a collage of interviews on Istanbul and the Middle-East @ dAP

a collage from interviews with Yaşar Adanali (Istanbul), George Arbid (Beirut), Rami Daher (Amman) and Wael Samhouri (Damascus) by Marianne Baumgartner, Krunoslav Ivanisin

An extract of written interviews made during our seminarweeks to Beirut and Damascus in automn 2010 and to Istanbul, Amman and Petra in spring 2011. 


YAŞAR ADANALI: Defining the Middle East, its boundaries, different meanings, layers is by itself a very difficult, value-bounded and mainly a political challenge. Especially, when one looks at the region from the perspective of its “western” neighbors, many stereotypes and preconceptions get in to the scene. It could be a mythical place where anything can happen, yet at the same time, for many it is a place that is frozen in time that nothing tangible can really change… However, when I look at the contemporary Middle East from Turkey, what I see is a great potential, energy and hope, not only for the region but also for Turkey, Europe and the rest, which come along with lots of contradictions of course.

RAMI DAHER: The work of Edward Said in general, and Orientalism in particular would help us understand the processes of construction or inscription of a specific Orient in the minds of Europeans, local nationals and the World. Inscription mechanisms (surveys, documentation, military surveys, travel literature, other) work to create the “Other”, the “Opposite” to Europe which legitimized and led, through direct modes of imperialism, to control, exploitation, and hegemony. Europe was made to be rational, scientific, virtuous, mature, and “normal” while the Orient was imagined and made to be irrational, depraved, childlike, non-scientific but exotic, and “different”. It is only by examining Orientalism as a discourse, one can only understand the complexity of this “systematic discipline” by which Europe was able to manage and even “produce” the Orient in the 19th and 20th centuries…

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