Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 December 2013
This chapter focuses on three events in the period 1840 to 1857/58 and discusses how orientalist ideas were used in each of them to construct three different figurations of the oriental: the Jew, the Turk, and the Indian. The first event is the Damascus affair (1840), in which Damascan Jews were forced to confess under torture to the ritual murder of a Christian priest. The incident was widely covered in the leading European and German dailies in general and the emerging Jewish press. The second event is the Crimean War (1853–56)—a war that is central to the oriental question as it is known in German—in which conflicting European interests in regard to the declining ottoman Empire coalesced with larger inner-European power conflicts. The war is seen as the first to become a media event. The third event is the Revolt of 1857 in India, which also became a media event though it took place in distant India and did not directly involve the states of the European continent. All three events drew an extraordinary amount of attention in the European press in general and also in the German press, while the latter two also became the stuff of popular novels. In fact these events took place at a time when “print capitalism,” as Benedict Anderson calls it, had begun to provide the basis for imagining the nation, though it is equally a time of expanding colonial interests.
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