Practical Orientalism – Bodies, Everyday Life and the Construction of Otherness
In the light of the increasing questioning of multi-culturalism in popular debate, the focus of this paper is the ways in which cultural/national identities are constituted and renegotiated in everyday, banal bodily practices. Denmark is the case, but the processes experienced in this context are seen as part of a broader European development. We first discuss recent changes in the political semiotics of Europe in which former East/West boundaries are blurred and new ones constructed and renegotiated in many scales. Many studies, we argue, do in this context underestimate the degree to which this process is going on in banal, bodily and sensuous practices. An entrance to this discussion is to follow the idea of ‘banal nationalism’, but we want, by way of examples from the Danish case, to suggest that what we are dealing with is a practical orientalism, articulated through processes of ‘othering‘ developed in the concrete bodily encounters in everyday life.