This course will explore different processes and patterns of imagining and constructing “the Other” with a special focus on the way these relate to (violent) conflict, discrimination and marginalisation. The discourses of Orientalism and Balkanism – originally strongly grounded in travelogues and art – figure as hegemonic cognitive patterns of constructing the “other” up to the present. Moreover, as explored in the seminal work of Edward Said (1995 ) and Maria Todorova (2009), the very self-image of the “West”/the “Occident“ is crucially based on the construction of the „Orient“, respectively the „Balkans“. The analysis of occidental discourses (e.g. Carrier 2003) of imagining “the West” also reveals analogous and intertwined patterns of “othering”.
Apart from a thorough theoretical assessment, this course will pay special attention to relevant contemporary socio-political developments and conflicts from a comparative perspective. Namely, particularly after the break-out of violent conflicts in the Balkans, the attacks of 9/11, as well as in the course of EU-Enlargement (Turkey, Eastern Enlargement), the aggravation of the migration policies (xenophobia, debates of “honour killings”, Islamophobia etc.) and the most recent interface of the rise of militant groups in the Middle East and European security policies, the pronounced strength of orientalist, balkanist, and occidentalist patterns of thought and the necessity of their critical assessment by social sciences has become more than apparent.
Grounded on close readings of key and contemporary texts from a transdisciplinary perspective the course will offer the students the framework for comparatively exploring different forms of “Othering” in relation to cases of conflict, discrimination and marginalization. Furthermore this course will provide the setting for a systematic and interdisciplinary (re)assessment of crucial notions such as: the construction of the „other“, forms of identity grammars, boundary-making, “integration”, postcolonialism, essentialisation, exotisation, “fundamentalism”, terrorism etc.
Dr. Jelena Tošić is a cultural and social anthroplogist at the University Bern and the University of Vienna. She is a research fellow at Centre for Comparative Conflict Studies (CFCCS). Dr. Tošić received her Ph.D. at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna (2005). Her former affiliations include: The Institute for Social Anthropology/Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna; Centre for the Study of the Balkans/Goldsmiths University, London; Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen; Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, University of Konstanz, Germany. Her research interests are: anthropology of post-socialism/Eastern Europe/Balkans, diversity and multiculturalism, (post)-conflict societies, human rights, war crimes, reconciliation, migration and forced migration studies, state, civil society and new social movements, qualitative methods. Currently she is exploring patterns of diversity and co-existence in the Shkodra-region at the Albanian/Montenegrin border (AAS-CEE/APPART Fellowship).
Her recent publications include: Reimagining the Balkans. Diversity Beyond and “Straight Through” the Ethno-National, in: Steven Vertovec (ed.), The Routledge International Handbook of Diversity Studies (2015); Egalität, Autonomie und Integration. Post-Multikulturalismus in Österreich, in Nieswand Boris und Heike Drotbohm (Hrsg.), Kultur, Gesellschaft, Migration. Die Reflexive Wende in der Migrationsforschug (2014) [co-authored with Sabine Strasser]; Localizing Moralities: Sociality, Agency and Economy in SEE (special issue in the Journal for Southeastern Europe and Black Sea Studies, with Sabine Strasser, forthcoming 2015); Travelling Genealogies. Time-Space and Diversity in the Albanian-Montenegrin Borderland, in: Donnan, Hastings, Madeleine Hurd and Carolin Leutloff-Grandits (eds.), Border Crossing – Border Moving. Manchester University Press (forthcoming 2015); The Loudspeaker of Faith in the Calm City: Islam and Urban Diversity in Contemporary Balkans, in: Elbasani, Arolda and Olivier Roy (eds.), Revival of Islam in the Balkans. From Identity to Religiosity. Palgrave Macmillan (Islam and Nationalism Series) (forthcoming 2015).