The Middle East and the West: Misunderstandings and Stereotypes
attacks of 11 September 2001 had a powerful impact on the already complex
and difficult relationship between the West and the Middle East, characterised
as it is by suspicion and stereotypes. The Middle East is all too often
depicted as a violent, threatening society from which emanate terrorism,
hijackings, bombings and reactionary revolutions. Equally, the West is
seen as the perpetrator of all kinds of imperialism, an instigator of
plots, and an oil-hungry and self-interested actor. What these images
fail to recognise is that there are many Easts and many Wests. In this
seminar Dr Katerina Dalacoura explores the history and complexities of
the relationship between the West and the Middle East. It was produced
one year after the 11 September attacks, in the context of debate about
a possible US attack on Iraq.
In Session 1, Dalacoura focuses on the particular image of the Middle
East that has developed over time and evaluates the impact of 11 September
on this. She argues that international policy has to some extent been
conducted on the basis of a number of dangerous simplifications: first,
the identification of a single Islam and single Middle East and, second,
the indiscriminate and sloppy definition of 'terrorism'. In Session 2,
Dalacoura defines the fault-lines dividing and complicating the relationship
between Middle Eastern states and Western powers. She points to the substantial
difference between the policy adopted by the US and Europe towards Israel
and that adopted for Iran, for example. Dalacoura follows this with an
examination of assumptions about Islam and violence in Session 3. How
can we most fruitfully think about the phenomenon of political Islam and
thereby adequately respond to the present challenge in international relations?
This question is answered in Session 4, which features an interview with
Dalacoura on the nature of reform in the Middle East.
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the impact of 11 September on the image of the Middle East in the
West and vice versa.
the policies of European countries and the United States towards Arab
states and Israel.
the problems of defining reform in Islam.
the nature of reform within the Middle East.
the complex relationship between Islam and violence.
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