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Demski Dagnoslaw: Competing Eyes. Visual Encounters With Alterity in Central and Eastern Europe

Nagyítás Demski Dagnoslaw: Competing Eyes. Visual Encounters With Alterity in Central and Eastern Europe
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The very purpose of our investigation was to ask: Is there/was there anything like “central and eastern European eyes”? What are/were they like? How were they formed in history? The studies gathered in this book do not provide any single answers to these questions. They argue for a rather kaleidoscopic character—a multiplicity and heterogeneity—of those “eyes,” as well as of their products, the images and other representations of the Other. How did the various, and often competing, representatives of “eastern Europe” form their own look upon the surrounding world? It is well known, and the articles included in this volume testify, that a large portion of intellectuals and other inhabitants of those regions have assimilated numerous Western ideas. However, a distinctly eastern European “gaze” seems, or more exactly, “gazes” seem also to exist, and the present volume provides relevant materials, including both visual and textual examples of them. One of the reasons behind the present series of publications is a need to supplement the insufficient amount of knowledge on the subject of “eastern Europe” and its own specific views of itself and the surrounding world. The idea of “eastern Europe” is not understood here merely as a construct. Rather, it is treated as a geographical-political notion that draws together the countries existing outside the center of western Europe—countries that share, to a certain extent, similar experiences of remaining on the periphery of Europe. It is our belief that by way of presenting such diverse material we may be able to show certain tendencies and turning points in the manner of perceiving the Other in our region. Despite the many borrowings of western European ideas and artifacts, or even cultural clichés coming from there, the specificities of the central and eastern European countries seem to allow one to speak about “eastern European eyes” (in the plural!). The nations, motifs, and themes presented in this volume represent the elements of both a general view of “eastern Europe” and its local manifestations and perspectives.

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