Fellow 2023/2024Jana Cattien
Fellowship Term: 09/2023–07/2024
Jana Cattien is Assistant Professor in Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, in the capacity group Philosophy and Public Affairs. Her research and teaching is situated in continental philosophy (phenomenology, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism), feminist theory, critical race theory and postcolonial theory. Her work has been published in journals like Feminist Theory, New German Critique, Hypatia, Signs, Radical Philosophy, Philosophy and Social Criticism, and Angelaki. Recent work includes articles on eeriness, anti-gender mobilisations, cultural appropriation, and Sinophobia and anti-Chinese racism during the Covid-19 pandemic. She has a book manuscript under review, entitled ‘Making the Nation Good Again: German Feminism and its Others’. This is based on the doctoral research she pursued from 2016-2020, at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS, University of London. Her current research is focussed on two projects: the political significance of pain, and discourses around pain, for feminist and anti-racist mobilisations; and contemporary imaginaries of China and narratives of Western decline.
End of Times: Apocalyptic Orientalism and Narratives of Western Decline
This research project seeks to theorise the place of apocalyptic narratives within Sino-Orientalism. Its aim is to understand how the West deploys apocalyptic imaginaries in order to negotiate China’s increasing economic and political influence in the world, as well as to mitigate anxieties about its own decline. In order to do this, the project traces discourses of ‘apocalyptic Orientalism’ across three sites: 1) apocalyptic Covid-19 origin theories which variously claim that the Covid-19 virus was intentionally fabricated in high-tech Chinese labs, or that it emerged from cross-species contamination in Chinese ‘wet markets’; 2) French poststructuralist visions of Maoist China as a utopian place against which the Western patriarchal capitalist order could annihilate itself; and 3) so-called ‘Sino-futurist’ manifestos which juxtapose China’s future-oriented temporality against the West’s inevitable collapse. Different as these apocalyptic narratives are, the project seeks to show that there is a common thread to ‘apocalyptic Orientalism’. In each of the three discursive sites, China is at the centre of apocalyptic imaginaries through which the West attempts to control and negotiate the terms of its own annihilation. If Edward Said’s original formulation of Orientalism hinges on the stable domination of the ‘West’ over the ‘East’, apocalyptic Orientalism is already a response to the diminishing grip that the ‘West’ has on the ‘East’. In tracing different configurations of apocalyptic Orientalism over time, the project shows how established Orientalist discourses have come under pressure in light of China’s new role in the global capitalist order.