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Mainstream pro-war news media reporting of the 2003 Iraq War was highly sanitized in a way that reduced war coverage to a cinematic spectacle. The picture that was painted by the coalition mainstream media reporters was of a war free of images of suffering, destruction, dissent, and diplomacy, but full of sophisticated US weaponry, chivalrous “heroism” and militarist “humanitarianism.” The US control of news media framing (through censorship and embedding systems) shielded viewers from the “realities” of the battlefield through recourse to maneuvering “avoidance” strategies, such as the “dehistorization,” “depersonalization,” and “decontextualization” of the unfolding conflict. By muting dissenting voices, the pro-war coalition media frames manufactured an “interpretive dominance” that was inextricably structured in hegemony and social control.
This article analyses the construction of religious origin myths for Islam within ‘universal religion’ and esoteric frameworks in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century South Asia and beyond, and sheds light on the role of ‘Western’ and Anglo-Indian converts in this process. At its core is a case study of the elusive Hamid Snow, founder of the so-called ‘Church of Islam’ in 1891 in Sikanderabad, Deccan. On the following pages, I reconstruct Snow's biography from little-known Urdu and English sources, analyse his writings, and place him within a context of religious modernist, esoteric, and convert networks encompassing South Asia, Europe, the United States, the Philippines, and other parts of the world. By focusing on the nature of the scholarship of religion at the time, and the reconstruction of religious pasts under the influence of esotericism and religious modernism, the article traces the influence of Orientalist and Eurocentric views on perceptions of the Islamic tradition and contributes to larger debates about the role of laypeople, especially those with an interracial background, in interpreting religious history and acting as cultural mediators between different communities during a time of ‘hybrid transnational occultism’.1
This chapter explores the cultural preconditioning through which many visitors to the East viewed and processed events around them in the early twentieth century. It considers how the messaging and tone found in missionary treatments of Chinese society, which mirrored May Fourth writing in striking ways, added urgency to evangelical work by stressing its morally transformative purpose, something missionary writing shared with revolutionary agitation. On asserting the primacy of Western beneficence and valuation of life, missionaries were joined by more secular and celebrated writers, including Bertrand Russell, Somerset Maugham and Alexis Leger (aka St.-John Perse). In the broader logic of colonialism, the idea that benevolence was practiced or not, or suffering alleviated or not, became a key criterion with which cultures and peoples were categorised in the hierarchy of nations. Chinese writers during May Fourth in turn embraced and internalized such dichotomies in a form of sociological coproduction. In the paradigm to which many reformist writers subscribed, Chinese culture precluded the very idea of assisting strangers or of mitigating social ills in any meaningful way. Western power over the Chinese was thus attributed in part to civic cultures and day-to-day values lacking in Chinese communities.
This article examines often ignored ‘minority entanglements’ forged between European Jewish and South Asian Muslim intellectuals in Germany and traces their evolution in colonial India. The article focuses on three individual life histories and situates them within the more extensive Jewish-Muslim intellectual dialogue that resonated in the inter-war period. It brings to light the lives and writings of Josef Horovitz (1874–1931), professor of Arabic at the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh, and a prolific contributor to the journal Islamic Culture published in Hyderabad; Leopold Weiss alias Muhammad Asad (1900–1992) in Islamia College, Lahore, who also served as the editor of Islamic Culture, Hyderabad; and educationist and reform pedagogue Gerda Philipsborn (1895–1943) at the Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. The intellectual dialogue between minority communities, together with the contribution it made both to modern Islamic studies as a discipline and the forging of a new reform pedagogy, allow us to rethink the Jewish and Muslim question as well as the minority response to it through a comparative perspective. The minor history of European Jewish and South Asian Muslim entanglements makes for a rich testimony to the problems and possibilities of studying minorities as the makers of minor cosmopolitan knowledge.
The Crimean War was not the first time Britons made their ways to the Black Sea peninsula, but it was the decisive occasion to place the land in the national consciousness, giving rise to travel narratives in newspapers, diaries, and letters. These accounts by wartime adventurers provided ways of understanding the Crimea, cosmopolitan and foreign in British eyes, during the conflict and after. Even while showcasing far-away lands, they showed Britons, the English especially, to be reluctant travelers, glad to head homeward at war’s end. After the troops exited the peninsula and across the Victorian age, return narratives cast the Crimea as a place of memory and self-discovery. During the twentieth century, global politics made the peninsula a stage for world wars and for international diplomacy, culminating in the Yalta Conference of 1945. In the postwar era and until the 2014 Russian invasion, the peninsula became a tourist destination, giving Britons a view behind the Iron Curtain and a glimpse of a post-Soviet Age. Across these changes, Crimean War narratives provided frameworks that allowed Britons to understand history, apprehend travel, and assess themselves.
In this Introduction, we meet two fixer–reporter teams who cover the same event – a terrorism attack in Istanbul – in very different ways. Fixers are news contributors who assist foreign reporters by arranging, translating, and otherwise mediating between them and local news sources. Depending on a fixer’s background, aspirations, and relationship with their client reporter, they can shape the news in significant ways. To understand how and why fixers shape the news, attention to political, historical, and biographical contexts of newsmaking is essential. The Introduction goes on to explain that the fixer and reporter characters who appear in this book are composite characters created from data collected through ethnographic research.
This chapter addresses how the Crusades spurred a renewed appropriation of Alexander in historiography, literature, images and cartography in late medieval Europe. Alexander’s legend was particularly relevant because it reflected the era’s geopolitical and epistemological complexity. The chapter focuses first on the ancient Alexander legend’s adaptation in Crusade-era texts including Crusade chronicles, epics, antique romances and encyclopedias. These works compare Alexander to Crusaders, present Alexander as a precursor of the Crusaders who fights Asian tyranny, interpolate Alexander into the stories of Crusaders through ekphrasis, and frequently cite the legend of Alexander’s enclosure of Gog and Magog. The chapter’s second part focuses on how manuscripts present Alexander as a proto-Crusader even if texts do not overtly describe him as such. Particular attention is paid to compilations that join Alexander and holy warriors (Judas Maccabeus, Godfrey of Bouillon), and to images that Christianise Alexander or demonise his foes. The final section examines the influence of Alexander’s legend on the apocalyptic geography of late medieval maps, which often depict Gog and Magog and other elements (toponyms, sites, monstrous peoples) of the Alexander tradition.
The American support for the Zionist movement and later Israel was based on three premises: religion, shared values, and history. Religious belief and the Old Testament were significant components of the identity of the first Americans, the Puritans, and their descendants. Taking their cue from their devotion to the Bible, its stories, and geography, the Americans became convinced that if God’s prophecies were to be fulfilled, then the Jews should return to their homeland, and the Americans should propagate the restoration of the Jewish homeland. The American belief in democracy, a civic expression of religious beliefs and self-determination, in which they believed in for the Jews, led the United States to a sense of commitment towards the restoration and permanent well-being of the Jews in their own homeland. History was another component in the American commitment to the Zionist movement and Israel, the sense that it was America’s duty to undo the injustices that the Jews suffered for thousands of years from Christians, most recently the Holocaust. Contrary to the American idealistic commitment to the Zionist cause and to Israel, the Zionists and Israel viewed their alliance with the Americans more pragmatically.
This article focuses on Arthur Christensen's meeting with the Iranian intelligentsia in 1929. Arthur Christensen's L'Iran sous les Sassanides had a tremendous influence on the Iranian nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, Christensen's encounter with Iranian intellectuals in 1929 shows that from the very beginning they had much in common, and furthermore that Christensen was influenced by Iranian nationalism.
Chapter 2 surveys some different ways in which Asia features in the Irish literary imagination from Lafcadio Hearn and W. B. Yeats to the present. Ronan Sheehan’s Foley’s Asia, dealing with a celebrated nineteenth-century Irish sculptor of imperial monuments, and Naoise Dolan’s Exciting Times, set in Hong Kong against the backdrop of a ‘rising China’, are its contemporary examples. In early twentieth-century writing, Asia represented an exotic non-modern alternative to Western modernity. Later, it served as a backdrop to the fall of the British Empire. More recently, it suggests a strange new hyper-modernity with which the West will have to catch up. In all versions, Asia is conceived somewhere between the exotic and apocalyptic, a world at once tantalizing and threatening.
The empiricist legacy of John Locke developed in various directions in the British Romantic period, especially informing the movement known as theological utilitarianism, which taught ethics based on prudence and sought evidences for a benevolent, Christian God as designer of the world. This approach was challenged, however, above all by the idealism of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who drew on Platonic and recent German sources. Further, newly translated Hindu texts influenced both metaphysical speculation and practical recommendations of a life of moderation and self-denial, including in the work of several female novelists in the period.
British Romanticism’s engagement with Islam was shaped by an age of conflict, tumult, and intellectual ferment. Following the French Revolution, British Romantic writers gained knowledge of Islam through processes of cultural osmosis. Despite the growing presence of Muslims visiting and even living in Britain, Islam remained the stereotypical “Other.” At the same time, as republican and irreligious, the broader milieu in which these Romantic writers operated manifested its radicalism in the form of the distribution and dissemination of subversive manuscripts, with Islam providing an effective vehicle. While they often subscribed to notions about Britain’s intellectual and moral superiority vis-à-vis the Muslim world, these writers deployed Islam to reinforce a wider cause, in some cases arguing for a radical revision of contemporary orthodoxies, even when a positive depiction risked social approbation and possible punishment in a Britain where prejudice against Islam endured.
Not simply the persistence of Greek and Roman comedy and tragedy, drama of the modern era had its rebirth in the liturgical performances within the church. Once the miracle and morality plays were moved out of the church, literally pro-fane, their secularized forms were soon suspected of degeneration, and the antitheatrical prejudice was promulgated. To control the possibly disruptive effects of the drama, censorship was introduced to spare leaders of Church or state from being maligned on stage. The Church of England may have been protected but Gothic melodrama found its villains and victims among the monks and nuns. Methodists, Quakers, Jews, dissenters, and nonconformists were targets for theatrical ridicule or abuse. Circumventing the proscriptions of the Licensing Act (1737), Shakespeare’s history plays provided a model for representing religious conflict on stage.
The colonial encounter with India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought the British in contact with new ideas, philosophy, and a new religion. This interface between Britain and India and the subsequent interest in, study, and translation of Hindu and Sanskrit texts by British officials and scholars greatly influenced British Romantic poets writing in the nineteenth century. This engagement also shaped Indians writing in the English language. This essay examines this interface and the influence of Hinduism on British Romantic literature.
This chapter assesses Wallace Stevens’s relationship and relevance to world literature under Pascale Casanova’s rubric of the “two orders,” political and aesthetic, that constitute the “world literary space.” Jenkins’s chapter argues that Stevens’s involvement in the global cultural marketplace and his defense of poetic autonomy, his projection of his poetry as a world in itself, are not incompatible but mutually constitutive of his complex relationship to world literature. The chapter explores Stevens’s orientalism and his reception, in translation, in contemporary Chinese poetry and in the Anglophone world poetries of Kashmiri American and Iranian American poets Agha Shahid Ali and Roger Sedarat. The chapter concludes with a consideration of Stevens’s significance, in translation, for contemporary Italian poets like Valerio Magrelli, and of his mixed reception in postwar British and Irish poetry.
Chapter 5 explores the visual and rhetorical styles through which Ottoman history was modernized. Faced with enduring Western Orientalism, Turkish authors, architects, and illustrators took a number of distinct stylistic steps to celebrate their history while presenting their relationship to it as an unequivocally modern one. The explosion of popular history magazines and historical novels during the 1950s provided a forum in which the act of reading about the past could itself become a performance of modernity. Whether blending popular history with pulp fiction or encouraging Turkish citizens to approach their country from the perspective of Western tourists, Turkish authors pioneered approaches to re-appropriating their own past that remain popular today.
Chapter 3 explores the ways mid-century writers used art, history, travel, and gender to articulate a vision of Turkish identity that claimed to synthesize Western Modernity and Eastern tradition or transcend this division entirely. While writers from rival ideological backgrounds promoted different versions of Turkish modernity, they nonetheless shared the belief that this modernity should be a synthetic one, combining the best of East and West. In citing American examples to critique European modernity or putting a modern imprimatur on radically different ideas about women’s role in society, these authors demonstrated how creatively Turkey’s clichés could be employed.
While the stereotype of the oriental villain and the practice of yellowface have been discussed by scholars, less has been said about how practices of cinematography and editing more subtly controlled the representation of Asian immigrants in American film. This chapter examines how orientalism informed American feature-length silent films, including Chinatown Nights (1929) and A Tale of Two Worlds (1921), by visualizing the negative impact of Chinese immigration, depicting the investigation of Chinatown’s people and spaces by white American heroes, and concluding with the reassertion of occidental dominance over oriental people and spaces. In contrast, films such as The Tong-Man (1919) presented resistance to cinematic regulatory gazes by casting Asian American actors in key roles, including silent film’s only Asian American star, Sessue Hayakawa, to challenge those orientalist constructions of subjectivity and objectivity. This chapter demonstrates that, while many silent films depicted Chinatown as a space for white American adventure and Chinese immorality, some demonstrated an appreciation for Chinese immigrants who desired the American dream and assimilation in America’s melting pot.
This chapter looks at the influence of “decorative orientalism,” in which Asian objects and images inspired acts of consumption, display, and performance in American homes, on the literary imagination of a persistent racial type: the “Butterfly.” This figure of submissive and suicidal Asian femininity was central to a set of popular stories of interracial romance between Asian women and white European or American men, including Pierre Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème (1887), John Luther Long’s story Madame Butterfly (1898), and Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Madama Butterfly (1904). These works have been interpreted as pointed indictments of Western colonialism, as grossly racist misrepresentations, or both. My objective here is less to monitor the degree of accuracy within these representations than to consider how they articulate and manage anxieties about not only intercultural desire, but also consumption and excess. I conclude by examining how Winnifred Eaton’s interracial romance, A Japanese Nightingale (1901), subtly but significantly varies the terms of decorative orientalism in order to provide a biracial heroine with a measure of lasting value.
Jose Garcia Villa (1908–1997) was a pioneering Filipino writer in the United States and a key figure in the history of Anglophone Filipino literature. His troubled relations with the literary establishment in the Philippines made him seek acceptance in the US literary world, which, as a colonial subject, he had taken as the summit of validation. As this review of his publication history in the United States shows, however, his foreignness hounded him. While Villa took steps to transition into someone other than a Filipino writer, he could only be accepted in the US literary scene on Orientalist terms – that is, as a subordinate or an imperfect copy of his American originals – and was dispensable.