Western Imaginings

Rohan Davis


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(2018) Wahhabism is often understood as a radical version of Islam responsible for inspiring and motivating Islamic terrorism. Western Imaginings: The Intellectual Contest to Define Wahhabism is an inquiry into how Wahhabism has been understood and represented by Western intellectuals, particularly those belonging to the neo-conservative and liberal traditions. In contrast to the existing literature that treats Wahhabism as a historical phenomenon or a monolithic theological ideology, a literature often written by authors keen to promote geopolitical interests or with ideological axes to grind, Davis’s work considers Wahhabism as a discursive construct crafted and popularized by a Western intellectual elite. This comprehensive study speaks to how and why Western intellectuals have chosen to represent Wahhabism in specific ways, ranging from an analysis of the particular rhetorical techniques employed by these intellectuals to a consideration of the religious and political beliefs that inspire and motivate their decisions.

Western Imaginings is aimed at students of political philosophy, intellectual traditions, and sociology; media and policy professionals; and anyone interested in how Islamic doctrines like Wahhabism have been represented in an international context framed by a heightened anxiety about radical Islam.