Islam, violence and the ‘four dogmas of Orientalism’

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Hidden away at the end of Edward Said’s seminal text, Orientalism, is a brief summary of his main arguments. Consisting of what he calls ‘four principal dogmas’, these establish the binary differences between East and West that make up the substantive bulk of his focus – namely us versus them, modernity versus atavism, subject versus object and humanity versus barbarity. This paper uses each as a vantage point from which to analyse and problematise established narratives on the relationship between Islam and political violence. Bringing together a wide-ranging field of scholarship and commentary, it aims to move beyond critique and towards a more sustained, and challenging, focus on the conceptual and empirical flaws that underpin the Occidental half of these apparently settled distinctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-97
Number of pages23
JournalRace & Class
Issue number2
Early online date26 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Iraq
  • Islamic State
  • Muslims
  • Orientalism
  • Said
  • Syria
  • postcolonialism
  • ‘war on terror’


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