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Narrative Modes of Historical Discourse in Asia (NAMO)
Start date: Dec 1, 2014, End date: Nov 30, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Modern historiography produced in Asia belongs to the history-paradigm of the European humanities and it is from within these epistemological confines that Western as well as Eastern scholars of Asian studies view the Asian writing of the past. While source criticism and historicism have today become key parts of historical consciousness in Asia, Asian historical representations are nonetheless firmly embedded in pre-modern Asian literary traditions via specific uses in historical writing of traditional rhetorical structures of narrative, emplotment, tropes, and literary imagery.Taking such linkage between present and past Asian traditions of historiography as its premise, project NAMO – with four team members consisting of the PI and three Postdocs – will examine the literary features of Asian historiography in India, China, and Tibet across the longue durée of the classical, medieval, and modern periods. First, a new method for the study of the literary forms that characterize historiography in Asia will be established by adapting basic analytical principles from Asian literary theories drawn from twelve classical Indian and Chinese works on poetics. Next, the team will determine the specific literary characteristics of narrative, plot, tropes, and historical explanation found in seventeen classical and medieval histories composed in China, India, and Tibet. Finally, it will be examined to which extent those traditional literary features still function as constitutive rhetorical elements in modern Asian history writing. This will be done by analyzing the literary forms used in a selection of twenty representative histories written in the People's Republic of China and the Republic of India during the period 1980-2010.The outcome will be a novel approach for the empirical study of Asian history that will open up a new level of comparative work in the theory of history across non-Western and Western traditions.

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