Type of Document Dissertation Author Kauffeldt, Jonas URN etd-07062006-120724 Title Danes, Orientalism and the Modern Middle East: Perspectives from the Nordic Periphery Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department History, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Peter P. Garretson Committee Chair Bawa S. Singh Committee Member Michael Creswell Committee Member Nathan Stoltzfus Committee Member Scott C Flanagan Committee Member Keywords
- Morgenavisen Jyllandsposten
- Knud Holmboe
- Karen Jeppe
- Edward Said
- Dansk Kirkemission i Arabien
Date of Defense 2006-05-26 Availability unrestricted AbstractIn 1978, Edward W. Said (1935-2003), Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, published his now famous book, Orientalism. Intended as an indictment of the di-chotomization of East and West the willful categorization of the Orient as distinct and ne-cessarily stunted in comparison to the Occident Said argued that the perception, rooted in the murky centuries of medieval Europe, crystallized into a potent and pervasive discourse that once manufactured, combined establishment knowledge with political and economic power in the 19th century. Imperialism and direct occupation of the Middle East reinforced the belief in its re-gional subservience and weakness and forged a virtual ideology of Western superiority and entitlement.
Yet how did societies and individuals at the margins of European and Western power fit into the framework put forth by Said? Was he correct to assert that the Orientalist discourse was all encompassing and colored every observer and scholar who studied the region? Or was it pos-sible for individuals, both from within the states that dominated the Middle East and even more readily those native to the lesser powers that did not, to assert an independent basis for judgment and interpretation?
This dissertation explores a range of experiences that Danes, citizens of a small and relatively weak European state, garnered in their encounters with the Middle East. Their views and under-standings of events, as well as their perspectives on the Other, served to influence the shaping of knowledge in Denmark about the East. Further, as their country was unentangled in the web of strategic and imperial intrigue that dominated the affairs of the larger powers, Danes were able to position themselves before the local populations as individuals untainted by affiliations that might present a danger of undue influence. Ever conscious of this advantage, they worked dili-gently to cultivate that perception and harness it as an advantage wherever possible.
In short, a revelation and consideration of Danish perspectives adds to the diversity of sources encompassed by the study of Orientalism.
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