West Los Angeles College Research Article Summary Essay

The paper should be a 2-3 page paper, double spaced. There is no prompt for the paper. It is meant to get your reaction/response to the reading.

Despite the fact that you are required to give a short summary of the paper (including the name of the author) and what the main points propounded in the article, the paper is NOT supposed to be a summary of the article. After giving the summary (meaning providing the context) you are required to give your reaction to that article. Was it interesting? completely new material to you/ or dd you find that the author did not do justice to the subject.? Does this article make you think of the subject in a different way?

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
West Los Angeles College Research Article Summary Essay
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

The “Middle East” as a Framework of Analysis:
Re-mapping A Region
in the Era of Globalization
Rashid Khalidi
In recent years, there has been increasing dissatisfaction among many scholars with the term “Middle East” as a
designation for the vast region lying between the Atlantic
Ocean, Central Asia and India. This dissatisfaction results
in part from the fact that the term is one of many relics of an
earlier, Eurocentric era, when things were “near,” or “far,” or
in the “middle,” in relation to the privileged vantage point
of Europe.1
While similar designations for other regions, such as
“the Far East,” and “the Indian subcontinent,” are being
discarded in academia in favor of more geographically neutral terms like East Asia and South Asia, this has not happened with regard to the “Middle East.” It would certainly
be feasible to describe this region strictly in terms of its
geography (as west Asia and North Africa,2 or as the land
mass between the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Indian
Ocean and the Black Sea) or in terms of its culture (Islamic,
or Mediterranean, for example) or in other terms. But with
few exceptions, this has not happened in most departments
and centers devoted to the study of this region in the
United States. The older language-based units generally
still tend to describe it as the Near East, and the newer area
studies centers as the “Middle East.”3
The old Eurocentric appellation has not only remained
in both academia and the public domain, but has continued
to shape the way in which the region is regarded in the English-speaking world (and through its French and German
analogues, “moyen Orient” and “naher osten,” even farther
afield). Thus, a description of this region as a function of its
position vis -à-vis Europe, rather than for something inherently intrinsic, is not only archaic and misleading but continues to shape a perception of the region as being defined
in terms of the perspectives and concerns of others.
Even within the “Middle East” itself, this term has great
currency, with the standard designation in Arabic, “alsharq al-awsat,” being no more than a translation of the
English term. The Turkish and Persian terms for the region
are also translations of the term “Middle East.” Sadly, alsharq al-awsat in Arabic, and analogous terms in other
regional languages, indicate that an external perception of
the region is prevalent in countries of the “Middle East”
itself. In Western countries, this reaches the point of a perverse sense that in this region — perhaps even more than
in others in the non-Western world — the West has a peculiar proprietary interest. This was clearly indicated during
the second Gulf War (the Iran-Iraq war being the first) when
politicians and commentators in the United States frequently referred to “our oil,” speaking not of the oil-fields
of Texas and Oklahoma but of those of Saudi Arabia and
It goes without saying that within this region there exist
other ways of describing it, representing quite distinct alternative world views. Thus the Arabic terms for “Arab
world” and “Islamic world:” “al-alam al-Arabi,” and “alalam al-Islami;” the even more highly charged terms for the
Arab nation and the Islamic community, “al-umma alArabiyya,” and “al-umma al-Islamiyya,” represent powerful competing frameworks for describing and understanding
this region. One finds these terms in the political writings of
Arab nationalists and Islamists respectively, and in much of
the public discourse which they have influenced over the
past few decades (as well as in earlier writings). But in spite
of the impact of these powerful trends of thought, it is the
imported term “Middle East” in translation which seems to
enjoy the greatest currency in the Arab and other countries
in the region.
There are other problems with the term “Middle East.”
One is the lack of a precise definition of the areas, countries, cultures, religions, and language groups which are
encompassed by this designation. In spite of the widespread use of the term, there is no consensus as to precisely where the “Middle East” is, what its limits are, and
what it includes. While some definitions include North Africa, others do not — the United States State Department,
for example, for many years considered the “Middle East”
to include the countries of West Asia and Egypt, but not
the rest of North Africa. By some definitions, the region
includes Turkey, while by others it does not; by some it
includes Afghanistan, by others it does not, and so forth,
stretching across a very broad range of countries on the
“periphery” of the “central” countries of the region. Practically the only areas included in virtually every definition of
the “Middle East” are the “Fertile Crescent” – another old
term to signify geographical Syria and Mesopotamia – and
the Arabian Peninsula. Iran and Egypt are almost always
included, but are left out by a few definitions, and so it
Beyond this, even if there is a general sense of which
broad areas are included, there is no clear idea of where the
precise limits of the region are. This is true wherever no
clear boundary is provided by a large body of water like the
Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, or the Indian
Ocean. Thus the question arises in Western Africa over
whether the “Middle East” ends in the Sahara or south of it,
and in Eastern Africa whether it includes the Horn of Africa
or not; or at the region’s eastern limits, in West Asia, where
by some definitions Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of
the “Middle East” and by others they are not; or to the
north-east, where the question arises of how much, if any,
of Central Asia is part of the region. The latter question has
been reopened by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and by
the resultant closer involvement of the countries and peoples of Central Asia with Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and
other states to their south, which has renewed historic connections between them.
Leaving aside these seemingly trivial definitional problems, there are others relating to the confusion — in the
West at least — about the identity of the people who live in
this region: are they all Muslims, or all A rabs, and if so does
this mean that other peoples living in the “Middle East,”
such as the Turks and Iranians, are Arabs? Such questions,
which we might expect to come only from those with a high
degree of ignorance and a faulty education, are in fact
commonly asked by many Americans and Europeans who
are neither ignorant nor poorly educated. At least in part,
their confusion is rather a function of the fact that the term
used to describe this region confounds many non-experts,
or at least fails to enlighten them sufficiently.
In fact, for many people the world over, the “Middle
East” is synonymous with Islam. This is a misconception in
terms of the many millions of non-Muslims who live there,
whether Copts in Egypt, Israeli Jews, or Christians of various Eastern and Western denominations in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as adherents of other faiths, like
Bahais and Yezidis. The notion that the “Middle East” is
synonymous with Islam is further belied by the fact that the
great majority of the world’s Muslims now live outside this
region. Today most Muslims world-wide reside in the countries of South and Central Asia and in Indonesia, Malaysia
and China, rather than in the “Middle Eastern” historical
core of the Islamic world, however defined.
If the “Middle East” is not synonymous with the Islamic
world, whose center of gravity is today far to the east, what
is its central focus? It is perhaps most easily defined in
terms of the peoples who speak Arabic, Persian and Turkish, the three main historic languages of Islam. Even that
definition causes problems, however, since there are many
who speak other languages in the region (Berbers, Israelis,
and Kurds, to name but three) and many living well outside
it who speak related languages, notably Tajik and a number
of Turkic languages.
Other problems with this term are broader ones, which
relate to this and other regions, and to the institutional
processes whereby they are defined, studied and processed
into knowledge in universities and els ewhere. Thus the
enterprise of area studies as it has developed in the American academic community since World War II has left us in
the late 1990s with a Balkanized set of fields, each one in
large measure isolated from the others, and all of them suffering from a greater or lesser degree of isolation from much
of what is going on in the broader realms of the social sciences and the humanities.
In the study of the “Middle East,”4 for example, complex
processes which transcend regions, such as the trade, capital and labor flows between countries all around the rim of
the Indian Ocean, which in differing forms appear to have
been quite significant for a very long time, have been given
far less attention than they deserve (and less attention than
a newly discovered “region,” the Pacific rim). This has occurred partly because these processes transcend several
fields which have been reified through the fields known as
“Middle East studies,” “African studies,” and “South Asian
studies.” Beyond this, little attention has been paid in the
“Middle East” field to what was happening in other
branches of area studies. This was true whether it was the
study of South Asia, where the Subaltern School has had a
profound influence which has now gone well beyond the
history of that region alone, or Latin American Studies,
where dependencia theory for many years was highly influential in analyses not only of Latin America but of development and under-development generally.
The situation today may indeed be worse than it was
before the modern area studies approach was devised.5 To
explain why this is the case, it is necessary to discuss
briefly the genesis of “area studies.” This new approach
emerged first in the United States in the wake of World War
II. It emanated in a situation where, with the exception of a
few isolated specialists, including missionaries, businessmen, and diplomats, there did not exist a body of American
expertise on the history, politics, culture and economies of
most regions of the world.
In this, the United States was unlike the European countries, especially the colonial powers, which had spent decades and sometimes centuries developing a considerable
range of academic, scientific and scholarly expertise and
resources on many areas of the world. Although some had a
greater concentration on, and more resources pertaining to,
those areas where they had colonial ambitions or financial
or other interests, in the European academy generally there
was a cadre of specialists dedicated to the attempt to apprehend, understand and master the languages, cultures
and history of the rest of the world. This attempt mirrored,
was often the precondition for, and was generally the result
of Europe’s mastery over the world.6
To understand how limited were the resources, whether
governmental or non-governmental, devoted to an examination of the rest of the world in the United States, it suffices
to note that no American intelligence service with international scope existed before the establishment of the CIA in
1947 as a successor to the Office of Strategic Services –
which itself was a World War II creation. Nor, with very few
exceptions, did there exist programs for the study of the
languages, history, society or culture of most other parts of
the world (besides Europe) in American universities or any
other American institutions before World War II.
The development of the area studies approach was thus
in large measure an attempt to produce a body of knowledge on an inter-disciplinary basis which would make up for
the almost total absence of information available to American policy-makers. This information was suddenly crucial to
the management of the world system which the United
States found itself dominating at the end of the war.7 There
grew up thereafter an entirely new set of institutions, such
as Foreign Language and Area Centers, new fields, such as
Middle East Studies, and new professional associations,
such as the Middle East Studies Association of North
America, none of which had existed a few decades before.8
The situation today is worse in some ways than it was
before the area studies approach developed; before then
what organized knowledge existed about many of these
regions — in particular the “Middle East,” South Asia and
East Asia — was subsumed under the general rubric of
“Oriental Studies.” As such, it was organized on the basis
of approaches to philology, religion, culture and history
which were generally quite similar. While often antiquarian
in their interests, and resolutely focused on the pre -modern,
these American branches of the European Orientalist disciplines shared their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
Among the strengths was an understanding that there were
some things that these ancient civilizations had in common,
and that they were thus best studied in conjunction with
one another, and in terms of the paradigm of the “civilization.”
Thus, at the University of Chicago, to take one example
among the very small number of American universities with
a strong tradition of Oriental Studies during the first half of
this century, study of the Islamic world and the ancient
Near East, South Asia and East Asia took place within the
walls of one institution, the Oriental Institute, founded by
James Breasted. Similar situations existed in the few other
American academic institutions, such as Princeton, Har-
vard, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, which
supported what was then called Oriental Studies. For all the
failures of classical Orientalism, as they are well described
b y Edward Said in his influential book Orientalism, it at
least managed to avoid the kind of compartmentalization
between different areas, in some cases amounting almost to
a ghetto mentality, which has afflicted modern area studies.
It may be argued in response that the focus of the Near
Eastern, South Asian and East Asian branches of Oriental
Studies on philology and linguistics, archeology, ancient
history and the history of religion may have tended to foster certain kinds of comparative work, but that while closely
linked to one another and to some areas of the humanities
as broadly defined, this entire enterprise was cut off from
what was going on in the social sciences. The rejoinder to
this is, of course, that as the paradigm for the organization
of knowledge developed in Europe and the United States in
the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was the discipline
of Oriental Studies rather than the social sciences which
was considered to be appropriate for the study of these
ancient civilizations.
As Immanuel Wallerstein has brilliantly shown in an
analysis of the genesis of the structure of modern Western
forms of knowledge, during this formative period for the
core disciplines of the social sciences, only the “advanced”
countries of the West were seen as having politics, societies and economies which were worthy of study. The nonWestern world was perceived as devoid of such things,
since it was “timeless,” “stagnant,” “backward,” or some
combination of these things.9 Thus the social sciences established to study these realms of human endeavor, notably
economics, political science, and sociology, hardly extended their scope beyond Europe and the United States.
As for the rest, they had either anthropology, if they were
“primitive” societies, or Oriental Studies, if they were “ancient” societies.
The new enterprise of area studies did not suffer from
these old prejudices about the non-Western world (although it may have been affected by new prejudices), or
from a lack of attention to the social sciences, at least at the
outset. Indeed, among the pioneers and most important
propagators of the new area studies approach were a number of prominent social scientists, among them the anthropologists Milton Singer and Jamie Redfield at the University of Chicago. Many years later, however, after the glory
days of area studies from the 1950s to the 1980s had
passed, several of the American social science disciplines
increasingly rejected involvement with any form of area
knowledge.10 At one major American university, for example,
graduate students in a social science department stated that
they had been told unequivocally by faculty that there was
no point in learning foreign languages!11
With the important exceptions of anthropology and history, both of which coexist uneasily with the “harder,” more
quantitative fields within the rubric of the social sciences,
most of these disciplines have become increasingly resis-
tant to connections to area studies, and increasingly reluctant to make appointments of area specialists in their disciplines. The situation at the University of Chicago, where
area studies can be said to have begun, and where social
scientists were instrumental in the elaboration of the area
studies paradigm, can serve to illustrate this point. With
two new junior appointments in early 1997, this University
has just ended a period of five years when there was not
one regularly-appointed “Middle East” specialist in the
departments of Anthropology, Economics, Political Science,
Psychology or Sociology. For over a dozen years there has
not been a single tenured faculty member specializing in the
“Middle East” in any of these departments. The situation
concerning many other regions, such as Africa, East Asia
and Eastern Europe, was only slightly better at the same
Elsewhere in American universities, although the situation was occasionally better than this in certain departments or with regard to some regions, it was generally quite
similar, and for similar reasons. As several of the social sciences became more self-consciously theoretical, as well as
more quantitative, the linguistic, cultural and historic concerns of many area specialists have come to seem quaint
and retrograde. Thus the President of the Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association,
in a Presidential letter, argued that many in political science
viewed area studies as opposed to the newest trends in
political science, as a drag on the profession, and as defectors from the so-called “quantitative” side of the division in
the academy to the so-called “qualitative” side.12
Thus area studies are in profound trouble in the United
States in a situation where they no longer have prestige in
some of the most important disciplines of the social sciences, and where Oriental studies (already historically is olated from the social sciences) suffers both from the disdain
of scholars influenced by Said’s critique of it, and from
budget cuts because it is believed that its arcane and difficult practice draws few students (and especially few of
those all-important undergraduates whose tuition is ni creasingly vital to the financial well-being of American universities today).
These difficulties are compounded by the end of the
Cold War, which has jeopardized funding for area studies.
Government support of the intensive study of the languages, cultures, societies, politics and history of distant
parts of the world was once defended on the grounds that it
was necessary for waging the struggle against the Soviet
Union and its proxies in these regions. Now that the USSR
has disappeared and the US is triumphant throughout the
world, such study is seen as an unnecessary luxury by
some members of Congress, who are parsimonious about
certain aspects of international education. For some on
Capitol Hill, if this expertise cannot be shown to be essential for explicit foreign policy purposes (or as an adjunct to
the expansion of US business interests throughout the
world), it is not necessary, and certainly does not merit being supported by tax dollars.
In the wake of the US victory in the Cold War, the resurgence of the idea that “the business of America is business,” and that capitalism is the measure of all things, has
reinforced the tendency to see international studies as having utility primarily insofar as they serve to expand the international reach of US business. This recently led Congress to authorize the establishment of Centers for
International Business Education and Research at a number
of American universities.
To these problems can be added the sense in public policy circles and some other forums of public discourse in the
United States that there is less need for local knowledge of
other parts of the world, since globalization basically means
that the world is becoming more like America. Thus, a crude
form of the argument goes, there is no need to read their
exotic languages or learn their strange customs in order to
deal with them, since they will all be speaking English and
eating Big Macs soon, if they are not doing so already. This
crass triumphalism finds another, ostensibly more sophisticated, expression in the view that the end of the Cold War
means the final validation of the capitalist system and of
Western liberal democracy as the height of historical development of the human race — the “end of history” in the
memorably imbecilic phrase of Francis Fukuyama.13
Regardless of how it is expressed, this potent disdain
for the rest of the world translates into a belief that there is
little sense in studying it. Such ideas have increasing power
in some sectors of American society, and could be heard in
recent Congressional discussions about cutting funding for
federally-supported foreign language training (which ultimately did not take place). Such ideas are nevertheless being powerfully contested in the academy and elsewhere.
They are certainly not accepted by the growing number of
American students, graduates and undergraduates, who
seem to understand instinctively that if globalization means
anything to them, it means they will have to learn more
rather than less about the cultures of other parts of the
world, and that these cultures are nearer rather than farther
away, whether because of the increasingly multi-cultural
nature of American society or because of the greater accessibility of other parts of the world in this era.14
A final example of disdain for the rest of the world, and
for the “Middle East” in particular, can be found in the profoundly obtuse, but nevertheless remarkably powerful argument put forward by Harvard political scientist Samuel P.
Huntington in his influential 1993 article in Foreign Affairs,
“The Clash of Civilizations?” which was followed by a recent book of the same name. Under the veneer of the ostensibly equal treatment accorded to each of the seven or eight
civilizations described by Huntington (he is not sure
whether there is such an entity as “African civilization”),
his argument boils down to “the West against the rest” in
the broadest terms, and most immediately the West (and
others of the civilizations he lists) against Islam. 15
This clash between civilizations which Huntington sees
as the most likely, and the conflict which he sees as most
intractable, is that which he predicts will take place with
Islam. Not suprisingly, the authority on whom Huntington
relies for his portrayal of Islam is none other than Bernard
Lewis, whose 1992 article “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” in
The Atlantic Monthly, was highly influential in setting the
parameters for discussion of Islam in terms of social pathology.16 This attitude is adopted by Huntington, who spends
the better part of four pages of his essay on the subject,
concluding with the words, “Islam has bloody borders.”17
Huntington’s denigration of Islam is embodied in a depiction of both its religion and culture as profoundly alien,
and as monolithic and unchanging, and of an uninterrupted
history of conflict between the Islamic world and all its
neighbors. As is obvious to anyone with the slightest
knowledge of the relevant history, this is an ahistorical and
reductionist portrayal, which nevertheless finds a wide
resonance in American culture. It would appear that such a
representation also finds resonance in societies other than
the United States. According to a report in The New York
Times, the 1997 rejection by European Christian Democratic
parties meeting in Brussels of Turkish membership in the
EU was based in part (it can be suspected in large part) on
deep reservations about whether “a Muslim country should
be included” in the European Union, in the words of one
unnamed source.18
Huntington is in fact just the latest in a series of writers
with wide audiences within and without the American academy to demonstrate a particular animus towards Islam, the
Arab world and the “Middle East” generally. Among the
most important of them have been two experts in the field,
Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes.19 The existence of such a
trend has been best analyzed by Edward Said in his works
Orientalism and Observing Islam, and is in fact an enduring
feature of modern American political culture.
As evidence of the pervasiveness of this trend, we can
point to a recent study by John Woods of the blatant
stereotyping of Muslims, Arabs and “Middle Easterners” in
the American mass media, and in particular in political cartoons in the daily press.20 Employing dozens of images,
mainly cartoons, Woods shows clearly that it is possible to
use crude racist images about these groups in these media
almost with impunity. This is in clear distinction to treatment of almost every other major national, ethnic or religious group in the United States, even those who in the
past have been the objects of fierce racial or religious
prejudice in America or elsewhere, such as AfricanAmericans and Jews.
To sum up, we have seen that there are serious problems with the definition of the “Middle East” as a region
and as a field of inquiry; there are problems with Middle
East Studies in particular, and with area studies in general;
there is a growing distancing from important segments of
the world seen as threatening by influential elements of the
American elite (but not all of American culture) and by some
European elite; and there is a particular hostility towards
Islam, Arabs and the “Middle East” among many of these
same elite. In view of all these disturbing trends, what is to
be done?
In suggesting what is to be done, it is probably preferable to focus on the first three sets of problems rather than
the fourth: for the hostility in the United States and the
West generally towards Islam has deep and quite specific
roots, a serious discussion of which will take us far from our
subject. It is worth noting simply, however, that this hostility is not only bound up with the broader problems affecting area studies. Indeed, it can probably be addressed effectively only as part of the resolution of other issues —
notably the Arab-Israeli conflict — for it is grounded in
great measure in carefully cultivated ignorance and fear of
the “Middle East,” Islam and the Arabs, which are exceedingly useful in mobilizing support for Israel among important segments of the American public. It is likely that the
only thing that will measurably diminish that ignorance and
fear is a resolution of this conflict.
As far as regional definitions are concerned, it is time to
recognize that there are processes which transcend regions,
and which must be addressed on an extra-regional basis.
Whether this is a disciplinary basis, within sociology or
anthropology or history, or involves bringing together more
than one region in an ad hoc fashion, or even the redefinition of regions, or involves the study of new phenomena on
an entirely new basis, as for example on the basis of the
new paradigm of globalization, it is clear at least that we
must expect solutions from directions other than the “traditional” areas into which area studies are divided.
Moreover, for all their value in other respects, most of
the existing fields grounded in Orientalism are singularly illadapted to deal with these processes. Departments of Near
East, or South Asian, or East Asian languages and literature, or languages and civilizations, are resolutely backward
looking, and with their heavy emphasis on philology, archaeology and ancient history, they are simply not appropriate venues for the study of subjects such as globalization, urbanization, the environment.
Similarly, area studies generally, in their current configuration dominated by National Resource Centers and other
centers for the study of specific regions, while generally
somewhat more forward-looking, are by their mandate confined to the study of a single region, rather than transcending regions. It remains to be seen how much of traditional
Oriental and area studies can be recuperated and recycled
— particularly the essential language and literature training
which they successfully fostered in Europe and North
America — and how much is irremediably mired in the historical and institutional contexts out of which they emerged.
And outside the American and European contexts, there
is an understandable obsession with each country’s, and
each region’s, history and development, an obsession that
tends to preclude research that cuts across regions. But
perhaps it is here, outside America and Europe, with their
heavy institutional investments in both conservative Oriental studies and region-bound area studies, that an open-
minded attitude to these processes that transcend specific
areas of the world might be most easily found. Perhaps the
right environment for work going beyond traditional disciplinary and regional boundaries can be found in areas such
as the “Middle East,” where there is an acute consciousness of countries’ and peoples’ ties to adjacent parts of the
Eurasian-African land-mass and of integration in numerous
global processes.
There is every reason to encourage such a development, if this is the case, for it will make it possible for scholars and intellectuals in such countries to begin work in
fields where the developed countries not only do not have
the advantage of a head start, but where institutional inertia
and natural conservatism will hinder many of their scholars
from moving in new directions. At the very least, scholars
from the non-Western world have certain advantages with
these new approaches and new fields which Western
scholars do not have, although the latter of course retain
their comparatively lavish funding and relative stability of
working conditions by comparison with colleagues els ewhere.
Whether scholars in developing countries will take the
lead or not, it is necessary to devise new paradigms which
can help us to see new connections and new combinations.
These include the long-standing linkages between the
countries of the Indian Ocean rim, which has not yet received the attention devoted to the Pacific rim as a unit for
certain purposes of description and analysis. Another is the
integral relations in the present and the past between Central Asia, the Caucasus and Black Sea regions and the
“Middle East,” relations which were temporarily obscured
by Russian colonialism and during the Soviet period. There
are many more such sets of linkages, some regional like the
two just mentioned, and some truly global in nature: Islamic
banking for example; or the use of websites by radical political movements; or the extraordinary capital, labor and
population flows within, through and out of South Asia and
the “Middle East.”
And in the “Middle East” in particular, there are many
specific incentives to think about these issues, for they are
central both to many of the region’s internal problems, and
perhaps to some of the solutions to them, as well as to
many of the region’s problems with the developed world. It
would help if some of these problems could be seen as
shared, across the region and across regions, and if solutions which transcend the region could thus be devised.
This may sound almost trite, but it is one of the key realizations that taking a global perspective makes possible: while
“Middle Easterners” and others may see the problems of
their societies as unique and specific, many of them are far
from unique, whether the problem is pollution, urban crowding, over-population, food dependency, corruption, or
something else.
Of course, this region has a specific language and culture. The latter is shared in some measure with other regions but is different in some important respects, including
the impact of Islam which, in spite of its many universal
aspects, is practiced differently in different regions, and
often produces different social and political results in each
case. We must study and understand both what is shared
and what is unique, if we are to understand why some
global phenomena appear in quite a similar fashion all over
the world, and have completely disparate effects in others.
If anything justifies the Oriental studies and area studies
paradigms, it is these specificities of language and culture,
which we must understand and respect, but must also transcend on occasion.
These observations on the “Middle East” in an era of
globalization have hopefully contributed to the rethinking
which will be necessary if we are to remap not only the
“Middle East” but other regions, and if we are to understand how to preserve a comprehension of their specificities, while being open to the broader trends which are becoming increasingly important in the modern – or postmodern — world in which we live. This process will benefit
greatly from the increased input of those who, coming from
regions outside Europe and North America, are freer of
some of the heavy intellectual and institutional baggage of
rigid disciplines, inflexibly defined areas, and conservative
departments. While they generally do not enjoy the support
of well-funded institutions which many of us benefit from,
and may operate in circumstances which are less than ideal
for scholarly endeavor, they are often in immediate touch
with many of the phenomena which we study from afar, and
benefit from involvement in the debates within their societies. For all these reasons, in order for the process of remapping regions to be successful, it must be a collaborative
project of those within and without the regions being remapped.
The term was in fact invented by an American, Captain Alfred
Thayer Mahan, in his seminal 1892 work of geopolitics, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783. It was later taken up
and propagated by the British Liberal Imperialist journalist and
writer, Halford MacKinder. See Roger Adelson, London and the Invention of the Middle East (New Haven: Yale University Press,
We often forget that the continents themselves are constructs. As
Martin W. Lewis and Karen E. Wigen point out in The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), Europe, Asia and Africa are actually part of one
At the State University of New York at Binghamton, the relevant
area center is called the South West Asia and North Africa Center.
The letterhead of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Chicago describes it as “A Center for the Study of North A frica, Western Asia, Central Asia and the Islamic World.”
For details, see R. Khalidi, “Presidential Address: Is there a Future
for Middle East Studies?” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin ,
29, 1 (July 1995): 1-6.
There is an ongoing discussion of the area studies paradigm in the
academic disciplines, the foundations, and the area studies groups
themselves. Some contributions to it are in Items, Bulletin of the
Social Science Research Council, notably Stanley J. Heginbotham,
“Rethinking International Scholarship: The Challenge of the Transition from the Cold War Era,” 48, 2-3 (June-Sept. 1994): 33-40; and
Kenneth Prewitt, “Presidential Items,” 50, 1 (March 1996): 15-18,
and “Presidential Items,” 50, 2-3 (June-Sept. 1996): 31-40. See also
Robert H. Bates, “Letter from the President: Area Studies and the
Discipline,” APSA-CP, Newsletter of the APSA Organized Section in
Comparative Politics, 7,1 (Winter 1966): 1-2; Peter A. Hall and
Sidney Tarrow, “Globalization and Area Studies: When is Too Broad
Too Narrow?,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (January 23,
1998): B4 -5; Area Studies, Regional Worlds: A White Paper for the
Ford Foundation (The Globalization Project, The University of
Chicago, June 1997). Philip S. Khoury, “Letter from the President:
Global and Local Perspectives,” MESA Newsletter, 20, 2, (May
1998), pp. 1,3.
A seminal work on this subject is Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New
York: Pantheon, 1978). See also V.G. Kiernan, The Lords of Human
Kind: Black Man, Yellow Man, and White Man in an Age of Empire
(Boston: Little Brown, 1969), Samir Amin, Eurocentrism (New
York: Monthly Review Press, 1989), Ronald Inden, Imagining India
(Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), J.M. Blaut, The Colonizer’s Model of the
World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History (New
York: Guilford, 1993), Bernard S. Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms
of Knowledge: The British in India (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1996).
The fact that this effort was profoundly rooted in the needs of the
new post-World War II American world hegemony, and the related
needs of the Cold War, can be shown by the name of one of the first
Congressional measures to provide funding for foreign language instruction, the National Defense Education Act of 1957. Much has
changed since the early Cold War years, with academics, universities,
foundations and professional associations in many fields asserting
their own agendas, which were often counter to those of the go vernment. This could be seen during both the Vietnam and Gulf wars,
when many, and ultimately perhaps most, American experts on these
two regions were opposed to the go vernment’s policies.
This organization, founded in 1966, in 1996 had a Roster of Members which ran to over 160 pages, and holds annual conferences
which draw over a thousand people.
See I. Wallerstein, “Open the Social Sciences,” Items, 50, 1, (March
1996): 1-7. This was part of Wallerstein’s summary of a recent survey of the social sciences by a panel of eminent academics sponsored
by the Mellon Foundation.
Items, The Bulletin of the SSRC, is full of analyses of why and how
this trend has developed. See the articles cited in footnote #4 above.
The Vice President of the Mellon Foundation, in a letter cited in
Khalidi, “Presidential Address,” p. 2, noted that foundations are
moving away from support from “area studies, as they are traditio nally defined.”
These were Political Science students at Indiana University.
Robert H. Bates, “Letter from the President.”
Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New
York: Free Press, 1992).
These students may search for knowledge about the world in the
departments that are the heirs to Orientalism – the language and
culture and language and civilizations departments – or in other parts
of area studies, or elsewhere, whether within the social science disciplines, in business or law, or in the growing field of globalization
studies. The point is that their numbers are clearly growing.
Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?,” Foreign Affairs, 72, 3 (Summer 1993): 22-49. The Clash of Civilizations and
the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster,
Bernard Lewis, “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” The Atlantic
Monthly, 26, (September 1992): 57-69. For a harshly critical perspective on Lewis’ anti-Islamic prejudices, see Edward W. Said, Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See
the Rest of the World, rev. ed. (New York: Vintage, 1997), pp. xxix xxxiii.
Huntington, “The Clash,” p. 35.
Stephen Kinzer, “Brussels Meeting Dims Turks’ Hopes,” New York
Times, March 11, 1997, p. A7.
Lewis’ work is justly well known in this regard: see the critique of
it cited in note 17, above, and in Said, Orientalism, pp. 314-321.
Pipes has published a number of works which display such an animus,
occasionally thinly veiled, notably Slave Soldiers and Islam: The
Genesis of a Military System (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1981), and Greater Syria: The History of an Am bition (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1990). More important in this respect has
been his work as Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in
Philadelphia, a think tank whose primary task appears to be to denigrate opponents of Israel, perceived and real, whether in the United
States or the Middle East.
John Woods, “Imagining and Stereotyping Islam,” in A. Husain, J.
Woods and J. Akhtar, Muslims in America: Opportunities and Challenges, Position Paper 2, pp. 45-77, (Chicago: International Strat egy and Policy Institute, 1996).

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with Writall
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
Criminal Justice
Absolutely LOVE the essay I received. I really appreciate it so much.
Customer 454561, February 16th, 2021
Public Relations (PR)
Thank you
Customer 454893, September 9th, 2022
Health Care
Excellent job
Customer 454677, March 9th, 2021
Great job
Customer 454983, February 24th, 2022
Perfect as always, thank you!
Customer 452961, July 7th, 2020
Health Care
I got an A. on this project thanks
Customer 453877, June 6th, 2020
Great Writer
Customer 454641, January 21st, 2021
Thank you so much!!
Customer 454959, October 22nd, 2021
Business Studies
Customer 454567, December 2nd, 2020
Health Care
I got an A and got a good feedback from the instructor. Thanks
Customer 453877, May 20th, 2020
Business Studies
Was fantastic
Customer 453195, October 5th, 2022
The essay was very well formatted and the writer really made it detailed and concise. Followed prompt and had good evidence
Customer 454933, October 5th, 2021
Customer reviews in total
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
Customers referred by a friend
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat
Live Chat+1(978) 822-0999EmailWhatsApp