Category Archives: “The West”

Image Assignment: A Journey (303/415)

Richard and Saladin Jousting. Luttrell Psalter ca. 1340. British Library.

I began my project with a clear idea of which image I wanted to discuss: the cover illustration of Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. The first thing I learned about this image was what I read on the back of the book, where notes about cover art are usually placed. The note informed me that the image was of Saladin and Richard jousting from a 14th century text called the Luttrell Psalter

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West/Rest (303/415)

The discourse of “the West and the Rest” relies on the method of Othering. The construction of the myth of the West depends on its other, the Rest. If the Westerner is defined by attributes such as industriousness and fondness for liberty, for example, then the non-Westerner is necessarily lazy and slavish. 

Here is a quote from Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts:

“[T]he Other [is] a form of cultural projection of concepts. This projection of concepts constructs the identities of cultural subjects through a relationship of power in which the Other is the subjugated element. In claiming knowledge about [non-Westerners] what [the discourse of “the West and the Rest”] did was construct them as its own (Western) Other. Through describing purportedly [non-Western] characteristics (irrational, uncivilized, etc.) [“the West and the Rest”] provided a definition not of the real [non-Western] identity but of the Western identity in terms of the oppositions which structured its account. Hence, irrational Other presupposes rational Self. The construction of the Other in [West/Rest] discourse, then, is a matter of asserting self-identity, and the issue of the Western account of the [non-Western] Other is thereby rendered a question of power” (Edgar and Sedgwick 2002).

ABCs (HUM415)

Jacobin Magazine and Verso Books are producing a series of weekly podcasts over the course of March that address chapters from one of our required texts, The ABCs of Socialism. Nivedita Majumdar’s remarks are significant for a number of reasons, though in a US context one insight here might be that capitalist identity politics is a core element of the defense of socioeconomic inequality (see also Touré F. Reed’s Why Liberals Separate Race from Class or Nancy Fraser’s article “The End of Progressive Neoliberalism” on the course information page).

 

A Parting Gift

From the New York Times:

The administration has decided to deem the Shabab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces.

Notably, al-Shabab did not even exist in 2001.

Mapping the Age of Empire (HUM303)

The link and images below may help you in reading Sherlock Holmes. It depends, I suppose, on the extent to which you pursue a Said-ian reading. Remember to think not only about socio-historical context— what is represented and left unrepresented– but also formal elements of detective fiction. What form does evidence take? What methods of “ratiocination” are in play? Are the narrative tactics described by Bennett (in Pyrhönen‘s essay) being utilized? (Can you remember what they are? You were asked about them on Thursday.)

Here’s a rough, historical and theoretical exposition of the concepts of imperialism and colonialism. These are basically lecture notes:

https://analepsis.org/2010/02/10/empire-revised-notes-toward-a-definition-hum415/

A map of the British Empire, 1907:

britishempiremap1907

A  map of colonial empires around the world, 1910:

world_1910