Suzanne Karpelès (1890-1969): Entangling the Human and the Non-human in Temporalities of Stasis and Change analyses intra-actions between objects, bodies, discourses and materials in the work of Suzanne Karpelès, the first woman graduate of the Ècole des langues orientales of the Ècole pratique des Haute Études in Paris and the first female member of the École française d’Extrême-Orient. Karpelès was posted to Indochina in 1922 and became founding director of the Royal Library in Phomn-Penh (1925) and of the Institute of Buddhist Studies (1930). Here her projects included translations of sacred texts, the establishment of the first Khmer language journal and the production of secular texts, including Khmer folktales and history books (Edwards 2007, 1889-192). Karpelès also inspected pagoda schools during her provincial tours and drew on her links with the French National Council of Women (CNFF) and the International Council of Women to set up her educational cinematographic initiative in Indochina (Author, 2018).
The paper analyses two vignettes of Karpelès’ work by attending to what has tended to be cast as non-human nature. It focuses on how Orientalist understandings of empire as progress and stasis entangle in Karpelès’ initiatives with the Buddhist cosmologies to which she was drawn and with her feminist agenda of change. The analysis recasts agency as an enactment in which material and human agencies are mutually productive of one another and frames relationships between objects, bodies, discourses and materials through Karen Barad’s (2007) notion of intra-action through which both humans and non-humans are seen to emerge.
Goodman, Joyce. Suzanne Karpelès (1890-1969): Entangling the Human and the Non-Human in Temporalities of Stasis and Change, presented at ISCHE 40 Humboldt University Berlin 29 August-1 September 2018, 2018.
The paper is part of my developing thinking around the project Educational Cinematography, Empire and Internationalism