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The Orientalism debate, inspired by the work of Edward Said, has been a major source of cross-disciplinary controversy in recent years. John MacKenzie offers a comprehensive re-evaluation of this vast literature of Orientalism and brings to the subject highly original historical perspectives.
The study provides the first major discussion of Orientalism by a historian of imperialism. Setting the analysis within the context of conflicting scholarly interpretations, John MacKenzie then carries the discussion into wholly new areas, testing the notion that the western arts received genuine inspiration from the East by examining the visual arts, architecture, design, music and theatre.
John MacKenzie concludes that western approaches to the Orient have been much more ambiguous and genuinely interactive then Said allowed. The artistic construction of the East by the West has invariably been achieved through a greater spirit of respect and in search of a truly syncretic culture. The Orient has indeed proved an inspiration to the European arts, even when caught in the web of imperial power relations.