Arts and Culture
Cultural reception of Asia in Europe has a long and diversified history that encompasses art, literature and philosophy. In each discipline, the myth of authentic cultural reception has often resulted in orientalist interpretations and narrow understandings of Asian cultural productions. We understand the above mentioned myth as a tendency to crystallize and fix cultural patterns and meanings, in order to produce a type of authentic reception that ultimately does not allow for a more comprehensive insight into the modalities, flows and backflows of cultural reception. The latter is, in fact, production of patterns and meanings in itself: acts of reception always involve acts of description which, in turn, are designations of meaning. In other words, when we engage in descriptions of the world, we engage in a transformative act of interpretation and creation. This very dynamic has a central role with regard to cultural reception as cultural production, since the ever-changing meanings deriving from acts of reception not only shape how we look at 'the Other', but also influence the way in which 'the Other' understands itself. Considering this, meanings of cultural production are to be found in the double gaze resulting from rhizomatic flows and backflows of ideas.
In this panel we propose to consider cultural receptions of Asia in Europe as dynamic cultural production, in order to reconsider the borders and directions of cultural exchange. This approach, we believe, goes beyond restrictive binary relations and therefore allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the diversified factors involved in reception and production of culture. The panel will present four cases of European and Asian receptions of Japanese and Chinese cultural productions in the fields of philosophy, literature and art.
The four panelists will first present two interpretations of Asian philosophical traditions by Leibniz and Heidegger, providing a framework for cultural reception. Secondly, the examples of Japanese shunga and the ‘craze for going abroad’ leading Chinese artists to move to Europe and the US will highlight how cultural flows and backflows influence and affect artistic and artists’ receptions. The last example proposed will endeavour to demonstrate how flows and backflows can influence literary production by way of translations.
These examples aim to show how cultural exchanges and receptions do not exclusively work in an univocal or unidirectional way, but partake in more complex flows and backflows of modified meanings.