Venice and ‘Orientalism’

From The Art History Newsletter:

0300124309_01_mzzzzzzzIs it possible to publish 300+ pages on a theme such as “Venice and the Islamic World: 828-1797″ without once footnoting Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism? Is it even possible for scholars, post-Said, to speak of “the Islamic world: 828-1797″? (Imagine a show titled “Baghdad and the Christian World.”) Apparently it is. This exhibition catalogue was edited by Stefano Carboni; in his lead essay, he makes oblique reference to Said’s book and its adherents, writing that “the present exhibition and catalogue intend to emphasize [Venice’s] different and unique approach to, and understanding of, a world that has too often been described as ‘the other,’” later arguing that “it sounds incorrect or at least misleading to read about an ‘Orientalist’ curiosity towards the Ottomans on the part of the Venetians, at least in the 15th and 16th centuries, or to view the presence of well-observed Mamluk and Ottoman characters in the religious paintings and facade decorations for the Venetian scuole and scuolete as the inescapable representation of the fear-provoking Muslim enemy after the fall of Constantinople.” Are we witnessing a wave of anti-Orientalism sentiment? Recall last year’s publication of Robert Irwin’s 2006 book Dangerous Knowledge, Orientalism and Its Discontents (reviews available by Michael Dirda and Noel Malcolm).

More here.  [Thanks to Jon Lackman.]