Power and Knowledge

Vera Tolz

in Russia's Own Orient

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594443
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725067 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Modern European History

Power and Knowledge

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Through a discussion of how scholars across Europe understood the relationship between power and knowledge in the age of empire, the chapter argues that a widespread perception that they regarded science as independent of political context is erroneous. Works of fin-de-siècle Orientologists indicate their central belief that academic knowledge, and culture more broadly, were of direct relevance to politics. Like contemporary postcolonial scholars, they believed that Europe's cultural power over the ‘Orient’ was more significant than its military domination. In contrast to scholars of today, most Orientologists of the imperial age took great pride in drawing a direct link between power and knowledge. Yet not all imperial scholars were oblivious to the sinister side of this relationship. During the First World War and in the 1920s, some Russian Orientologists forcefully condemned the corrupting influence of colonialism on Oriental Studies in Europe.

Keywords: power; knowledge; imperial domination; Orientology; First World War

Chapter.  7855 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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