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Arab FranceIslam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831$
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Ian Coller

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520260641

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520260641.001.0001

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A Rough Crossing

A Rough Crossing

(p.21) 1 A Rough Crossing
Arab France

Ian Coller

University of California Press

This chapter suggests that the Orient/Occident dyad that Edward Said considered fundamental to European self-understanding was, if not absent, far less stable in this period than his argument would imply. Crucially for the understanding of the experience of Egypt of the occupation of France, some historians have seen in the Egyptian expedition less a capricious attempt to impose an established Western social model on the benighted East than a speculative “laboratory” for attempting many of the ideas of the Enlightenment outside of local European constraints. Egypt was one of the cradles of imperialism of Napoleon Bonaparte. Said's critique of Orientalism has encouraged historians to see from the very beginning of this intellectual project a European desire to use knowledge as a force for the subjugation of an “Orient” that it consistently depicted as passive and stagnant, in order to impose its dominating will.

Keywords:   Orient/Occident dyad, Edward Said, Egypt, France, Enlightenment, imperialism, Napoleon Bonaparte, Orientalism, Europe

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