• Lecture

Occidentalism Reconsidered. The case of Benoy Kumar Sarkar (1887-1949)

Is “Occidentalism” a footnote to theories of “Orientalism”? Is it possible to compare, and, if so, how can “Eastern” images of the “West” be compared to “Western” images of the “East”? Olivier Remaud focuses on important cultural debates.


In order better to understand such contemporary issues, Olivier Remaud focuses on “Germanism” as an idea produced outside of Germany. Throughout the 19th century in India, German culture was primarily a matter for philological scholarship. Linked to struggles for independence and the impact of World War I, “Germanism” became defined essentially political and historically as a form of “Occidentalism”. In the 1920s and after, many anti-colonial nationalists found strong echoes of their own expectations in radical post-war German stances. To illustrate this point, Remaud shows how the Bengali social scientist Benoy Kumar Sarkar (1887—1949) connected debates on crises of modernity in Germany with the search for a new social order in India somewhere between transnational patriotism and energetic futurism. Remaud ultimately raises a challenging question about the means of experiencing global history in times of transition.

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Ort: IFK