From humble beginnings to an international research centre
When a handful of colleagues from the field of East Asian Studies met in 2004, no one would have thought that this modest initiative would eventually lead to the establishment of a Cluster of Excellence as well as an international research centre. The impetus of this meeting was to take up the rich tradition of manuscript research in Asian and African Studies at the Asien-Afrika-Institut (AAI) at Hamburg University, and to initiate a cross-disciplinary endeavour to include the global diversity of cultures into the then rather narrow field of manuscript studies.
Michael Friedrich (Chinese Studies) and Jörg B. Quenzer (Japanese Studies) were the first to conceive of a global and holistic approach to the study of manuscripts that combined the humanities, computer science and eventually the natural sciences in so far as they were concerned with the study of materials. On the one hand, they followed the ‘material turn’ of the 1980s with its claims to a so-called ‘material philology’ or even ‘materialist philology’ (Stephen G. Nichols). On the other hand, Friedrich and Quenzer were determined to calibrate this turn by transcending purely abstract discussions of ‘materiality’ by instead scrutinising the concrete materials manuscripts are manufactured from.
To read all about how these first ideas developed into an international research centre, follow this link.