MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS: Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism

By Davis, Eric | The Middle East Journal, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS: Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism


Davis, Eric, The Middle East Journal


MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism, by Zachary Lockman. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. xxi + 272 pages. Maps. Notes to p. 292. Bibl. to p. 303. Index to p. 308. $65 cloth; $22.99 paper.

The Middle East studies field has been engaged in a process of self-examination since the early 1970s. In the United States, this questioning originated in the discontent of a younger generation of scholars, influenced by the civil rights struggle, the New Left, anti-Vietnam War protest and the feminist movement, not just with area studies but with modernization theory more broadly defined. The idea, increasingly prominent as the 1970s progressed, that scholarly knowledge all too often reflected power relationships rather than dispassionate inquiry, was energized by Edward Said's Orientalism, published in 1978. Said viewed Orientalism both as a discourse that developed over many centuries of contact between the Orient and the Occident, as well as an institutionalized practice manifested primarily in the university. Said's work raised serious questions not only about the conceptualizations of the Middle East used by Western scholars, and their intentions when conducting research, but ultimately about the legitimacy of area studies itself as an institutional framework for generating cross-cultural knowledge.

The proliferation of studies over the past quarter century centered around the concept of "Orientalism" makes Zachary Lockman's, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism, a welcome addition. Although it professes to offer only an introduction to the debates surrounding Orientalism, Contending Visions presents a comprehensive history of the issues surrounding the rise of Islamic and then Middle Eastern studies in Europe and especially in the United States, as well as an insightful discussion of the critiques of the field that arose during the 197Os and after.

Lockman begins with an lengthy and nuanced discussion of the rise of Islamic studies, both in Europe and the United States. After analyzing the relations between Islam and the West in chapters 2 and 3, both in the Middle East and in Spain, he is particularly concerned to show in Chapter 4, "The American Century," that the rise of Middle Eastern area studies in the United States after 1945 coincided with the development of the Cold War. According to Lockman, the proliferation of Middle Eastern studies programs in American universities had as much to do with the desire to thwart Soviet power as to understand the region's social, political, and cultural complexities. Thus the main motive for funding Middle East area studies was to prevent the region from falling under Soviet influence, both because of its oil resources and strategic geographical location.

Lockman is especially good in his exposition of Said's Orientalism, and the academic and political reactions to it. While a work of great import, Orientalism nevertheless suffers from a number of flaws. That Said was largely unable to explain German Orientalist interest in the Middle East despite the lack of German colonies in the region (or even the strong American concern with the region during the 19th century, also before major political and economic interests had developed) undermines his argument that knowledge of the Middle East produced in the West was correlated with colonial interests. Sadiq al-'Azm's assertion that Said never breaks with Orientalist ontology, thereby creating an "Orientalism in reverse," is another important criticism that Lockman deftly explains.

Lockman is not as strong when discussing the impact of modernization theory on Middle East studies. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS: Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.