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.