Universitätsprofessor für Arabistik
Institut für Orientalistik der Universität Wien
  • Projekte

    Wissenschaftliche Drittmittelprojekte

    • August 2013 – Juli 2016:
      FWF-Projekt: Linguistic Dynamics in the Greater Tunis Area: A corpus-based approach.
      Gemeinsam mit Karlheinz Mörth, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.
      Mitarbeiter/innen: Mag.a Ines Dallaji, Ines Gabsi, Mag. Omar Siam; Franziska Schwemmer, Ines Ben Brahim.
    • April 2009 – August 2015:
      The Language of Power: Official Epistolography in Islamic Egypt
      Teilprojekt des Nationalen Forschungsnetzwerks” (NfN) “Imperium and Officium: Comparative Studies in Ancient Bureaucracy and Officialdom” financed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).
      Siehe: http://www.univie.ac.at/babylon/NFN/NFN_main.htm
      Mitarbeiter/innen: Dr. Lucian Reinfandt, Mag.a Ursula Bsees.
    • 2010- 2013:
      Sharing Ancient Wisdoms: Exploring the tradition of Greek and Arabic wisdom literatures.
      HERA-Projekt; Mitarbeiterinnen: Dr. Elvira Wakelnig; Mag.a Ines Dallaji.
    • 2004-2007:
      FWF-Projekt Dialekt und Kultur bei den Beduinen Tunesiens.
      Mitarbeiter/innen: Dr. Veronika Ritt-Benimoun, Mag. Waltraud Petschmann-Toumi, Mag. Lorenz Nigst.
      Bericht siehe unten.
    • 2008-2009:
      Frauenwelten-Frauensprachen: Weibliche Lebenswelten im Spiegel der arabischen Dialekte. Kooperationsprojekt mit den Universitäten Aix-en-Provence (Frankreich) und Zaragoza (Spanien).
      Mitarbeiterinnen: Dr. Narine Grigoryan, Mag.a Leila Kaplan, Dr. Veronika Ritt-Benmimoun. Näheres unter:  http://www.univie.ac.at/arabic-gender-linguistics /
      Dialekt und Kultur bei den Beduinen Tunesiens. Ergebnisse: The project focused on two related fields: (1) The dialect and the oral poetry of the Bedouins in Southern Tunisia and (2) the concept of sainthood, the belief in demons and related rites. Thus the main goal of the project was to connect linguistic research in Arabic dialects with the study on selected aspects of the literary, material, and religious culture of a changing Bedouin society. This aim was achieved by long-term intensive field-work in the region which resulted an immense amount of new data that was analysed from different points of view.

      One major result was realization of the up-to-date largest collection of poems and ethnographic texts available in a Tunisian Arabic Bedouin dialect. This enabled to write a comprehensive grammatical description as well as to conduct detailed investigations on different subjects, e.g. on how current Bedouin poetry tries to find a new place in the local culture by treating themes which are essential for the society, such as changing moral manners and the impact of the West. It could be proved that poets can say allusively what cannot be said explicitly—a fact which gives them the means to comment upon social mores, politics and other sensitive topics. In the field of sociolinguistics the project contributed to hitherto widely neglected fields inside Arabic dialectology such as the language of curses and taboo words. A thorough analysis of the collected texts led to the interesting result that the hypothesis of a levelling of dialects which was proven by previous studies for the sedentary Tunisian communities is applicable only with great restrictions to the Bedouin dialects investigated.

      In the vast field of the so-called “popular Islam” the project contributed to a better understanding of how this segment of the religion is developing in a still traditional tribal society that is nevertheless exposed to an increasing number of external influences: Western liberal ideas on the one hand and “fundamentalist” Islamist movements on the other. It could be shown that the veneration of saints including the annual feasts is still of great importance for the local population, but that there is an increasing number of religious specialists who regard these rites as incompatible with “pure” Islam. Thus it was proved that the tendencies which were stated for Northern Tunisia in the early 1980s have now reached the Bedouin societies of the south. An interesting detail is, however, that the disapproval of saint veneration is much stronger among those parts of the society who are not genealogically linked to the saints, and therefore is much more controversial in the towns than it is in smaller villages, where nearly all of the inhabitants belong to one single tribe and regard the saints as their own ancestors. Narrative interviews and the intensive study of written sources also resulted in new findings on the question how a certain person can become accepted as a saint by the local society. In this context, different kinds of “religious capital”, namely magic, genealogy, and (religious) knowledge play a very important role as all the proponents in the “game” try to accumulate as much as possible of this religious capital to gain sacred power.