Robert Irwin’s “Dangerous Knowledge” comes to Persian bookstores 

October 11, 2020 - 18:25

TEHRAN – “Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents”, the 2006 non-fiction book by British historian Robert Irwin, has recently been published by Mahi Publications in Tehran.

The book has been rendered into Persian by Mohammad Dehqani.

An alternate history of the disparaged intellectual tradition of Orientalism explores how Western scholars of Islamic culture came to be vilified as agents of European imperialism, in an account that profiles the intellectual and eccentric figures who introduced the Islamic world to America. 

The publication of Edward Said’s hugely influential Orientalism in 1981 called into question the entire history of the Western study of Islamic culture, condemning this scholarly tradition as one that presented inaccurate and deliberately demeaning representations of Islamic peoples and institutions so much so that the words “Oriental” and “Orientalist” have come to take on the most negative connotations.

But what is Orientalism, and who were the Orientalists, and how did Western scholars of Islamic culture come to be vilified as insidious agents of European imperialism? 

In Irwin’s groundbreaking new history, he answers this question with a detailed and colorful story of the motley crew of intellectuals and eccentrics who brought an understanding of the Islamic world to the West. In a narrative that ranges from an analysis of Ancient Greek perceptions of the Persians to a portrait of the first Western European translators of Arabic to the contemporary Muslim world’s perceptions of the Western study of Islam, Irwin affirms the value of the Orientalists’ legacy, not only for the contemporary scholars who have disowned it, but also for anyone committed to fostering the cross-cultural understanding.

“Dangerous Knowledge” is a both riveting and entertaining history, a bold argument and an urgent redress of conceptions about Western culture’s relationship with its nearest neighbor.

Irwin is also the author of “The Arabian Nightmare”, “Exquisite Corpse” and “The Limits of Vision”.

Photo: Front cover of the Persian translation of Robert Irwin’s “Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents”.

RM/MMS/YAW

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