Western Disorientations: The Vanishing East of South America and Eastern Europe

Acta Academia Artium Vilnensis


  • Gražina Bielousova




Orientalism, Eastern Europe, South America, travel writing, colonialism, age of explorations


In this paper I utilise Edward Said’s framework of Orientalism in order to investigate how the regions that the European explorers have mistakenly or negligently identified in their imaginaries as “the East” are brought into the colonial order through an a priori assumption of their inferiority to the West. I turn to South America and Eastern Europe as the two frontiers which make these operations visible. Through the analysis of primary sources such as travel journals and letters from Spanish explorers and conquistadors during the age of encounters, as well as the writings the English and French travellers made during their visits to Eastern Europe during the Enlightenment, I demonstrate how the Western European Orientalist imaginaries remain persistent through the ages despite the geographical explorations and geopolitical changes, and instead of disappearing, migrate to create the new orients as the realms of European otherness.

Author Biography

Gražina Bielousova

(b. 1983, Lithuania) is a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at Duke University, U. S. In her dissertation she focuses on the role of religion in the emergence of the idea of ‘Eastern Europe’ during the Enlightenment. She draws on the travel narratives and cartographic evidence of the period to trace the intellectual history of Eastern Europe and argues that the region was constructed as an intra-European colonial space patterned on a broader, global racial logic.

VAL (Alex Mlynárčík, Viera Mecková, Ľudovít Kupkovič), Heliopolis, 1968-1974, ink on paper and photocollage, 90 × 90 cm, Courtesy of the VAL Group, Žilina




How to Cite

Bielousova, G. . (2022). Western Disorientations: The Vanishing East of South America and Eastern Europe: Acta Academia Artium Vilnensis. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (105), 12–23. https://doi.org/10.37522/aaav.105.2022.104