Elise Coquereau-Saouma

Roland Atefie-Preis 2020

Elise Coquereau-Saouma wird für ihre Dissertation Intercultural Dialogues and the Creativity of Knowledge: A Study of Daya Krishna ausgezeichnet.

In her PhD thesis, Elise Coquereau-Saouma discusses the contribution of the philosopher Daya Krishna (1924, Meerut – 2007, Jaipur, India) to the realm of intercultural dialogues. A leading figure of India’s contemporary philosophical life, Daya Krishna left an immense and diverse, but mainly unexplored corpus, as well as vivid impressions of the dialogical experiments (referred to as savāda) that he organized with different philosophical communities in India during his career at the University of Rajasthan. Connecting both aspects of his philosophical life, I explore the sense of ‘creativity of knowledge’ that the participants of these dialogues and his students conveyed, orally and in writings, and how this can contribute to the fields of comparative, intercultural and transcultural or fusion philosophies.

In these recent philosophical developments, ‘intercultural dialogue’ is a key concept, theorized mostly in a critical development of European hermeneutics and postmodern philosophy. Daya Krishna’s ‘savāda project’ sets a different frame, culturally rooted in classical and modern Indian philosophies and grounded in actual dialogues. These Elise Coquereau-Saomuma  uses to question the limits of our ‘theories’ and the need for more interculturally rooted frameworks (rather than intercultural illustrations of Western theories). In this regard, she integrates Daya Krishna’s philosophy into the larger, hybrid genre of contemporary Indian philosophy that seems to have escaped these cross-cultural philosophies, and introduce Daya Krishna’s philosophy to a global reader.

Daya Krishna traveled across philosophical genres and topics with the rigorous intention of exposing the presuppositions of thinking. This can only be effectuated in dialoguing across philosophical traditions founded on different presuppositions. He thus engaged with several communities of thinkers by organizing multilingual dialogues between traditional paṇḍits, ulama and Anglophone philosophers. In her work, Elise Coquereau-Saouma reconstructs some of these experiments and analyze the philosophical insights gained from this practice with the voices of some participants. She also records the process of their organization, an important endeavor to remember and transmit these mostly oral experiments.

Daya Krishna did not explicitly connect his philosophy with his practice of dialogue. Doing so, however, helps us determining the sense of creativity of knowledge above expressed. Elise Coquereau-Saouma therefore analyzes what unveiling presuppositions means, and she locates the source of this creativity in the challenge of accepting epistemological uncertainty. This uncertainty is further explored in the dissatisfaction felt in the gap between the ideality of philosophical apprehension and its realization, as well as in the illusion of I-centricity. These, however, are not obstacles for intercultural dialogues. They rather constitute the human predicament through which the specific creativity of intercultural dialogues originates – in the fragility of differences being explored conjointly. 

Die Preisträgerin

Elise Coquereau-Saouma hat im Juni 2010 die Bachelorstudien Philosophie und Klassische Philologie an der Universität Lyon 3 abgeschlossen. Das Masterstudium (M.Phil in Indien) führte sie von 2010 bis 2011 an den Universitäten Lyon 3 und an der Jawaharlal Nehru University, Neu-Delhi, durch. Von 2011 bis 2013 absolvierte Elise Coquereau-Saouma das Masterstudium Erasmus Mundus EuroPhilosophie an den Universitäten Luxemburg, Saõ Carlos (Brasilien) und Prag. Sie promovierte im Juni 2019 an den Universitäten Wien und Prag, mit längeren Forschungsaufenthalten an der Jawaharlal Nehru University. Von Jänner bis September 2020 arbeitete Elise Coquereau-Saouma als Research Affiliate an der Jawaharlal Nehru University im Rahmen des ÖAW PostDoc-Track-Stipendiums. Im November 2019 erhielt sie den Staatspreis (Award of Excellence) des Österreichischen Bundesministeriums für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung. Eine überarbeitete Fassung ihrer Doktorarbeit wird unter den Titeln Intercultural Dialogues: Conceptions, Divergences and Limits und Creativity of Knowledge and Intercultural Dialogue: Thinking with Daya Krishna bei Routledge veröffentlicht. Von 2021 bis 2024 wird Elise Coquereau-Saouma mit einem Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship (FWF) an der Jawaharlal Nehru University, dem Smith College (Northampton) und der Universität Wien mit ihrem Forschungsprojekt (J4516) ‚The Selves in the World: Humanism and Anthropocentrism in Contemporary Indian Philosophy‘tätig sein.