Ottoman Dress and Design in the West

  Those of you who have known me for a long, long time might remember that I once wrote a proposal for a book on how Islam influenced Western culture in fundamental ways.(1) Those of you who’ve known me even longer know that my dissertation was titled Building the Orient of the Imagination: Excess, Confusion…

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Sir Richard Burton: Not the Actor, the Other One

Recently I had cause to pull a biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) off my to-be-read shelf, where it has sat since 1990. I originally bought it because I was writing my dissertation on the way the definition of the Orient changed over time with increasing exposure to the non-Western world and Burton was…

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Napoleon in Egypt, Part 2

Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign was a military disaster,* but the Army of the Orient wasn’t the only army that Napoleon brought with him to Egypt. A commission of some 160 savants–scientists, artists, engineers, and scholars–accompanied the invading army, bringing with them virtually every book on Egypt available, dozens of crates of scientific instruments and a printing…

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