Arabic and its Alternatives discusses the complicated relationships between language, religion and communal identities in the Middle East in the period following the First World War. This volume takes its starting point in the non-Arabic and non-Muslim communities, tracing their linguistic and literary practices as part of a number of interlinked processes, including that of religious modernization, of new types of communal identity politics and of socio-political engagement with the emerging nation states and their accompanying nationalisms. These twentieth-century developments are firmly rooted in literary and linguistic practices of the Ottoman period, but take new turns under influence of colonization and decolonization, showing the versatility and resilience as much as the vulnerability of these linguistic and religious minorities in the region.
Contributors are Tijmen C. Baarda, Leyla Dakhli, Sasha R. Goldstein-Sabbah, Liora R. Halperin, Robert Isaf, Michiel Leezenberg, Merav Mack, Heleen Murre-van den Berg, Konstantinos Papastathis, Franck Salameh, Cyrus Schayegh, Emmanuel Szurek, Peter Wien.
Arabic is the only living language to have been taught in Dutch higher education for more than four centuries. Practical usefulness, however, has been a prerequisite from the start. Knowledge of Arabic was to promote Dutch interests in the Muslim world, or to help refute Islam. As a cognate of Classical Hebrew, the study of Arabic served as an ancillary science to Biblical studies. Nevertheless, many Arabists such as Thomas Erpenius and Jacobus Golius rose to international distinction. With more than 110 colour illustrations from the Leiden Oriental collections,
Arabic Studies in the Netherlands. A Short History in Portraits, 1580-1950 by Arnoud Vrolijk and Richard van Leeuwen will help the reader to gain insight into a fascinating aspect of Dutch intellectual history.