A Rough Crossing

Ian Coller

in Arab France

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780520260641
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947542 | DOI:
A Rough Crossing

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter suggests that the Orient/Occident dyad that Edward Said considered fundamental to European self-understanding was, if not absent, far less stable in this period than his argument would imply. Crucially for the understanding of the experience of Egypt of the occupation of France, some historians have seen in the Egyptian expedition less a capricious attempt to impose an established Western social model on the benighted East than a speculative “laboratory” for attempting many of the ideas of the Enlightenment outside of local European constraints. Egypt was one of the cradles of imperialism of Napoleon Bonaparte. Said's critique of Orientalism has encouraged historians to see from the very beginning of this intellectual project a European desire to use knowledge as a force for the subjugation of an “Orient” that it consistently depicted as passive and stagnant, in order to impose its dominating will.

Keywords: Orient/Occident dyad; Edward Said; Egypt; France; Enlightenment; imperialism; Napoleon Bonaparte; Orientalism; Europe

Chapter.  12140 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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