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by Ibn Warraq

eBook Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism download ISBN: 1591024846
Author: Ibn Warraq
Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition, 2nd Printing edition (October 23, 2007)
Language: English
Pages: 500
ePub: 1650 kb
Fb2: 1476 kb
Rating: 4.8
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Category: Literature
Subcategory: History and Criticism

Edward Said's opus Orientalism set the academic world on its head and was so erudite and thorough in its deconstruction of the historical record, the way anthropologists looked at the "Orient" was forever changed.

Edward Said's opus Orientalism set the academic world on its head and was so erudite and thorough in its deconstruction of the historical record, the way anthropologists looked at the "Orient" was forever changed. Orientalism re-shaped the way academics approached studies of the Arabic world, but it fell on deaf ears where it was needed most; the US State Department. Indeed, the CIA, the NSA and the Rand Corporation have continued to create and implement short-sighted, bigoted foreign policy in ways that Edward Said clearly predicted decades ago.

Deconstructing Edward Said It is now five years after the death of Edward Said, the man who made it cool to hate the West .

Deconstructing Edward Said It is now five years after the death of Edward Said, the man who made it cool to hate the West, and the reevaluation of his thought and work is thankfully well underway. Ibn Warraq's ambitious book brings together three projects, each worthy of a full-length study: first, a critique of Said's thought and work focusing on the insidious effects of his magnum opus, Orientalism; second, a defense of the West against the academic assaults that have become commonplace since Said's book was published; and third, a welcome reappraisal of the.

Ibn Warraq is the pen name of an anonymous author critical of Islam.

Defending the West book. In this thorough reconsideration of Said’s famous work, Ibn Warraq argues that Said’s case against the West is seriously flawed

Defending the West book. In this thorough reconsideration of Said’s famous work, Ibn Warraq argues that Said’s case against the West is seriously flawed. Warraq accuses Said of not only willfully misinterpreting the work of many scholars, but also of systematically misrepresenting Western civilization as a whole. With example after example, he shows that ever since the Greeks Western civilization has always had a strand in its very makeup that has accepted non-Westerners with open arms and has ever been open to foreign ideas.

by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 2007, 500 pp. David Zarnett. The most recent additions to this literature are Ibn Warraq’s Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism and Daniel Martin Varisco’s Reading Orientalism: Said and the Unsaid. As Warraq’s title indicates, his book rests on the premise that Orientalism, and the intellectual legacy and tendencies it has bolstered, represents an attack on the West and contributes to its inability to defend its values and history.

This is the first systematic critique of Edward Said's influential work, Orientalism, a book . In this thorough reconsideration of Said’s famous work, Ibn Warraq argues that Said’s case against the West is seriously flawed

Said’s main thesis was that the Western image of the East was heavily biased by colonialist attitudes, racism, and more than two centuries of political exploitation.

"Ibn Warraq's critique of Said's thought and work is thorough and .

"Ibn Warraq's critique of Said's thought and work is thorough and convincing, indeed devastating to anyone depending on Saidism. It should force the Saidists to acknowledge the sophistry of their false prophet. With this important new book Ibn Warraq has once and for all dispatched Orientalism to the dustbin of history. In Part 2 of Defending the West, Ibn Warraq notes the contributions of centuries of Orientalists ranging from those of classical Greece, to early Christianity, and to Indian Orientalists.

Edward Said was an outstanding example of an intellectual who condemned the West root and branch while taking every . The contradictory aspects of the man came together in Orientalism, a book Said published in 1978

Edward Said was an outstanding example of an intellectual who condemned the West root and branch while taking every advantage of the privileges and rewards it has to offer. In its dishonesty and exercise of double standards, his was truly a cautionary tale of our times. Born in Jerusalem in 1935, he laid claims to be a Palestinian, dispossessed by Zionist Jews, and therefore an archetypal Third World victim. The contradictory aspects of the man came together in Orientalism, a book Said published in 1978. The thesis was that every Westerner who had ever studied or written about the Middle East had done so in bad faith.

Students complete a term paper critiquing a book that is itself a critique of the conventional wisdom in the field. The exercise aims at increasing students' historical. perspective on the field and at confronting them with controversial issues. It also requires students to engage in an active dialogue with their instructor about an issue raised by the book. This dialogue culminates in the students defining a clear personal position on that issue

This is the first systematic critique of Edward Said's influential work, Orientalism, a book that for almost three decades has received wide acclaim, voluminous commentary, and translation into more than fifteen languages. Said’s main thesis was that the Western image of the East was heavily biased by colonialist attitudes, racism, and more than two centuries of political exploitation. Although Said’s critique was controversial, the impact of his ideas has been a pervasive rethinking of Western perceptions of Eastern cultures, plus a tendency to view all scholarship in Oriental Studies as tainted by considerations of power and prejudice. In this thorough reconsideration of Said’s famous work, Ibn Warraq argues that Said’s case against the West is seriously flawed. Warraq accuses Said of not only willfully misinterpreting the work of many scholars, but also of systematically misrepresenting Western civilization as a whole. With example after example, he shows that ever since the Greeks Western civilization has always had a strand in its very makeup that has accepted non-Westerners with open arms and has ever been open to foreign ideas. The author also criticizes Said for inadequate methodology, incoherent arguments, and a faulty historical understanding. He points out, not only Said’s tendentious interpretations, but historical howlers that would make a sophomore blush. Warraq further looks at the destructive influence of Said's study on the history of Western painting, especially of the 19th century, and shows how, once again, the epigones of Said have succeeded in relegating thousands of first-class paintings to the lofts and storage rooms of major museums. An extended appendix reconsiders the value of 18th- and 19th-century Orientalist scholars and artists, whose work fell into disrepute as a result of Said’s work.
Comments: (7)
Glei
Until his death in 2003, Edward Said was one of the most influential post-colonial writers of the twentieth century. His best selling Orientalism (1978) set the standard for what was then cutting edge literary and social discourse on a very controversial issue: the relationship between a Western-style hegemonic colonialism and a host of Arabic states that saw themselves as vassals of a European mindset that praised the former as advanced and a model of international decorum even as it libeled the latter as backwards, passive, and exotic. This book and others that he wrote in a similar vein came along at just the "right" time historically speaking; Western culture was becoming aware of accusations by leftist critics like Said of perpetuating a wide range of sins: racism, anti-feminism, colonialism, Eurocentrism, just to name a few. Almost immediately, Said's books became required reading on hundreds of college and university syllabi. For the next thirty years, generations of impressionable eighteen year olds were taught that the United States, England, and France were guilty of the most heinous of sins: the stamping out and crushing down of the very essences and life blood of numerous third world nations that had for far too long been chafing under the heavy hand of a Western colonial hegemony. But not all critics were so quick to jump on the Said bandwagon of bashing the West. One such critic was Ibn Warraq, who deconstructed the entirety of Said to reveal a staggering host of fissures, discontinuities, paradoxes, and what Warraq has called "historic howlers." Those who even now continue to praise Edward Said must now take into account objections raised by critics like Ibn Warraq who accuse Said of the very same sins that he finds objectionable in the West.

Warraq takes the three chapters that comprise Orientalism and holds Edward Said to the same standards that apply to any scholarly book: accuracy, balance, and evidence. In all three criteria, Edward Said comes up short. This is not to say that there is no value in zeroing in on the admitted shortcomings of a mindset that clearly deserves some censure for its heavy-handed treatment of various former colonial states, but the problem here is one that Warraq knows well, that the binary thinking of Edward Said allows him to place all of Western and Eastern discourse under a true/false or yes/no relation. Binaries by their very nature do not allow for fine gradations of thought; one is either a crushing imperialist hegemonic power or one is not. To place blame on the left side of the binary slash is to ignore the realities of human cultural and social dynamics that truly are often at cross purposes. For Edward Said, all of Western thought occupies the left slash while all of Eastern culture occupies the other. It is this biased division of human thought that Warraq addresses in his Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism.

Just as Edward Said divides Orientalism into a tri-part division ("The Scope of Orientalism," "Orientalist Structures and Restructures," "Orientalism Now") so does Ibn Warraq have a comparable structure ("Edward Said and the Saidists," "The Three Golden Threads and the Misapprehensions of Edward Said," "Orientalism in Painting and Sculpture, Music and Literature") Both Said and Warraq have written closing codas; with the former an afterward; with the latter a conclusion. In his first chapter, Ibn Warraq takes Edward Said to task in the latter's overly loose use of "Orientalism." Said uses Orientalism as a general catch-all term that suggests that it has been used by the West in a static sense of a centuries old cabal stretching back to Aeschylus, one that has been designed to oppress the East. Warraq paraphrases Said as defining it as "a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient." (Warraq 19) Warraq responds that if Orientalism were truly only that, then how may Said account for other and competing definitions by those who called themselves Orientalists and spent lifetimes studying Oriental languages, customs, histories, and religions? Warraq also notes historical inaccuracies so staggeringly manifest that it is difficult to believe that Edward Said was so incompetent a historian. Just one inaccuracy may serve here. Edward Said mentions that French and British hegemonies marked a Western controlling influence in Egypt right up until World War One. The historical truth is more prosaic. The Ottoman Empire, not any Western powers, was this controlling colonial force. But to admit even this would have pulled away the curtain revealing the true motivation of Edward Said, his vitriolic spleen toward any and all vestiges of European hegemony. A proper definition of Oriental is not Edward Said's only problematic. He also has varying definitions of more basic terms like "truth" and "reality."

In Part 2 of Defending the West, Ibn Warraq notes the contributions of centuries of Orientalists ranging from those of classical Greece, to early Christianity, and to Indian Orientalists. These Orientalists struggled mightily to master the arcane languages and cultures of their respective areas of study. Edward Said would have replied (had he bothered to acknowledge such contributions) that these Orientalists sought to destabilize the cultural infrastructures of the native countries merely to make the West feel smugly superior. In Part 3, Warraq notes the cultural and artistic achievements of generations of Western sculptors, artists, writers, and musicians who sought only to learn from the arts of the Orient. Ultimately, what becomes evident from Defending the West is that as long as the still many supporters of Edward Said continue to flock under his anti-Western banner without considering the troubling questions posed by critics like Ibn Warraq then their vocal support of Edward Said will ring increasingly hollow.
Mr.jeka
It's obvious by the length and scope of this book that Ibn Warraq wants to shut up the Said-ians for good. He painstakingly looks at every orientalist that Said critiques and shows his caricatures to be seriously misleading. This is one thorough rebuttal, but I can hardly keep the separate biographies apart in my head! Herein lies the weakness: the book is a deluge of information. I would have been content with one or two high profile examples, but Ibn Warraq does far more than that. And all for naught, since
I suspect that Warraq's careful approach will resonate less in academia than the shrill cries of pseudo-victim hood.

One thing that does stand out to me from this book is the comparison between Western imperialism and near-Eastern (that is to say Islamic) imperialism. The Islamic countries took more African slaves than the Europeans did (the poor Africans, they never get a break!) Jihads have also murdered tens of millions of Hindus. Westerners did (and do) terrible things, things that we should not try to explain away or downplay, but their imperialism often came with a silver lining, at least. British involvement in India is one example. Here, scholars (those cursed Orientalists!) helped recover Buddhist and Hindu history, which was on the verge of being lost after centuries of Muslim rule.

This book contains a lot of good information, but I have trouble putting my finger on the single thread that runs throughout this book. It seems more like a series of discreet chunks than a single narrative. For that I cannot give it the highest rating.
Bele
Edward Said, the Christian Palestinian, who represents the Dhimmi-type intellectual, achieved a great influence on the guilt ridden Western academia. The rightful antiimperialistic turn in the Sixties E. Said managed to divert into a self loathing of many progressives in the West. Thus, the universalist approach of the rebels in the Sixties changed to a relativism with disregard of basic human rights for everybody, be they located in the West or in the Orient.

Ibn Warraq is able to show how prejudiced Said's views are, and that a Western critique of events in the Orient can be right and valuable. Said's description of Orientalism is just a defense of the indefensible in which the burqa of the Afghan woman could be praised as a protection against lustful male eyes and desires, not seeing or expressing the male chauvinistic and oppressive nature of such a garment. Ibn Warraq did a great job in criticizing Said step by step in every detail. Hopefully, he succeeded in opening the eyes of some of Said's admirers.
Winasana
Excellent quality.