Occidentalism & Contemporaneity in Arabic & Sinitic contexts

 03/12/2024 / 03/12/2024

 15:00pm - 17:00pm
 Room 1, Research Center for Humanities and Social sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei
Jean-Yves Heurtebise (Fujen Catholic University) & Rachid Boutayeb (Doha Institute for Graduate Studies)

The French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC), Taipei Office organise the following conference:


The aim of this research seminar will be to redefine the concepts of Occidentalism and Orientalism from a transcultural (Arabophone, Sinophone) and transdisciplinary (Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Political Sciences) perspective in the contemporary era. The two researchers Rachid Boutayeb (Doha Institute for Graduate Studies) and Jean-Yves Heurtebise (Fujen Catholic University) will define what Occidentalism stands for in post-modern and post-colonial Arabic and Sinitic contexts facing issues of self-identity, reinvented traditions and political contests pro/contra “Modernity.”

I. Between ‘Modernity’ and ‘Contemporaneity’ Toward a Critical Theory of Interculturality

Speaker: Rachid Boutayeb (Doha Institute for Graduate Studies)

Rachid Boutayeb is Assistant Professor of Social Philosophy and Ethics at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. He worked as Lecturer in the disciplines of philosophy, anthropology, and Islamic studies at several German universities. He has written numerous research papers related to the ethics and social philosophy of migration. Most recently he published in German: Tristesse oblige. Eine kleine Philosophie der Nachbarschaft (Alibri, 2022) and in Arabic: Modernity and Contemporaneity: Ideas for an Intercultural Philosophy (Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, 2024)


In my lecture, I argue for a critical intercultural theory distinguishing between “modern” and “contemporary” in Western culture and its achievements. This theory aims to overcome the pitfalls of Traditionalism and Westernization and the dangerous trap of Occidentalism. Occidentalism is an erroneous way of thinking that denies African cultures a mutually enriching relationship with modernity and their cultural and religious heritage. Through a dialogue with contemporary Arab thought, notably the Moroccan historian and philosopher Abdallah Laroui, I advocate an intercultural approach that transcends the Manichean logic of modern thought in the North African context, as well as the seductive appeal of authenticity and contemporaneity.

II. Beyond ‘post-Modernity’ and ‘post-Coloniality’ Toward a post-Kantian Theory of Transculturality

Speaker: Jean-Yves Heurtebise (Fujen Catholic University)

Nicholas de Villiers is professor of English and film at the University of North Florida (USA). He is currently a Fulbright U.S. Senior Scholar in Taiwan at National Central University in the Center for the Study of Sexualities (2023–2024). He is the author of Opacity and the Closet: Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol(2012), Sexography: Sex Work in Documentary (2017), and Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy: Sexual Disorientation in the Films of Tsai Ming-liang (2022), all from the University of Minnesota Press.


In my lecture, I argue for a post-Kantian transcultural theory distinguishing between Modernity and Westernity to define contemporaneity. This theory aims to overcome the pitfalls of Culturalism and Exoticism and the dangerous trap of Occidentalism. Occidentalism is an erroneous way of thinking that denies the constant reciprocal exchanges between “Chinese” and “Western” cultures as well as denies the possibility to rethink the transcendental transculturality of cognitive operations & cultural constructions. Through reference to contemporary Chinese context, I advocate a transcultural approach that transcends both positive and negative Occidentalism in the Chinese context.

Moderator: Hector G. Castaño (National Sun Yat-sen University)

This seminar will be held in English.
Corrado Neri, Director of the CEFC Taipei, will chair the session.