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Middle East and Western Scholarship

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Islamic world and the Middle East in relations to the Western knowledge are the main subjects of Lockman’s (2010) book. First, the scholar depicts his ideas of the Western knowledge about the Middle East from the very beginning of the twentieth century. Second, Lockman particularly focuses on the ways how Americans view the aforementioned region during the past half a century. Lockman ends his book with discussions of politicization process of academia representatives.

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The scholar, starting with the ancient Roman and Greek conceptions about the world, continues discussing the European ideas connected with the appearance of Islam in the seventh century. The researcher draws particular attention to the questions of European imperialism, the period, which is characterized by strengthening of the U.S. activities in the region; the most special attention is drawn to the terrorist attacks as of the eleventh of September in 2001.

Thus, Lockman characterizes the terrorist and extremist activities of Muslims by describing the policy of the USA towards the Middle East and its connection to the historical and political contexts of the area. The scholar explains a critical American thought about the West Asia: the modernization theory that appeared after the World War II. He describes the U.S. Government supporting the Middle Eastern studies, and the particular attention is devoted to think tanks.

Lockman finishes by persuading the reader that American academic scholarship of the contemporary Middle East perceives it incorrect critiquing Martin Kramer’s Ivory Towers. The most impressive element of Lockman’s Visions of present and past is his fair appraisal of those, whose thoughts he disagrees with.

The scientist declares his fundamental intent for writing contemporary scientific pieces. The aim of this book is to present the audience an overview of the way that Western cultures perceive the Orientalism, Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. Thus, Lockman delineates the controversies regarding wrong Western interpretation especially by the U.S. scholars of people and their cultures, and the politics that surround them.

The fast development of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies has provoked the solid separation between the West and East starting from the 1970s. For that reason, Lockman aims to critically demonstrate the weak sides of the Western Scholarship by trying to draw the unbiased picture of the Middle East.

Contenting Visions presents informative and accurate recount of the commencement of Islamic identity, frameworks, theories and perceptions. The last ones provoke the public to personal criticism of those common misunderstandings that are associated with the analyzed region. It exploits, which are the essentials to achieve in the epoch of current times.

The central argument of the scholar lies in the incorrect interpretation by Western scholarship of the Middle East. Lockman argues about the existing stereotypes regarding the people and politics of that particular geographical area.  

Lockman also emphasizes that the readers will be able to access more informational sources with the aim to store the facts against each another. That process is quite possible to occur before the people realize that those familiar prejudice or stereotypes can be uncovered with social and political factors. Apart from them economic and cultural aspects are taken into consideration as well and contribute to the recognition of various paradigms that have historic context.

Lockman presents a constructive debate between the prominent scholarships regarding the existing sources on the Middle East with a request for more informative education on the studies. Therefore, the scholar tries to go beyond the perverted romance of the news. 

Lockman also traces back to the times of Antique Greece. In the first chapter, the author discusses the culture creation and the manifestation of its roots in the society of nowadays. As an example, he writes about the durable Christian Islam perceptions that emerged during the medieval times.

As the West was more important, Islam is usually perceived by Europe as alien. Thus, there was a need for the adjustment to the mentality of European centrism, which would provoke the identity rethinking. Lockman (2010) further discusses the Orientalism’s origin and renaissance of; it became a scholarly discipline with the centralism of Islam.

The author also points out the importance of the Area Studies and the Middle East rise in the U.S. society after the Second World War. The US emerged as a global supreme leader in world opposing the Soviet Union as another leading power. Lockman further presents Said’s Orientalism by sharing the critique and overall reaction to such influential writing. He offers dual criticism by empowering the postcolonial theory with the aim to show the general sense of the world.

The last chapter is concentrated on the significance of the alternative options necessary to study Middle Eastern Studies and Islam instead of Orientalism. The latter Lockman considers as prominent since the twenty-first century is characterized by the emergence of Islamism as a sociopolitical phenomenon. The researcher, by presenting various conflicting and contrasting arguments and evidence makes the audience think critically of the Middle East and Islam in particular.

Lewis’ and Said’s Impact on the Middle East Studies

One of the book chapters is devoted to the scholarly debate provoked by Orientalism of Said. Lockman suggests the best analysis available about Said, Lewis, and other major thinkers’ views of those times.

The author of book is Said’s follower because the latter depicts the Middle East history study by analyzing the changes or advances in this field. The Islamic man in Orientalism was an identity that was created by the Western belief. Such person was represented by Muslims as special humankind and was very different to Westerners.  

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Orientalists believed that Islamic civilization emerged in the 17th century, peaked in the ninth, and went down in their development starting from the end the 10th century. Lockman discusses Orientalism by Said in many details who believed that the concept was a construct that represented the West and was aimed at restructuring the dominated power. Lockman stresses that Orientalism is an essential source of the knowledge. Therefore, nowadays it is considered as an important discourse having its own principles.

Orientalism, at the same time, makes us think about the relations between the East and the West from the point of view of our different mentalities. However, such perception does not necessarily mean that similar misrepresentations should be an inevitable part of any process. Lockman does not consider the pointed set of beliefs to be entirely isolated from the intellectual point of view. The scholar is convinced that there should be the ideology on the adoption of Middle Eastern studies by West Scholarship representatives respectively. Nevertheless, the scientist admits the link between colonial policy-making and Orientalist knowledge.

In support to his argument, Lockman does not use a variety of sources but merely sticks to those that are published mostly by Said, Lewis, Marx, Weber, Owen, and Roger. Lockman also utilizes the primarily written historical literature by using contemporary already published articles.

Lockman, in order to support the aforementioned arguments, does not take into the consideration statistic evidence. He mainly considers the citing theories of those scholars by putting the sources in communication with in the place where Lockman seems to fall in his viewpoints.

Going deeper into the Orientalism origins, the researcher presents the effects on the Westerners’ mentalities. Lockman provides his audience with the evidence from different colleagues in this field of science that both oppose to and support the argument of Said.

Lockman is being much unbiased in critiquing Said. However, it is also clear that historian overvalues Said’s work bringing it to the highest level. At the same time, Lockman while discussing the modernization theory’s impact on the Middle East and Islamic studies is a bit unspecific in his explanations as well.

The definition of modernization theory is not introduced by the scholar in the way it is expected to be. Moreover, he does not develop this term relating to his claim. There are also some ideas that, in general, this book would have benefited from incorporating various types of resources not only the literary ones, which he seems to be very favored.

In spite the fact that Lockman’s workis not an original piece; the book definitely fits into the center of the scientific debate regarding Islam and Middle Eastern studies. It is very important to contemporary times, as it brings the reader to the vital topics regarding this science area, and allows its audience to take what they like from broad rhetoric of Lockman.

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