Asia as a topos of fear and desire
2006 (English)In: From Orientalism to Postcoloniality, 2006Conference paper (Other academic)
The point of departure for this paper is my own finding as an investigative journalist covering Nazism for the Swedish media and as a Ph.D. candidate in Korean Studies belonging to the Swedish Asian Studies community, saying that there is a high preponderance of Nazis and extreme rightists among scholars and writers in Asian Studies of Sweden and in many other Western countries as well. The paper sets out to map and investigate this bizarre but nonetheless unpleasant phenomenon by using Asian Studies of Sweden as the principal empirical evidence together with sporadic information on Asianists in Germany, United States, Denmark, France, Italy among others. After having presented an historical disciplinary overview of Swedish Asian Studies and established the rich frequency of Nazis and extreme rightist political views among Swedish Asianists, the question posed is why Nazis and Extreme Rightists are attracted to Asia in the first place? The paper tries to answer this question by conceptualising Asia as a topos of both fear and desire, either as the Urheimat of the white race and as a continent of once great civilizations worthy of admiration, or as the eternal threat to Western civilization in the forms of the yellow, Jewish, red or green perils which therefore has to be conquered and controlled, and thoroughly explored and researched. The paper ends by pointing out that Asian Studies outside Asia is not just a safe haven and free zone for Nazis and Extreme Rightists, but also a reservation for those who still harbour feelings of colonial romanticism and white supremacy, as it is an elitist community dominated by white males who are married to Asian women, and white females who have adopted Asian children, and who often are characterised by strong desires to go native, consuming orientalist popular culture and appropriating all kinds of other things deemed to be Asian.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
orientalism, Asian studies, Sweden
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22199OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-22199DiVA: diva2:188726