Perceptions of Eastern scholars about modern European civilization—is not well documented. The subject has been a growing field, especially in the US, during the last decade but critical groundwork is not yet complete. Thus, it is still difficult to assess the attitudes of early modern Muslim intellectuals and statesmen toward modern Western civilization, and specifically its sciences and technology, in any comprehensive way. “The Debate between Islam and the West in Science and Technology” (“DEBIWIST”) project will address these lacunae in the following ways: First, it will document the changing perceptions of European civilization held by native intellectuals in Turkey and Egypt between 1850 and 1950. Its focus will be considerations of Western sciences and technology, and Middle Eastern justifications for acceptance or rejection based on religious grounds. The study will concentrate on major thinkers from different sectors (religious and lay, and traditional and European-style educated thinkers or scholars) of each society. The second objective is to contribute in-depth and scholarly information and analyses to current debates about the compatibility of Islam and European civilizations. It will do this by examining case studies from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here, research will analyze data from Egypt and Turkey that counters the “Clash of Civilizations” arguments presented in Samuel Huntington’s 1993 article and emphasizes the cooperation between Islam and Europe on a deeper academic level. The third objective is to contribute to and expand the area studies within the European context. Although European scholars established the precedents in Islamic studies, American universities have taken the lead in research and publication in Middle Eastern studies. This project will identify and aggregate researchers at Bilkent with a long-term goal of establishing a Middle Eastern studies concentration.
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