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25 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Patient zero for the collapse of rigour in Middle East Studies, 1 Jun 2010
This review is from: Orientalism (Paperback)
Firstly, one needs to say this about Said - he a great wordsmith. He has a fantastic command of the english language and whatever you may think of him - and i am clearly not a fan of his work - he has moulded an entire field in his image.

There is a law in economics called Gresham's law. In Modern Middle East Studies we can see the research equivalent as bad "research" drives out good and when future academics study the utter collapse of the field in the late 20th and early 21st century they will point out one of the first debasements as this work.

It has all the hallmarks of what the field would descend into:

1) A carelessness about facts. OK so Said has the Muslims conquering Turkey some 300 years before they do and before conquering Africa not after and France and England conquering the Near East in an imperialist land-grab in the 17th century, aka the apogee of the Ottoman Empire were **IT** was conquering European lands. Well luckily after this, facts wouldn't matter anyway - indeed "consistency" or "so-called facts" under the new Saidian regime should be subjected to "rigorous analysis".

2) An obsessiveness about the person's political background and views. Yeah this does matter and does colour your interpretation - although apparently the fact he was serving as Arafat's mouthpiece at the time didn't bias him at all... However, the first questions should always be about the documentation and the evidence to back up your claim, THEN if necessary why the person's biases has caused them to mis-state or mis-interpet that evidence.

3) Distort what is there, make up what isn't and ignore what is inconvienent - Distort english and french interest in the Middle East into some sort of imperial project whilst ignoring the fact the main orientalists of the time were German and that the empire with the largest collection of Muslim subjects outside of India was the USSR who explicitly suppressed all study of the Orient and marking of muslim subjects as the "other" but hey as long as we just pretend this isn't the case then surely we can make a case. Ah and when Dante was writing the only crusades were against other Christians.

4) Wrap your critiques up in "neo-colonialist studies" nonsense. After all we have that plucky underdog, the Persian empire - on of the largest at the time - being unable to stand up to the mightly Euripedes and Aschyllus because as we know the West was always more powerful. Empires are bad unless they are the Soviet Union or Middle Eastern in origin in which case they are good and most evil of all is the world's tiniest empire in all of history aka Israel.

5) Trash your superiors - Said at this time didn't speak any of the languages needed to study the actual field he was critiquing - unlike the people he was trashing - and he didn't have a fraction of their knowledge but when you are inventing a new term of abuse then facts shouldn't stop you. In fact, a "fetishing of facts" is one of the signs of an Orientalist.

It is an interesting study of how a charlatan could turn a field into one for charlatans - at least it is a good read.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Apr 2013 20:54:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 Apr 2013 20:54:49 BDT
Roger Clark says:
At last a reviewer who's sufficiently well-informed to notice there's something wrong with this book! All those readers who have lapped up Said's words should read Ibn Warraq's "Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's 'Orientalism'" It's over 500 pages long and takes Said's work apart. Suffice to say Said was a charlatan. His books were shoddily researched and contain gross errors and falsehoods. Students beware before you trot out his nonsense in your essays. And those who believe what he wrote - grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourselves. 'Orientalism' a classic? - Bah! Humbug!

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2013 11:32:48 BDT
anti-thesis says:
"it's over 500 pages long"...Wow! Must be right then! Perhaps you want to comfort your own prejudices?

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2013 16:44:10 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Sep 2013 16:48:09 BDT
Roger Clark says:
A fatuous response anti-thesis ... You don't understand the subject. You've been fooled by a charlatan. You'll never get anywhere if you're captivated by Said. Warraq spells out in detail - yes, 500 pages! - Said's gross mistakes and errors of judgement. It's not a question of prejudices; it's a question of getting your facts right. Said consistently demonstrates he is incapable of doing that. He's an historical illiterate.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Apr 2014 14:37:56 BDT
CarrotsCat says:
Okay I can understand down-voting a book for it's historical inaccuracies, but you honestly believe Orientalism isn't a thing? Said is hardly the only person to have written about it, and anthropology is a subject that is very difficult to apply scientific rigor too but that doesn't somehow mean that the prejudice doesn't exist.

Posted on 19 Aug 2014 22:31:50 BDT
Yes so, we in the West do not look down on Arabs and see them as inferiors, you know those people who can be liquidated en masse because their lives do not matter as much as mine.

What have you squares been smoking since 2003? Can you let me know the name?
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