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Middle East Studies for the New MilleniuInfrastructures of Knowledge$
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Seteney Shami and Cynthia Miller-Idriss

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479827787

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479827787.001.0001

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In the Shadow of Orientalism: The Historiography of US-Arab Relations

In the Shadow of Orientalism: The Historiography of US-Arab Relations

(p.375) Chapter Ten In the Shadow of Orientalism: The Historiography of US-Arab Relations
Middle East Studies for the New Milleniu

Ussama Makdisi

NYU Press

This chapter examines the historiography of US–Arab relations. It traces the attempted transformation of a discourse of American exceptionalism into a more critical postnationalist scholarship. At the same time, it reflects on the academic limits and political challenges of this attempted historiographical makeover. It argues that we are currently in a moment of major transformation toward a more critical, postnationalist approach that is more attentive to complexities within the United States and the region. This is a particularly strong trend in Middle East area studies as well as in the field of American studies. Not all work has moved in this direction, however. Many stereotypes persist in the framing of both places, positioning innocent America against the “inherent depravity” of Islam and the people and places of the Middle East. Such stereotypes are particularly persistent in popular culture and in books written for a general audience, as well as in some academic circles where the notion of a clash of civilizations or essentialist depictions of Arabs, Muslims, Islam, or the region endure.

Keywords:   US–Arab relations, historiography, Islam, American exceptionalism, postnationalist, Middle East studies

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