German Orientalism in the Age of Empire: Religion, Race, and Scholarship

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Nineteenth-century studies of the Orient changed European ideas and cultural institutions in more ways than we usually recognize. 'Orientalism' certainly contributed to European empire-building, but it also helped to destroy a narrow Christian-classical canon. This carefully researched book provides the first synthetic and contextualized study of German Orientalistik, a subject of special interest because German scholars were the pacesetters in oriental studies between about 1830 and 1930, despite entering the colonial race late and exiting it early. The book suggests that we must take seriously German orientalism's origins in Renaissance philology and early modern biblical exegesis and appreciate its modern development in the context of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century debates about religion and the Bible, classical schooling, and Germanic origins. In ranging across the subdisciplines of Orientalistik, German Orientalism in the Age of Empire introduces readers to a host of iconoclastic characters and forgotten debates, seeking to demonstrate both the richness of this intriguing field and its indebtedness to the cultural world in which it evolved.