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The Middle East as Seen Through Foreign Eyes

Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

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From the Cape to Cairo

From the Cape to Cairo

Beginning in 1896, the British carried out military expeditions in Sudan in order to reassert control over the Upper Nile region. Opposing the British were the Mahdists, followers of the deceased Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi (d. 1885) who was a Sudanese political and religious leader of mixed Arab and African descent. Coinciding with the British reconquest of the Sudan was this cartoon drawn by Joseph Keppler, a frequent contributor to the American political satire and humor magazine, Puck. Keppler portrays the conflict between the British and Sudanese as a struggle of the representatives of “civilization” against the forces of “barbarism.” Although the imagery used to depict the “barbarians” is not specifically evocative of the Middle East, it is a reflection of the predominant Western attitude toward the enterprise of colonialism and imperialism at the dawn of the twentieth century. Keppler’s cartoon reinforces what we have observed in Sam Keen’s commentary from “Faces of the Enemy,” that the theme of “civilization versus barbarism” is a recurring negative stereotype deployed in the dehumanization of a perceived hostile Other.

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