Theory, Culture and Society 30 (1):99-121 (2013)

Edward W. Said’s Orientalism has attained canonical status as the key study of the cultural politics of western representation of the East, specifically the imaginative geographies underwriting constructions such as the Middle East and the Islamic world. The Ottoman Empire overlapped both European and exteriorized Oriental space during much of the period that Said dealt with, yet while the existence of the empire is referred to in Said’s study, the theoretical implications of that presence for his critique of Orientalist discourse are not. The material presence of the Ottoman state, in the Arabic-speaking lands, but also crucially, and for a longer period, much of south-east Europe and Anatolia, highlights long-standing Oriental geopolitical and cultural agency in the face of unidirectional narratives of western encroachment. Attention to the specific discursive manoeuvres undertaken by the West to handle that disruptive, intrinsic Ottoman presence in Europe itself may add traction to the notion that the Orient was imagined as a radically exterior point of comparison. It is argued that the history of western representation of the Ottoman Empire constitutes a pre-Orientalist discourse, whose dual, perennial purpose is to make pragmatic accommodation for an Ottoman Oriental material presence in Europe yet never to fully acknowledge its discursive presence as being of Europe. I argue that by supplementing Said’s critique with a full consideration of the Ottoman legacy, a reformulation is possible that integrates the Islamic Orient as an intrinsic component of historically informed notions of European space, while dissolving notions of the absolute distinction of that latter construct from the wider milieus in which it is embedded
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DOI 10.1177/0263276412456562
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References found in this work BETA

Occidentalism and the Categories of Hegemonic Rule.Jonathan Friedman - 2009 - Theory, Culture and Society 26 (7-8):85-102.
East and West in Global History.John Hobson - 2006 - Theory, Culture and Society 23 (2-3):408-410.
Edward W. Said: Overcoming Orientalism.B. Turner - 2004 - Theory, Culture and Society 21 (1):173-177.

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