Graduiertenkolleg Funktionen des Literarischen in Prozessen der Globalisierung

Links und Funktionen



Europe and/or the World

Opening Conference in cooperation with the CAS/LMU Research Focus Globalization in Literature and the Arts

15.06.2012 – 16.06.2012


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.IMG_3418

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 replaceIMG_3442 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 reflectIMG_3530s 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.

Conference venue

Center for Advanced Studies
Seestr. 13
80802 Munich

Busline 54 or 154
Stop: Thiemestraße
Subwayline U3 or U6
Stop: Giselastraße


For further details check our conference poster (PDF, 1037 KB) and programme (PDF, 660KB).