Europe & the Other: KLIK workshop

1.-2. november afholder Forskerskolen i Kultur, Litteratur og Kunstfag, KU, en workshop med titlen Europe & the Other

Insofar as modern Europe can be defined as a particular way of being and acting on the earth, globalization and, more generally, negotiation with the wider world has always been a characteristic of European identity. Cultural encounters and confrontations have played an active part in the construction of a European identity. Yet these encounters have not always been unilaterally imperialistic. From early in its history, it is clear that European thinking has been held in an unresolved tension between the claims of universalism and a tentative acknowledgement of the value of ‘otherness’.

In literature and thought one can find a broad range of testimonies to both imperialistic attitudes and those, more concessively phrased, that recognize the value of other cultures, other ways of being and acting. From Montaigne and Bartolome de las Casas to Emmanuel Levinas and Michel de Certeau, one finds writers troubled by the divergent and as yet irreconcilable claims of, on the one hand, universalism and, on the other, of respect for what falls outside or resists the universal project. Ulrich Beck, the eminent German sociologist, describes Europe in this respect as a mix of ‘humanitarian disinterestedness and imperial power-logic.’ Certeau projects a new mode of thinking: heterologics.

To colonize and to be colonized, to emigrate and to welcome immigrants: these are experiences that in different ways and at various times have shaped and determined European history. It is these experiences that lie behind the emergence of such concepts and topics as ‘the other’, ‘dialogue’, ‘the enemy’, ‘alterity,’ ‘the misfit,’ ‘the outsider,’ ‘the heterogeneous’; as well as ‘belonging,’ ‘integration,’ ‘home’ and other innocent-seeming terms that can be powerfully coercive.

It is hoped that these concepts will be taken up and interrogated in and through the longer historical perspective, with the focus on places and sites of cultural encounter, from literary discourse to institutional enactments; and not least in the racism that has so dominated European history in the past hundred years, and that has been only tentatively explored by thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, Paul Ricoeur, Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben.

The workshop will be built around contributions by scholars from a number of European universities, and beyond. It is especially addressed to those doctoral and post-doctoral students who are either working directly on these questions or would like to present their research in this context.