critical of Said’s landmark work. The most recent additions to this literature are Ibn . Warraq’s Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism and. Ibn Warraq, Amherst, NY, Prometheus Books, , pp. Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism by Ibn Warraq. Defending the West has 95 ratings and 11 reviews. Ibn Warraq refutes the perfidious lies of Said meticulously and with brutal candour in this antidote to Said’s.

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Like so many, I was first introduced to the works of Edward Said in my first year of grad school in a course called “The History of Historical Writing”. Armed with a newly-minted BA in Wareaq, I felt prepared to embark on my new intellectual journey; I was waraq to move beyond simply learning about the past, and was anxious to become further acquainted with the methodological nuance of my discipline and the theoretical framework on which its noble institution was founded.

But once the curtain was pulled back and the inner-workings, so carefully hidden before, were at last revealed, I dfending not the functioning unity I had naively anticipated, but instead a fragmented and intellectually divided world marred by opposing camps and rife with internal conflict. Historiography, I had foolishly believed, was simply the study of the evolution of our field; one school of thought refining and adding kbn to the one that came before. Instead, it is a Darwinian struggle where the weak are destroyed and the young ever supplant the old.

Old schools of thought become the bones in which the new generations of scholars sharpen tbe intellectual claws. I had heard of the book sest, but until reading it and discussing it in class had never appreciated the scope of its criticisms.

The East was unfairly united under a flawed banner and then inaccurately romanticized in a tye that made it foreign and strange. Furthermore, Said argued that the act of discourse, in the Foucalt sense of the word, is inherently ideologically-motivated and in the case of the Orientalists-scholars interested in the Orient, the Arab world-was used as a theoretical cover to justify colonialism and exploitation.

This book, as I came to learn, was a watershed in post-colonial studies. These were fascinating and disturbing concepts that strongly challenged many of the conventional underpinnings of history that I had taken for granted.

Yet despite the many valid arguments that Orientalism addressed, there was always a sense that there was some underlying flaw in its all-encompassing, explanatory claims. Although I agree with many aspects of Marxist writers-such as their argument that economic factors influencing historical events have traditionally been largely ignored by the historical establishment, I am unable to subscribe to their determinist conclusions.


Orientalism seemed an important part of the story, but certainly not the final word on the matter. It was not until I read Defending the West: Warraq admits that he regrets the tone of this portion — it is based on a previously published essay and he chose to include it without heavy editing defejding it had already been anthologized. While Orientalism survives this initial critique, Warraq ib able to establish several fundamental concerns that when placed with the latter chapters form the foundation for potentially rejecting Said.

First, Warraq illustrates how Said misrepresented some of the sources he draws upon for support. He dedicates much of his narrative to defending Western Civilization as a whole by examining three key trends that he says define the western mentality. His analysis of self-criticism is particularly important, because it shows how Western Civilization can learn from its mistakes and move forward, rather then be defined by them as Orientalism asserts.

The last half of the book focuses on Orientalism in specific aspects of culture, including music, art, and literature. This section, while too nuanced to go into specifics in a review of this size, does succeed in further undermining Said and calls into question his credibility.

Warraq illustrates how many artists did capture accurate portrayals of the Arab world, and that the two civilizations influenced each other in an open and fair manner.

Upon concluding Defending the West it can be said that credibility of Said and the veracity of his iibn are called into serious question. The one aspect in which Warraq is completely successful and on which the book itself is worthwhile is his analysis that Orientalism was used to unfairly attack scholars and stifle discourse.

For fear of being labeled an Orientalist, Defencing argues, studies and open communication on certain subjects was limited or stopped. This type of intellectual tyranny is precisely the thing that should not be allowed to persist in an academic world. Warraq does an excellent job of showing how Orientalism damaged free expression and open dialogue. Regardless of which side of the discussion you lean towards, it can hopefully be agreed upon that a free and open-minded exchange of ideas darraq always be encouraged.

The works of people like Said, and subsequently Warraq, challenged the erroneous and monolithic world view I had previously nurtured. While this at first caused me some distress, I now take comfort in the lessons it provides.

These two authors are emblematic of a far more diverse and to some degree fragmented reality; there is no defining unities and all-encompassing schools of thought that are complete and without room for criticism. Consequently, the discussion represented by Defending the Defenxing reminds the reader, if of nothing else, that the world is a vibrant and multifaceted place where ideologies and philosophies are just as varied and distinct as the world they inhabit.


Adam McKay’s gonzo Dick Cheney biopic satire, Vice, won’t be compared to Shakespeare, but it shares the Bard’s disinterest in supervillains’ motivations. The authors’ whose works we share with you in PopMatters’ 80 Best Books of — from a couple of notable reissues to a number defencing excellent debuts — poignantly capture how the political is deeply personal, and the personal is undeniably, and beautifully, universal.

Ibn Warraq

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Defending the West by Ibn Warraq | : Books

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