EEGA Colloquium: Špela Drnovšek Zorko – „Eastern European“ in Japan? Refracted geographies of „Eastness“

Within the framework of the EEGA colloquium former EEGA fellow Špela Drnovšek Zorko (Research Area 1, now Kobe University) is going to present her research project „Eastern European“ in Japan? Refracted geographies of „Eastness“.

Based on interviews conducted with Central and Eastern Europeans living in Japan, the talk investigates the geographic imaginaries and power relations of “Eastness” in relation to cultural geographies of migration. In Japan, an “ethno-nationalist immigrant society” (Liu-Farrer: 2020), categories of foreignness are both implicitly and explicitly racialized. Yet contrary to some contexts, particularly in Western Europe, intra-European distinctions between “East” and “West” are largely collapsed into an unmarked Europeanness, where “Eastern Europe” becomes a blank slate and “Eastern Europeans” are folded into the broader category of predominantly white Westerners (Drnovšek Zorko and Debnár 2021). Drawing on the narratives of both recent arrivals and longer-settled residents in Japan, the talk unpacks “Eastness” as a contingent geographic imaginary refracted through individual migration biographies. First, it highlights the opportunities – as well as the latent complicities – of not being readily mapped within locally dominant schemas. Second, it identifies those analogies that portray the East not as a geographic concept but as a contextual power relation between differently positioned “Easterners” and “Westerners”, providing a means for making sense of shifting racialized identities.

Date: 24 April 2024, 10:30 am – 12 pm (CEST)

Venue: Online via ZOOM (please register  here)

The meeting will take place online via ZOOM. Please register under the following link:  After registration you will receive a confirmation email with information about your participation in the meeting.

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