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Orthodox Christian and Islamic Anti-Westernism from a Comparative Perspective

Anti-Westernism, both in its historical and contemporary forms, is a widespread and multi-dimensional phenomenon with a variety of manifestations (e.g., social, cultural, political, and, last but not least, religious). It basically emanated from the encounter between Western Europe (and by extension: the Western world) and various non-Western cultures around the globe, which has been intensified in the wake of Western oversees expansion and colonialism. It involves, among other things, a serious critique of the premises on which Western civilization is based, which is considered to have taken a “wrong path”. In addition, it attempts to stop incoming Western influences, which are perceived as alien and dangerous elements adulterating pure indigenous cultures. However, this is not to deny other, more productive features in this long and rich encounter process with the West.

         Two main religious cultures that came in close contact with Western Europe, not lastly out of geographical proximity, are Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Because of crucial socio-political developments and other historical circumstances, both have developed an overall problematic relationship with Western Europe in many respects. Interestingly enough, both Orthodox Christian and Islamic cultures, despite their obvious differences, exhibit some striking commonalities and resemblances in their anti-Western critique. The main objective of this project is to explore and look more closely at this form of convergence between these two different religious cultures by locating common trajectories and explaining their underlying causes. At first glance, this seems to be a huge topic covering an enormous temporal span. After all, Orthodox Christian and Islamic cultures exhibiting such features are found in many differing local contexts and have their own particularities. Therefore, the main focus in this project will be put on comparing these two religious cultures in the modern age and especially in the twentieth century. In addition, a systematic approach will be followed by locating the main areas in which both Orthodox Christian and Islamic anti-Western discourses come close.