Islam

Authored by: William Lafi Youmans

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415638661
eBook ISBN: 9781315724478
Adobe ISBN: 9781317531067

10.4324/9781315724478.ch24

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Abstract

Without a doubt the most influential theoretical architecture for understanding the Western representation of Islam and Muslims is Edward Said’s landmark study, Orientalism (1978). Since its publication, it has helped launch the field of post-colonial theory and inspired numerous studies that advance the basic arguments, further articulate them, caricaturize them, resist them, or reject them. The book chronicles the long history of European thinkers, writers, leaders, and artists who construct “the Orient,” and represent it as a timeless, regressive, mystical wonderment. The study historicizes a problematic scholarly, artistic, and popular Western engagement with the Orient generally that positions it as a subject place and set of peoples to be understood, feared, and conquered. Said traces a particular, dominant mode of communicating “the East” to intellectual and artistic formations within the context of Western imperialism, as Great Britain, France, and then the United States sought the physical, material conquest of that part of the world.

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