Any transformation is necessarily a temporal event: even an instantaneous transformation – alive to dead – is shaped by our sense of the before and the after. The easy divisions ‘before’ and ‘after’, however, often lead us to draw neat binaries where we shouldn’t. The binaries I am particularly interested in problematising – even dissolving – are between past and present, East and West. In a sense, these binaries are the same, for the ideological division of the globe into these hemispheres is rooted in the Western notion of a disjointed global time. The West defines itself as progress and the East as history, as if some heavenly Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen had appeared to do a make-over on the world and we were living in its split-screened finale: East and West, before and after.
Just as the persistence of the East/West binary threatens to sink the entire globe into violent conflict, so the dissolution of the Past/Present binary offers a reprieve. My work reads against the grain of the prevalent historiographies of East/West conflict, finding historical precedents for contemporary ideals of inter-cultural understanding between East and West, and recommending them as a passport to a peaceful global future.