Frontier Orientalism in Central and East European Literatures

Robert Gafrik's picture
Call for Papers
May 31, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Area Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Literature

World Literature Studies invites submissions on the theme:

Frontier Orientalism in Central and East European Literatures


Editors: Charles Sabatos (, Yeditepe University, Istanbul;

Róbert Gáfrik (, Institute of World Literature, Bratislava.


Although Central Europe was dominated for centuries by some form of imperial rule (Ottoman, Russian, or Austrian), it has been overlooked in the field of postcolonial studies inspired by Edward Said’s Orientalism. In East Central Europe, in contrast to the Western empires, the image of the Orient was not a discursive justification for imperialism or colonialism but a means of preserving cultural identity when the homeland was threatened or occupied by the Ottomans. The current international situation, in which the fear of Muslim migrants has played a major role, illustrates how this historical experience with the Turks has a continuing impact on concepts of national and European identity.

Andre Gingrich has proposed the concept of “frontier orientalism” for countries that have not themselves colonized, but have been in contact with the Oriental world by means of Ottoman invasions. He defines it as “a relatively coherent set of metaphors and myths that reside in folk and public culture.” Gingrich identifies contrasting images of the Muslim Oriental within Austrian art and folklore: the Turk is the “Bad Muslim” who attacked the homeland, while the Bosnian is the “Good Muslim” who helped to defend it. He describes the metanarrative of frontier orientalism as overcoming the Bad Muslim, “which is a precondition to the glorious achievement not only of modernity but of identity, while relying on a controlled Good Muslim in the struggle against other threats is necessary to maintain it.”

The purpose of this issue of WLS will be to explore the phenomenon of frontier orientalism in the literatures of Central and Eastern Europe. We welcome contributions from literary historians and theorists, as well as those in related disciplines. Other than its obvious differences from Said’s colonizing Orientalism, how does frontier orientalism contribute to the formulation of “imagined communities,” both national and transnational, in the region? Submissions may cover any time period and all “borderland zones” between Europe and the East (primarily between the Habsburg and Ottoman empires, but including other imperial frontiers, i.e. Russian/Caucasian, as well.) We prefer that authors include some consideration of the term “frontier orientalism” as it has been developed in the articles below, or elsewhere.


Suggested readings:

1. Andre Gingrich, “Frontier Myths of Orientalism: The Muslim World in Public and Popular Cultures of Central Europe,” in B. Baskar and B. Brumen, eds., Mediterranean Ethnological Summer School, Piran: Institut za multikulturne raziskave, 1996, pp. 99-127

2. Andre Gingrich, “Blame it on the Turks: Language regimes and the culture of frontier orientalism in Eastern Austria,” in: R. De Cillia, et. al., eds., Diskurs – Politik –Identität/Discourse – Politics – Identity, Tübingen: Stauffenburg, pp. 71-81.

3. Andre Gingrich, “The Nearby Frontier: Structural Analyses of Myths of Orientalism,”

Diogenes, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2015, pp. 60-66.



We invite authors to send an abstract of around 250 words to the editors (both addresses above) by May 31, 2017. Authors will be notified about the acceptance of their abstracts by the end of June and final papers will be due by October 15, 2017.


Instructions for authors:

Articles (studies) should be approximately 20 pages (1800 characters per page) and include an abstract and keywords in English. Please use endnotes instead of footnotes. The language of this special issue will be English. Further formatting details can be found on the WLS website (


Editorial office: Ústav svetovej literatúry SAV, Konventná 13, 813 64 Bratislava

Contact Info: 

Charles Sabatos, Yeditepe University, Istanbul

Róbert Gáfrik, Institute of World Literature, Bratislava

Contact Email: