27.05.2021 Call for Papers for the International Conference of the DFG Research Project "Media Asthetics of Occidentalism"

Media Aesthetics of Occidentalism: Institute for Media Studies, in cooperation with the Centre for Near and Middle East Studies, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany

Project Manager: Dr. Ömer Alkin
Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)

Place: Institute for Media Studies, Philipps- Universität Marburg, Germany
Conference Language: English
Conference Date: 26th – 28th January 2022
Deadline for Abstracts: 31st May 2021
Notification of Acceptance: By the end of July 2021

Due to the immense hostile geopolitical dynamics all over the world, an interrogation of the dichotomies of West/East, Occident/Orient, or North/South seems still very necessary. It is with regard to this observation that scholars have been discussing the concept of Occidentalism for more than thirty years now.

The closeness and affinity of Occidentalism to the concept of Orientalism (Said 1978) cannot be denied nor over emphasized, however, it is now possible to identify a strand of discourse on the concept that has become very heterogeneous. It shows at least four manifestations (Alkin 2019):
a) the patriarchal epistemological pervasion of the world by the West (Armstrong 1990; Müller 1998)
b) the stabilization of the self-images of the non-West that is the result of its devaluating constructions of the West (writings of Hassan Hanafi, Buruma & Margalit 2005; Bauhn & Tepe 2017)
c) self-images of the West based on its constructions of the non-West (Coronil 1996, Carrier 2003, Brunner & Dietze 2009)
d) a meta-reflective perspective that considers the multiple directions and dynamics of the discourses between West and non-West (“Critical Occidentalism”, Ahıska 2003; “Strategic Occidentalism”, Sánchez Prado 2018)

Even if there is this variety of definitions of the concept of Occidentalism, most of the research analyzes the dichotomic relationship between the Orient and the Occident, and the complex discursive and historical entanglements in different regional and national contexts (b and c).

Again, due to the discourse analytical approach of most of these investigations, which are oriented towards textuality, the media aesthetic features of the discourses have often been neglected. Although the investigations focus on films, photographs or other types of media, the non-textual media-aesthetic qualities (image, sound) are hardly considered.

The consequence is that the aesthetic dimension of discourses remains analytically untouched. In order to understand the role of media-aesthetic features of discourses (Mitchell 2015) in the context of the constitution of Occidentalism, the conference pursues the following central question:
“How do media aesthetic qualities contribute to the constitution of Occidentalist discourses?”

The goal of the conference is threefold:
Firstly (SECTION A: Theory), the significance of the concept of Occidentalism will be theoretically re-discussed.

Secondly (SECTION B: Topical Cases of Occidentalism), the concept will be explored in regard to its usefulness in describing contemporary problems (since the 2000s onwards; also genealogically based).

Thirdly (SECTION C: Media Aesthetics), the role of media aesthetic qualities for the effectiveness of occidentalist discourses will be discussed theoretically and empirically.

The threefold objective of the conference results in the following possible topics:
- Theories and philosophical debates on Occidentalism
- Case studies on occidentalist discourses in new (also digital) media and media-aesthetically complex settings
- Media or film cultures that address the role of the West relating to the non-West in its various manifestation
- Contributions from Critical Whiteness studies that reflect on the role of the West in relation to the rest of the world (and the problems of this reproductive dichotomy)
- Current Western/non-Western propaganda strategies that function in an occidentalist manner (strategies of valorization and devaluation of the Other, e.g., jihadism and the media).
- Non-Western aesthetics from all over the world (Africa, Asia, the Global South) and their relationship to the epistemology from the West

Submissions from the broad field of the humanities and the cultural and media studies are welcome (all regional studies such as: Islam studies, Arabic studies, Turcology, Middle and Near Eastern studies, Japanology etc., the visual studies, history, cultural studies, media studies, film studies, sound studies, music studies, [intercultural] philosophy, art and visual culture, gender studies, queer studies, postcolonial studies, migration studies, transcultural studies, [media] anthropology, game studies, media sociology, history of science).

Partial funding might be available, but cannot be guaranteed at the moment.

The conference will take place from 26th to 28th January 2022 at Philipps-University Marburg. Please send an abstract (350 words), a summarizing two-liner and a short CV (100 words) by 31st May 2021 to

Notification of acceptance will be sent by the end of July 2021.
Due to the Covid II situation, possibilities that the conference will take place in a hybrid or digital format is seen.
Registration for guests will be free.

Call For Papers