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The Clash of Modernities: The Islamist Challenge to Jewish, Turkish, and Arab Nationalists

Khaldoun Samman, Macalester College

Abstract

Professor Samman’s latest book, Clash of Modernities: The Islamist Challenge to Jewish, Turkish and Arab Nationalism was released in December 2010. Samman challenges Eurocentric theorists who peddle the clash of civilization thesis by demonstrating that what in fact is clashing are not civilizational differences but rather a number of modernist discourses that are all trapped in a discursive tradition that has its origins in colonial modernity. This book argues that to understand the Middle East we must also understand how the West produced a temporal narrative of world history in which westerners placed themselves on top and all others below them. To illustrate this provocative argument, the author provides a comparative analysis of how the West produced a temporal narrative of world history in which it placed itself on top and all Others below and how the colonizer’s judgment of the Middle East and its people—in which the Arab, Muslim, Turk, and Jew were seen as “behind” European and Western civilization—was both strategically revised and problematically reproduced by Turkish Kemalism, Israeli Zionism, Arab nationalism, and Islamism. For all these nationalists gender would be used as the measuring device of how well they did in relation to the colonizer's gaze. He takes us on a journey from Orlando Florida to the Middle East to locate the effects the colonizer’s discourse of progress had on the multiple identities of the Middle East.

Suggested Citation

Khaldoun Samman. The Clash of Modernities: The Islamist Challenge to Jewish, Turkish, and Arab Nationalists. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2010.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/khaldoun_samman/5

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