Europe and the East: Self and Other in the History of the European Idea

University of East Anglia, Norwich
14-16 June 2017

Throughout the centuries, Europe has constantly defined and imagined itself in opposition to or in conjunction with the East. From Montesquieu and Boulanger’s Oriental despotism to Marx’s Asiatic mode of production and twentieth-century fears of Soviet aggression, intellectuals, writers, and politicians have conceived of Europe as the place of liberty and progress in opposition to ‘its’ East.

Edward Said (with a stronger focus on the Arab world), Maria Todorova (concentrating on the Balkans), and Larry Wolff, to name some of the most important scholars in the field, have investigated such othering processes and demonstrated their importance for notions of (Western) European superiority and dominance. As highlighted by Norman Davies with reference to Eastern Europe, such ideological creations and clichéd attitudes continued into the twentieth century, when during the Cold War Europe was once more identified with the free and ostensibly more advanced western half of the Continent.

To some extent, such notions have persisted beyond the fall of the Iron Curtain. Indeed, despite the Eastern enlargement of the European Union and increased exchange and interdependency, there still seems to be a lack of mutual understanding, preventing a true (re-)integration of Europe after decades of politico-ideological and socio-economic division.

Even more recent histories of European thought and identity almost completely ignore Eastern European contributions and perspectives of intellectuals such as Comenius, Mickiewicz, Kossuth, Danilevsky, Masaryk, or Konrád. Moreover, in spite of the growing influence of Asian nations and the recent ‘Easternisation’ (Gideon Rachman) of international politics and trade, such an exclusively Western- or Euro-centric reading also still predominates our understanding of global history, and has only recently been challenged again by Peter Frankopan.

It is the aim of this international and inderdisciplinary conference, organised by the Research Network on the History of the Idea of Europe (University of East Anglia), to bring the ‘East’ back in, i.e. to shed light on its role and significance, as a geopolitical and geo-cultural notion, in defining discourses and images of Europe from the seventeenth century onwards.

Topics might include – but are by no means limited to:

  • The eastern boundaries of Europe
  • Eastern Europe – the east within?
  • Europe in danger – the great Asian threat
  • European freedom vs. Oriental despotism?
  • European dynamism and the east as the ‘place’ of stillness
  • Europeanizing Russia and the Slav world
  • Europe’s birth and re-birth: The Orient
  • Reversing the gaze: Europe from the East

If you would like to present a paper (ca. 20 minutes), please send an abstract (max. 300 words and in English) with a title and a short biography by 15 January 2017 to Dr Matthew D’Auria or to Dr Jan Vermeiren Please note that the working language will be English. There will be no fees for participating. Limited funding is available, although preference will be given to non-tenured scholars.

Europe and the East:

Self and Other in the History of the European Idea

8th Annual Symposium of the Research Network on the History of the Idea of Europe

University of East Anglia, 14-16 June 2017


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Council Chamber

12.00-1.00   Registration and Sandwiches

1.00-1.30     Welcome

1.30-2.45     Panel 1: Theory, Historiography, and Religion (Chair: Rolf Petri)

Gavin Murray-Miller (Cardiff)          ‘Outremer Europe: From Imperial Peripheries to a Global European


Ofri Ilany (Tel Aviv)                ‘“Pilgrimages to the East”: The Bible and German Longing to the East’

Peter Pichler (Graz)               ‘A “Handmade” Historiographical Myth: The “East” and Eastern Europe in

the Historiography of European Integration, 1968 to the Present’


2.45-3.15     Coffee Break

3.15-4.30     Panel 2: Italian and French Perspectives I (Chair: Matthew D’Auria)

Silvio Berardi (Rome) ‘The Perception of Eastern Europe in the Idea of Europe of Carlo Catteneo’

Fernanda Gallo (Lugano)                   ‘Is the East the only “Orient” in Europe? The City between the

“Orientalization” of Southern Italy and the “East” in Carlo Cattaneo’s

Political Thought’

Matteo A. Napolitano (Rome)           ‘The Perception of Eastern Europe in the Thought and the Political Project

of Niccolò Tommaseo’


4.30-4.45     Short Break

4.45-5.35     Panel 3: Italian and French Perspectives II (Chair: Fernanda Gallo)

Sara Sermini (Lugano)                       ‘In the Russian Mirror: Italian Travelogues from Russia/USSR’

Amotz Giladi (Paris)               ‘The French Celtic League and the Idea of a “Celtic-Slavic Race”, 1911-



5.35-6.00     Short Break

Arts Building, 2.02


6.00-7.00     Keynote Lecture

Patrick Pasture (Leuven)                   ‘Europe’s Many Easts: Why One Orient is not the Other’


8.00            Conference Dinner – The Last Wine Bar, 76 St George’s Street, Norwich, NR3 1AB




Thursday, 15 June 2017


Enterprise Centre, 1.06


9.00-10.15   Panel 4: South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans I (Chair: Cathie Carmichael)

Rolf Petri (Venice)                 ‘Balkanism or Orientalism? Region-building in Southeast Europe’

Balázs Ablonczy (Budapest)   ‘An Orientalism à la hongroise? Birth, Reign, Fall and Resurrection of

Hungarian Turanism’

Samuel Foster (Norwich)                   ‘Imagining Arcadia: The South Slav Peasant in Western European

Imaginary Geography before 1914’


10.15-10.45 Coffee Break


10.45-12.00 Panel 5: South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans II (Chair: Mark Thompson)

Nicolas Pitsos (Paris)              ‘Greece’s Perceived Dualism between the West and the East from Insiders

and Outsiders during the Eastern Question’

Valentina Pricopie (Bucharest)         ‘A Monographic Challenge of the European Idea in Interwar Romania’

Lucio Valent (Milan)              ‘Our Brothers in a Divided Europe: La Civiltà cattolica and the Communist

Yugoslavia the Early Years of the Cold War (1945-1958)’


12.00-1.00   Lunch Break



Arts Building, 2.03


1.00-2.30     Panel 6: Poland (Chair: Jan Vermeiren)

Paul Hulsenboom (Nijmegen)           ‘A Land of Plenty: The Varied Dutch Views of Poland (1600-1650)’

Jarred Warren (New York)    ‘Polish Romantic Intellectuals and Social Networks in Rome around 1830’

Anna Marta Dworak (Rzeszow)         ‘The Problem of the Eastern Border of Europe in the Awareness of Polish

Society under the Partitions (1830-1864)’

Estelle Bunout (Nancy)                      ‘Polish and German Expertise on Eastern Europe: From a Science of the

Enemy to a Discourse of Reconciliation?’


2.30-3.00     Short Break


3.00-4.15     Panel 7: Russia and Ukraine (Chair: Matthias Neumann)

Olga Kazakova (Orel)                        ‘The Russian Empire: The Boundaries and the Limits of the


Olena Palko (Norwich)                      ‘Europe in the Theory of Russian Eurasianism (Evraziistvo)’

Borislav Chernev (Exeter)                 ‘Reinventing Eastern Europe: Evolving German and Habsburg Views of

Russia’s Western Borderlands during the Great War’


4.15-5.00     Coffee Break


5.00-5.50     Panel 8: The Middle East (Chair: Florian Greiner)

Elisa Bianco (Como)               ‘Facing Byzantium in the West: Reading and Misreading the Byzantine

Empire in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century France’

Giuseppe Foscari (Salerno)    ‘Venice and the Ottoman Empire at the End of the Eighteenth Century:

Business and Social Behaviours’


5.50-6.05     Short break


6.05-6.55     Panel 9: Visual Approaches (Chair: Peter Pichler)

Michael Wintle (Amsterdam)           ‘Imagining Asia: European Constructions of the Asian East around the Time

of the First World War’

Marion Romberg (Vienna)    ‘The Turk in Visual Folk Discourse’


8.00            Dinner – The Spice Lounge, 8-10 Wensum St, Norwich, NR3 1HR

Friday, 16 June 2017


Arts Building, 2.03


9.00-10.15   Panel 10: Asia and the Far East (Chair: Francis King)

Sinkwan Cheng (London)                  ‘The Semantics of “Right” in Pre-Capitalist Europe: Deconstructing the

Geopolitics of “Europe versus China”’

Ulrich Brandenburg (Zurich) ‘“Who is for Russia, Who is for Japan?” Competing Notions of Europe in

Austro-Hungarian Commentaries about the Russo-Japanese War’

Nadine Willems (Norwich)    ‘Redefining Progress: Alternative Geographies in Early Twentieth-Century



10.15-10.45 Coffee Break


10.45-12.00 Panel 11: The Cold War Period (Chair: Mark Hewitson)

Florian Greiner (Augsburg)    ‘Away from the “East”, and Back to “Europe”? Mitteleuropa as a

(Trans)National Idea in East-Central Europe in the 1980s’

Marzia Maccaferri (London)             ‘The East and the Rest: British Leftwing Intellectuals’ Refashioning of the

European Idea at the End of the Cold War’


12.00-12.30 Conclusion

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