Why is the 1798 Napoleonic invasion of Egypt routinely accepted as a watershed moment between premodern and modern in general histories on the Middle East? Although decades of scholarship, most-notably Edward Said's Orientalism, have critiqued traditional binaries of developed and undeveloped in Arab studies, the narrative of 1798 symbolizing the coming of the modern west to the rescue of the static east endures. Peter Gran's The Persistence of Orientalism is the first book to take stock of this dominant paradigm, interrogating its origins and the ways in which scholarship is produced to perpetuate it.
Gran surveys the history of American studies of Modern Egypt, examining three central issues: the periodization of modern professional knowledge in the US in the 1890s, the contemporary identity of orientalism and its critique, and the close connection between Oriental Despotism and the dominant formulation of American identity found in American Studies and in American life. Reinvigorating the conversation on the historiography of modern Egypt, this volume will influence a new generation of scholars studying the Middle East and beyond.