Our 2008 Exhibition
"Breaking the Stereotype. The Orient's Image of Europe and Europe's Self-Perception"
Exhibition Stage 2 (2008)
General responsibility: Cultures in Contact, Leopold-Franzens-University Innsbruck, Innrain 52, A-6020 Innsbruck, and cooperating universities, institutions and organizations: GenderLink, Salzburg/ Austria; Kadir Has University, Istanbul/ Turkey (Faculty of Communication), Ege University, Izmir/ Turkey (English Language and Literature Department); Notre Dame University, Beirut/ Lebanon (VCD-Department).
Planning, coordination and final editing: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veronika Bernard, Cultures in Contact, Leopold-Franzens-University Innsbruck, Innrain 52, A-6020 Innsbruck.
Planning, coordinating and editing team (in alphabetical order): Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veronika Bernard (Leopold-Franzens-University, Innsbruck/ Austria), Ass. Prof. Dr. Başak Şenova (Kadir Has University, Istanbul/ Turkey), Ass. Prof. Dr. İsmail Boyacı (Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir/ Turkey), Prof. Dr. Günseli İşçi (Ege University, Izmir/ Turkey), Ass. Prof. Dr. Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous (Notre Dame University, Beirut/ Lebanon).
Scientific team (theoretical background, research; in alphabetical order): Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veronika Bernard (Leopold-Franzens-University, Innsbruck/ Austria), Prof. Dr. Levent Soysal (Kadir Has University, Istanbul/ Turkey), Ass. Prof. Dr. İsmail Boyacı (Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir/ Turkey), Prof. Dr. Günseli İşçi (Ege University, Izmir/ Turkey), Erika Pircher (LibanLink/ Salzburg), Ass. Prof. Dr. Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous (Notre Dame University, Beirut/ Lebanon).
Creative team (exhibit and exhibition design; in alphabetical order): Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veronika Bernard (Leopold-Franzens-University, Innsbruck/ Austria), Isabel Becker (Vienna/ Austria), Doz. Dr. Başak Şenova (Kadir Has University, Istanbul/ Turkey).
Consultants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Linda Choueiri Notre Dame University, Beirut/ Lebanon), Dr. Dima Dabbous-Sensenig (Lebanese American University, Beirut/ Lebanon), Dr. Guita Hourani (Notre Dame University, Beirut/ Lebanon), Erika Pircher (GenderLink, Salzburg/ Austria).
Contributors, Interview partners, Translators (by 30-06-2008; in alphabetical order):
Christine Ankele (Kufstein/ Austria)
Beyza Akkaya (Istanbul/ Turkey)
Olcay Akyıldız (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul/ Turkey)
Wieger Bakker (Utrecht School of Governance at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Veronika Bernard (Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck, Austria)
Isabel Becker (Vienna/ Austria)
İsmail Boyacı (Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir/ Turkey)
Recep Cirik (Antwerp/ Belgium)
Rianne Dekker (University of Humanistics Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Astrid Federspiel-Kraßnigg (Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck, Austria)
Kerstin Geder (University of Applied Sciences of Kufstein, Austria)
Natalie Ismael (Kufstein/ Austria)
Samet Kaplan (Cologne/ Germany
Franka Karsten (Utrecht School of Governance at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Marco Kircher (Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg, Germany)
Anıl Kuru (Cologne/ Germany)
(Bruder) Jürgen (Neitzert) (Köln/ BRD)
Ursula Neumayer (Kufstein/ Austria)
Eren Özalay (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul/ Turkey)
Nikola Popovic (Belgrade, Serbia)
Kathrin Wiblishauser (University of Applied Sciences of Kufstein, Austria)
Hakan Yılmaz (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul/ Turkey)
Andrea Zwack (University of Applied Sciences of Kufstein, Austria)
NDU Team Beirut/ Lebanon
The project "Breaking the Stereotype" deals with the connotative changes in the ways Orient and Occident have been mutually stereotyped. The exhibition aims at documenting the products of stereotyping as well as the mechanisms active in the stereotyping processes, and at opening them to de-construction.
Therefore the exhibition contrasts the representations of cultural perception concerning the Orient and the Occident against the representations of Oriental and Occidental self-perception as they appear in literature, the media and every day life in order to break the stereotypes. In order to differentiate the problem even further the representations of cultural perception are contrasted against the perception-in return of this perception by the people concerned and against the migrant perspective.
As a consequence stage no. 2 of the exhibition project falls into the following categories:
The Eastern Mediterranean's perception of Europe
The Eastern Mediterranean migrants to Europe perspective of Europe
The perception-in-return of the Eastern Mediterranean's perception of Europe by Europeans
„Breaking the Stereotype" - How to do this: breaking stereotypes?
„Breaking the Stereotype" - that's the title of our exhibition.
However, what is meant by "breaking" stereotypes - and how should it be done?
In our exhibition we are trying to make people aware of stereotypes and by this promoting a critical attitude towards stereotypical thinking. This is what we mean by "breaking" stereotypes.
Certainly, this is a hard job: this is due to the nature of stereotypes.
Stereotypes are based on certain stable patterns which keep reappearing. Habits,
ways of acting, features - mostly they are quite unspectacular habits, ways of acting and features - are combined in clusters. Those clusters of so-called characteristics
guarantee that we "recognize" and "remember". Features like clothes and age, but as
said before, also certain habits can "re-call" stereotypes in our minds.
Individuals "learn" stereotypes in the course of education: by their parents, their
families in general, public opinion, and/ or the media. Yet, there need not be personal
experience involved in this.
And that's the main point: Personal experience is no factor in this process.
Stereotypes are formed even if the individual has never come into contact with the
groups she or he stereotypes.
Such a group can be everything from young people belonging to pour own society to
Apart from this stereotypes are highly emotionalized (positively and negatively). And
everything which is not built on logic but on emotion can be argued against only with
great difficulty ...
In addition, stereotypes fulfil a certain function within a group/ society: They are used
to promote, stabilize and secure those values which groups/ societies use to define themselves.
Whoever tries to "break" stereotypes has to take an effort in motivating people to discuss their values (and those of their group/ society) at the same time ...
Occidentalist and Orientalist Stereotypes in the Course of Time
Those are the very stereotypes of the type defined which we would like to help
„break" with our exhibition project.
The exhibition you are just walking through is part 2 of our project.
Part 1 of our project was open for the public in 2007 and dealt with European images
depicting the Orient. In which way has European perception and depiction of the
Orient changed? Which perspective have Europeans adopted nowadays? What was
the situation like 200 years ago and earlier?
In order to replace those stereotypes by a manifold view on the issue those positions
were contrasted against images of Oriental self-perception.
And last but not least the exhibition dealt with the way in which the people in the East
perceive the images Europeans have formed of them.
Part 2 of our project centres upon the way in which Easteners have perceived and
depicted Europe; it contrasts those images to the ones of European self-perception,
and it deals with the way in which Europeans perceive the images Easteners have
formed of them..
As even this aspect is subject to stereotyping ...
Part 3 of our project will try to link the two perspectives in order to promote a mutual
understanding of the changing stereotypical images of the Orient and Europe.
All this is done because we are convinced that only the one who learns to understand
stereotypes will also be able to understand the cultures which create them ...
Part 3 of our exhibition will be open for visitors at Istanbul in 2010.
Can stereotypes be replaced by "the truth"?
Can there be anything like a „truth" in the way in which we see ourselves and others
and in the way in which we try to present ourselves to others?
In a way, the „truth" always lies in the eye of the beholder ...
People have their very personal image of themselves, and this image may differ
strongly from the image others have formed of that very person.
There may be several causes and reasons for this.
The image others form of us may be influenced by the situation in which we meet
someone, it may be influenced by the ideological and social background of those we
meet and also by their personal situation; and last but not least, it may be influenced
by what the other knows about us - or thinks to know about us: about our ideological
and social background, and about our situation in life...
Our exhibition deals with a special type of such images which we form of others -
and with the way they are formed: Stereotypes.
There is no „true" image of others for us, just a „manifold" one.
That's why we define „stereotype" as an image not opposing reality. When we use
the term we mean those products of intellectual modelling which are based on
generalizing and simplifying what we perceive.
In case people shape their images of others on the grounds of such generalizations
and simplifications they have „stereotypical" images of others...
The "Orient", the "Occident", and Europe
Actually, the terms "Orient", "Occident" and "Europe" are the first stereotypes you
meet in our exhibition.
We use them quite naturally and without much thinking about them. Nevertheless,
they just seem to be precise terms. Well, certainly, terms - but terms referring to
what, actually ...?
Do we really know where exactly the Orient and the Occident start and where they
end? And which countries are „oriental" ones - and which occidental ones? Do we
know what exactly we link with the terms - and why we do this?
In former times the Orient included all of Asia; all Arab countries, Iran, India and
China, later on, the term was restricted to the Middle East including Egypt and most
of the Islam cultures. The Occident meant everything west of this. Europe was a
In current European usage the „Orient" refers to all Middle Eastern and Arab-Muslim
countries including Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Northern Africa, but without the Muslim
states of South East Asia.
Lately, however, European usage associates the „Orient" with religious and cultural
issues rather than with geographical and political aspects - and puts it into contrast
to Europe and "European" values. With the term "Occident" this has always been the
And most of the features attributed are stereotypes ...
The „oriental" view of Europe
Does it really exist?
It does, but certainly not the same way as the Occidental, respectively, European
view of the Orient. ...
It is as stereotypical as this one.
However, our exhibition takes an effort in showing that the „oriental" view of Europe
within its stereotypical tendency is much more shaped by individual preconditions -
like political relations with Europe or the particular self-perception ...
Our exhibition documents the „oriental" view of Europe based on exhibits coming
from three countries: Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt.
In selecting the exhibits we put he focus not so much on the stereotypical images in
common (like the stereotypical image of European women, the stereotypical image of
a European technical superiority) - although they have been considered, of course
What we are highlighting are the individual deviations of the several views.
Following this idea the exhibition shows the Turkish view of Europe to be strongly
shaped by a common history, by a feeling to be part of Europe and resulting from this
a strong urge to be seen as a part of Europe. The stereotypical image of Europe is
constructed on historical fears and on a feeling of being discriminated - but also on
an optimistic attribution of humanistic, philanthropic and democratic values at
The Lebanese and Egyptian view of Europe is rather not shaped by concrete
historical and political points of contact. A feeling of a shared Europeaness is
lacking. Stereotypical images show Europe as a part of Western culture which
regards itself as a superior culture and by which one wishes to be accepted as being
equal - a culture, though, from which one delimitates at the same time. It is an
admired culture which one tries to copy.
Turkish Views of Europe
Three videos provide you with the variety of Turkish views of Europe in terms of perspective and contents, and from remote and close in time. The videos show how much Turkish people identify with Europe or distance themselves from it, how they stereotype it in positive and negative ways, how they individualize their image of Europe and how they generalize it. All three videos are based on contributions by and interviews with professors and assistants of Istanbul's Boğaziçi University.
Exhibit: Olcay Akyıldız, Eren Özalay, Hakan Yılmaz (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul/
Turkey) in cooperation with Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck/
Video No. 1 (13 min. 13 sec.) is titled What is Europe? An Interview with Hakan Yılmaz. It presents Europe from the perspective of a professor of political science who appreciates Europe but at the same times sees it critically and who regards himself European for the place where he lives, for his habits, for his political ideas, and for his positions on topics like women's role in society and human rights.
To watch the video click on: http://breaking-the-stereotype.blogspot.com/2008/12/theme-video-2008.html
you will be led to our 2008 Exhibition Photo and Video Blog, there, please, start the video.
Video No. 2 (17 min. 17 sec.) is titled Europe in Turkish History Textbooks. In this video Eren Özalay, a young researcher of political science, talks about her research findings on the presentation of Europe in Turkish schoolbooks.
To watch the video click on this link: http://breaking-the-stereotype.blogspot.com/2009/03/video-europe-in-turkish-schoolbooks.html
Video No. 3 (2 min. 50sec.) is titled Paris in Turkish Literature. Sen'i Uzaktan Sevmek
- Du, Seine, eine Liebe aus der Ferne - Loving Seine/ You apart. In this video Olcay
Akyıldız, a young researcher of Turkish Literature shows how Paris was representing
Europe for Turkish writers over the centuries and how their stereotypical image of the
city was regularly destroyed by the real encounter with the place ...
To watch the video click on this link: http://breaking-the-stereotype.blogspot.com/2009/03/paris-in-turkish-literature.html
Turkish historical memory and fears of Europe
In his study Conservatism in Turkey. Family, Religion and the West of 2005 (publ. 2006) Hakan Yılmaz of Istanbul's Boğaziçi University presents the results of a Turkey-wide survey, in which people among others were questioned about several historical-political aspects of a Turkish view on Europe.
Considering these results you get the picture of people who on the majority feel their state and their culture to be subject to European dominance, hegemony, suppression
and discrimination, and who do not see any improvement concerning this if comparing the present situation to historical relations between Turkey and Europe.
Tendency: rising. Between 2003 and 2005 all figures with exception of the first one, which stayed stable more or less, have risen by 4 to 10 % ...
Exhibit: Hakan Yılmaz, Conservatism in Turkey. Family, Religion and the West (First Version, March 2006), slide 36.
Knocking on Europe's door or: No Entry. The Story of the man who was
not allowed to enter ...
Similar Turkish feelings are expressed by Orhan Pamuk's text Kein Eintritt. Die
Geschichte vom Mann der nicht hinein durfte. Eine türkische Allegorie (No Entry. The Story of the Man Who Was not Allowed to Enter. A Turkish Allegory) which was published in its German version by the Süddeutsche Zeitung in its 229th issue, on October 5, 2005. The feelings represented by Orhan Pamuk's text are those of a person who feels excluded in an unfair action based on double standards. In a psychologically subtle way the then not-yet-Noble-Prize-laureate Orhan Pamuk tells the story of a man who passes by a particular door every day. The door catches his attention. He starts watching it, and he realizes that only selected passer-bys are allowed to enter through this door. The more he realizes this, the more he becomes interested in this door and everything which is hidden behind it and which he does not know. It starts to occupy his mind. A wish starts growing inside him: He wants to enter through this door ... This wish becomes his one and only wish. It starts eating him up from inside - without being fulfilled. He feels excluded and discriminated ...
Exhibit: Kein Eintritt. Die Geschichte vom Mann der nicht hinein durfte. Eine türkische Allegorie von Orhan Pamuk (Süddeutschen Zeitung, Nr. 229, October 5, 2005, page 16)
Exhibit design: University of Innsbruck Team
Europe on the streets of Cairo
Beside the accredited Egyptian registration plates you can find license numbers from the European continent on many cars in Cairo. Photographs and excerpts of interviews with the car holders show which motivation there is behind fixing foreign registration plates to their cars: It is all about social status - and social status is gained by the reference to Europe and to European products, like cars. Exhibits: Kerstin Geder, Kathrin Wiblishauser, Andrea Zwack (University of Applied Sciences Kufstein/ Austria)
Fast food - just another aspect of an attractive West?
If you take the fact as evidence that global fast food companies have all begun to flood to local Lebanese market it looks as if this is certainly the case. McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks all have several branches throughout Lebanon.
If you consider, however, that these global corporations recognize a need to modify their brand to localize their business, well, things start being not that simple.
It is not simply a global brand adding a Lebanese touch to their identity, Lebanese culture and language are changing the way the brands represent themselves. Global companies redesign their logo in Arabic, translate type, add menu items, and incorporate new graphics: All to lure Lebanese customers and make their global brand have a local flair. This is seen as a necessity in order to be competitive.
And this indirectly gives an idea of how the west is seen in Lebanon: It is attractive in parts - but it ought to be slightly "orientalized" ...
NDU Team Beirut
Europe as the place of bare skin ...
Apart from the stereotypical perception of Europe as a place of technological superiority you also meet the stereotypical image of Europe as a place of people, in
particular women, showing bare skin in public. This is seen as an integral part of European culture - and as something which Europeans expect from Non-Europeans if they prefer to be accepted as members of European society and culture - just like the text going with the photos suggests this: The photos have been chosen to show that people in Lebanon are also open - meaning European and modern. Consequence: If people are eager to be seen as "European" in the Middle East they - following the stereotypical image of Europe - will get rid of as much dress as possible ...
Exhibit: NDU Team Beirut
Urban decadence instead of stereotypical image of Europe
Comparing the view of Europe in the Lebanese exhibit you have just looked at and the suggestive representations in the IN-OUT cartoons by Recep Cirik, which you will find in the next part of our exhibition, with some of the results of Hakan Yılmaz's Conservatism in Turkey study on the question "What types of sexual choices and life styles disturb the majority" you will meet the hint at bare, female skin in public there too as part of the relevant aspects listed (women wearing low-necked and other non-conservative dresses, men wearing earrings, couples living together although not being married, homosexuals).
The way the question has been phrased, however, shows that in a Turkish context all the aspects listed are not seen as features of a stereotypical image of Europe but rather as indicators of an urban decadence, which a majority feels disturbed by but whose roots are not specified ...
Exhibit: Hakan Yılmaz, Conservatism in Turkey. Family, Religion and the West (First Version, March 2006), slide 28
Migrant views of Europe
Migrants are in a special position. They look at two cultures at least if not more: at their cultures of origin, their European environments, and sometimes even at a partner's culture which is different from their own and from European culture. And they look at all of them critically, admiring, or neutrally - according to their personal experiences ...
Stereotypical images of Europe are therefore not only formed on different grounds - but they may also look very different from non-migrant images of Europe ...
With migrants you find for example stereotypical views of Europe which you might not find in the same way with their cultures of origin.
What a migrant puts into a (stereotypical) European context, and be this done just indirectly, may be attributed to a different context in his home country ...
Cultural misunderstandings may also result from such situations ...
Turkey and the EU - the EU and Turkey
In his cartoon-series of 2004 Recep Cirik comments on European/ EU relations with Turkey and on social change as it affects Turkey within a European context.
In some of the cartoons you will find visualizations of those Turkish feelings which you have already met in Hakan Yılmaz's study in the opening part of our exhibition and in Orhan Pamuk's text Kein Eintritt. With Recep Cirik's cartoons they are shown as part of quite general situations, like for example an EU entrance examination for Finland, Greece and Turkey, in which Turkey, however, is confronted with much higher standards than all the others. Another example is the cartoon in which the EU is shown as a territory which has to be protected against a Turkish assault by the Great Chinese wall (a hint at the fact that the Turkish come from Asia too).
Apart from this the cartoons also focus on single persons to illustrate EU-Turkish relations. One of these cartoons shows the hand of Claudia Roth, a member of the German Greens who kicks Turkey out of the EU-bowl while stirring in it: In her urge to make the EU more democratic she has sent Turkey offside. In his In-Out cartoons series he finally depicts all those aspects in the "OUT" column which are part of Turkey's past, and lists those in the "IN" column which are part of Turkey's present and future. In doing so he comments critically on the European calls on Turkey to modernize and Europeanize. At the same time the representations in the "IN" column interestingly enough remind of the stereotypical image of Europe transported in the Lebanese bikini-girls exhibit ...
Exhibit: Recep Cirik (cartoonist, writer, teacher, Antwerp/ Belgium)
Anıl and Samet
Anıl and Samet is the title of a video in which two young men of a Turkish migrant
background and living in the Cologne quarter of Vingst tell us about their and their
ancestors' lives there ...They are telling us in a rap they have written.
Exhibit: Anıl Kuru, Samet Kaplan, (Brother) Jürgen (Neitzert) in cooperation with
Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck/ Austria)
To watch the video click on this link: http://breaking-the-stereotype.blogspot.com/2009/03/video-anil-and-samet-migrant-rap.html
Europe as a globe on a globe
This is also a migrant view of Europe: Europe is seen as a place which creates itself
via the media as a safe haven and which denies its social shortcomings - and which
suspects the one living in Europe and being of oriental migrant background (even if it
just comes from one parent) not to grapple with Europe ...
Exhibit idea: Natalie Ismael (Kufstein/ Austria)
Exhibit design: University of Innsbruck Team
Stereotypes are no one-way streets ...
... as they strike those who are affected by them - and cause them to react in more than one way only.
Reaction no. 1: A second stereotypical image is formed.
Those thinking they are affected by a stereotypical image form their images of how the other sees them based on how they have perceived the original stereotypes.
Following the logic of stereotyping, however, this image is based on another stereotype: It is the stereotypical image of the other's self which the one who has originally been stereotyped has formed ...
This very image which is formed that way determines all further communication with those ones who have formed the original stereotypes ...
This is reaction no. 2, which stereotyping can cause.
Communication can be cut completely - if resignation and the feeling of being misunderstood lead to that well-known „If people see me like this there is nothing else to be said"-reaction.
The people affected by negative stereotypes may try to adapt the way they present themselves to others according to what they think the others expect of them in order to replace the original stereotype by some other, more positive, image.
A welcome stereotype can be made part of your self-representation.
Last but not least, however, the result can also be a non-reaction if the one affected does not see any reason to react in terms of changing his own image because he feels to be in a stable but active position. This is a common European pattern ...
For our current exhibition we asked Europeans for interviews and exhibits on their perception-in-return of how Orientals stereotype their cultures.
Please, have a look at what they have come up with ...
Are Europeans aware of how Orientals see them?
The video Are Europeans aware of their image?(11 min. 28 sec.) shows three interviews with Europeans of different nationality and origin, of different age and different professional backgrounds. They gathered their impressions and experiences with oriental views of European culture and European self-representation in as many different situations: as an
organizer of seminars for students from EU member states, EU candidate states and EU neighbours (Wieger Bakker), on conferences and as part of the work on a EUROMED project (Ursula Neumayer) and in a longer lasting stay in Turkey (Christine Ankele).
And as different as their backgrounds are their perception-in-return of the varieties of oriental views on Europe - and as different are their ways to reflect on their perception-in-return ...
Exhibit: Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck/ Austria) in cooperation with Christine Ankele (Kufstein/ Austria), Wieger Bakker (Utrecht School of
Governance, Utrecht/ Niederlande), Ursula Neumayer (Kufstein/ Austria)
to watch the video click on this link: http://breaking-the-stereotype.blogspot.com/2009/03/video-europe-in-turkish-history.html you will be led on our 2008 photo and video blog. There start the video.
Democrats swim naked (Jens Jessen, Die Zeit, No. 13, March 23, 2006)
At what extent stereotypical images of Europe are selectively received-in-return by
Europeans is shown in Jens Jessen's commentary Demokraten baden nackt. Die
Türken im Gesinnungstest (Democrats swim naked. Checking on the attitutes of
Turks) which was published in the 13th issue of the German weekly Die Zeit on March 23, 2006 on page 55.
Jens Jessen critically comments on the autostereotypical image of Europe which was suggestively promoted by those citizenship-application tests applied on migrants in the Netherlands and the German federal province of Hessia, and which were intensely discussed then. He does so by pointing out the similarity between the type of questions asked in those tests and the type of questions asked in two studies on conservative attitudes among the Turkish population having been published just
currently then and which he interprets as a Turkish self-applied check on Turkish
attitudes towards democracy. One of the studies, by the way, is the study by Hakan
Yılmaz which we have integrated in our exhibition. He perceives the type of questions in those studies as a reflection of a stereotypical image of Europe, just like the one the criticized European citizenship-application testsrepresent to the outside and which seems to reduce Europe to naked skin and homosexuality. He catches his impression in the provocative idea that obviously people are asked to swim naked if they would like to be seen as democrats ...
He does so, to put things into perspective: Do really all Europeans welcome bare skin and openly shown homosexuality in public? And do they have to welcome this if they prefer to be seen as good citizens? Or is it sufficient, just simply to live and let live concerning everything which is different from you?
In stating those ideas Jessen not only comments on the ways he thinks Orientals see Europe but he also hints at the discrepancy between a politically promoted selfrepresentation of Europe and those European identities lived by Europeans in their everyday lives. This discrepancy will be part of what is discussed concerning European identities in the closing part of our exhibition.
Exhibit: Demokraten baden nackt (Jens Jessen, Die Zeit, No. 13, March 23, 2006, page 55)
Exhibit design: University of Innsbruck Team
Democrats swim naked: Turks being tested on their attitudes and convictions (Englidh translation of the original text)
For reasons of immediate interest we would like to point out that modern democracy, not to mention the proud occidental culture, has developed without regard of nude beaches. We do not want to oppose the innocent doings of the nudists. But the opinion polls on democratic attitudes and tolerance among the Turkish done in Istanbul (see page 53), could feed the suspicion that the nudist issue may decide upon whether the country is fit for Europe. It is no surprise that the points which the Turkish citizens had to work on in these surveys do remind of those questions to check migrants' integrative potential to be found in the citizenship-application tests applied on migrants in the Netherlands and in some German federal provinces: What's your attitude towards working women,
homosexual neighbours, nonmarried couples, topless girls on the beach. All these questions are catch questions. A relaxed and tolerant attitude towards all which has been termed self-realization by the West may be welcome; but it is irrelevant in terms of democracy and constitutional state. You will most certainly find the same reserved attitudes towards career women, publicly lived homosexuality and bare skin in public in Bavaria and Austria, like you may find in all traditionally and religiously oriented places. But that's no danger for the state and for the freedom and liberties of society. Everybody is free to decide what to consider dislikeable or even annoying. The tolerance of hearts is not relevant. The opposite is true: It is a privilege of the constitutional state to even protect atavistic feelings from the educational approaches of the majority. You call this freedom of opinion. What is relevant though is that people act tolerantly. Whatever ugliness hides in a person's heart has to stay private and
must be of no public impact. In times of escalating suspicions against others and of an increasing spying on others' attitudes it, maybe, is not irrelevant to remind people of a simple political maxim applied by Frederic the Great on his subjects, namely, to ask hardly more of them than paying their taxes and keeping peace among
them. This minimum granted by an absolute state, democracy should not fall short of. What we are experiencing just now, however, is the call to truly believe in and to live according to all the emancipatory values and the whole
folkloristic lot of a western life style - instead of simply tolerating all this passively. Such a demand, however, is no
democratic issue but a case of educational dictatorship. Do we want such dictatorship? Do we really want to sacrifice the dynamic open-mindedness and the, indeed, emancipating powers of our society to an authoritarian
impetus which declares the zeitgeist to be the only and everlasting standard of a citizen's value and dignity?
Translated by University ofInnsbruck Team
How does Europe see itself - and how does it present itself?
Those are two questions which provoke a third one: What is Europe? In the opening part of our exhibition we already pointed it out: Normally Europeans do not reflect on this ...
Europe is - simply Europe. For most Europeans Europe is a geographical term which they regard as an absolute size: It names and means that part of the world where they live being British or French, German or Austrian, Bavarian or Hessian, North Italian or Sicilian ...
For many Europeans Europe is a cultural entity which is more or less identical with what once was called the "Christian occident" ...
For some Europeans post WW II Europe is a Weltanschauung and an ideological idea represented by the EU - and by this to be delimitated from everything which was there before ...
But what of all this can really be regarded binding? Actually, nothing ...
Geographical terms just like cultural and ideological ideas have been constructed and shaped by men in order to make the world "understandable" and "systematic" - being of same quality and function as stereotypes. We already have hinted at this before. They all reflect the perspectives taken by those groups who defined them ...
Hence, Europe is many ...
And that's what our three opening questions actually aim at: Creating the awareness of the varieties of Europe - and by this the awareness of a relativity of terms like "Europe", "the Occident" and "the Orient".
We have selected the exhibits of the closing part of our exhibition in line with this idea. The exhibits hint at different aspects which might be regarded as European identities but do not state a binding European identity ...
And if we succeed in making you think by this we have reached our aim ...
The way you see yourself determines how you see others - and how you behave and act towards others. It decides on which groups you join - and which groups allow you to join them. It decides on
which groups you stay away from - and which groups exclude you ... But are we always aware how we see us? Are we able to define our identities, can we describe them, or explain them by
using examples? And if so, how realistic are we in doing so? Do we represent us like we are - or rather like we would like to be? The way we would like to be seen by others? Because we hope that
our would-be image will become true by making its way through other people's perception?
If we create such a would-be image of our group and do we deny the deviations from this image within our groups we will design what is called an auto-stereotype - this
very image of our group by which we define and which includes only positive features. That's what makes it different from the hetero-stereotype which we form of others ...
All this we ought to keep in mind when we are talking about European identities in their multilayered qualities: Multilayered qualities which root in cultural varieties, historical heritage and political ambitions ...
The "Identities" exhibit illustrates the "patchwork of identities of late modernity" for you - such showing a small part of all the mechanisms which are at work in creating identities - European ones and all others ...
Research: Astrid Federspiel-Kraßnigg (University of Innsbruck/ Austria)
However, it is not sufficient to create and construct identities and to be aware of them
- and to generalize them into auto-stereotypes of your groups. Identities and autostereotypes
have to be promoted ... What's the good of the most impressing identity,
the most positive, stereotypical images of you and your group if no one apart from
you and your group knows them?
Identities need to be visualized - they need to be visualized by symbols.
In terms of a historical development of European identities cities are such symbols.
They form a red thread leading through European arts and politics.
The way they are built tells the members of their own culture about their own identity.
The fact that they are mentioned in texts of which kind so ever tells the person
remote in time and place about the ideologies and the cultures of the time ...
Which cities were important at what time? Which meaning was attributed to them?
Which cities replaced them?
Those are questions which may serve as signposts through a history of European
The exhibit "Cities" is the attempt to represent such a history of European identities
for the German speaking parts of Europe, based on literary texts. The exhibit is
based on Veronika Bernard's book Das emotionale Moment der Veränderung. Stadt
als Dichtung/ The impact of change. Cities turned fiction (Bonn: Bouvier 1999).
Exhibit: Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck/ Austria)
Referring to a European antique heritage
Self-Perception of modern European culture is reflected in European printed advertisements of the past four decades. The company or product that is advertised, for instance, is placed on the same level as antique "masterpieces". Mostly it is suggested at the same time that there has been additional advance and progress since those times. By this European culture on the one hand is placed in one historical line with Antiquity, and on the other hand is distinguished from Antiquity as its cultural origin by the reference to the advance achieved. Hence, famous symbols from distinguished cultures are used which evoke admiration
and awe in people, as there are monuments or exceptionally beautiful objects. Marketing companies combine such famous motives or well-known names from antiquity with modern products. The advertisements selected for this exhibit have been collected in Germany and Switzerland during the past four decades.
Exhibit: Marco Kircher (Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg/ Germany, Department of Middle East Archaeology) Collection kindly supported by Maya Müller, Basle, Switzerland
The Slogans in English ...
"Evidence of an advanced culture."
"They went beyond the limits of what is possible - and we also do."
"Toshiba - in accordance with tomorrow."
The Rover 75. A body cult. He is an aethete. He has an extraordinary character, he is extraordinary handsome, and besides has got intrinsic values. Elegance is a must for him; he also comes in chrome and leather. His muscels are well placed, and he combines them with up-to-date technology in a superior style. All this makes him a person people turn to see. Get to know him." (License plate: NE-RO 75)
"Beauty is one of the arts. Beauty is a science."
Do the labels make Europe? Is Europe a label?
The question which aspects are seen as European by Europeans to my mind is closely connected to the issue of European labels and brands. I think that European
self-perception and self-representation is strongly linked to Mercedes, Gucci, Nokia & Co and that Europe is strongly defined by these products from the outside. According to the stereotypical image of Europe Europeans drive their Mercedes while their Nokias are ringing inside their Gucci-bags. All the social problems, all the poverty you can find all over Europe are covered by high gloss brochures, both from the inside of Europe and from the outside. But what is behind the perfect cover-Europeans and their label products? The answer to this question is a collage of traditions, customs and peculiarities which, however, just is another foil corresponding to another
stereotype. You can continue with this until at the end there will be the individual ...
Exhibit: Astrid Federspiel-Kraßnigg (University of Innsbruck/ Austria)
A politically promoted construction of a modern European identity
One aspect of European identity of the present is a politically promoted construction of a post 1945 European identity. Certain values have been defined by political decision makers for a community of European states. Those values are the ones by which Europeans would like to be recognized - and they are applied as standards to all those who see themselves as
To provide for the binding quality of the values they have been laid down - in their current version as the so-called Lisbon Treaty. Europe presents itself by those values as a anti-nationalist and secular place, whose people in particular feel obliged to equal rights for women and men and to ban all types of discrimination from society ...
The goal to be achieved is the closest possible approximation of European identities lived in everyday life and the European auto-stereotype based on the values officially laid down ...
Exhibit: Preamble and table of contents of the Lisbon Treaty (Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, Brussels, 30 April 2008)
Varieties of Europe
The video series Varieties of Europe provides aspects of lived European identities (strategies and mechanisms of inclusion end exclusion, cultures of discussion, strategies of decision making, ways of reflecting these strategies, mechanisms and cultures and the call to reflect, political trends) and definitions of Europe. The videos are based on interviews and authentic tape- and film-recordings of role plays and discussions (following papers), which were part of the international course „Challenges of a new Europe: In between local freeze and global dynamics" (April 13-20, 2008, Dubrovnik/ Croatia). This course organized by Wieger Bakker of the Utrecht School of Governance brought together advanced level students from EU member states, EU candidates and EU neighbour states in order to discuss issues of European relevancy. The course was open to students only who are trained to work in the public sector later on.
You Are an Outsider or: How to Define European Identity?
Video No. 1 (29 min. 16 sec.) is titled You are an Outsider or: How to define
European identity. The video starts with the transcript of the authentic tape recording of a discussion on European identities and proceeds with interviews on this topic.
The people interviewed were Wieger Bakker and four participants of his course: Rianne Dekker (The Netherlands), Franka Karsten (The Netherlands), Eren Özalay (Turkey) und Nikola Popovic (Serbia).
Whereas the discussion transcript shows (European) mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion at work and also illustrates their consequences, people in the interviews reflect on those mechanisms by discussing the questions: What is Europe for me? What is European for me?
Exhibit: Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck/ Austria) in cooperation with Wieger Bakker (Utrecht School of Governance/ The Netherlands), Rianne Dekker (University of Humanistics of Rotterdam/ The Netherlands), Franka Karsten (University of Utrecht/ The Netherlands), Eren Özalay (Boğaziçi University of Istanbul/ Turkey) und Nikola Popovic (Belgrade/ Serbia)
to watch the video click on this link: http://breaking-the-stereotype.blogspot.com/2009/03/video-you-are-outsider.html you will be led on our 2008 photo and video blog. There start the video.
Should Turkey be Allowed to Join?
Video No. 2 (15 min. 53 sec.) is titled Should Turkey be allowed to join? A fictitious role-play or another re-presentation of European reality? The video combines and contrasts film recordings of a Dubrovnik workshop by Hakan Yılmaz on the wide-spread European scepticism on a Turkish EU-membership and on the potential European decision making mechanisms involved in this (providing and gathering expert's advice, applying emotional criteria) with the results of the 2006 special Eurobarometer. The 2006 special Eurobarometer monitors the attitudes and opinions of EU citizens on a future EU enlargement by Turkey and the Balkan states. Should Turkey be allowed to join? indirectly mirrors common aspects of European identities; it shows European mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion at work, and it documents their consequences by including a Turkish course participant's impressions on European self-perception gathered in this workshop ...
Exhibit: Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck/ Austria) in cooperation with Hakan Yılmaz (Boğaziçi University of Istanbul/ Turkey) and the participants of his role play workshop
to watch the video click on this link: http://breaking-the-stereotype.blogspot.com/2009/03/video-should-turkey-be-allowed-to-join.html you will be led on our 2008 photo and video blog. There start the video.
The Dubrovnik Declaration 2008
Video No. 3 (39 min. 06 sec.) is titled The Dubrovnik Declaration 2008. A student role-play based on European decision-making processes. The video combines film recordings of the role play „The Dubrovnik Declaration on Social Rights" with passages of the interview with Wieger Bakker in which he explains the goals and issues of his course; the primary one of these being the attempt to train students on discussing and debating respectfully. Following this idea the role play simulates the ideal of decision making processes at the European parliament and within European political bodies in general. The interview and the video taped role play so show another aspect of the varieties of European identities by making reflecting European political culture topical. By calling for the ideal of political discussion the role play indirectly hints at the existence of a European auto-stereotype ...
Exhibit: Veronika Bernard (University of Innsbruck/ Austria) in cooperation with Wieger Bakker (Utrecht School of Governance, Utrecht/ The Netherlands) and the participants of the course "Challenges of a new Europe"
to watch the video click on this link: http://breaking-the-stereotype.blogspot.com/2009/03/video-dubrovnik-declaration-2008.html you will be led on our 2008 photo and video blog. There start the video.
Isabel Becker: EU-Fanzine - EU-caricatures
In my caricatures I transport images of my own real dreams to the reasonable language of politics. The connection to the unconscious comes into focus. Unlike the surrealists, I think using
this technique is a political statement.
Following this idea my caricatures are private and personal visions of a EU representation to the outside. These visions are caricatures but also surrealist abstractions. The question which I ask as a female representative of Western Europe is: Is ist part of a European identity to tolerate Enfants terribles - like cartoonists? Or are cartoonists increasingly taken serious? And, if so, is this a development to be welcome or not?
Exhibit: Isabel Becker (artist, Vienna/ Austria)
How secular is Europe?
Apart from a critical view applied on the EU by EU citizens also the deviation from a
politically promoted European self-representation, individually lived and mostly remaining non-reflected by Europeans is part of the varieties of European identities. The Religion Monitor 2008, published by German Bertelsmann foundation, monitors the extent of people's religiousness worldwide. For the European states included in the survey (Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey) it gives the following figures of people questioned and by their answers being evaluated highly religious: France 12 %, Germany 18 %, Great Britain 19 %, Austria 20%, Switzerland 22%, Poland 40%, Italy 43% and Turkey 44% (quoted from Bertelsmann Religion Monitor 2008, Online-Version, Table 1). A public practice of religion is essential for 17% of those questioned in France, for 18% of the German sample, for 24% of the Austrian, for 49% of the Italian, for 51% of the Turkish and for 63% of the Polish (quoted from Bertelsmann Religion Monitor 2008, Online-Version, Table 7). Practicing religion privately (in addition to and/ or in contrast to publicly practicing it) is normal for 19% of those questioned in France, for 28% of the Austrian and German sample, for 58% of the Italian, 61% of the Polish and for 82% of the Turkish (quoted from Bertelsmann Religion Monitor 2008, Online-Version, Table 9). Religion is of ideological relevance for 26% of those questioned in France, for 33% of the German sample, for 38% of the Austrian, for 58 % of the Italian, for 63% of the Polish and for 87% of the Turkish (quoted from Bertelsmann Religion Monitor 2008, Online-Version, Table 5). The exhibit highlights the European variety in this field even more by contrasting the Bertelsmann Religion Monitor 2008 results for Austria against the individual results of selected Austrians asked to fill in the Bertelsmann Religion Monitor 2008 onlinequestionnaire. The exhibit uses quotations from Bertelsmann Religion Monitor 2008 Austria (online-version, http://www.religionsmonitor.com) and those individual results which are sent to people as a pdf-file for personal use after filling in the onlinequestionnaire.
Exhibit: University of Innsbruck Team
„Let's come together", or: How much approval do publicly displayed sexuality and bare skin get in Europe?
If you believe the stereotypical view on Europe from outside as it is indirectly shown in the Lebanese bikini-girl exhibit the rate of approval will be very high.
If you remember the explanatory remarks by Jens Jessen on values in the more traditional parts of European societies in the commentary Demokraten baden nackt/ Democrats swim
naked, which you have already seen in our exhibition, it becomes clear that the rate won't be that high.
If you have a look at European reactions to the promotion clip for European films titled Filmlovers will love this!, which was put online on YouTube in July 2007, you will meet another aspect of a variety of European identities: the explicitly stated disapproval of a politically promoted European auto-stereotype which is felt not to be in line with the identities lived by people.
The stumbling-block: Filmlovers will love this! - put online on EUTube - this being the official channel of the European Commission on YouTube - as an official promotion clip for European films labelling "Eroticism" the 44 seconds clip exclusively shows sex-scenes from successful European films. It closes with the suggestive lines „Let's come together. Millions of cinema lovers enjoy European films ... every year."
It was not only the politically conservative European circles who criticized the clip for its flat and lowering interpretation and representation of the topic.
To watch the EU video (free for people 18+) click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koRlFnBlDH0
Exhibit: Filmlovers will love this! and comments available on the internet
Exhibit design: University of Innsbruck Team
The exhibition organizers wish to thank the following institutions and ministries for their logistic and/ or financial support:
Austrian Ministry of Science and Research
Austrian Culture Forum, Istanbul
Kadir Has University, Istanbul
University of Applied Sciences Kufstein
The „Breaking the Stereotype"-team
says thank you for coming, and see you again in Istanbul in spring (May- July) and autumn 2010 for part 3 of our exhibition titled: „Breaking the Stereotype. A Mutual Understanding of Images: the Orient and Europe - now and then"