Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ottoman Orientalism

Ussama Makdisi, Rice University
The American Historical Review 107.3 (2002)
In an age of Western-dominated modernity, every nation creates its own Orient. The nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire was no exception. This article builds on several important studies that have critically analyzed how Europeans portrayed the Ottomans as a brooding non-Western despotism incapable of "progress" and how the Ottomans responded to, and resisted, these portrayals.1 But these studies have only hinted at the ramifications of non-Western responses to modern imperialism for the modality, the scope, the difference, and the meaning of Orientalist discourses as they traverse historical and national boundaries. This essay, therefore, extends Edward Said's analysis of Orientalism by looking at how Ottomans represented their own Arab periphery as an integral part of their engagement with, explicit resistance to, but also implicit acceptance of, Western representations of the indolent Ottoman East.2 Such an investigation requires a complication of the simple dichotomy of Western imperialism/non-Western resistance that has characterized so much recent historiography of the Ottoman and non-Western world...
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