The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History

The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History

The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History

The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History

Synopsis

The Modern Middle East is a collection of translated sources covering the period from 1700 to the present. Sources include official and private archives, the periodical press, memoirs, western journalists' and travellers' accounts, literature, and official reports (including statistical data). Each document has been prefaced, translated and annotated by a specialist in the particular history and culture from which it was drawn. Enough information is provided so that every student can appreciate the value of a document and begin a further exploration either of its specific historical context or its relationship to broader themes in modern Middle Eastern history, whilst scholars will find it of value for its use in teaching and discussion.

Excerpt

The history of the modern Middle East has been written on the basis of a variety of sources: official and private archives, the periodical press, memoirs, Western journalists' and travelers' accounts, literature, and official reports (including statistical data). Middle East specialists, who have interpreted these sources and woven them into an ever longer and more detailed narrative, have done so with a variety of influences on their thinking. Since the late eighteenth century, European (and later American) researchers have investigated the Middle East against the backdrop of Euro-American hegemony in the region, with their work supported by and contributing to foreign policies that often furthered Western political and economic interests at the expense of Middle Eastern societies. Whether these scholars embraced the implications of Euro-American hegemony or reviled them, it colored their understanding of the Middle East. Indigenous Middle Eastern scholars were certainly no less affected by this state of affairs, with many embracing (and contributing to) methodologies and explanatory paradigms developed in Western academia even as they argued for different master narratives.

This volume does not seek to interrogate the historiography of the modern Middle East or to reconcile debates between 'Orientalists' and 'Revisionists' or to resolve other long-standing controversies. It does, however, seek to reflect the state of Middle East studies in the early twenty-first century, and therefore is a by-product both of the debates and the traditions of scholarship that characterize the field. Edward Said (d. 2003) was the most celebrated champion of the notion that the West had invented or created the construct of the 'East' in such a way as to suit its own interests and sense of self. In the realm of academic study this meant that all Western scholarship on the Middle East was affected by the fact that Western countries enjoyed considerable influence upon the politics and economics of the Middle East. Europe (Said's 1978 book Orientalism focused on British and French scholarship on the Middle East) and, later, American Middle East specialists were employed in the Western imperialist enterprise. Said argued that their characterizations of 'Oriental' societies as despotic and decadent ghosts of their idealized medieval selves, served the imperialist agendas of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. If Westerners came to believe that Middle Eastern and Islamic countries were a mess, then they would consider it natural (even noble) for Europeans to take over those countries. Said was a literary scholar and his arguments largely rested on devastating critiques of the tone of . . .

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