The Arab Rediscovery of Europe: A Study in Cultural Encounters
Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 exposed the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire to a Europe vastly different from the one known to the Arabs of the Middle Ages. At the start of the nineteenth century, Arabs were unprepared for the social, economic and political progress made in Europe.
By 1870, however, their vague notions had evolved into a fairly sophisticated knowledge of the historic background and contemporary achievements of various European nations. The new reform movements in Egypt and the Fertile Crescent had incorporated into their programs the ideological premises and political institutions of European Liberalism.
Ibrahim Abu-Lughod’s pioneering work traces the role of the Arab intelligentsia in increasing Arab awareness of Europe and in shaping visions of Arab political futures. First published in 1963, it was hugely influential in instigating a detailed study of the Arab–European encounter in the nineteenth century using Arabic sources.