'Orientalizing the Orientals': The Other Message of Edward Said

Arising from an interest in the study of the modalities of production of knowledge in and about the Arab region, this paper will deal with Occidentalism, understood as the body of narratives and discourses by which Europeans and the US societies, governments and policies are represented and interpreted in this part of the world.

The main thesis in this paper is that Edward Said’s critical secular project should be perused and enriched by an equivalent critique of Occidentalism. Informed by Said’s early warning against the “participation of the Orient in its own Orientalization”, we will follow that process of self orientalization among larger sections of the Arab intelligentsia. Contrary to the current wisdom, Orientalized Arab intellectuals are not confined to the “native informants” but cover many of those who pretend representing and defending Arab and Muslim specificity and who belong to the camp opposed to the Empire. Case studies will touch upon economic reform, democratization, the Holocaust, 9/11, the Iraq War, and others.