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88 Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, Vol. 1.1 her work from the U.S. National Science Foundation; the Social Science Research Council NMERTA and IDRF programs; a competitive Social Science Research Council special-topics international dissertation workshop, among other awards. doi:10.2979/jims.1.1.08 Arab Occidentalism: Images of America in the Middle East Eid Mohamed London-New York: I. B. Tauris, 2015. 170 pages. Scholarship on orientalism has richly dissected the essence of politicization in Western forms of knowledge about Arabs and Muslims. Since the publishing of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1979), the field of postcolonial studies has encapsulated not only critiques of Western imperialism and its utility of knowledge as a powerful tool for controlling others, but also captured emerging critiques of the subaltern and subjugated populations in their search for decolonialization and postcolonial agency. In the Arab world, three meta-narratives have espoused competing,oftenoverlapping,resistancenarrativesoftheWest,i.e.,Arabnationalism , Islamism, and state nationalism. Critiques emerging from such narratives, although they vary in their motifs and motives, contribute to the overall discursive platform of occidentalism. Eid Mohamed’s Arab Occidentalism offers a timely exposure to this discourse with particular attention to Egyptian cultural and literary productions in the post-9/11 context. While Rasheed El-Enany’s Arab Representations of the Occident (2006) surveys representations of Europe and the United States in Arabic fiction during the precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial eras, Mohamed’s book offers a specific case study of Egyptian engagement with the U.S. through readings of literature, media, and film. Mohamed is in conversation with El-Enany’s work and further contributes to research on occidentalism as an anti-imperial counter-discursive response that empowers Arabs to voice their grievances towards American presence in the region. The significance of this work lies in its interrogation of Arab-based literary, cultural, and intellectual contemporary repertoire around the U.S., which echoes critiques that preserve the particularity of the Egyptian state nationalist paradoxical consumption of U.S. cultural and political influence in the country. Mahdi / Book Reviews 89 One distinguishing element of Arab Occidentalism is its construction of the U.S. in a broader framework that forges a space for Arab writers to interact with various aspects of American culture and politics. The first chapter of the book illustrates this framework through reflections on two novels: Alaa al-Aswany’s Chicago and Amani Abu Fadl’s Birth of the South. The author acknowledges the prevalence of Arab sensational imagery drawn from East-West divisions in these works, which project the U.S. as a theater staging the identity struggle of Arab and Muslim immigrants. The selection of such novels speaks to Mohamed’s interest in unveiling a growing recognition in Egypt of the Arab diaspora in the U.S. and the impact of 9/11 on their lives. The Arab immigrant characters in the novels fall victim to East-West sensational constructions of identities, which the author characterizes as an Egyptian literary response to the articulations of post9 /11 paranoia. Parallel to its treatment of diaspora, Arab Occidentalism pays close attention to the popularized Arab reaction to two moments that symbolized both hope and despair in Arab engagement with U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. The second chapter navigates the media reaction to the Iraqi journalist’s act of shoe-throwing at President Bush, which represented the pinnacle of rejection of U.S. power and deployment in the region. The invasion of Iraq rallied the Arab street around the rhetoric of the war on terror, and enabled them to express a rising sense of disillusionment with the U.S.-based narratives of democracy and freedom. The chapter also surveys the Arab fascination with the ascendance of the first African American to the American presidency - a moment that necessitated serious reflections on issues of power transition and social mobility in the Middle East. Mohamed offers a reading of various Egyptian and Arabic newspaper columns and cartoons in Al-Ahram, Al-Masry Al-Youm, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and Al Jazeera in order to unveil the varied ways through which Arabs and Muslims spell out...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2470-7074
Print ISSN
2470-7066
Pages
pp. 88-91
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-01
Open Access
No
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