What the Rest Think of the West: Since 600 AD

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Laura Nader
Univ of California Press, Sep 8, 2015 - Social Science - 472 pages
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Over the past few centuries, as Western civilization has enjoyed an expansive and flexible geographic domain, Westerners have observed other cultures with little interest in a return gaze. In turn, these other civilizations have been similarly disinclined when they have held sway. Clearly, though, an external frame of reference outstrips introspection—we cannot see ourselves as others see us. Unprecedented in its scope, What the Rest Think of the West provides a rich historical look through the eyes of outsiders as they survey and scrutinize the politics, science, technology, religion, family practices, and gender roles of civilizations not their own. The book emphasizes the broader figurative meaning of looking west in the scope of history.

Focusing on four civilizations—Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, and South Asian—Nader has collected observations made over centuries by scholars, diplomats, missionaries, travelers, merchants, and students reflecting upon their own “Wests.” These writings derive from a range of purposes and perspectives, such as the seventh-century Chinese Buddhist who goes west to India, the missionary from Baghdad who travels up the Volga in the tenth century and meets the Vikings, and the Egyptian imam who in 1826 is sent to Paris to study the French. The accounts variously express critique, adoration, admiration, and fear, and are sometimes humorous, occasionally disturbing, at times controversial, and always enlightening. With informative introductions to each of the selections, Laura Nader initiates conversations about the power of representational practices.
 

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Contents

From The Crusades through Arab Eyes
10
From Napoleon in Egypt
28
An Imam in Paris
47
On the Music of the Maltese and of Others
63
From Orientalism
86
The President of Irans Letter to the President of the United States
103
Empire as Everyday Life Everyday Life as Imperialism
118
part two chinese travelers and their observations
135
Be Nice to the Countries That Lend You Money
235
part three indian travelers and their observations
263
Remarks on Settlement in India by Europeans
279
My Impressions of England
285
The Condition of England and Civilization
318
Indian Economic Policy
335
The Eurocentric History of Science and Multicultural
348
From The Thistle and the Drone
362

Two Poems
153
American Democracy in Crisis and The Collapse
173
From Americans and Chinese
193
Some Thoughts on Certain Aspects of Modern Western Culture
213
From A Secret Plan of Government and Tales of the West
380
From The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa
406
For Further Reading
423
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About the author (2015)

Laura Nader is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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