Re-orienting German Orientalism: On Knowledge and Power in the German Colonies

Lecture by Zubair Ahmad of Freie Universitat - Berlin, Germany

Thursday, October 10, 2019 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Enterprise Hall, 318

Abstract: If there is an unspoken consensus between Edward Said and strands of his critics it seems to be that Germany has never been part of the configuration of power called Orientalism. As is well-known, Said limited his investigation to the British, French, and American tradition while setting aside Germany and its forms as well as terrains of orientalism. In consequence, German Orientalism has come to designate either an entirely different form of orientalism, one that is incompatible with what Said had in mind with his rather genealogical inquiry, or, German Orientalism has been mobilized as something through which Said’s own claims regarding Orientalist’s configuration can be disrupted. In my talk I will suggest that we need to re-orient our attention and focus of inquiry in order to add what has been missing in the scholarship on German Orientalism so far, namely that German Orientalism too can and should be understood as configuration of power in the Saidian sense, albeit operating in relation to yet another Eurocentric construction, namely Africa. Mr. Ahmad is currently a Fellow at Freie Universitat in Berlin Germany at the Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Post- Colonial Studies where he is conducting research on the topic of "The History of the Present: A Postcolonial Genealogy of Germany’s Politics of Islam".