Restating Orientalism: A Critique of Modern Knowledge

Hosted by the Department of Government

Thai Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE, United Kingdom


Wael B. Hallaq

Wael B. Hallaq

Georgios Varouxakis

Georgios Varouxakis

Sanjay Seth

Sanjay Seth

Humeira Iqtidar

Humeira Iqtidar


Leigh Jenco

Since Edward Said’s foundational work, Orientalism has been singled out for critique as the quintessential example of Western intellectuals’ collaboration with oppression. Controversies over the imbrications of knowledge and power and the complicity of Orientalism in the larger project of colonialism have been waged among generations of scholars. But has Orientalism come to stand in for all of the sins of European modernity, at the cost of neglecting the complicity of the rest of the academic disciplines? 

In this landmark theoretical investigation, Wael B. Hallaq reevaluates and deepens the critique of Orientalism in order to deploy it for rethinking the foundations of the modern project. Refusing to isolate or scapegoat Orientalism, Restating Orientalism extends the critique to other fields, from law, philosophy, and scientific inquiry to core ideas modern thought such as sovereignty and the self. Hallaq traces their involvement in colonialism, mass annihilation, and systematic destruction of the natural world, interrogating and historicizing the set of causes that permitted modernity to wed knowledge to power. Restating Orientalism offers a bold rethinking of the theory of the author, the concept of sovereignty, and the place of the secular Western self in the modern project, reopening the problem of power and knowledge to an ethical critique and ultimately theorizing an exit from modernity’s predicaments.

Wael B. Hallaq is Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and has previously taught at McGill University, where he was named a James McGill Professor in Islamic Studies.

Georgios Varouxakis is Professor of the History of Political Thought at Queen Mary University of London

Sanjay Seth is Professor of Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Goldsmiths University of London

Humeira Iqtidar is Senior Lecturer in Politics in the Department of Political Economy at Kings College London

Leigh Jenco is Associate Professor of Political Theory in the LSE Department of Government

The Department of Government (@LSEGovernment) is home to some of the most internationally respected experts in politics and government; producing influential research that has a global impact on policy, and delivering world-class teaching to our students.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEOrientalism

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