Zotero Mendeley EndNote. Expertly plotted and set in Egypt, an exotic background, Death on the Nile is analyzed in this study, through Edward W. Orientalism is defined by Edward Said in his groundbreaking book Orientalism as a scholarly discipline involving the negative portrayal of the East and eastern people, values and culture by westerners and as western construction of the Orient in occidental discourse through western perspective. Composed of two sections the essay begins with a brief introduction to postcolonial criticism and the critique of Orientalism.

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Roger Owen. There, I participated, in a very small way, in a process which required creating the subject more or less de novo , on the basis of a handful of scholarly books about the region. This included, among many other issues, an attempt to come to terms with the way in which not just the traditional academic Orientalists but also several of the founders of Western social science, most notably Marx and Weber, held Orientalist-type views concerning a fundamental difference between East and West.

Edward Said himself was well aware of what we were attempting — via our Review of Middle East Studies — having had his attention drawn to it by Fred Halliday, a very important figure in my story. This was partly the result of his inclinations, character, and training. He was a humanist through and through, seeing the world via the optic of literature, music, and the arts, not by the use of supposedly value-free economics, political science, or sociology.

Is this book an argument only against something, and not for something positive? My project has been to describe a particular system of ideas, not by any means to displace the system of ideas, not by any means to displace the system with a new one. Reading and thinking about Orientalism when it was first published I, and some — but not many — of my colleagues, experienced a great sense of relief.

After a decade or so of critique, our work had been overtaken and summed up by Edward in such a comprehensive way that, so it then appeared, we could all get on with what seemed the much more important task of finding better ways of studying the economies, societies, and political systems of the Middle East. What we did not understand, and could probably not have understood at that time, was that this project was going to be much more difficult to conduct and harder to sustain than we had imagined.

Probably none of us also understood how the presence of the book would complicate our new task, even though there were many indications of the problems and difficulties that lay ahead. The sense of the threat the book posed was palpable. And so it has been ever since.

Orientalism often continues to be regarded as dangerous, perhaps in particular by those who have never read it. Such is the meretricious message which, without much elaboration, and without any obvious mental effort, remains as potent with some audiences as it did 30 years ago. It also is worth noting that the personal tone of the book helped to make things even worse.

The author himself, his reasons for writing the book, his genuine offense at the way Arabs and Muslim are objectified in such a reductionist way, is powerfully present in the text. All this has had unfortunate consequences. Hence it provides a reason for not taking the work of a huge number of scholars of the Middle East with the academic respect it deserves, even when, as in the case of most social scientists at least, their work has little or nothing to do with Orientalism, either in praise or blame.

By the same token, it allows those who still practice some version of an Orientalist approach to insulate themselves, and their students, from a powerful, alternative, point of view. More seriously, the ad hominem attacks on Said and his band of alleged Pied Pipers also make it more difficult to sustain an attack on the role of Orientalists in authorizing certain aspects not only of American military and security policy but those of Israel as well.

Think of expert authorities like Gabriel Baer, who assured me, in the mids, that Egypt would never make peace with Israel. Bad Orientalism encourages the notion that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Bad Orientalism, paradoxically, though based on the concept of a certain Middle Eastern timelessness, authorizes ambitious schemes of political and social engineering based on short-term considerations while lacking any way of anticipating unexpected long-term consequences.

This certainly applied to persons such as Harry Magdoff, the New York editor of the Monthly Review , who asked me to review Orientalism , a book about which he had very mixed feelings. It was also true of colleagues such as Fred Halliday, who argued that Orientalism could easily be read as creating an irreconcilable division between East and West, thereby undermining one of the basic features of our universalistic approach.

Al-Azm was to make the same point only a few years later. Several enormously important implications follow. The first is that we need the social sciences in Middle East studies not just for their own sake, but also to be able to continue to make use of works by persons we regard as Orientalists, though without falling prey to their assumptions and reductionism. This is the more significant as our own thinking contains either unexamined assumptions from the Orientalist period or, at the very least, questions which we cannot help students to answer properly because we do not know how to frame them or where to look for answers.

Second, we need to continue the good work of combining training in languages, history, and culture with training in the social sciences begun in most American and European centers of Middle Eastern studies. One without the other is no longer enough — and is no longer seen to be enough. Third, the social sciences provide a necessary additive to works of analysis which operate simply at the level of discourse and the various ways this has been used to answer questions with little or no attention to what I would still want to call material reality.

Last, but not least, and in answer to those critics who accuse Said-influenced social scientists of managing to avoid most of the important political and ideological issues of the moment, we now have the tools to make important contributions to such vital contemporary Middle Eastern subjects as military occupations, religious politics, the explosive growth of the Gulf port cities, and Islamic banking, not to mention the enormous impact of globalization, where a knowledge of the history of the region has to be combined with an ability to pick out and to describe those underlying structures, dynamics, and trajectories which define them now and will continue to do so in the future.

All this is good news, and would certainly be good news to Edward Said himself. Given that the field of modern Middle East Studies is only some 50 years old, that it had to extract itself from the hold of a first generation of scholars who still saw the Middle East in very reductionist, ahistorical terms, and that it takes time to build up a core of experts versed in language, history, local knowledge, and the social sciences, we finally have a set of praiseworthy scholars.

This means reading Orientalism as carefully as its author would wish and then being able to understand its role as the first part of a project which required the construction of alternative methodologies as its complement. Inevitably, this alternative project proved to be much more difficult for reasons Edward himself could not anticipate and for which his own critique shares a small part of the blame. Nevertheless, viewed from the perspective of modern Middle East studies, the present and the future look surprisingly good, with the ever expanding production of highly skilled graduate students around the world well-supplied with the tools not just to make use of whatever data the field contains but also to use their knowledge of the various social science disciplines to challenge the conventional wisdom and the old paradigms which continue to stand in the way of a proper understanding of how Middle Eastern societies, economies, and political systems really work.

Featured Publication view Syria should be divided into three zones of foreign influence. Featured Spring Full Page view Internships. How Orientalism Was Received Reading and thinking about Orientalism when it was first published I, and some — but not many — of my colleagues, experienced a great sense of relief.


Edward Said and the Two Critiques of Orientalism








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