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Said before Said

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Abstract

Nobody should be allowed to remain innocent of Orientalism. More than 30 years after its publication in 1978, the book continues to be indispensable for understanding East-West relations. Orientalism has elicited, and withstood, a host of attacks, some more damaging than others. Yet it has transformed academic history writing concerning the Middle East. The field of postcolonial studies and the critique of imperialism within literary and cultural history would be unthinkable without it. The book is not a history of Western Orientalist scholarship. Still less is it a history of the ‘East.’ Although written during the 1970s, Orientalism endures because it retains a powerful purchase on the world we inhabit. What is most troubling about the book’s continuing relevance is that despite its sensational exposure of Western errors of perception, representation and policy concerning the Middle East, the discourse of Orientalism, the discursive machine for constructing an Orient, making statements about it, and ruling over it, continues apace. The book has endured, tragically, because its object of critique is so robust; Orientalism remains relevant precisely because Orientalism continues to prevail.1

Keywords

  • Middle East
  • Islamic World
  • Postcolonial Study
  • Imperial History
  • Levant Company

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Notes

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© 2013 Donna Landry

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Landry, D. (2013). Said before Said. In: Elmarsafy, Z., Bernard, A., Attwell, D. (eds) Debating Orientalism. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137341112_4

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