This book explores Arab responses to Western culture and values as expressed mainly through works of fiction written by Arab authors during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It provides welcome new insights into the perennial East-West debate, and is particularly relevant to the current discussion on Islam and the West.
"Arab Representations of the Occident "might be seen as the reverse study of Edward Said's famous "Orientalism." If Orientalism, according to Said, provided the conceptual framework, the intellectual justification for the appropriation of the Orient through colonialism, "Occidentalism" - if one may use this label to indicate Arab conceptualizations of the West - tells a different story. It is a story, not about the appropriation of the land of the West, but its very soul. And if Orientalism was about the denigration, and the subjugation of the Oriental Other, much of Occidentalism has been about the idealization of the Western Other, the desire to become the Other, or at least to become like the Other.
Alongside raising highly topical questions about stereotypical ideas about Arabs and Muslims in general, this book - the first book on the subject in English - explores representations of the West by the foremost Arab intellectuals over a two-century period, right up to the present day.
'Arab representations of the Occident provides a useful and valuable guide to an important category of works and should open the way for much future research' - Yaseen Norrani, University of Arizona, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 2008