Seminar: Orientalism & Occidentalism

Wed, 10 Mar 2010 12:00 in Discussion Forums

On 10 March Wednesday, Ömer Şener of Dialogue Society North gave a seminar at Leeds Metropolitan University titled ‘Orientalism & Occidentalism: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Some Thoughts on Current Research About Representing the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. The seminar covered topics concerning representation, a synopsis of Said’s and Carrier’s works regarding ‘Orientalism’ and ‘Occidentalism’respectively, touching upon the sensitive issues of cultural reductionism and essentialist representation on both sides of the East/West divide, also including a list of possible ways of avoiding ‘double essentialisms’ in representation.

Abstract: The world is divided into two relative and imaginary entities called the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. Almost all societies today are home to populations that stem from various cultures and ethnicities. In this world of diversity and rapidly developing technologies, how we represent ourselves and others is still as equally crucial as any other time. The circulation of texts representing binary relations of East-West (and in more general terms, texts exploring binary oppositions and relations of ‘self’ in relation to an ‘Other’) still has an impact on how we construct our world views and how we create an image of ourselves. In this seminar, two reductionist and essentialist discourses on the East/West divide, namely Orientalism and Occidentalism (the latter less known and put to scrutiny) will be discussed and analyzed in a synopsis in light of most recent research on the subject, in terms of their affects on our world views, on popular culture, on literature and dominant ideologies.