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Contending Visions of the Middle East



"Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism" by Zachary Lockman, published in 2004 by Cambridge University Press, delves into the complex history and politics surrounding Orientalism. With a focus on how social scientists utilize paradigms to define and analyze social reality, the book critically examines the subjective nature of these analyses. It highlights how perceptions and imaginations influence academic endeavors, leading to a subjective understanding of social dynamics.

Lockman's work pays special attention to the interplay between knowledge and power, and how they contribute to the establishment of hegemonic relationships in society. Drawing on the insights of notable thinkers like Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault, and Edward W. Said, the book explores the processes through which knowledge and power reinforce each other, shaping global interactions in terms of peace, harmony, confrontation, and tension.

The review provides an overview of the book's exploration of analytical and explanatory categories used in social science, emphasizing the critical need for awareness of their implications in an increasingly globalized world. Lockman's contribution is significant for its in-depth analysis of Orientalism and its impact on Middle Eastern studies, offering valuable insights into the construction of hegemonic narratives and their effects on global politics and society.

Key Themes

  • Subjectivity in Social Science: The book underscores the inherent subjectivity in the social sciences, where perceptions and imaginations significantly influence academic analysis.
  • Knowledge and Power: It examines the symbiotic relationship between knowledge and power in shaping societal structures and global relations.
  • Impact of Orientalism: Through a critical lens, Lockman assesses the historical and political dimensions of Orientalism, highlighting its role in constructing skewed narratives about the Middle East.


Zachary Lockman's "Contending Visions of the Middle East" offers a critical examination of Orientalism within the context of global politics and history. It is an essential read for those interested in understanding the intricate dynamics of knowledge, power, and perception in shaping the world's view of the Middle East and its peoples. Through its comprehensive analysis, the book contributes significantly to the discourse on Orientalism and its enduring impact on international relations and academic studies.