East and West

Nullo Minissi


This paper strives to analyze the ways in which the division between East and West is manifest in modern historiographical thinking and in political language. The modern idea of the East took form in the eighteenth century, after more than a century of Portuguese, Dutch, and English trading and of Jesuit missionary activity. This concept became clearer in the nineteenth century with the advent of Orientalism, or rather with research that was not exclusively linguistic, emerging from European culture known as the West; nevertheless in its primal, modern features, the West-East dichotomy seems to express an artificial antithesis in a cultural and vaguely geographical term – the East – and a strictly political concept – the West. The East-West divide has lost its significance, giving way to a new Christian–Islamic opposition, not religious so much as ideological, evident in a clash of civilizations. The conflict does not lie between civilizations, however, so much as between interests. This pernicious argument pertains to the struggle between the will of the West to dominate over the Middle East and to its resistance: while the one hides itself behind the rhetoric of globalization, the other has been taken by a militancy leading to extreme interpretations of Koranic concepts which reject modernity together with their very Islamic traditions. 


Orientalism; West; East; Clash of civilizations; Religion

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/331

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17495

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ISSN 2039-6597

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