The debate on Orientalism began some fifty years ago in the wake of decolonization. While initially considered a turning point, Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) was in fact part of a larger academic endeavor – the political critique of “colonial science” – that had already significantly impacted the humanities and social sciences. In a recent attempt to broaden the debate, the papers collected in this volume, offered at various seminars and an international symposium held in Paris in 2010-2011, critically examine whether Orientalism, as knowledge and as creative expression, was in fact fundamentally subservient to Western domination.
By raising new issues, the papers shift the focus from the center to the peripheries, thus analyzing the impact on local societies of a major intellectual and institutional movement that necessarily changed not only their world, but the ways in which they represented their world. World history, which assumes a plurality of perspectives, leads us to observe that the Saidian critique applies to powers other than Western European ones — three case studies are considered here: the Ottoman, Russian (and Soviet), and Chinese empires.
Other essays in this volume proceed to analyze how post-independence states have made use of the tremendous accumulation of knowledge and representations inherited from previous colonial regimes for the sake of national identity, as well as how scholars change and adapt what was once a hegemonic discourse for their own purposes. What emerges is a new landscape in which to situate research on non-Western cultures and societies, and a road-map leading readers beyond the restrictive dichotomy of a confrontation between West and East.
With contributions by: Elisabeth Allès; Léon Buskens; Stéphane A. Dudoignon; Baudouin Dupret; Edhem Eldem; Olivier Herrenschmidt; Nicholas S. Hopkins; Robert Irwin; Mouldi Lahmar; Sylvette Larzul; Jean-Gabriel Leturcq; Jessica Marglin; Claire Nicholas; Emmanuelle Perrin; Alain de Pommereau; François Pouillon; Zakaria Rhani; Emmanuel Szurek; Jean-Claude Vatin; Mercedes Volait
François Pouillon is an anthropologist at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), specializing in the Arab World. He has published widely on orientalist painting and the history of travels in the Middle East, and is editor of a Dictionnaire des orientalistes de langue française (2008).
Jean-Claude Vatin, is a political scientist at the CNRS, Paris, working on the Islamic World. He has published several books on the Maghreb and on politics in the Middle-East and was among the first scholars in France to look critically at the Western knowledge of the Orient.
“The editors and contributors, many of whom are associated with Le Centre d’Étude Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques, Paris, and Centre d’Histoire Sociale de l’Islam Méditerranéen, Paris, should be complimented for having explored Orientalism from a fresh and fascinating vantage point. In doing so, they have steered clear of falling into the trap of either endorsing or refuting Said’s thesis. What they have achieved remarkably is their identification of the ‘surprising twists and turns as well as paradoxical relationships between intellectual metropoles of the colonial period and new peripheries’."
Abdur Rahim Kidwai in
The Muslim World Book Review, 36:3 (2016).
1. Foreword: François Pouillon (EHESS*, Paris) and Jean-Claude Vatin (CNRS**, Paris)
Alternative Historiographies of Orientalism
2. François Pouillon (EHESS, Paris) – Orientalism, Dead or Alive? A French History
3. Robert Irwin (University of London) – The Real Discourses of Orientalism
4. Léon Buskens (Leiden University) and Baudouin Dupret (CNRS, Rabat, Morocco) – The Invention of Islamic Law: A History of Western Studies on Islamic Normativity and Their Spread in the Orient
5. Zakaria Rhani (Rabat University, Morocco) – The Forbidden Orient! Endo-Exotism and Anti-Anthropological Nationalism in the Writings of some Contemporary Moroccan Intellectuals
6. Jessica M. Marglin (University of Southern California) – Between Tolerance and Persecution: North Africans on North African Jewish History
7. Olivier Herrenschmidt (Paris-Ouest University, Nanterre) – “It is Good to Know Something of Various Peoples’ Ways of Life”
8. Edhem Eldem (Bogaziçi University, Istanbul) – The Ottoman Empire and Orientalism: An Awkward Relationship
9. Emmanuel Szurek (Princeton University) – “Go West”: Variations on Kemalist Orientalism
10. Stéphane A. Dudoignon (CNRS, Paris) – Some Side Effects of a Progressive Orientology: Academic Visions of Islam in the Soviet South after Stalin
11. Elisabeth Allès (CNRS, Paris) – Minority Nationalities in China: Internal Orientalism
Recovering non-indigenous heritages
12. Jean-Gabriel Leturcq (Centre Français d’Études Éthiopiennes, Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia) – A Museum of Arab Art in Cairo (1869-2010): A Disorientated Heritage?
13. Emmanuelle Perrin (CNRS, Paris) – A Genealogy of Egyptian Folklore: Ahmad Amîn as a Reader of Edward Lane
14. Nicholas S. Hopkins (American University in Cairo, Egypt) – Mohamed Galal (1906-1943), a Pioneering Egyptian Anthropologist
15. Mouldi Lahmar (Tunis University) – Italian Colonial Knowledge and Identity-Shaping in Libya. Dual Instrumentalization of Endogenous Anthropological Knowledge
Inventing Orientalist traditions
16. Sylvette Larzul (CHSIM***, Paris) – Arab Reception of the Arabian Nights: Between Contemptuous Dismissal and Recognition
17. Alain de Pommereau (CHSIM, Paris) – The Invention of the Moroccan Carpet
18. Claire Nicholas (Princeton University) – Creative Differences, Creating Difference: Imagining the Producers of Moroccan Fashion and Textiles
19. Mercedes Volait (CNRS, Paris) – Middle Eastern Collections of Orientalist Painting at the Turn of the 21st Century: Paradoxical Reversal or Persistent Misunderstanding?
20. Conclusion: Jean-Claude Vatin (CNRS, Paris) – After Orientalism: Returning the Orient to the Orientals