Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 suddenly exposed the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire to a Europe vastly different from the one kwn to the Arabs of the Middle Ages. At the start of the nineteenth century, Arabs were totally unprepared for the social, ecomic, and political progress made in Europe. By 1870, however, their vague tions had evolved into a fairly sophisticated kwledge of the historic background and contemporary achievements of various European nations, and the new reform movements in Egypt and the Fertile Crescent had incorporated into their programs the ideological premises and political institutions of European liberalism. Ibrahim Abu-Lughod traces the role of the Arab intelligentsia in increasing Arab awareness of Europe and in shaping an Arab image of the West that is still a latent force in contemporary political relations. In the early Arab chronicles of the French expedition certain basic political concepts were introduced. The state-supported educational missions and translations encouraged by Muhammad 'Ali added depth to the emerging image of Europe, while the accounts of Arab travellers supplemented theoretical kwledge with first-hand impressions of Europe. In analyzing these writings, the author sees foreshadowed the basic lines of today's polemics. In a final chapter he evaluates the contributions made by Arab authors studied and outlines subsequent developments.
Ibrahim Abu-Lughod (1929-2001) was an American-Palestinian academic, writer and editor. He taught at Smith College, Massachusetts, McGill University, Montreal, and then spent 34 years at Northwestern University, Illinois, where he founded the Institute of African Studies. He founded the Association of Arab-American University Graduates in 1968 and the journal Arab Studies Quarterly in 1978, and held two UNESCO posts. He later became a professor and vice-president of Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. Introduction by Rashid Khalidi: Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. He is the director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. His publications include The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2007).