Former FFPP Fellow Siraj Ahmed wins MLA Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies for his book, Archeology of Babel: The Colonial Foundation of the Humanities (Stanford UP, 2018).
The Archeology of Babel “argues that the privilege philology has always enjoyed within the modern humanities silently reinforces a colonial hierarchy. In fact, each of philology’s foundational innovations originally served British rule in India.
Tracing an unacknowledged history that extends from British Orientalist Sir William Jones to Palestinian American intellectual Edward Said and beyond, Archaeology of Babel excavates the epistemic transformation that was engendered on a global scale by the colonial reconstruction of native languages, literatures, and law. In the process, it reveals the extent to which even postcolonial studies and European philosophy—not to mention discourses as disparate as Islamic fundamentalism, Hindu nationalism, and global environmentalism—are the progeny of colonial rule. Going further, it unearths the alternate concepts of language and literature that were lost along the way and issues its own call for humanists to reckon with the politics of the philological practices to which they now return.”
You can read the Prologue of his prize-winning book from Stanford University Press.
Siraj Ahmed is professor of English at the Graduate Center and comparative literature at Lehman College.