Center for Global, International and Regional Studies
Orientalism and World History: Representing Middle Eastern
Nationalism and Islamism in the Twentieth Century
- Author(s): Burke, Edmund, III
- et al.
This is a essay about framing, about contextualization. It seeks to situate the political and cultural transitions the modern Middle East has undergone in this century in their world historical contexts, the better to help us understand the meanings of the present shift to Islamist forms of politics in the region. It is my contention that scholars have misunderstood the world historical significance of the emergence of nationalism in the area, that they have misconstrued its relationship to orientalism and to the European enlightenment more generally, and (as a result) largely misunderstood the nature of the Islamist challenge. In many ways my reflections here spring from a dissatisfaction with the inadequacies (both epistemological and world historical) of the ways in which some critics of orientalism have located modernity.