German Orientalism: The Study of the Middle East and Islam from 1800 to 1945, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

German Orientalism

The Study of the Middle East and Islam from 1800 to 1945, 1st Edition

By Ursula Wokoeck


335 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2013-03-22
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pub: 2009-04-20
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During the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, German universities were at the forefront of scholarship in Oriental studies. Drawing upon a comprehensive survey of thousands of German publications on the Middle East from this period, this book presents a detailed history of the development of Orientalism.

Offering an alternative to the view of Orientalism as a purely intellectual pursuit or solely as a function of politics, this book traces the development of the discipline as a profession. The author discusses the interrelation between research choices and employment opportunities at German universities, examining the history of the discipline within the framework of the humanities. On that basis, topics such as the establishment of Oriental philology; the process of institutional differentiation between the study of Semitic languages and the study of Sanskrit and comparative linguistics; the emergence of Assyriology; and the partial establishment of Islamic studies are explored.

This unique perspective on the history of Oriental studies in the German tradition contributes to the understanding of the wider history of the field, and will be of great interest to scholars and students of Middle East studies, history, and German history in particular.


'This is a very useful contribution to the study of German Orientalism that – by its scope of internal criticism reveals the degree of maturity that this kind of disciplinary history has now reached.' - H-Net, 2010

'Wokoeck's book presents an original and extensive approach to the social history of German Orientalism. The handling of the impressively broad source material and empirical data is truly commendable. In addition, the book stands out due to its refreshing critical standpoint on earlier publications that have dealt with the history of German Orientalism' - Reinhard Schulze, University of Berne, Switzerland; The Middle East in London, Vol.6, No.7, February 2010

"As the book's impressive bibliography conveys, there is substantial documentation available on the intellectual history of German scholarhsip in what is broadly called Oriental studies. Wokoeck not only takes the reader through the maze of this corpus in readable, jargon-free prose but also provides critical insights along the way… As an up-to-date survey, this text should be the starting point for any future study of German scholarship on the so-called 'Orient,' 'Middle East,' or 'Islam'… The book belongs on the shelf of any respectable library." - Daniel Martin Varisco, Department of Anthropology, Hofstra University; Int. J. Middle East Studies 43 (2011)

"The young but profoundly learned author developed this book from her doctor's thesis for Tel Aviv University. Its coverage, thoroughness, even-handedness, and documentation more than amply justify her current professorship at both Hebrew and Ben Gurion Universities in Jerusalem." - Murad Wilfried Hofmann, Bonn; The Muslim World Book Review, Volume 30 Number 4, 2010

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Working at the university 3. Writings and writers on the Middle East 4. The establishment of modern Oriental studies 5. The beginning of differentiation: Sanskrit and Semitic languages 6. The emergence of Assyriology 7. Islamic studies: The emergence of a (sub-)discipline? 8. The primacy of political factors: 1933–45 9. Conclusion

About the Author

Ursula Wokoeck teaches Middle East history at the Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Department for Middle East Studies, Ben-Gurion University; her research interests focus on developments in historiography and the social and legal history of the modern Middle East.

About the Series

Culture and Civilization in the Middle East

This series studies the Middle East through the twin foci of its diverse cultures and civilizations. Comprising original monographs as well as scholarly surveys, it covers topics in the fields of Middle Eastern literature, archaeology, law, history, philosophy, science, folklore, art, architecture and language. While there is a plurality of views, the series presents serious scholarship in a lucid and stimulating fashion.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Europe / Baltic States
HISTORY / Europe / Germany
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies