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Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of
                        DiversityJourneys between Cultures$
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Charles Forsdick

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198160144

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198160144.001.0001

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Defining the Exotic

Defining the Exotic

Exoticism as an Approach to Radical Diversity

(p.23) 1 Defining the Exotic
Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of Diversity

Charles Forsdick

Oxford University Press

In assessing Robert Young's Colonial Desire, Stuart Hall attacks what he sees as its author's ‘inexplicably simplistic charge’ that post-colonial critics are inevitably complicit with Victorian racial theorists since both groups employ the terminology of hybridity. Although Hall's comments are a simplification of Young's study, what they demonstrate is a concern to avoid conflation of semantic fields whereby a term with colonial overtones is denied redefinition in a post-colonial context. This specific problem has dogged the understanding of exoticism. After a period of rejection of the term ‘exotisme’, the past twenty-five years have witnessed a resurgence of its use described above in the fields of anthropology, literary criticism, sociology, architecture, and colonial history. This chapter discusses new perspectives on exoticism, exoticism as an Aesthetics of Diversity, Victor Segalen's views on the exoticist tradition, and threats and responses to twentieth-century exoticism.

Keywords:   Victor Segalen, exoticism, Aesthetics of Diversity, anthropology, literary criticism, sociology, architecture, colonial history

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