Don Juan Archiv - Wien, Forschungsverlag

Conference: Translating Orientalism. Towards new epistemological approaches to processes of identity building


Date: June 28-29, 2012

Location: Austrian Cultural Forum Istanbul, June 28th-29th, 2012.

Organiser: A co-operation of Don Juan Archiv Wien ( & Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna (

Contact: Federico Italiano, ÖAW (federico.italiano(at), Michael Hüttler, DJA (michael.huettler(at)donjuanarchiv(dot)at)

Concept: Johannes Feichtinger, Johann Heiss, Michael Hüttler, Federico Italiano


Orientalism is a means of the self to localize the Other in space and time in order to define, devaluate, and dominate it. „Imaginative geographies and history“, as Edward Said argues in Orientalism (1978), „help the mind to intensify its own sense of itself by dramatizing the distance and difference between what is close to it and what is far away.“ Given that this Orientalist point of view continues to shape the sense of the self, one might nonetheless ask what new theoretical approaches might lend more nuance to processes of collective identity building. The concept of translatio/n understood as an unlimited processual negotiation of differences across identity constructions would enable us to de-essentialize „Orient“ and „Occident“ and to generate new „imaginative geographies“ without ascribing values to proximity and distance.

Translation perceived as a process of de-territorialisation extends the framework of interaction by disrupting boundaries between fixed spatial and temporal entities. Thereby boundaries are not neglected, but seriously questioned. From the translational perspective, power/knowledge are taken into account. The question is: Who sets the boundaries, when, and why?

  1. How are Orientalist images and concepts translated across historical epochs, and how does this process illuminate the ideological, political and cultural purpose underlying the transmission?
  2. Under what circumstances are stereotypes of Occident and Orient preserved, revived or discarded?
  3. What images of Occident and Orient are transmitted and translated? In which discourses, contexts, and texts are they deployed, and for what reason? And which wait to be resuscitated by scholars?
  4. Is it possible to use the dichotomy Orientalism vs. Occidentalism epistemologically without reification and at the same time to preserve the transnational/pluricultural dimension?
  5. Could „translating Orientalism“ not also imply a new epistemological approach to alternative forms and modes of identity building? Can we understand ourselves better without a devaluation of the Other?
  6. Orientalism in theatre and music: approaches and strategies from the 17th to the 21st century 



Anil Bhatti, Antonio Baldassarre, Herman Blume, Johannes Feichtinger, Maximilian Hartmuth, Matthew Head, Johann Heiss, Bent Holm, Michael Hüttler, Federico Italiano, Tatjana Markovic, Cesare Molinari, Otto Pfersmann, Michael Roessner



THURSDAY, JUNE 28th, 2012

10:30-11:00 Opening Ceremony

Paul Jenewein (Austrian Consul General)
Doris Danler (Austrian Cultural Forum Istanbul, Director)
Michael Rössner (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History)

Ilber Ortayli (Tokapi Palace Museum, Director)


11:00-12:00 New Interpretations of Orientalism

Chair: Federico Italiano

1. Johannes Feichtinger/ Johann Heiss (Vienna):

The Orient-Occident-Divide. An intellectual construct?

2. Matthew Head (London):

'After Said: Current Challenges in Interpreting Exoticism'


12:00-12:15 Coffee Break


12:15-13:15 Modes of Orientalism in Theatre Studies and Musicology

Chair: Matthew Head

1. Michael Hüttler (Vienna):

Theatre-Research: From Orientalism to Imperialism? Modes of dealing with otherness

2. Tatjana Marković (Graz/Belgrade):

Topoi of Orientalism in Southeast European Opera (Serbia and Croatia)


13:15-14:30 Lunch Break


14:30-15:30 Orientalism and Identity Constructions

Chair: Tatjana Marković

1. Bent Holm (Copenhagen):

Dream and Documentation - Oriental Points of Orientation in Occidental Identity Construction

2. Maximilian Hartmuth (Istanbul):

Translating the oriental(ist): contextualizing Habsburg Bosnia’s architecture of appeasement


15:30-16:00 Coffee Break


16:00-17:45 Orientalism and Translation

Chair: Otto Pfersmann

1. Michael Rössner (Vienna):

Occidental Orientalisms: Columbus' Travel Guides

2. Federico Italiano (Vienna):

The East Above Us: Extraterrestrial (geo-)graphies in Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema

3. Hermann Blume (Vienna):

Divided by a Common Language: Authenticity and Translation as Categories of Historical-Critical Editions



FRIDAY, JUNE 29th, 2012

10:00-11:00 Orientalism and its Visual Representation

Chair: Michael Hüttler

1. Antonio Baldassarre (Lucerne):

Musical Orientalism in 18th- and 19th-century European visual culture

2. Cesare Molinari (Florence):

Orientalism in Theatre and the Case of Turandot

11:00-11:15 Coffee Break


11:15-12:00 Orientalism and Law

Chair: Michael Rössner

1. Otto Pfersmann (Paris):

Orientalismus in Rechtstheorie und Rechtsvergleichung


12:00-12:15 Coffee Break


12:15-12:45 Commentaries &  Conclusions 

Commentator: Anil Bhatti (Tübingen / New Delhi)


12:45-13:30 Lunch Break


14:00-18:00 Topkapi Palace Museum


Don Juan Archiv Wien reserves the right to make changes to the symposia programme, as necessary.




Letztes Update: 26.05.2023