News – Events

Occidentalism: The West since 1945 (proposals by 15 November)

Subject Fields: Area Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Geography, Diplomacy and International Relations, Popular Culture Studies

 

Occidentalism: The West since 1945

Slightly Revised Version

This conference will examine the notion of “Occidentalism”, which is defined by The Dictionary of Human Geography (5th edition, 2009) as “The systematic construction of ‘the West’ (‘the Occident) as a bounded and unified entity.” This construction exists among those who consider themselves as “Western” and those who do not. The term is obviously envisaged as the counterpart of “Orientalism” by Edward Said (1978). The idea of the “West”, in opposition to the “East”, is an ancient one, although this conference will focus on the period since the Second World War, using a perspective that is pluricultural and interdisciplinary.

A major objective of this conference is to analyze certain key terms and their continuing pertinence. To begin with, although the definition above speaks of the “West” as a “bounded” entity, the exact boundaries are far from clear. It is often understood as comprising Western Europe and countries where a majority of the population are of Western European origin (notably the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). However, the position of Latin America is different. How do they see the “West” and how do they see themselves in relation to this “West”?

The ambiguity of Latin America’s place may relate to the link often made between being a “Western” nation and economic development. What, for example, is the situation of countries like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan which are economically similar and share democratic values? What are the characteristics that tie them to the “West”? What makes a society perceive itself as partially or majoritarily “Western”?”

A further consideration is how “unified” an entity is the “West”?  How do individual “Western” nations perceive themselves and other “Western” nations? What is the place of the “Judeo-Christian” tradition in this definition? What is the role of immigration and diasporas? How do “non-Westerners” living in the “West” see their identity and what is their sense of belonging?   What is their attitude to “Westernization” as a global phenomenon?

To what extent is the historical East/West split being transformed into a North/South one? Is the “West” likely to remain a relevant notion?

A particularly important part of this conference is to explore how people who identify themselves as being from other cultures view the “West”. Edward Said identified the frequency of stereotypes in how “Westerners” see the “Orient”. Is the reverse also true? On what do they base their image? How do these people define the “West” and what are their attitudes to the “Westernization” of their own country? To their colonial or former colonial power? Does the situation vary according to regions or nations? In many countries, the question of “Westernization” has political, social and cultural connotations. Some régimes are seen as “pro-Western” and others as “anti-Western”. Some people are qualified as “Westernized” because of their way of life or thought.

Finally, how can “narrations” be linked to popular representations? How do the media participate in the construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of these representations?

We would welcome submissions on all geographical regions on the following subjects, including (but not limited to):

– Occidentalism as a counter discourse to Orientalism, including Said’s critique of “Occidentalism”

– The imaginative geographies of non-Western cultures

  – The populist sense of Occidentalism that arose following 9/11 and 7/7 and the privileging of the West and global Modernity as subjects in such accounts

–  Analyses of the reflection on the West in particular genres

·   How the foreign policy elite views the West (both those who consider themselves Western and those who do not)

·   The presentation of Western elites and the lives of ordinary citizens

·    Political or social movements that span the West and the global South (for example the communist party or LGBTQ movements). How do the Western members view themselves and how do their non-Western allies see them?

·    Perceptions of race, gender, age, religion or social class

·    The reception of Western TV series, music, video games and movies in the global South, including those aimed at children

·     The impact of censorship, whether official or self-imposed

·     Commercials, public service announcements and documentaries

·     Changes in discourses and stereotypes about the West

Keynotes:

Manuel Burga Dìaz, Emeritus professeur of history and former rector of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Peru

Alastair Bonnett, Professor of social geography at the University of Newcastle and author of the book, The Idea of the West : Culture, Politics and History

The conference will take place from 10 to 12 June 2020 at the University of Paris 8. The language of the conference will be English and French. Because of the large amount of work that has already been done in literature, notably in post-colonial studies, the conference will focus on the social sciences. Contributions are invited by specialists in history, politics, geography, visual studies, sociology and anthropology. Please submit an abstract of 250 to 300 words and a short CV by 15 December 2019 to  https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=occ2020

 

Contact Info:

Lori Maguire

Call for Papers for an edited volume – Extended deadline October 18, 2019

The West Network held in June 2019 its Second International Conference, «The End of Western Hegemonies?». A volume gathering chapters inspired from the papers presented at the conference is in preparation. The volume will also welcome other contributions.

The book will focus on political and cultural challenges to Western hegemonies. Contributions examining contestations from the perspective of the non-Western world are welcome. Chapters dealing with democracy in non-Western contexts are especially encouraged. Submitted papers must not have been previously published (including in another language).

*Potential authors must be Ph.D. holders and affiliated to a university.

Please note that submissions will be peer-reviewed and must be carefully prepared.

Submissions must contain (please send all documents in Word format) :

1) A short abstract of the planned chapter clearly stating the topic, hypothesis, main arguments, methodological approach and sources + a list of 5-6 keywords (1/2 page – ¾ page).

2) A detailed preview of the planned chapter (5-6 pages) including references and footnotes.

Please also include:

3) In a single file:
(page 1) Identification : Name, job title, affiliation, institutional address, work phone number, home address, home phone number, e-mail address
(page 2) Short biography mentioning professional information relevant to the publication (as previous publications, teaching/research experience)

4) A short cv (2-3 pages max.).

Please send all material by September 30 to the attention of Marie-Josée Lavallée at marie-josee.lavallee@umontreal.ca.
No submissions will be considered afterwards.

Potential authors will be notified after the peer-review process will be completed and once the selection of papers will have been made by the editor and the publisher (around 2-3 months). Authors will be allowed six months for the preparation of their chapter (8000 words).

Marie-Josée Lavallée
University of Montréal, Canada
Coordinating team, the West Network

The 2nd International Conference by The West Network (5-7 June 2019)

Conference

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

June 5-7, 2019

The West Network, an international and multidisciplinary research network coordinated from the Department of History and Ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä, is organizing its 2nd international conference titled:

The End of Western Hegemonies?

If we look at ‘the West’ as a group of states, we can say it has been globally hegemonic in many areas of life, such as scientific innovation, the economy and consumption, military force, medicine, technological development, press freedom, political regimes and ideology. In addition, there are views according to which the West has imposed its own vision of the world by having hegemony over the production of knowledge in intellectual domains, such as philosophy, political science, and sociology, the West has imposed its own vision of the world. This is how the ‘Western paradigm’ has been built. Adopting this paradigm has long been held as a global criterion of success. However, as long as there have been Western hegemonies, there have been contestations of them.

History did not end in the triumph of Western liberal democracy, and there are societal developments in the US and Europe that are seen as undermining (the unity of) the West. It is feared that the era of Donald Trump will disengage the US from the Western and global political arenas. The imminent separation of Britain from the European Union is raising concerns about the unity of Europe. The overall rise of right-wing populism is seen to jeopardize such core Western values as internationalism, liberalism and solidarity. Increasing individualism and identity politics, racism, toxic masculinity, unemployment or a lost sense of purpose are seen to erode Western society from the inside by dividing people into different sides of cultural wars.

Moreover, the so-called emerging countries, China in their lead, are often seen as a threat to Western geopolitical, economic and cultural hegemonies, if not to the contemporary world order. Western military ventures have been seen as the source of deep fractures, not only between the West and other countries, but also within non-Western societies, since they have helped to cause the rise of militant Islam and the unleashing of wars in these countries. This interventionism, however, has not been without consequences in the West as well, for these wars have caused flows of refugees, and brought crowds of immigrants into Western countries. This situation has fueled further political conflict within Western societies whose people debate about the nature of Western civilization and its role in helping others.

Will the ‘non-West’, the emerging countries, or China surpass the West? If so, in which areas of life? Can the West hold on to its hegemonies in science, liberal democracy, economy, civil liberties, and the military sphere? Or is it bound to become one of many equal players – or a relic – in a new multi-polar world order? At the same time, the West – and all of humankind – is developing further in terms of technology, health, human rights, democracy and peace, and many think there is no reason to believe the West would lose its hegemonies.

If one holds that the West is mainly an imagined community, one can doubt that it ever could have exercised any concrete domination. One can thus easily problematize the basic concepts of ‘the West’ as well as its ‘hegemonies’. In contrast, the very notion of hegemony invites explorations in specific areas in which one can postulate a hegemonic or dominating position of the West, today or in the recent past. If one accepts that the West enjoyed a strong leadership in certain domains, one may ask why and how it occurred. Or one might, enquire about the present and future of this domination. Will it come to a close? If so, why and how – politically, culturally, socially or narratively?

We invite scholars, particularly from social sciences and humanities, to present empirical or theoretical papers on the topic of the conference by focusing on the following sub-themes, issues and/or phenomena or other topics relevant to the theme of the conference (the list is not exclusive):

Brexit, Christianity, civilization, climate change, Cold War, collectivism, democracy, dystopia, economy, energy, environment, ethnicity, emerging countries, ethnicity, fragmentation, freedom, gender, geopolitics, identity, imagined communities, individualism, Islamism, leadership, the Left, liberalism, nationalism, NATO, Occidentalism, Orientalism, popular culture, political ideology, populism, post-WWII, protectionism, race/racialization, regional powers, religiosity, science/scientism, secularism, super powers, technology, terrorism, tribalism, utopia, Whiteness.

Keynote speakers

Roundtable discussion lead by Dr. Marie-Josée Lavallée. Participants will be announced at a later date.

Deadlines

  • Abstract proposals (300-400 words) 6 January 2019
  • Accepted presenters will be notified by 5 February 2019
  • Extended abstracts (800-1200 words) 30 April 2019

Participation fees

  • Basic: 80 euros, including lunch, refreshments, reception buffet
  • Basic + dinner: 115 euros (dinner on 2nd day)
  • Basic + dinner + cruise: 160 euros (lunch cruise on Lake Jyväskylä on third day).

Payments by March 15, 2019 at https://payments.jyu.fi/events/the-end-of-western-hegemonies-conference.

Accommodation and travel

More information on the conference hotel and other options for accommodation as well as travel information will be provided at a later date.

Organizing committee

Jukka Jouhki & Marie-Josée Lavallée, Pertti Ahonen, Antero Holmila, Matti Roitto

Abstracts + inquiries: westernhegemonies@gmail.com

Useful links

CFP: CRISES OF THE LIBERAL ‘WEST’

Call for abstracts for an edited volume.

Ever after the idea of “the Western civilization” was conceived, some intellectuals, politicians, and religious leaders have spelled doom for it. The “Western world” has been frequently embroiled in societal, ethical and economic crises, some of the most recent being war on terrorism, recession, and the influx of refugees. The rise of populist parties and inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the President of the United States have further fueled narratives of a crisis-ridden West. The themes and narratives of the Western crisis have been recycled habitually and have often been accompanied by, or at least addressed, the idea of the West as a globally triumphant entity with universally applicable values.  Currently, it seems, what is at stake is the “Western” liberal world-order. Recent political changes have created new challenges for liberal internationalism, and subsequently, crisis rhetoric has become a commonplace, but also controversial, part of narratives about the “liberal West” and its survival.

We are calling for articles for an edited volume focusing specifically on contemporary economic, ethnic, military, political, socio-cultural, and other crises that have emerged during the last decade, either in narrated or empirically lived reality. We especially encourage perspectives from political and social sciences, contemporary history, cultural studies, international relations, and geopolitics.

The articles should pay attention to the shifting meanings of the West. When people talk about crisis of “the liberal West”, how do they define the West? How is the West perceived to exist? What does a crisis of liberal world-order “tell” about the West? How does an anti-liberal (or neo/post-liberal) challenge change established conceptualizations of the West? How is the concept and idea of “liberal West” used as a (rhetoric/narrative) tool in politics and identity construction inside/outside of the so called Western countries, and what kind of narratives spawn from a crisis?

The main primary sources of the articles should entail explicit references to the concept of “the West”. In other words, the existence of the West or “Western society”, “Western culture, “Western countries” etc. should not be the premise of the article nor the construction of the writer, but literally observed/mentioned in the sources.

The “liberal West” may be examined in relation to, e.g., the following crises (imaginary or actual):

  • Brexit, Trump presidency
  • Deepening transatlantic rift; divisions and estrangement within Europe
  • Rise of populism, xenophobia, racism
  • Refugees, immigration
  • Liberty versus security
  • Political use of narratives about vanishing traditions; loss of values; religious fundamentalism/irreligiousness/atheism/secularism
  • Neoliberalism, liberal democracy
  • Global financial & economic crisis, overconsumption, environmental degradation, difficulty of forming a united front for finding solutions and compromises to global challenges
  • Shifts in the economic and political world order: rising China, Putin’s Russia, extreme Islamism, narratives of a new Cold War, clash of civilizations
  • West’s crises observed in the “non-West”

… and other perceived recent threats, perils, and menaces to “the liberal West”, from within and without.

Send your abstract, max 350 words to: jukka.jouhki[at]jyu.fi.

Deadline for abstracts: May 23, 2017.

The edited volume is planned to be published with a high-quality international academic publisher.

For more information, contact jukka.jouhki[at]jyu.fi.

Editors:

  • Jukka Jouhki, Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä.
  • Marko Lehti, The Tampere Peace Research Institute, University of Tampere.
  • Henna-Riikka Pennanen, The John Morton Center for North American Studies, University of Turku

The editors are members of the coordinating team of The West Network, an international interdisciplinary network of scholars.