Toronto Metropolitan University
Dance of Orientalisms and waves of catastrophes.pdf (877.69 kB)

Dance of Orientalisms and waves of catastrophes: culturalism and pragmatism in imperial approaches to Islam and the Middle East

Download (877.69 kB)
posted on 2023-09-26, 19:59 authored by Sedef Arat-KoçSedef Arat-Koç

This article focuses on a seeming contradiction between ‘Islamophobic’ and ‘Islamophilic’ approaches in contemporary Western policies and discourses on the Middle East. While Islamophobia continues to shape some domestic policies of Western states and provide ideological justification for the wars they wage abroad, ‘Islamophilic’ tendencies in foreign policy have also emerged, especially in responses to the ‘Arab Spring’. Not clearly noted in Western public discourse, this represents a historical continuation of Western support for Islamism common during the Cold War, but is also a shift from the Islamophobic discourse of the post-cold war period, especially since 9/11. While Islamophobic and Islamophilic discourses may appear to be opposites, the paper argues that they represent two sides of the Orientalist logic, continuing to reduce understanding of Middle Eastern societies and politics to a culturalist dimension. Unlike traditional Orientalism, they treat Middle Eastern people as political subjects, but approach them as defined by their culture and religion. They define ‘moderate’ Islamism as the typical (and preferred) politics of the people of the region. Focusing on specific recent developments, the paper suggests that, rather than paving the way to more peaceful relations with the region or to internal peace and stability there, the Islamophilic shift in Western policy may rather lead to new waves of catastrophes by further destabilising and fragmenting the region, threatening to evoke new waves of Islamophobia in the West. 




Usage metrics

    Politics & Public Administration


    Ref. manager