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Brasted HV, Khan A. Islam and 'the clash of civilisations?' An historical perspective. 2011.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/10423
Islam and 'the clash of civilisations?' An historical perspective
When it was first speculatively advanced in a 1993 article in 'Foreign Affairs', Huntington's 'clash of civilizations' thesis was roundly and at times roughly criticized by Western scholars ('Foreign Affairs' 1993; 'ASAA Review' 1994). Not only was his key argument, that future conflict would acquire a cultural dimension and be conducted between different civilizations, derided as advancing a totally fanciful model of international relations, but also his core prediction, that as historically colliding civilizations the West and a resurgent Islam were poised to launch this new kind of global war, was condemned as intrinsically flawed. Underlying this generally unfavourable reception was the apprehension that a madcap thesis - a 'gimmick' on a parallel with the 'War of the Worlds', as Edward Said categorized it in a 1998 lecture (Said 2001, 1998) - might progressively acquire paradigmatic status through repeated exposure and begin in a 'self-fulfilling' way to inform the West's policies towards Islam and Muslims in general ('ASAA Review' 1994; Decker 2002; Bilgrami 2003). Certainly the Huntington thesis struck a 'market' chord almost at once (Esposito 2002: 126). Expanded into a best-selling and widely translated book in 1996 - 'The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order' - his 'bright idea', as Huntington had called it earlier in a rejoinder to his critics (Huntington 1993b: 134-38), served to spark a string of international conferences and to inspire a substantial production of articles and papers. A decade into the twenty-first century this output has shown little sign of diminishing.