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Natalie Chamat

Natalie Chamat

Fellow in the project „A Translingual Conceptual History of Chinese Worlds“ (June–August 2021)

Short Biography

Natalie Chamat specialises in Translational Theory and completed her PhD with the German-Asian Graduate Group of Humanities at Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) from 2014-2020 (Florilegium Benjamini. Walter Benjamin und Das Schriftgedächtnis in der Übersetzung, Göttingen: Wallstein 2022) after returning from a longer residency in the UK. She pursued elementary European Studies at Universität Osnabrück and took her MA in New German Philology, Theatre Studies and Communication Sciences at FUB in 2004. As a member of the German-Chinese-Alumni-Network (DCHAN) she has been tutoring international PhD students. She published articles on Nietzsche, J. G. Hamann, H. Blumenberg, P. Ricœur, G. Steiner and F. Jullien, translated talks for the XXIV. World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing and cooperated on translations of articles by Roger Ames and Deng Xiaomang. Her research interests include worlding philology, literary philosophy, aesthetics of continuity and discontinuity, the arts of memory, phenomenology of transmission.


Chinesische Reflexionen von Welt, Literatur und Selbst: Das Buch Zhuangzi in Übersetzung // Chinese Reflections of World, Literature and Self: The Book Zhuangzi in Translation

According to Walter Benjamin, the translational afterlife of a text begins when it has reached the stage of fame and undergoes multiple retranslations. After the very first translations and adaptations at the beginning of the twentieth century have turned into modern classics and an abundance of new partial translations (and finally one complete direct translation) have been made available to the German reader, the Zhuangzi seems to bend Benjamin’s notion of afterlife into a loop: Not only has this text come upon us in an always already transformed, yet very alive version incorporating early readings, retellings, continuations and disruptions that resists any stable notion of an original, not only does it thus instead propose the notion of an at once collective and individual work in progress with no clearly discernible purpose — but with its multiplicity of cascading descriptions, sceneries, reflections and interweaving of motivs and protagonists which do not blend smoothly into any sort of storyline, framing, fixed pattern of logic or concepts it raises the question of a particular worlding style that promises an understanding of practice which does not subsume art as being just another way of doing something. In my research project I examine the implications for self- and otherworlding of reading the Zhuangzi ‘in translation’ with regard to the interplay of imagining and reasoning. By doing this, I am concerned with putting dialectic formulas of thinking and phenomenological approaches to experience to the test of literary astonishments and concussions.