Title: Mahometanism, Orientalism, and Islamophobia: The Case of Father Bombo’s Pilgrimage to Mecca
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Wisam Chaleila, Al-Qasemi Academic College, Israel
This paper examines the term Mahometanism in Father Bombo’s Pilgrimage to Mecca (1770) claimed to be first American novel (Bell 1775). It also demonstrates Mahometanism’s similarity to later expressions such as Orientalism and Islamophobia. The nexus between the three expressions is underlined in the thematic analysis encompassing not only the generic blend of historical and fictional contexts, but also the specific case of Mahometanism that concerns America. For ages, the United States was a replica of Great Britain with respect to the literary canon as American writers’ literary styles were overpoweringly influenced by their counterparts in Europe. Although this American novel embraces the idea of Mahometanism, it is obviously one of the America’s first attempts to break away from the British Crown creating a national literary tradition. Semantically, Islamophobia is largely connected with Mahometanism and Orientalism. That is, Mahometanism is a purely Christian-coined offensive and contemptuous expression disdaining Muslims, mostly from a long way away, in verbal or written forms (Brewer 1810–1897), whereas Islamophobia renders a sympathetic attitude towards Muslims as victims of violence and racism being targeted mainly by religious or secular westerners (authorities or common people) and hence verbal, printed, and physical persecution of Muslims is branded as such (López 2010). Orientalism is related to both expressions but unlike them it entails an elevated style compatible with the western scholarship and is mostly advocated by secular intellectuals who emulate and illustrate facets of the Eastern world concerning Arabs/Muslims through the kaleidoscopic lens of the West (Said 364).
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