Book review

Patrick Porter: Military orientalism: eastern war through western eyes

26 Oct 2011

Patrick Porter’s 'Military orientalism: eastern war through western eyes' (Hurst & Co, London, 2009) intends to help initiate a wider scholarship focusing on military cultures through the purview of critical studies of orientalism and situated in and through the potent site of war. Although the title itself proclaims such a direction, for me the book becomes lost in anecdotal information and details of military strategy without a critical and persuasive understanding of orientalism. Porter’s definition of orientalism arrives through several caveats, which he proposes as counters to Edwards Said’s decisive work on the subject. Porter argues that cultures at war contain rival and clashing narratives, ‘an ambiguous repertoire of competing ideas that can be selected, instrumentalised, and manipulated’

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