|Czechs in the world: National representations and global encounters, 1890-1938|
|In the process of globalization, representations of far-away regions became more and more important for national societies in the effort to locate themselves in an increasingly interconnected world. This paper examines representations of the non-European world in a rapidly modernizing Czech society as a means for understanding the changing self-perception of the Czechs during the crucial period of “high modernity” between 1900 and the 1930s. It focuses on discourses on alterity and is based on the assumption, that the reflection and representation of “the Other” always mirrors the self image of a society. The main emphasis is put on the aspect of how “the Other” is constituted in cultural encounters with the non-European world, and how it is communicated and transformed in the Czech national society. Albeit embedded prevailingly in a Central European political and cultural context, the Czech development cannot be evaluated irrespective of the “rest” of the world after 1900.
This paper focuses on the analysis of Czech travel reports on Africa and the Orient. The confrontation with the oriental “Other” did not only evoke reflections on Czech cultural and mental patterns as well as on the social, political or economic situation. It also stimulated discourses on world order, as mainly the Czech debates on the colonial question demonstrate, showing a great difference between the arguments brought up as a nation that partly viewed itself as “colonized” before 1918, and a nation with full political powers after 1918. Representations, values and strategies become visible through the confrontation with the non-European world and reveal notions little explored.|