'Clash Of Civilizations' - Clash Of Literatures ? Reading And Responsibility

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The "clash of civilisations" or "cultures" (S. Huntington / H. Hartmann) has determined the political and cultural discourses so irrevocably that every perception of any political/ religious/ cultural incident passes worldwide through this powerful model of binary, extremely simplifying reading. Its power grew since by - first - absorbing politics, ethics, religions, cultures and literatures, by - second - 'mixing' it according its binary confrontation code and - third - by its "appealing" simplicity which makes it irresistibly attractive for all media that fatally perpetuate and multiply its monstrous simplicity. Highly provocative and dangerous concepts as the "clash of civilisations" are, I think, one of the releases of the "ethical turn" in literary and cultural studies. In disavowing both the originality of cultures and their common sources, this concept denies the comparableness of cultures and, in so doing, attacks the very 'heart' of comparative literature. In disavowing the possibility of intercultural crossings and of hybridity, it denies the positive power of globalization: multiculturality and multicultural literatures. In disavowing the influence of 'soft powers' as literature, music, arts on human beings beyond their original culture, it denies the very essence of what is man, of what distinguishes man of all other beings: his fundamental aesthetic needs. These are both paracultural and ethical. The "ethical turn" is, indeed, an "anthropological turn". In disconstructing concepts as the "clash of civilisations" and its fatal consequences for culture and literature, we will give this turn new buoyancy.
Translated title of the contribution'Clash Of Civilizations' - Clash Of Literatures ?: Reading and Responsibility
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Ritual to Romance and Beyond
Subtitle of host publicationComparative Literature and Comparative Religious Studies
EditorsManfred Schmeling, Hans-Joachim Backe
Place of PublicationWürzburg
PublisherKönigshausen & Neumann
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-3-8260-4583-7
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Hillis Miller
  • reading
  • anthropology and literature
  • Iser
  • narrating
  • responsibility of reading
  • responsibility
  • clash of civilisations
  • ethics
  • anthropology
  • Huntington
  • Miller
  • Nasem Wali
  • ethics of reading

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