Orientalism, Occidentalism and Knowing about Others

Stein Tønnesson (Oslo).

Assuming there really is something we may call a Western cultural hegemony or cultural imperialism, then 'orientalism' is its literary and social scientific form, and 'occidentalism' is a programme for revenge.

Asians and Europeans who study each other are at the same time agents and students of the relationship between East and West. It can, no doubt, be an exchange based on equality and mutual respect, but the danger always exists that studies and research programmes in Europe, the United States, and Australia will represent a continuation of an Orientalist tradition of cultural domination and, consequently, that research centres based in Asia will try to formulate some kind of 'genuinely' Asian approach to culture and science, in opposition to the basic ideas of the Occident.

The present article shall be dedicated to a reflection on the relationship between East and West and the role of researchers and intellectuals in that relationship. Research publications and conferences are today an enormous growth industry and play an increasingly important role in cultural as well as political and economic exchanges between states and regions. Students and researchers in humanities and social sciences cannot conceive of themselves as standing outside the processes they are studying. By virtue of doing what they do they are active participants in the formation of the future of East-West, North-South and global culture.

The Politics of National Identity

Bozidar Jezernik (Ljubljana).

Slovenian national identity as a specific individuality emerged after the March revolution of 1848 within the framework of the multi-national Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, as part of the process of modernisation, i.e., the transition from a feudal to a capitalist system. Arising capitalism brought an end to feudalism, and the citizenry started to deman national freedom in order to develop their own economic power. On the ruins of feudal society a new system was growing, and cultural life was marked by the national movement. The cultivation of domestic language and history, domestic literature and folklore, invoked a love of nation (Loncar 1911: 55-6). To the Slovenians, devoid of their own state, the idea of a nation as formulated by the German romantics was most attractive, giving as it did ‘to nation an independent life to state’ (Vosnjak 1913: 541).