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Jean-François Staszak: "The concept of exoticism has contributed to the enchantment of the world"

2023-12-05T15:06:36.789Z

Highlights: Jean-François Staszak is a professor of geography at the University of Geneva. He studies geographical representations in the fields of art and tourism. "The concept of exoticism has contributed to the enchantment of the world", he says. The Middle Kingdom had an enormous power of fascination among the great European powers. This perception was unfortunately swept away with the Opium Wars, where the country inherited a barbaric image. This article is for subscribers only. Use the weekly Newsquiz to test your knowledge of stories you saw on CNN iReport.


INTERVIEW - Professor of geography at the University of Geneva and author of the publication What is Exoticism?, Jean-François Staszak studies geographical representations in the fields of art and tourism, in connection with the question of otherness.


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?

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Source: lefigaro

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