The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy

In This Review

The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy

By Emran Qureshi (ed.) and Michael A. Sells (ed.)
Columbia University Press, 2003
400 pp. $62.50
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As the title suggests, Western "construction" of Islam and Muslims comes in for a harsh appraisal in this impressive excursion into the history of ideas. One of the chapters is, appropriately, by Edward Said (famous for his notion of "orientalism"); others dispute Samuel Huntington's famous "Clash of Civilizations" thesis. Overall, the work of the editors and eleven additional contributors is sophisticated, subtle, richly documented, and wide-ranging. María Rosa Menocal shows how Western medievalists have expunged the European Arabic contribution to Western literature. Roy Mottahedeh, in a subtle critique of Huntington, brings out the complex reality that is obscured by such reifications as "Islam" and "the West." Rob Nixon presents a study of the persistent anti-Muslim bias in the works of V. S. Naipaul. Norman Cigar chillingly sets out the contribution of Serbian intellectuals to "defining and eliminating a Muslim community." Tomas Mastnak argues that, starting in the fifteenth century, anti-Islamic sentiment fostered the very idea of Europe as a political community. Others deserve mention as well, for all are scholarly, readable, and informative.