Responsable: Dominic Goodall

École française d'Extrême-Orient
16-19 rue Dumas
605 001 Pondicherry, India

Tel: +91 413 233 45 39
Fax: +91 413 233 08 86 goodalldominic@gmail.com

Launch of the european project NETamil
03 MARCH 14
In March 2014 a new project in the domain of Classical Tamil will be launched in the Pondicherry centre of the EFEO under the acronym of NETamil, the full title being "Going from Hand to Hand: Networks of Intellectual Exchange in the Tamil Learned Traditions". The undertaking will be financed with 2.5 million Euro over five years by the European Research Council, via an ERC Advanced Grant won by Eva Wilden (EFEO) for her research project in that area. This project will finalise the digitisation of classical Tamil manuscripts begun over ten years back by the project Caṅkam. Besides detailed documentation of the remaining witnesses and the continuation of critically re-editing the classical corpus, the aim will be an in-depth study of transmissional history and intellectual tradition, that is, the communities who handed over the various texts from generation to generation and thus ensured their survival.
The international team of scholars will consist of twenty-five members from eight countries spanning the three continents of India, Europe and America. About half of them are to be financed by the project and will be distributed between Pondicherry, as the basis for further field trips, and the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures at the University of Hamburg (Germany), currently one of the world's leading institutions in the field, endowed with a state-of-the-art manuscript laboratory which will help enhancing the quality of images and restore readability for example to manuscripts where the ink has practically vanished. A first field trip to India with the Mobile Manuscript Lab is already planned for January 2015 under the direction of Professor Christian Brockmann, a Hellenist and specialist in palimpsest research. The most important Indian partner institution will be the Central University of Tamil Nadu, Tiruvārūr, where Professor K. Nachimuthu is currently working on the installation of the first Indian academic programme for a degree in Classical Tamil. The sadly shrunk EFEO team of Tamil researchers, currently consisting of T. Rajeswari, G. Vijayavenugopal and Eva Wilden, will be re-extended to the number of six full-time scholars with Suganya Anandakichenin, M. Prabhakaran and T. Rajarethinam. It will be complemented by guests from outside, by part-time assistance and by a number of temporary positions for young scholars and doctoral students.
Research will focus on four major areas, namely Caṅkam literature, as already established, with current work going on for Akanāṉūṟu, Aiṅkuṟunūru, Puṟanāṉūṟu and a number of Pattuppāṭṭu songs. The focus will be extended into the Patiṉeṇkīḻkkaṇakku, the Eighteen Minor Classics, for the moment concentrated on those anthologies that continue the older Akam and Puṟam tradition. A huge group, coordinated by Jean-Luc Chevillard (CNRS), will be working towards a critical edition of the founding text of the grammatical tradition, the Tolkāppiyam with its seven-odd commentaries. In addition another group will work on the EFEO collection of Vaiṣṇava manuscripts, and they will be in the privileged position of having access not only to more or less readable photos, but to the objects themselves which are stored in situ. One of the guiding research questions governing the collaboration between the four groups is the quest for nuances in the interaction of the two major languages of Indian literary and intellectual exchange, Tamil and Sanskrit, and their common child, Maṇipravāḷam, on the level of local knowledge systems and their formation. This will allow meaningful collaboration not only with members from the EFEO's Sanskrit scholars (Dominic Goodall, Anjaneya Sarma, S.A.S. Sarma, R. Sathyanarayanan), but also with a number of international specialists in both domains. The material-cultures aspect of the project will be moreover accentuated by the inclusion of art history (Valérie Gillet, Charlotte Schmid) into the team.The inaugural workshop of this project took place at the Pondicherry from 10 to 14 March 2014.