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Tag Archives: orientalism

I’ve been working at the school library during break, and it gets mighty dull. I’ve also become very acquainted with a lot of the titles. If I see one more book about Muslim women with some title like “Unveiling Islam” I’m going to lose it. Or another book that tries to explain something about the Middle East and has desert in the title. Or god forbid another title with something like “When the West and Islam Clash.” These are all horrible, orientalizing titles, with some major problems.

“UNVEILING”

The biggest cliche of them all. The content of books with this title seem to all have a white savior mentality. The authors all seem to assume all Muslimah wear a veil. Besides those two things these titles piss me off because every person who uses it seems to think they are so clever, and strangely a lot of folks seem to not care.

“DESERT”

I don’t know how to even tackle this one. It’s orientalizing, its based on assumptions about the entirety of the Middle East. Its annoying.

“WEST MEETS ISLAM”

That was the title I saw when I was shelving. There are of course variations, usually with words like modernism, democracy, or the West vs Islam, traditionalism, or the East. These titles are annoying because the rhetoric used frames Islam as incompatible with the West, Modernism, or Democracy; and it posits Islam as synonymous with traditionalism (read backwards, primitive, unreasonable, etc etc) and the West as synonymous with modernism (read rational, scientific, ie superior). This of course ignores the fact that there are more than Muslims  in the areas the authors discuss, and that there are Muslims everywhere in the world. As a sidenote, imagine how different the discourses would be if instead of East and West the rhetoric commonly used was South and North– paints a very different image. Afterall using terms more commonly used in economics and political theory as opposed to orientalist writing forces us to examine why, instead of just describing what we (think) we see.

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