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In Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, Nabil Matar vividly presents new data about Anglo-Islamic social and historical interactions. Rather than looking exclusively at literary works, which tended to present unidimensional stereotypes of Muslims - Shakespeare's "superstitious Moor" or Goffe's "raging Turke," to name only two - Matar delves into hitherto unexamined English prison depositions, captives' memoirs, government documents, and Arabic chronicles and histories. The result is a significant alternative to the prevailing discourse on Islam, which nearly always centers around ethnocentrism and attempts at dominance over the non-Western world, and an astonishing revelation about the realities of exchange and familiarity between England and Muslim society in the Elizabethan and early Stuart periods.
Concurrent with England's engagement and "discovery" of the Muslims was the "discovery" of the American Indians. In an original analysis, Matar shows how Hakluyt and Purchas taught their readers not only about America but about the Muslim dominions, too; how there were more reasons for Britons to venture eastward than westward; and how, in the period under study, more Englishmen lived in North Africa than in North America. Although Matar notes the sharp political and colonial differences between the English encounter with the Muslims and their encounter with the Indians, he shows how Elizabethan and Stuart writers articulated Muslim in terms of Indian, and Indian in terms of Muslim. By superimposing the sexual constructions of the Indians onto the Muslims, and by applying to them the ideology of holy war which had legitimated the destruction of the Indians, English writers prepared the groundwork for orientalism and for the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century conquest of Mediterranean Islam.
Matar's detailed research provides a new direction in the study of England's geographic imagination. It also illuminates the subtleties and interchangeability of stereotype, racism, and demonization that must be taken into account in any responsible depiction of English history.
-An exceptionally detailed account of the elaborate network of commercial, diplomatic, military contacts between Britons and Muslims in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Matar taps a rich vein of anecdotal material to make this history vivid and particular. This book will become required reading for anyone interested in the origins of empire, and in the associated discourses of commerce, colonisation, and race. -Michael Neill -University of Auckland
A valuable contribution to the study of the rise of Orientalism and colonialism... perceptive and elegantly written.
An important but neglected topic. Matar has done early modern scholarship an important service.
Worth [its] weight in gold.... Matar's work adds to the discourse of both orientalism and post-colonialism by providing essential detailed historical analysis of primary sources.... Extremely informative and enlightening.
— William Dalrymple
Matar's work is full of surprises for anyone who believes that Christian-Muslim relations have always been confrontational.
|1||Turks and Moors in England||19|
|2||Soldiers, Pirates, Traders, and Captives: Britons Among the Muslims||43|
|3||The Renaissance Triangle: Britons, Muslims, and American Indians||83|
|4||Sodomy and Conquest||109|
|5||Holy Land, Holy War||129|
|Conclusion: Britons, Muslims, and the Shadow of the American Indians||169|
|App. A||English Captivity Accounts, 1577-1704||181|
|App. B||The Journey of the first Levantine to America||185|
|App. C||Ahmad bin Qasim on Sodomy||193|