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What We Have in Common


In his newly released book, The Islamic Middle East, Charles Lindholm argues that Middle Eastern cultural patterns are closer to our own than you might think. There is actually a deep tradition of egalitarian individualism in the Middle East, even if it works out very differently than our own individualism. Personally, I tend to emphasize what differentiates Middle Eastern culture from our own-–especially the focus on extended kin groups. But those sorts of differences are grist for the mill. Lindholm’s book is a wonderful and accessible introduction to the social and cultural history of the Middle East. Lindholm is certainly not a political conservative, yet he’s always been a fearless and energetic opponent of postmodern-postcolonial excess. Lindholm’s creative use of classic political and social theory in the body of his work shows that good scholarship on the Middle East, outside the confines of the new postcolonial orthodoxy, lives on.


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