Racism and Historiography

This text by Christina Morina and Norbert Frei was first published, in German, on the L.I.S.A. blog of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. It was translated by Jenny Price.

Where are you from. Here we go again, I thought, and answered: Tricky question! It depends on what you mean by where. The geographic location of the hillside on which the maternity ward stood? The national borders at the time of the last contractions? My parents’ background? Genes, ancestors, dialect? Whichever way you look at it, your origin is a construct! A kind of costume that you are forced to wear for the rest of your days once it has been fitted. And thus a curse! Or, with a bit of luck, a fortune, derived not from talent but adorned with benefits and privileges.

Saša Stanišić, Herkunft (2019)

At the end of the day, the shelf life of a text on contemporary history, especially one that intervenes in current affairs, depends on the pace at which present events unfold and respond to it.

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The Greedy Dog – Gestures, Postures and Emotions Portraying Degrees of Vice and Virtue in the Sixteenth-Century Iyār-i Dānish

An outstanding illustration preserved as a detached folio in the Chicago Art Museum, attributed to the Mughal artist Farrukh Chela, illustrates the fable of the ‘Greedy Dog’ which forms one of the significant narratives from the Iyār-i Dānish,1 a collection of stories written by Emperor Akbar’s historian and confidant, Abul Fazl, and illustrated in 1595–1600.

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  1. The Iyār-i Dānish was a collection of animal fables, whose tales served as an educational ‘mirror for princes’ for Mughal emperors. It was translated from an earlier version composed in Timurid Herat (present day Afghanistan) during the fifteenth century, and was illustrated multiple times by Mughal artists during the final quarter of the sixteenth century. []