Re-Imagining the Other: Culture, Media, and Western-Muslim Intersections

  • Book Title:
 Re Imagining The Other
  • Book Author:
Karim H. KarimMahmoud Eid
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This book addresses the historical and contemporary conceptualizations of the Other carried out by Western and Muslim societies. Both have had a 14-century old relationship during which a vast number of images have been produced of each other in the contexts of conflict as well as of collaboration. Current discourses tend to be largely unaware of the complexities and subtle- ties of Western-Muslim intersections, which are usually hidden under the dominant image of unremitting conflict.

Therefore, we invited leading scholars to write about specific aspects of the perception of the Other. They dis- cuss the cultural expressions manifested in various forms of relations between Western and Muslim societies—colonial, commercial, intellectual, linguistic, literary, media, religious, and translational. is simultaneously published with its companion volume Engaging the Other: Public Policy and Western-Muslim Intersections.

The main aims of these books are to study in an original manner (1) the role of mutual cultural ignorance as a cause of conflict between Western and Muslim societies and (2) the pos- sibilities of engaging constructively with each other.

This set of publications examines the complex relationships between the two civilizations by drawing on historical and contemporary material. Whereas several books on related topics have been published in the last decade, this project is a unique and innovatively structured multidisciplinary endeavour that builds a new theo- retical model and approaches the issue from the perspectives of both Western and Muslim societies.

Whereas each book stands on its own, we believe that Re-imagining the Other appeals to readers specifically interested in the study of communication, conflict, conflict resolution, crisis management, culture, history, imperialism, intercultural and international relations, Western-Mus- lim interactions, media, the Middle East, migration, multiculturalism, peace making, postcolonialism, security, race, and religion.

This set of books appears at a timely juncture that marks the withdrawal of Western military forces from the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even as Preface the conflicts between Western and Muslim societies proliferate, public sup- port for expensive and bloody wars has declined and policymakers are more receptive to consider alternatives to militarization and securitization.

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The intensification of the debates on Muslim immigration to Western countries provides a domestic frame for the project’s topicality.

Despite their differing values, Western and Muslim civilizations overlap with each other in many ways and have demonstrated the capacity for productive engagement. It is unfortunate that, in spite of a mountain of academic research produced on the shared Abrahamic heritage and the long history of collaborative relation- ships, our time is marked by an escalation of the clash to a global scale.

Much of Western-Muslim interaction is characterized by a mutual lack of awareness of the history in which each culture played a vital role in shaping the other.

This project draws from the critique that the clash of ignorance poses. The concept was initially proposed by the late Edward Said in a brief magazine article.

A growing number of academics, policymakers, religious leaders, and media commentators are making references to this idea; however, it has not yet been fully developed as a theory. We published a well-received article exploring the basic ideas of the clash of ignorance thesis in 2012 in the Global Media Journal—Canadian Edition. The present project provides theoretical and empirical substance to this thesis in a multidisciplinary and internation- ally authored set of volumes.

 Contributors are from the academic fields of architecture, communication and media, conflict resolution, education, inter- national relations, Islamic studies, law, literature, Middle-Eastern studies, political psychology, politics, social anthropology, theology, and translation.

This timely and innovative project that takes the lead in the elaboration of the undertheorized and underresearched clash of ignorance paradigm coincides with the twentieth anniversary of Huntington’s introduction of the clash of civilizations thesis, which has run its course.

 As Western and Muslim societies are experiencing exhaustion from the decade-long “war on terror,” students, policymakers, and publics are well disposed to alternatives to the conflict model.

The project makes a compelling argument for shed- ding the old and tired modes of understanding intercivilizational relations and offers fresh and thought-provoking possibilities for productive interactions between cultural and religious groups in the twenty-first century.

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