Debating Controversial History: A Twenty-first Century Re-appraisal of the Orientalist Debate, Its Key Actors, and Its Future

By Christopher Berg and Melanie Shaw.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 12, 2014 $US5.00

This article re-examines the Orientalist Debate from the 1960s to the present. It highlights the Western response to Eastern critiques of Orientalism and draws special attention to the pivotal role played by Bernard Lewis in this debate. This article treats the debate as a spirited conversation whose material essence and future direction were defined by the seminal contributions of certain key historical actors. Of the actors considered, this article argues the contributions and achievements of Bernard Lewis have gone relatively unnoticed in comparison to his nemesis Edward Said, who still garners undue attention. The iconoclastic duel between Said and Lewis was a seminal event in the Orientalist debate and Lewis’ critical role has not received the attention it deserves from commentators and historians. This article also argues that Lewis’ contributions to the Orientalist debate far outweigh those by Said. The powerful twenty-first century critiques against Said and his followers would not have been possible without the agency of Lewis who played a leading, if not dominant, role in shaping the debate and who can justifiably be characterized as the standard-bearer of the renaissance in Orientalist scholarship.

Keywords: Orientalism, Orientalist, Orientalist Debate, Anti-Orientalism, Western Orientalism, Bernard Lewis, Edward Said, Contemporary Middle East, East-West Relations, Post-World War II Era, Post-Colonialism, Modern Middle East, Islamic Civilization

International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 20, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 12, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 455.534KB)).

Christopher Berg

Adjunct Professor of History, Keiser University-Sarasota Campus, Prescott, AZ, USA

Christopher William Berg is a historian who trained under Two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and Distinguished Professor of History James S. Olson. A Military historian, Christopher also specializes in World history, Later Modern Europe, and Early American history. As a young boy, Christopher was captivated by the stories his grandfather told him while serving aboard the USS New Mexico under Admiral McCain, John McCain's grandfather. These extraordinary stories, told with the flair of a master storyteller, changed the course of his life and led him to pursue history as a vocation. Most of his publications, many in many leading professional and scholarly journals in the United States, Great Britain, and Europe, are concerned with military and diplomatic history. His work has appeared in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Collaboration, De Re Militari, a publication of The Society for Medieval Military History, Reviews in History, a publication of the Institute for Historical Research, London, and Historical Quest, a fully digitized history magazine published in Athens, Greece. A diverse publication record comprising research articles, general history articles, review articles, comparative review articles and book reviews, covering a broad range of subjects from British Empire and Imperialism to Medieval and Byzantine Military history and Texas and the Spanish Borderlands, reflect the author's passionate interests in many sub-fields of history. Many of these articles can be accessed online through a Google search of open-access journals or by clicking on the links on the "Publications" page. Christopher also serves as a Consultant, External Course Reviewer and Adjunct Professor of History and Humanities for several colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Dr. Melanie Shaw

Associate Professor, School of Education, Northcentral University, Belleville, Illinois, USA

Melanie Shaw obtained an undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies and Music from Excelsior College in Albany, New York and a master’s degree in School Counseling from the University of West Alabama. She also obtained a second master’s degree in Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University. In August 2006, Melanie completed a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Teaching from Northcentral University. She has a varied educational background and has worked in diverse pedagogical environments ranging from early childhood, multiage, general music, intermediate, middle school, special education, pull-out resource, and specialist classrooms in the states and overseas in Germany. She is also an alternatively certified teacher.