Michael H Goldhaber on Fri, 3 Aug 2007 01:57:05 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> the fate of Middle East studies


I doubt both these explantions.

First, they are two, not one, becuase educational institutions try to  
satisfy potential students these days by offering them the familiar  
and comforting,  namely studies of their own cultures. This has  
little or nothing to do with helping merchanidsers find what will  
sell to them.

On the hand, since the Middle East is rich with oil money, it offers  
a fertile potential market for merchandisers. It makes no sense from  
that standpoint to ignore cultural studies of the region, if such  
considerations had much to do with with the matter.

Academia in the US has long emphasized European culture and  
languages, which nicely encompasses Latin America, at least as far as  
the dominant Spanish and Portuguese cultures. Arabic, Persian,  
Turkish  and other languages spoken by large Islamic communities on  
the other hand are much more rarely known or studied in most  
universities or by most faculties. They have little ability therefore  
to judge the quality of scholars in such fields, and a lazy  
disinclination to get involved in selecting good ones.

These countries have also been quite resistant to western, christian  
missionaries, unlike the far east in the 19th c. Missionary efforts  
areone of the main reasons that there is an American tradition of  
studying Chinese and Japanese at university levels.


On Aug 1, 2007, at 6:09 PM, Benjamin Geer wrote:

> Last year I posted the following question[1] on this list:
>> A lot of work surely went into giving the West positive associations
>> with Latin America.  Perhaps literature professors helped by getting
>> their students to read Latin American writers.... Perhaps
>> someone here knows more about the history of that process.
> I was asking whether that process, whatever it was, might be repeated
> for regions that Westerners tend to have negative associations about,
> like the Arab world.  Nobody replied, but I've recently come across an

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