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Nathan Shachar: Few books have done as much damage as Edward Said's Orientalism

occasionally wins the non-fiction ovations of the kind we associate with detective stories and autobiographies. ”Orientalism” by Edward Said (1935-2003) was evaluated strictly by expertise but was just a kultbok. Its words vibrated in step with the times and – more impressive – its message has preserved its attractiveness.

the author of the Book was a litteraturhistoriker from Columbia university in New York, the son of lebanese protestants, born in Jerusalem, raised in Cairo and then femtonårsåldern resident in the united states. It was, in particular, two polemical the main concept in ”Orientalism” that tore up the dust and brought the cheers. One was the critique of the West and förkastelsedomen over its intercourse with foreign continents. The other tendency was the revolt against objectivity, which forskningsideal and the scientific method. Research, hit the Said firm, was primarily a question of power, not about knowledge. In this he followed his master, Michel Foucault, who taught that all human, and culture in particular, can be reduced to the relationship between them that keeps in the whip and those who get to taste it.

Both of these cases, the anti-western and anti-objective, beamed together in Said's critique of orientforskningen. The study of Arabic and islam, he claimed, was full of malice and prejudice. Its driver had not been information without domination. Strictly speaking, said, Said, so, West has studied the East, but invented the East for their gain and amusement. Rather than a scientific discipline has orientalismen been colonialism stark assistance.

in the Said chamber of horrors of the malevolent opinions about islam or arabs is true. But not much of it hits the target – orientforskarna.

Primärmålet was to judge the academic research on Oriental languages, peoples, communities and religions. But in his eagerness threw Said their network is much wider than that: the Disgusting opinions of the crusaders, missionaries, governors, explorers, any romanticism poets and fåkunniga tourists are added to the anklagelseakten against orientalisterna. The ancient greeks made to the westerners and their reports on Egypt and Persia are presented as early examples of western arrogance.

by malicious opinions about islam or arabs is true. But not much of it hits the target – orientforskarna. The sample has an almost comical slant. Prejudice and contempt, in Walter Scott's novels, Flaubert's letters from Egypt, and of the partiality of the nyhetsrapportörer cited as damning evidence – but the wise and warm testimonials have been eliminated. Said wrote a brilliant man, but his knowledge was deficient. He believed that Dante was a islamofob of the modern incision, when he in fact was deeply ignorant of islam. Dante seems to have had for themselves that Muhammad and his cousin Ali were christian apostates, for which they had kindled in the poet's hell. But the rest of the muslims, as the philosophers Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina, and the crusaders ' betvingare Saladdin, depicted by Dante with maximum respect. They will escape the fire and placed in the Limbo, together with Homer, Virgilius and other ancient giants.

to embrace so wide and so selectively undermines Said one of its purposes, to show that orientforskningen is linked to colonialism. It existed before colonialism and exists after the. It flourished in countries without colonial cases, such as Denmark and Sweden, and, above all, in Germany, who had colonies in the Middle east. Germany, orientforskningens power during the colonial high summer, were bypassed by Said. The impossibility to postulate the colonial driving forces behind the German orientalisternas deed made them uninteresting for him.

The first truly modern orientforskaren was the French universalgeniet Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609). He approached the subject without theological ulterior motives. When he seemed to took the French colonialism its first tentative step in America. It gave neither the impetus or the work for arabister.

a complementary field of research, which highlights the many orientalists borne of the passion for the East and its people, among them many christians and jews. The frenchman Anquetil-Duperron studied mogulernas kingdom to respond to the philosopher Montesquieu biased reviews on it. Many other orientalists with equally noble motives presented by the Oxford-arabisten Robert Irwin in the book, ”For lust of knowing”.

When colonialism was a factor in Europe's relationship to the arab world, and orientforskarna were faced with the choice between the great powers of expansion, and they conquered the natives, took the usually party against colonialism. Said not tell anything about this. (He touches either, not a word of non-western empires résumés in the Middle east.)

Said want to see their orientalists from their worst side, so that they illustrate the penetrations and våldtäktsmetaforer he has so hard to resist – and that's been a tiring vogue in his likeness. Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838), one of the great French orientalisterna, described – contrary to all the testimony – as an intruder and marauder. He is said even to have falsified documents, without any source listed, and without Said even tells you what the accusation is based on. The book abounds with similar errors and nonsense – but Said refused to make any changes in later editions.

The first orientalisterna were arabs and muslims. Without their dictionaries, grammars and islam-the comments would be the industry's first westerners stood plain.

against Said's thesis comes from one of his most ingenious critics, the Swedish arabisten Christopher Toll (1931-2015): The first orientalisterna were arabs and muslims. Without their dictionaries, grammars and islam-the comments would be the industry's first westerners stood plain. Far from being a western invention created in the tray of the arabs. Paradoxically, reduces Said consistently its domestic capacity and knowledge. Because it was a livssak for him to portray the East as a weak object, and as passively receiving party will be this polemically necessary. Leading orientalists with Arabic background, as Elie Kedourie, Charles Issawi, and George Makdisi, as well as, the foremost palestinian researcher in the tray, Hisham Sharabi, is absent! Contrary to what is Said communicates was given serious journals in the ”orientalistiska” substances in the Damascus, Beirut, Cairo and Baghdad – not just in the west.

Some of the researchers who embraced islam with the greatest warmth and empathy are swedes. Christopher Toll's words: ”... a Swedish scientist, bishop Tor Andræ, who wrote an excellent biography of Muhammad, said of the islamic mystics: ’I have the face of their words had a strange experience of something at once new and strange and yet familiar. I have seen in a okänds traits, which, however, has been a frändes. I have met with the statements, that compelled me to ... requesting review of my own faith. I have seen the rays from a light source, as I well know, but broken by a new medium.’ A similar fascination with the soul of my teacher H. S. Nyberg in his study of the mystic Ibn al-Arabi.”

in the Said toolkit is ”a zionist”, a term used carefree and constantly rubs off on his assessment of jewish scientists. Most baroque in Said's injustice index is the treatment of the early 1900s the largest in the industry: the Hungarian Ignaz Goldziher.

Goldzieher bundled without further together with Ernest Renan, as generalized broadly about the Eastern people. Goldziher was the Talmud-scholar, but loved islam. He participated in the prayer al Azhar mosque: ”in the Midst of the sea of pious nötte I them forehead against the mosque's floor. Never before in my life, I was more committed ... than the blessed Friday.” Islam gave Goldziher a sense of what judaism had been before the belamrades with the theological dross and kabbalistic mysticism. (Another great jewish islamforskare and arabofil, Shlomo Dov Goitein, meant purely to islam is an arab version of judaism.) Goldziher was not a zionist. He was so antisionistisk that he, for purely ideological reasons declined a rostrum at the newly opened Hebrew university in 1925, despite the fact that he was never able to get any chair of its anti-semitic country.

the View of science as a pure power play has paved the way for a chronic flow of barnkammaraktiga conspiracy theories.

”objektifierat” the East, as if he caught them with a crime. But all the scientists studying their material as an object. How would it otherwise go? Would we hire a doctor or it appears as not done it? Here we arrive at perhaps the most harmful legacy of the Said: the Fallacy that cultures and people can only and must be studied ”from the inside”. Nothing could be crazy: No domestic source, if the vikings can compete with the arabian Ibn Fadlans testimony. He saw that they themselves could not see. No peruvian, but a Swedish count, Magnus Mörner, wrote the big book on the Spanish colonial America.

the View of science as a pure power play has paved the way for a chronic flow of barnkammaraktiga conspiracy theories. Many humanities and social science faculties no longer teach some of the criteria of good empirical evidence and good theory, but puts the confession, polemic, and ”identities” in mind. This destruction has occurred so rapidly and explosively that one hesitates to give the Said all the credit. Perhaps it is more reasonable to interpret his success as effect rather than cause. After the kunskapsfientliga education reform and young radicals growing hatred of their communities, so was the way the hedge against angry simplifications and militant världsförklaringar. The need for åsiktsstyrd research had already been dammed, and Said grip and his perspective had come to dominate him also without. But the book's formidable impact and the gloss around with Said person rushed on the course. It was a radical battle cry of ”Orientalism” was already in the beginning of the 1990s, the prevailing orthodoxy.

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