The Other in Us | Think & Talk | Seminar No. 1 & 2

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Oriental Heritage Without Borders e.V. would like to cordially invite you to attend its Season Opening “Heritage Seminar Series | Orient in Context”, on Thursday February 28th, 2013 as part of its “Think & Talk” scientific events.  A series of monthly seminars -in form of short scientific lectures/interactive discussion groups- offered to present different facets of the oriental heritage as well as to create an alternative environment for developing interesting and exciting discussions in all aspects of the greater field of heritage studies.

The seminar would take place @ ENGAGEMENT GLOBAL gGmbH, Pangea-Haus, Trautenaustraße 5., 10717 Berlin, between 17:00-19:00, with a presentation  entitled “The Other in Us – Readings in Orientalism | Part 1” by Dr. Wouter Henkelman with discussions following afterwards.

The second part to this Seminar “The Other in Us – Readings in Orientalism | Part 2” will further take place a week after on Thursday March 7th 2013 at the same place and at the same time to which you are also welcome to attend!

The concept of Orientalism, famously coined by the Palestinian author Eduard Said in his 1978 essay, remains an important way to analyse western responses to the Other, to the negative self-image that Europe needed to define itself. Yet, the political tone that that still pervades parts of this debate obscures the fact that mutual attitudes between East & West have, ever since antiquity, actually been quite complex, even in the darkest periods of our shared history. Some cultures and individuals have made brave and radically different choices in their appraisal of the Near and Middle East, and the so-called Orient itself has not been as silent as is sometimes assumed. But what emerges foremost from all this is the enduring importance of tracing back the origins of our oldest fears and most secret desires. Forever bound, forever contrasting, forever fascinated, there is indeed much beauty to be found in the tormented relation between Orient and Occident.

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The lectures are not intended as academic surveys in the narrow sense, but rather as literary, personal and indeed selective impressions. They will try to re-chart some of the territory lost in hyper-specialised research on (ancient) Near Eastern history and culture and build bridges between history and archaeology on the one side, and literature, music and the visual arts on the other. In doing so, Oriental Heritage will be contextualised on the mental map in an attempt to show that the issues raised are, in the most literal sense, of fundamental importance for the world we live in.

Wouter Henkelman is assistant professor of Elamite and Achaemenid culture and history at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris) and one of the chief editors of the Elamite Persepolis Fortification Archive tablets, now in Chicago. He recently led several epigraphic missions to the rock of Bisotun to re-record the famous inscription of king Darius the Great and did field work in the southwestern and coastal areas of Iran. The book he is currently preparing addresses the genesis of Persian identity from a long-term perspective, including the ‘present of the past’, i.e. the uses and abuses of archaeological monuments and historical sources in contemporary ideologies and identity-making. As a parallel line of interest, Henkelman has published a number of articles on comparative folkloristics, the connections between ancient East and West and the history of imagination.