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B1 Satire (project completed)

Gauging Cultural Asymmetries: Asian Satire and the Search for Identity in the Era of Colonialism and Imperialism

Coordination: Hans Harder, Michael Ursinus, Judit Árokay, Gita Dharampal-Frick, Susanne Enderwitz, Barbara Mittler

Abstract

Gauging Cultural Asymmetries: Asian Satire and the Search for Identity in the Era of Colonialism and Imperialism

This project examines the production of satire in South, East and West Asian traditions during the high tide of European colonialism and imperialism, i.e. the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. We look at satire as a communicative tool of gauging cultural asymmetries. It is, we assert, the satirical mode of expression that is most apt to portray, measure and adjust the various upside-downs that occurred to traditional cultures in Asia in the course of their asymmetrical cultural contact with Europe. As an essentially moralist endeavour, satire is impossible without a (however hidden) statement about how things should be. In investigating Asian satire, we hope to be able to unearth and highlight textual and visual sources that tend to be ignored or at least downscaled in their respective canons, and to find gravitational points of identity around which topsy-turvy realities are made to revolve.

Picture: "Can't you close the door when you blow into the fire?" Cartoon on the 'new woman' from the Bengali satirical magazine Basantak (1873-75).    

B2 Creative Dissonances »