Annual Conference Globalization and Literature

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Conference 2012: Europe, and/or the World

Opening Conference of the DFG-Research Training Group in cooperation with CAS Research Focus on Globalization in Literature and the Arts

15.05.2012 – 16.05.2012

Conference Abstract

On a map, Europe appears as just a small part of the world, a sub-unit, consisting of still smaller units (usually called 'nations'). In discourses on 'European unity' or 'European identity', this sub-unit is designed as one – internally diversified, but eventually integral – actor in globalization processes. In order to be able to cooperate or compete with other actors (USA, China, etc.), it has to be clearly distinguishable from them.

Such a model, however, is not compatible with other concepts of Europe's place 'within' the world. Geographically, Europe's boundaries are not easy to determine. The United European Football Association, for example, embraces (via Russia and Kasachstan) China and counts Israel among its members, while the Gaza Strip, west of Israel, pertains to Asia. But a closer look at smaller units unambiguously classified as 'European' (e.g. England, France, or Germany) already shows that Europe has long imported Non-European people and cultural goods – while having exported people, languages, and other cultural goods to Non-European areas. The distinction between Europe and its others is therefore a trope that might be necessary in 'strategic essentialism' on a large-scale level; at the same time, however, it tends to deny the historical conditions of colonialism and migration that any critique of Eurocentrism has to account for.
These geographical implausibilities reflect historical entanglements. Therefore our conference does not set out to replace the usual inclusions and exclusions – Is Israel 'European' while the Palestinian areas are not? How about Turkey? How European is Japan? – by seemingly less arbitrary ones. It rather proposes to analyze the tensions between discourses on Europe and processes of globalization. Read as 'Europe and (the rest of) the World', our title suggests the familiar topology shared by the proponents of 'European unity' and the critics of 'Eurocentrism' alike. Read as 'Europe or the World', however, it reflects the incompatibility between these discourses and processes of globalization that have long since begun to make Europe disappear as a distinctive unit.

According to the main working hypothesis of the Literature and Globalization group, literature – taken in a wider sense, implying literary elements in all texts (e.g. historiographical or philosophical included) – constitutes an archive for the analysis of processes of globalization that is still largely unexplored. Literature offers other modes of discourses that, while not entirely dispensing with drawing boundaries, reflect the contingencies and aporias in any act of ex-/inclusion. We invite contributions addressing these dynamics from a historical perspective, covering the time from antiquity to the present. Close readings of texts not clearly classifiable as 'European' or 'Non-European' and methodological reflections (as, e.g., on the relationship between Postcolonial Studies and globalization theories) are equally

Conference Program

Friday, June 15

  • 14.00 Introductory Remarks (Robert Stockhammer)
  • 14.30 Vladimir Biti (Wien): The Double-Edged Legacy of the Republic of Letters

[coffee break]

Chair: Fabienne Imlinger

  • 15.45 Martin Hose (LMU München): The Archeology of Globalization: Herodotus
  • 16.45 Marcus Coelen (LMU München): mondialatinisation - the 'Case' of romance languages and literatures

[coffee break]

Chair: Tobias Döring

  • 18.00 Robert J. C. Young (New York University): On Being Translated: Translation as Globalization


Saturday, June 16

Chair: Jernej Habjan

  • 10.00 Patrice Nganang (SUNY Brookes): The Global Novel: Writing beyond Emi/Immigration
  • 11.00 Peter Maurits (LMU München): Disappearing migrants or the impossibility of a European Union


Chair: Annegret Heitmann

  • 13.30 Evelyn Schulz (LMU München): Global flows and transnational entanglements in local discourses on Tokyo: Nagai Kafū’s reflections on urban aesthetics in Hiyorigeta (Fairweather clogs, 1914)
  • 14.30 Graham Huggan (Leeds): Notes on the Postcolonial Arctic
  • 15.30 Concluding Discussion

Link to the Conference poster