Munoz-Islamintheeyesofthewest

Munoz-Islamintheeyesofthewest - THE CONVERGENCE OF...

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THE CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS? CONSTRUCTING A MEDITERRANEAN REGION Lisboa, 7-8 June 2002 University of California at Berkeley Institut for European Studies European Union Center 1
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(Draft, don't quote) ISLAM IN THE EYES OF THE WEST GEMA MARTÍN-MUÑOZ Professor of Sociology of Arab and Islamic World. Autonoma University of Madrid The representations prevailing in the West about the Muslim world stem from a complex elaboration process where historical and political factors are intertwined. Historical and geographical proximity always means complex and competitive relations between the geopolitical entities concerned. And this has certainly been the case between the European and the Muslim world since the Middle Ages and implied handing over an historical memory of conflicts.The rivalry between Islam and Chistianity, between Al-Andalus and the Christian kingdoms, between the Christian and Ottoman empires triggered conflicts of interests and ideologies tending to turn the other into the Devil. You just have to read Amin Maalouf's book "The Crusades seen by the Arabs" or to sea Youssef Chahine's film "Saladin" to realize that their interpretation of such historic events is just the opposite of the one we have built in the West with a reverse symbolism. Nevertheless, the distorsions brought about by such a situation did not prevent the development of mutual influence. The Bizantine Empire had close links to the Omeyas and th Abbasis in the East ( even closer than with the European Christian kingdoms), there will be constant economic and cultutral exchanges between Al-Andalus and the Christian kingdoms just as the westernization of medieval Islam is an undeniable historic process ( Sicily, the Iberian peninsula, the Balkans). However, the modern and contemporary times witnessed the development by the West of an ideology based on western cultural superiority, which will be the corner stone of its relations with others, and more intensively so with Islam, giving rise to what apparently looked like a cultural gap but that had, in effect, deep political roots. The time when Jews and Muslims were expelled from Spain, as well as the discovery of America represent the starting point of a process whereby Europe sees itself as a close identity and proclaims it is the only one to possess the attributes of mankind, considering as a consequence other peoples as inferior. The ideological elaboration process that supports this European vision was completed during the Renaissance and is still at play nowadays. It has to do with a selective 2
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interpretation of History, which eradicates the East from European thinking and gives birth to the myth of Greco-roman culture being its sole and only original source. In other words, the founding mith of European thinking expelled radically the oriental contribution , and within this contribution, the significant role played by Muslim thinking in the safeguard and revitalization of hellenistic philosophy as well as in the development of a rationalistic philosophy of its own. As a result, the
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This note was uploaded on 01/11/2010 for the course REL REL 308 taught by Professor Judithmartin during the Fall '09 term at University of Dayton.

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Munoz-Islamintheeyesofthewest - THE CONVERGENCE OF...

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