature, music and the visual arts on the other. In doing so, Oriental Heritage will be contextualised on the mental map in an attempt to show that the issues raised are, in the most literal sense, of fundamental importance for the world we live in.

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Wouter Henkelman is assistant professor of Elamite and Achaemenid culture and history at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris) and one of the chief editors of the Elamite Persepolis Fortification Archive tablets, now in Chicago. He recently led several epigraphic missions to the rock of Bisotun to re-record the famous inscription of king Darius the Great and did field work in the southwestern and coastal areas of Iran. The book he is currently preparing addresses the genesis of Persian identity from a long-term perspective, including the ‘present of the past’, i.e. the uses and abuses of archaeological monuments and historical sources in contemporary ideologies and identity-making. As a parallel line of interest, Henkelman has published a number of articles on comparative folkloristics, the connections between ancient East and West and the history of imagination