LE FIGARO.- Can exoticism be dissociated from colonial history?
Jean-François STASZAK. - For a long time, I associated the two, because places considered exotic by Europeans are often former colonies. But I was wrong. There are configurations of exoticism without colonization, even if they are rare. Until the eighteenth century, for example, the Middle Kingdom had an enormous power of fascination among the great European powers: a sophisticated civilization, an ancient and brilliant heritage, exceptional craftsmanship... Without there ever being a relationship of superiority. In the secondary literature, there is even a reciprocal relationship. In some palaces, wealthy Chinese owned clocks, not to tell the time, but to look European. This perception was unfortunately swept away with the Opium Wars, where the country inherited a barbaric image.
Can we still use this word today?
This article is for subscribers only. You have 63% left to discover.
Want to read more?
Unlock all items immediately.
TEST FOR €0.99
Already a subscriber? Log