Uses of the Other: "The East" in European Identity Formation

Uses of the Other: "The East" in European Identity Formation

Uses of the Other: "The East" in European Identity Formation

Uses of the Other: "The East" in European Identity Formation

Excerpt

Of what life would be like without shackles or wounds, the Grand Idea of Emancipation tells little and knows less still. That life after emancipation has been lodged, after all, in the future—the absolute Other, the ungraspable and ineffable. —ZYGMUNT BAUMAN 1992: 225

This book presents the archeology, uses, and limitations of the self/ other dichotomy in the study of world politics, and so it falls into three parts. The introduction traces thinking about self and other along four paths—the ethnographic, psychological, and Continental philosophical paths as well as what I call the “Eastern excursion”— and their convergence in the discipline of international relations (IR). The bulk of the book analyzes the identity formation of some European and territorially bounded human collectives: There are two chapters on how European identities have emerged in relation to Turkish and Russian others, two chapters on the subregions Central Europe and Northern Europe, and two chapters on the nations of Russia and Bashkortostan, focusing on their European and Russian and Tatar others, respectively. The conclusion draws on those six analyses to summarize how the self/other dichotomy can aid the understanding of collective identities, but it also points out that its use may be reifying and that we consequently need to destabilize and move beyond it.

I first became concerned with these issues in 1989, when I was a . . .

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