The Relationship Between Europe's East and West: How Racist and How Colonial?

Venue: seminar room 2Q-EG-27, Institute for Eastern European History, Spitalgasse 2, Campus of the University of Vienna, Hof 3.2

It has been suggested, including by the speaker in his book, White But Not Quite: Central Europe’s Illiberal Revolt, that “Eastern European” is a racialized construction, and is generated by a relationship that is in some sense colonial. But, clearly, neither the racialization nor the colonial character are of the typical sort. Why call prejudice and discrimination against White Eastern Europeans racist? Would it not be better described just as xenophobia or regional intolerance? And what can be colonial about a region that belongs to the European Union, the historic heir of colonial privilege? Kalmar answers these questions by locating the (ambiguous) racialization and (partially) colonial character of “Eastern Europe” within the global dynamics of racial capitalism, which reproduces racialized relations of domination at different levels.

Ivan Kalmar’s research has addressed a wide range of topics ranging from Inuit language and the mythology of the computer, to the image of Muslims and Jews in western Christian cultural history. Currently his research focuses on illiberalism in Europe, with a focus on relations between the post-communist members of the European Union and the rest (including between the East and the West in Germany). Prof. Kalmar has co-edited Orientalism and the Jews (University Press of New England, 2005) and published Early Orientalism: Imagined Islam and the Notion of Sublime Power (Routledge, 2012). His latest book is White But Not Quite: Central Europe’s Populist Revolt (University of Bristol Press, 2022). Prof. Kalmar’s has edited a special issue of Patterns of Prejudice on Islamophobia in the East of the European Union and, together with Nitzan Shoshan, a special issue of The Journal of Contemporary European Studies called Islamophobia in Germany: East/West. Most recently he has co-edited, with Aleksandra Lewicki, a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies on "Race, Racialization, and the East of the European Union."

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