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Date: May 21, 2008
Anthropology Chair and Professor Daniel M. Varisco Challenges Edward Said in "Reading Orientalism: Said And The Unsaid"
(University of Washington Press)Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY: Hofstra University Chair and Professor of Anthropology Daniel Martin Varisco recently published Reading Orientalism: Said And The Unsaid (University of Washington Press), a critical study of the late and controversial intellectual Edward Said, whose 1978 book Orientalism argued that a dominant discourse of West over East has warped virtually all past European and American representation of the Near East.
Reading Orientalism is of particular interest to scholars of Middle East studies, anthropology, history, cultural studies, post-colonial studies and literary studies. Literary scholar Walter G. Andrews of the University of Washington calls the work "a comprehensive, critical overview of nearly everything that has been said on the topic." Historian and author Robert Irwin notes in a positive review that the book "makes for exhilarating reading."
Dr. Varisco, drawing on the extensive discussion of Edward Said’s work in more than 600 bibliographic entries, presents an intellectual history of the debates that Said’s work sparked in several disciplines, including its reception among Arab and European scholars.
While he is critical of the historical flaws and rhetorical license in Said's Orientalism, Dr. Varisco also analyzes the productive commentary that Said’s book engendered in Oriental studies, literary and cultural studies, feminist scholarship, history, political science and anthropology. The end result is a companion volume to Said's seminal Orientalism and the vast research it inspired. Rather than contribute to dueling essentialisms, Dr. Varisco provides a path to move beyond the binary of East versus West and the polemics of blame.
In addition to teaching at Hofstra, Dr. Varisco is the author of Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation (Palgrave, 2005), online editor of CyberOrient and co-editor of Contemporary Islam.
Reading Orientalism: Said And The Unsaid was featured in the May 7, 2008, online edition of the
Times Literary Supplement. To read that review visit http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article3885948.ece