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A Multilateral Perspective

Edited By Susan Yi Sencindiver, Maria Beville and Marie Lauritzen

In recent decades, theoretical and critical studies have oscillated between, on the one hand, wrestling otherness from a condition in which it is dependent on and defined relative to the notion of the same and, on the other hand, pursuing an approach to sameness and universality uncontaminated by otherness. Yet these concepts continuously prove mutually dependent. Together, they constitute a dynamic and productive tension which this book addresses. Inquiring into the representations and nature of self-other relationships in art, literature and culture, the chapters are written in and to a contemporary world struggling with the critical question of otherness and its present-day status. Given the complexity and multidimensional nature of otherness, a multilateral focus is called for and so this collection of selected essays brings together a range of scholarly disciplines and inquiries to engage in a multilateral discussion of otherness.


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17 INTRODUCTION Susan Yi Sencindiver, Marie Lauritzen and Maria Beville ‘Nobody – that’s my name’ – Homer, The Odyssey, IX Self and other: indelibly divided, irrevocably united The Delphic injunction to know thyself, to understand oneself as self, paradoxi- cally entails alienating self-reflection and the awareness that the limits of any entity, hence its individuation, are determined by what lies outside these limits – otherness. As the necessary limit against which the self can be defined, otherness has been inseparable from human identity and affairs from time immemorial – the birth of subjectivity ineluctably implicates the birth of its concomitant and allegedly dark twin. But where is this schism between the I and other located? In what ways are their complex relations constructed and discerned? In spite of the explanatory chasm between, as well as our age-old concern with, these wrinkled interdependent twins, the longevity of their pertinence does not diminish nor has the critical attention it acutely demanded in recent years abated. In undertaking to debate otherness from new angles and agendas, this collection has been con- sciously compiled as work written in and to a contemporary world continuously struggling with the issue of otherness. It supposes a space for dialogue in which new considerations of otherness across interdisciplinary boundaries can be opened and remain active. Traversing scholarly and cultural boundaries, delving into diverse media and genres, it is both diverging and converging, both theoreti- cal and practical, both interdisciplinary but also quite focused on its pertinent subject matter. Existing since ancient times,...

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