The ‘Western/Non-Western’ problem

*Interesting thought piece by Flavia D’Avila, on the problem of the terms non-Western/Western. …

syncretic theatre research blog

I’m trying to edit my literature review and four lines in, I get stuck. The line begins:

Debate centers on readings of re-contextualised canonical texts and plays written by non-Western playwrights […]

I don’t like non-Western.

Western and non-Western are terms I’ve contended with since 2009, when I struggled to use them in an essay for a module called, precisely, Non-Western Theatre in my undergraduate course. I’ve used them in my writing since, generally with an added footnote, explaining that I’d rather avoid this terminology, but I still don’t have anything better to take its place. But maybe the time to figure out an answer to that problem is now, during my PhD. No more apologetic footnotes.

One of my issues with these terms is, quite plainly, that there’s a ring of flat earth theory to it. Dividing a round planet into eastern and western hemispheres sounds a bit…

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