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Imagining the Middle East
Thierry Hentsch

Black Rose Books

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Imagining the Middle East

Thierry Hentsch


This English-language translation of L'Orient imaginaire, by Fred A. Reed, won Canada's 1992 Governor General's Literary Award for Translation.

The Mediterranean East has long been our closest and most contrasted alternative--the consummate other. It is contiguous both in geography and imagination. Alternatively mysterious, menacing, enticing or repulsive; at once deserted and swarming, barbaric and refined; sometimes violent; sometimes indolent; a place of enchantment, escape, or exasperation--but always present and always other.

Thierry Hentsch examines how the Western perception of the Middle East was formed and how we have used these perceptions as a rationalization for setting policies and determining actions. He sees our ideas of the other and our ethnocentrism not simply as innocent myopia but as our whole way of viewing the world. He believes that the Middle East serves as a mirror to the Western consciousness, as a point of reference--changing from, contradictory, varying to the dictates of circumstance. The book concludes with the consequence of the imagination on the first Gulf War and its aftermath.

Thierry Hentsch was a Swiss-Canadian philosopher and political scientist who taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

1992; 238 pages

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