Representing the East, Viewing the West

Renowned anthropologist Laura Nader (sister of Ralph Nader) discusses how Arab/Muslim women perceived the west during their encounters in the past centuries.

Downloadprogram audio (mp3, 47.8 Mbytes)

Laura Nader

Edward Said spent much of his distinguished career combatting Western stereotypes of the Arab world. Laura Nader explains what Said meant by “Orientalism,” and describes what Arabs who visited the West in past centuries came to think of Western practices. Also, Adel Iskandar talks about the volume in which Laura Nader’s article about Said appears.

Adel Iskandar & Hakem Rustom, eds., Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation UC Press, 2010.

5 thoughts on “Representing the East, Viewing the West”

  1. Very good. Amused to hear an anthropologist describe Rifa’a el-Tahtawi’s work as “translating Booga Booga or whatever they speak out there.” She may have been trying to recreate a feeling of Tahtawi’s time as a Arab scholar in Paris and that was very probably the general Western characterization of the language of the “other,” even for the academic elite, but it sounds shocking in the “modern” context. Then again, how “modern” are we running full speed toward atavism?

    She glanced at the topic of civilization as hubris and Western ideas of progress. I had heard a bit of that topic somewhere else awhile back and it still strikes me as rather strange that many of us think of ourselves as living in an advanced culture. It’s hard to calculate the total arc of the thing from the current trajectory, but it seems to me we’re not aiming very high if this is advanced. She made a very good point. We don’t have civilization – we have technology.

  2. ” Amused to hear an anthropologist describe Rifa’a el-Tahtawi’s work as “translating Booga Booga or whatever they speak out there.”

    Agreed — that is the only part of the debate that jarred a little bit. I am not entirely sure what Nader was trying to communicate or express by using that otherwise unsuitable term.

    Otherwise, it is a refreshing interview, for sure. Many points to consider and reflect on.

  3. Wonderful; thanks to the PRISM team here — please post more debates like these, that compare and reflect on Western / Eastern prisms in scholarship/society, and their inherent prejudices.

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