Invoking the dichotomy between “the West” and “the East” allows authors to evoke a series of other binary contrasts. A non-exhaustive list might include modernity vs. tradition, rationality vs. sensuality, materialism vs. spirituality, Christianity vs. Islam, Democracy vs. Communism, etc. While some authors from “the West” have extolled “the East” for its pleasing exoticism, binary dichotomies tend to be morally loaded in favour of the “The West,” which supposedly represents civilization, freedom and progress vis-à-vis barbarism, slavery and stagnation.
Edward Said’s “Orientalism” has provided an influential critique of such discourse, and eventually inspired Ian Buruma, Avishanti Margalit, and James Carrier to study the counter-discourse of “Occidentalism.” The East-West discourse indeed carries such dense political, cultural and philosophical associations that it may become entirely removed from any geographic facts. Nevertheless, the dichotomy retains its popularity as an analytical concept among scholars and popular authors.
The Antipodean East European Study Group will attempt to re-ground the East-West dichotomy in particular contexts and problematize its implicit assumptions. How does the rhetoric of East vs. West play out in specific places and times? We are seeking papers for a conference to be held on the weekend of 21-22 March 2010 at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. Up to five selected papers will be considered for publication in a themed issue of the Journal of Australian Slavonic and East European Studies (ranked B by the Australian Research Council). The keynote speaker is Charles Ingrao of Purdue University (Indiana). Send abstracts by 15 October 2009.
Victoria University, Wellington
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