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Beyond East and West. Decolonizing Modernization


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24-25 OF JULY 2015
      The year 2015 started with a series of violent incidents such as the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the bombing of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, and the massacres committed in Nigeria by the Boko Haram group, which brought back into public debate the Huntington’s theory about the clash of civilizations and brought about a lot of discussions about modernization and its paths. But, as in other cases, any attempt to contribute to the understanding and clarification of such situations and challenges requires not only a thorough analysis of the context, but also a trip back in time in the search for the explanations needed for understanding the contemporary world or some aspects of it. In the last five centuries, European colonialism and the ideology of modernization and its initiatives marked the world system in a complex manner:

      Modernization and colonialism are two major and wide concepts, linked in multiple and complex ways, generating much controversy among scholars. The famous book Orientalism penned by Edward Said determined a process of rethinking the way the Western world has interacted with other cultures and caused a major shift in the perspective by highlighting the manner in which certain cultural representations are constructed and influence the political, cultural and social relations. This book was followed by other major works such as Dipesh Chakabarty’s Provincializing Europe, Valentin Y. Mudimbe’s The Invention of Africa, Walter Mignolo’s Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking, Larry Wolff’s Inventing Eastern Europe, or Maria Todorova’s Imagining the Balkans, that revealed other symbolic geographies and cultural constructs, and the close link between knowledge and power that structures them which contributes significantly to their naturalization. The Orient, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Southern America and Australia, all these “symbolic lands” hide real geographies, which interacted with the interpretative framework of the modern and the modernizing Occident, and were politically, economically and socially profoundly marked by this interaction. The West’s colonial expansion was accompanied by the emergence of a meta-narrative of civilization and modernization about exporting Western European civilization, presented as being universal and an embodiment of progress, about taming and civilizing the “barbarians” and their societies which were described as being backward, steeped in superstition and irrationality. This year, “Telciu Summer Conferences” addresses the issue of modernization from the perspective of decolonization. The title chosen: “Beyond East and West. Decolonizing Modernization” targets an approach to modernization by overcoming the Eurocentric paradigm and, thus, integrating various perspectives on this complex phenomenon. As with the previous editions of the “Telciu Summer Conferences”, interdisciplinarity is a basic premise, pursuing the convergence of scholars that cultivate interdisciplinarity in their activity, as well as the dialog between specialists and enthusiasts from different domains. Below we outline a range of possible themes and questions which might be addressed by those wishing to give a paper to the conference:

  • Modernity, Modernization, Post colonialism, Decoloniality.
  • East and West, South and North. Designing peripheries and inferiority.
  • TheBalkan Peninsula – The Iberic Peninsula or The European Orient
  •  Faces of colonialism.
  • Colonialism and the construction of the inequalities.
  • Islam and the challenges of modernity.

To apply for the conference, please send a title and an abstract of your paper (max 300 words) in English to until 30th of April 2015. We will inform you about our decision by 15th of May 2015. All contributions accepted and presented during the conference will be published in a volume. Accommodation for the speakers will be offered by the organizing committee. Unfortunately we cannot cover the costs for transport.

Organizing Committee: Valer Simion Cosma, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca (Romania) Manuela Boatcă, Freie University, Berlin (Germany) Ali Abdelhafiz Moursi, Assiut University, New Valley (Egypt)


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Lunch: 11am - 2pm
Dinner: M-Th 5pm - 11pm, Fri-Sat:5pm - 1am