This paper examines orientalism and its repercussions in the field of Late Antiquity. Instead of treating orientalism as a textual phenomenon, I argue that it is a continuous experiential process that comes as a result of encountering texts, objects, and others. I take examples from familiar academic practices and institutions—translations, editions, archeology, museums, digitization, etc.—all of which are related to access to this field. Discourses on progress sometimes cloud the ethical and moral issues of these practices, which we have inherited from older generations of Western scholars. I show how modern efforts and approaches remain insufficient in some cases, and more importantly how they primarily benefit scholars from or located in the West. This article, thus, aims to point out their shortcomings and critique the prevailing optimistic narrative of justice and progress in the hopes of inciting a more productive dialogue about access and knowledge production.

According to Rey Chow, after entering the Western academy, people from the “third world” often experience orientalism as they soon discover that their cultures exist as given “objects of inquiry within well-defined geographical domains” for their counterparts from the West.1 Attending a conference on Syriac art in the fall of 2021, I was reminded of these words when a European scholar made extensive use of oriental in a paper describing the paintings of churches in Syria and Lebanon. I knew one of these churches particularly well; it is less than thirty minutes away from where I grew up.2 As I was reading the precirculated paper, I realized that, even though his use of the word was not intended to be pejorative, where he and others saw “oriental” strangers in the paintings, I saw familiar bodies. Where he saw only the paintings, I saw also the people that move around them in the past as well as the present.

In the field of Late Antiquity, familiar-now-foreign objects include not only other people but also artefacts, manuscripts, and languages that remain part of collective living memories and cultural heritages. These items are studied as if they stand apart from the present day, abiding in some distant historical past. The experience of learning about these objects is often accompanied by a dissociation from the present. Many scholars still deal with objects, histories, and places as if they only exist for and belong to the Western academy and the “universal” past. Many study where others come from without knowing where they come from or speak about their languages without speaking others’ languages.3 The trendiest pedagogies even emphasize that objects and manuscripts are embodied. Yet, this “material turn” rarely brings into focus the fact that these items, newly invested with “object agency,” were (and still are) ripped away and severed from certain bodies; nor do these pedagogies adequately address the problem of who is able to come near those objects and who is prevented from doing so.

Sara Ahmed demonstrates that orientalism is not only a textual phenomenon but also “a matter of how bodies inhabit spaces through shared orientations”; by being in specific spaces, a body is able to extend its reach “by taking in that which is ‘not’ it, where the ‘not’ involves the acquisition of new capacities and directions.”4 The otherness of objects is what allows people “to do things ‘with’ them.”5 For a scholar from the “East” in the “West,” this means having to orient one’s body towards what is “not other” as “other” in certain cases.

In recent decades, the field of Late Antiquity has dedicated more attention to the “East” not only to offer a thicker description of late ancient cultures but also to avoid eurocentrism and orientalism. The late antique “East” has moved from the margins of scholarship to an area of central concern, a kind of well from which scholars can both draw resources and practice inclusion. The question of who can study the “East,” however, remains neglected. Wael Hallaq notes that, to cultivate knowledge within an ethical framework, scholars must “engage in a series of self-interrogations about the justifiability of the very concept of scholarship in the first place: Why, that is, choose to enter into this domain of production? What forms of scholarship are ethically justifiable and what forms are not?…Which comes first, the material comfort as a sole consideration or the ethical obligation toward the self and the Other, the “object” of one’s research?”6

In a field that deals with the (sometimes stolen) cultural heritage of indigenous peoples, these questions are rarely addressed, except, perhaps, by feminist and postcolonial thinkers.7

Orientalism is often discussed in dualistic terms: right versus wrong, past versus present, us (modern Western scholars) versus them (earlier Western scholars). Instead of looking at orientalism, this paper looks through it. My aim is to provide a better account of the experience of orientalism as a result of the encounter with texts and with the orientations of certain bodies, and thereby capture the disorienting effects that this encounter often engenders. I believe that these reflections have implications that go well beyond the experience of one man from a particular background working in a specific field. In other words, orientalism is experienced haptically by certain scholars working with objects that come from the same place as they do. The examples I allude to are drawn mainly from scholarly works that deal with the past of the modern-day Middle East. The central issue I want to raise does not primarily relate to how others are represented—although such issues remain important—but rather has more to do with who is able to represent and who can access these representations.

The conference that I referred to earlier was not my first disorienting encounter. On August 4, 2020, as I was on my second flight for the US to begin a doctoral program in religion at Duke University, the city of Beirut was devastated and destroyed by one of the largest nonnuclear explosions in human history. After an initial period of uncertainty and inability to focus following my arrival in the US, I gradually began to notice how those around me were often able to dichotomize past and present and, in many cases, to write, teach, and speak about the past with little or no knowledge about the present state of the geographical spaces or traditions they study. Everyone had heard about the explosion, but for most this was all they knew or needed to know about contemporary Beirut. The events that followed—another explosion, an economic collapse, prolonged electricity cuts, and shortages in medicine and fuel—went unnoticed and were rarely mentioned.8 Perhaps scholars cannot be expected to be aware of everything happening in the present spaces that they study, but the lack of knowledge about the Middle East among those who work on the “East” was jarring. Above all, the choice to dissociate past from present remains largely available and common.9

The optional disengagement that some can afford is not limited to current events or the present more broadly.10 This posture of disinterest extends to many topics and objects around which the field of Late Antiquity revolves. As Eva Mroczek points out, “this habit of distancing our own practices from those of the ‘native’ separates contemporary scholars not only from non-Western Muslims and Christians, but also from earlier generations of modern Western scholars.”11 Such acts of distancing are particularly palpable for those who inhabit the liminal space between being indigenous and a “Western scholar,” and who, by extension, cannot always simply adopt this habit of separation. It is this liminality that I seek to illuminate as a space that necessitates a constant internal questioning of positionalities.12

In this place where I am now physically located, others see the foreign where I see the familiar. In order to be part of the prevailing direction of Western scholarship, I must encounter the familiar as “discovered,” “trending,” or “forgotten.” Here, Berytus and the “East” exist, but Beirut and the Middle East do not. Here, Saint Marina exists, but Marina does not. As I move around objects, I am constantly reminded not only of the legacy of those who participated in moving them and of their violent disregard for others but also of the fact that I am now benefiting from this legacy—and I do so even as I write these lines—while others do not, have not, and most probably will not.13 The givens, in the case of this field of study, are not only the objects but also the desires not to question one’s positionality and not to experience the emotional labor that this questioning entails.14

Six months after the explosion, I was able to go back to one of my academic goals: editing and translating Arabic manuscripts. The advantage I thought I had by being able to read Arabic turned out to be a naïve assumption. Many have already edited and translated texts without taking into consideration provenance and access, and unedited manuscripts are dispersed in countries that I cannot enter without visas. My disenchantment with my privileged position and my disorientation reached their peak, however, when I was working on an Arabic papyrus at Duke University. I could read the primary source, but I could not read about it. The crucial secondary literature on Arabic papyri is in German, a language that I am not yet fluent in. Previously, as I had only worked with Greek or Syriac, the language of the primary source had been the obstacle. Now that I was working on a source composed in my native language, the obstacle was the secondary literature. Organically, I had to ask myself: Who knows that this object exists and who does not? Who am I editing it for, especially since many who edited and still edit Arabic documents do not consider Arabic speakers as part of their intended audience?

As I was gnawing on these questions, I was assigned to read for a seminar I was taking an article by Jennifer Knust entitled “Editing without Interpreting.” The article focuses on the career of the archeologist Selah Merrill, who worked in the 1870s as an archeologist for the American Palestine Exploration Society and served for many years as the United States consul in Jerusalem. Knust highlights how the past and present residents of the lands that Merrill and others stole from are disregarded by those who edit texts.15 After his treasure hunt in the East, Merrill sold part of his collection to the Harvard Semitic Museum. This museum recently changed its name to the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East. When asked about this name change, the museum’s director replied, “Regarding the name, we know that no name is perfect.” The “‘Near East,’” he continued, “is not particularly ‘eastern’ to colleagues living on the other side of the world.” Nevertheless, “in our defense, our building stands in Cambridge” (emphasis mine). The change, he added, “is not a reaction to any particular event, but rather our attempt to reflect our mission in clearer terms.”16 In other words, it is an attempt to cover one mistake with another.17 The “East” became “eastern” to colleagues “from the other side of the world” living on this side; it becoming “eastern” was the best option if academic relevancy was going to be maintained and, thanks to the endeavors of Merrill, Schaff, Robinson, Poole, Lyon, and many others like them, it could be.18 The geographical location of the museum matters more than the fact that some of its displays were and still are stolen, and its renaming still excludes the victims of that theft.

Digging further, I discovered that the founder of the museum, David Gordon Lyon, who considered those who lived around the artefacts to be “ignorant fellahin (peasants),”19 was the one who purchased several items from Merrill.20 In a recent exhibition, the museum celebrated its founder, describing him as an “accomplished and entertaining speaker” who envisioned “a Museum for all people.”21 Lyon’s acquisitions, however, failed to include those living in the “Near East” among the universalizing “all,” both during his lifetime and now.22 Descendants of Merrill’s “wild Arabs”23 were—and continue to be—deprived of their cultural heritage, primary sources for research into that heritage, and by extension the academic opportunities that flow from “original research.” Ironically, this was Lyon’s aim for the museum, but the people he stole from were never in his consideration, just like they are not in the consideration of many scholars today.24

Thus, the legacy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has not disappeared but only been displaced and obscured. Troubled by questions of access a century ago, Philip Schaff justified the theft of manuscripts by stating, “biblical scholars could not travel to Mount Sinai to examine” them. For Schaff, as for Lyon, scholars could only be in a specific geography, and “these ignorant monks could never have made use of these” texts.25 Many of that generation shared Schaff’s views. To name a few, Edward Robinson and Eli Smith wrote “the wild Arab, as he wanders by, regards [the artifact] with stupid indifference or scorn.”26 Georges Perrot and Charles Chipiez indicated that archeological artefacts were “destroyed by ignorant peasants before systematic exploration began.”27 Agnes Lewis recounts that her expedition party “rubbed against I don’t know how many dirty asses and still dirtier men.”28 These are the words of previous Western scholars who participated in keeping items “safe.” I could not but notice how most of these scholars did not learn to speak Arabic before going East to advance their careers and write their books. The people around the objects and sites they were interested in, as well as their languages, were irrelevant to historical investigation. This is often still the case today even though modern scholars no longer include such statements in their writings. Such statements, however, do not affect all Western scholars in the same way. While some may wince and then proceed with their academic careers largely unhindered, others might question whether they belong on this side where only a conception of the past of the other side seems to exist and matter.29

Stepping away from orientalist sources, I remembered that not all my colleagues have necessarily read them. Instead, they discovered interesting and foreign objects and languages through editions or manuscripts. Many scholars from the West often share stories about how they were mesmerized by these languages or manuscripts. Nevertheless, the affordances already conferred by being near these objects, be they artefacts, manuscripts, or editions, is often disregarded. Curiosity about some distant past might metamorphize into scholarly interest—sometimes benevolently and other times opportunistically—if the culture that the object at hand belongs to invites greater visibility (e.g., Arabic, Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, or Armenian).30 Those who are no longer able to come near those objects, mainly due to pillage, are denied this enthusiasm and everything that ensues from it, especially academic success. After linguistic competency has been acquired, books are then published, manuscripts edited and translated, and symbolic, cultural capital is gained.31 When reading these works, many forget or choose to forget that “the ‘great man’ is a little man looking at a good” (probably stolen) manuscript or object, as Bruno Latour put it.32 For others, the imperative of oblivion comes at the high personal cost of a necessary dissociation—especially when very little is done to tackle these questions of appropriation. Some scholars working on previously neglected languages complain about the lack of translations and editions of texts and then celebrate the availability of produced editions. Those who write and read the same language as the object contains or who live where those languages are familiar are given neither the same scholarly tools nor access to the opportunity to edit.33 But, if the goal is the production of editions that are accessible to a wider audience, wouldn’t editions increase if these texts were restituted where these languages are still present and/or if the necessary secondary scholarship was translated to these languages? Perhaps not. But in any case, indigenous populations are robbed both of being drawn to the text and of working on it. Meanwhile, calls for diversity are repeated, as if there is no correlation between who is admitted to the presence of these objects and who is ultimately allowed to enter the field. Translating or editing a primary source is a crucial benchmark for the Western scholar, but writing on Arabic in Arabic—or speaking Arabic—for example, is rarely heard of.34

Lately, one of the solutions presented to this ethical dilemma is digitization. Digitization is prized both as a kind of democratic universal compensation and as a form of progress: “everyone” has access now. This “everyone,” however, is an illusion. Bruno Latour will be helpful to explain this further. In his article “Visualisation and Cognition: Drawing Things Together,” he demonstrates how it is better to speak of distance than abstract power. The privilege of the printing press, he explains, is “its ability to help many innovations to act at once.” As it accelerates the “mobility of the traces that a location may obtain about another place” and allows “these traces to move without transformation from one place to another,” it gives those with access to printed books the ability to use what is contained in them.35 Instead of “printing press,” read “digitization.” Chemical structures, Latour then adds, cannot be manipulated without Mendeleiev’s table; the same can be said of manuscripts and digitization.36 To put it in simpler terms: instead of physically taking the manuscripts and speaking about other cultures privately, the academy now scans the manuscripts and still speaks about those same cultures privately.37 The end result is the same: the Western scholar can still produce knowledge and talk about others without them knowing what is being said about them or about their objects. The only difference is that more people can look at the manuscripts that the academy deems worthy of digitization and the Western scholar does not have to travel to the Middle East. Nevertheless, the opposite is not true. Indigenous peoples still have to travel—if they get access—to look at their objects. Take for example the British Library. One institution that houses the objects of different peoples controls whether they get access to them or not as the decision about what gets digitized and what does not remain in its hands.

Besides being able to come near these objects, scholars from the West also have easier access to spaces where they can speak about them. With a growing interest in the “East” in Late Antiquity, correlatedly, conferences dedicated to the topic have increased. Usually placed in North America or Europe, these conferences discuss the “East” and take care to demonstrate that it is as important as the “West”: its traditions deserve “universal” (Western) attention. Scholars from the other side of the world, where what is studied is familiar, are not granted the same opportunities to speak or listen. While some rummage through their papers and edit them on airplanes, others must scour embassy websites in an attempt to overcome difficulties presented by their passports.38 Access is easily forgotten as long as we can apply new, trendier theories to the same or newer objects and talk about them in conference rooms in the West.39

By pointing out these ethical dilemmas, I am not pretending to possess a clear solution. It is my aim, however, to make plain that orientalism is more than merely a textual phenomenon; it is also felt and experienced—not just in reading orientalist texts but in observing bodies in the West orienting themselves toward the Orient. The essential aspect of experiencing orientalism lies in the inability to orient oneself in the same manner as many Western scholars do, even today.40 Neither the “East” nor the “West” are real, but objects, spaces, and people are.

Scholarship is not philanthropy. Yet, it cannot be denied that this field is built on a certain legacy. The epistemological edifice that our predecessors constructed consisted of ignoring and erasing other people and appropriating the objects these others lived around. To do justice to traditions should not be reduced simply to writing about them and discussing them in exclusive spaces where only certain bodies and histories are actually welcome; or choosing niche topics and citing token works in other languages. Writing ethically about the past does not absolve scholars of being aware of the present. And this present all too often consists of people from one side of the world accessing the objects of those from the other side without trying to make them more accessible. Texts are no longer written in the same orientalist key as in the nineteenth century, but those able to write these texts are, more or less, still from the same places.

The appropriation of the past for the work of the present is the central goal of all scholarship on Late Antiquity. Nonetheless, appropriation remains an affordance that some are able to possess while others are not, tout court.41 Depending on your passport, language skills, and financial means, you could or could not access what was once a few minutes away from your home. Perhaps the desired artifact would have been destroyed, or buried, or lost in some monastery if the orientalist had not “saved” it, but that is not the case today. Today, these objects are still kept in institutions in the West and are still accessible primarily to people from the West. The Londoner or the Parisian can pick and choose from manuscripts from around the world and write a statement of purpose or article or book, while others cannot. The American can be mesmerized at the Harvard Museum of the Near East, and potentially pursue a career in archeology, while others cannot. Being able to be drawn organically to objects is an affordance that is robbed from others. Questioning positionalities, expressing guilt, acknowledging privilege, and raising awareness are not enough, in and of themselves.42 Given that Western scholars working on the late antique East are directly dealing with objects and knowledge produced from objects that also exist for others (regardless of whether they were stolen or legally bought, or if they have been digitized), it is a pressing ethical practice to remain critically aware of questions of access.43 At the end of the day, if we are still the only ones able to write about and represent—albeit differently—the “East,” how different are we from our predecessors?44


Rey Chow, “Against the Lures of Diaspora,” in Writing Diaspora: Tactics of Intervention in Contemporary Cultural Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 115. See also, Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978). Said talks more about his experience in the afterword to the second edition: Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin Books, 2003), 329–54.


Erica Cruikshank Dodd, “Maʿad,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, ed. Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz, and Lucas Van Rompay,


I am not denying the benevolence of some translators, but as Gayatri Spivak said, “if you are interested in talking about the other, and/or in making a claim to be the other, it is crucial to learn other languages. This should be distinguished from the learned tradition of language acquisition for academic work” (“Politics of Translation,” in Outside in the Teaching Machine [New York: Routledge, 1993], 192).


Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 118.


Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, 115.


Wael Hallaq, Restating Orientalism: A Critique of Modern Knowledge (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), 264. Hallaq sees orientalism as a “modern form of power” and does not attach much importance “to the contributions of individual orientalists” (10).


See, for example, Blossom Stefaniw, “At Home in Archival Grief: Lost Canons and Displaced Stories,” Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies 3, no. 2 (2021): 1–17, and Amitav Gosh, In an Antique Land (London: Penguin Books, 1992).


Médéa Azouri, “Je ne veux pas vivre comme ça…,” L’Orient-le jour, 24 Sept. 2021,


As Talal Asad has stated, “Eastern Christianity” is “conceptually marginalized and represented as” a minor branch “in the Middle East of a history that develops elsewhere—in Europe, and at the roots of Western civilization” (“The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam,” Qui parle 17, no. 2 [2009]: 4). It seems that, for this specific reason, having basic knowledge about the Middle East is still not considered essential in this field.


See Roberta Mazza, “Papyri, Ethics, and Economics: A Biography of P.Oxy. 15.1780 (𝔓39),” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 52, (2015): 113–42, and Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, 149.


Eva Mroczek, “True Stories and the Poetics of Textual Discovery,” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 45, no. 2 (2016): 28.


“To write about a tradition is to be in a certain narrative relation to it, a relation that will vary according to whether one supports or opposes the tradition, or regards it as morally neutral” (Asad, “Idea of an Anthropology of Islam,” 24). See also Fadi A. Bardawil and Talal Asad, “The Solitary Analyst of Doxas: An Interview with Talal Asad,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 36, no. 1 (2016): 152–73, and Sara Ahmed, “Home and Away: Narratives of Migration and Estrangement,” in Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality (New York: Routledge, 2000), 77–94.


On how an object can be affective, see Sara Ahmed, “Happy Objects,” in The Affect Theory Reader, ed. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 29–51.


“Attention involves a political economy, or an uneven distribution of attention time between those who arrive at the writing table, which affects what they can do once they arrive (and of course, many do not even make it). For some, having time for writing, which means time to face the objects upon which writing happens, becomes an orientation that is not available given the ongoing labor of other attachments, which literally pull you away. So whether we can sustain our orientation toward the writing table depends on other orientations, which affect what we can face at any given moment in time” (Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, 32).


Jennifer Knust, “Editing without Interpreting: The Museum of the Bible and New Testament Textual Criticism,” in The Museum of the Bible: A Critical Introduction, ed. Jill Hicks-Keaton and Cavan Concannon (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2019), 145–70. One of these lands is modern-day Lebanon. See Selah Merrill, East of the Jordan: A Record of Travel and Observation in the Countries of Moab, Gilead and Bashan (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1881), 521–24.


Gazette and Peter Der Manuelian, “Semitic Museum Is Renamed Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East,” Harvard Gazette, 15 Apr. 2020,


See Robin Boast, “Neocolonial Collaboration: Museum as Contact Zone Revisited,” Museum Anthropology 34, no. 1 (2011): 56–70.


“But somebody’s ‘east’ becomes ‘the East,’ as one side of the globe. The cartographic imperative to make maps as technologies for navigation shows how normalization involves the normalization not only of certain kinds of bodies, but also specific directions: ‘What is east (of me/us)’ becomes ‘the East’ by taking some points of view as given. In other words, it is the drawing the line (the prime meridian) in one location, through Greenwich, that ‘east’ becomes ‘the East,’ as if the East were a property of certain places and people” (Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, 113).


Charles C. Torrey and David G. Lyon, “Sixth Annual Report of the Managing Committee of the American School of Oriental Study and Research in Palestine,” American Journal of Archaeology 11 (1907): 47.


Joseph A. Greene, “A Complicated Legacy: The Original Collections of the Semitic Museum,” Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 5, no. 1 (2017): 57–69; Harvard University, “The Semitic Museum,” in Annual Reports of the President and Treasurer of Harvard College 1901–1902 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1903), 301–5,


Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East, “From the Nile to the Euphrates: Creating the Harvard Semitic Museum,” Virtual visit to the museum:


As Felwine Sarr highlighted, “the one-faced universal, produced from a certain occidental episteme, born in a situated geography, is nothing other than a fiction.” In contrast, “the true universal” he adds, “is inscribed in plurality and diversity; it is an additive universal and not a subtractive one” (L’universel à visage unique, produit d’une certaine épistémê occidentale, née dans une géographie située, n’est rien d’autre qu’une fiction. L’universel véritable s’inscrit au contraire dans la pluralité et la diversité; c’est un universel additif et non soustractif). Felwine Sarr, “La fabrique de l’universel,” Esprit, 2021, See also Pierre Losson, “Opening Pandora’s Box: Will the Return of Cultural Heritage Objects to Their Country of Origin Empty Western Museums?” Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society 51, no. 6 (2021): 379–92.


Merrill, East of the Jordan, 495.


David G. Lyon, The Semitic Museum of Harvard University: Addresses Delivered at the Formal Opening of the Museum on Thursday, February 5 1903 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1903), 5,


Philip Schaff, Through Bible Lands: Notes of Travel in Egypt, the Desert, and Palestine (New York: American Tract Society, 1878), 191.


Edward Robinson and Eli Smith, Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions, vol. 2 (Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1841), 132.


Georges Perrot, Charles Chipiez, and Walter Armstrong, History of Art in Phœnicia and Its Dependencies (London: Chapman and Hall, 1885), 372.


Agnes S. Lewis, Eastern Pilgrims: The Travels of Three Ladies (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1870), 87.


“When we consider orientalism as a case of world making, which creates two sides and aligns them with bodies, then we can show how ‘siding’ matters.” (Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, 145–46).


“Such contact might involve histories of appropriation, even if that appropriation speaks the language of love, curiosity, and care” (Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, 149); see also Ahmed, “Ethical Encounters: The Other, Others and Strangers,” in Strange Encounters, 137–60.


“There is so much of the old colonial attitude, slightly displaced, at work in the translation racket” (Spivak, “Politics of Translation,” 189).


Bruno Latour, “Visualisation and Cognition: Drawing Things Together,” in Knowledge and Society Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present, ed. H. Kuklick, vol. 6 (Greenwich: Jai Press, 1986), 27.


“If you want to make the translated text accessible, try doing it for the person who wrote it.…If you are making anything else accessible, through a language quickly learned with an idea that you transfer content, then you are betraying the text and showing rather dubious politics” (Spivak, “Politics of Translation,” 191), and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Teaching for the Times,” in An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012), 137–57.


“To decide whether you are prepared enough to start translating, then, it might help if you have graduated into speaking, by choice or preference, of intimate matters in the language of the original.” Like Spivak, I “cannot see why the publishers’ convenience or classroom convenience or time convenience for people who do not have the time to learn should organize the construction of the rest of the world for” this field (Spivak, “Politics of Translation,” 187); see also Edward W. Said, “Living in Arabic,” Raritan: A Quarterly Review 21, no. 4 (2002): 220–36.


Latour, “Visualisation and Cognition,” 13.


Latour, 13.


I want to emphasize here that I am not against digitization. I am simply highlighting that there are many aspects that get ignored when we look at a digitized object/manuscript: Who decides what gets digitized? Who decides the language of a digital humanities tool? Who gets to use digital tools? Who knows about these tools?…See Nicola Reggiani, “Papyrological Mass Media,” in Digital Tools I: Methods, Tools, and Trends (Berlin: De Gruyter: 2017), 162–77.


See Lina G. Tahan, “How I Was Denied Scholastic Opportunities by the British Government,” Archeologies: Journal of the World Archeological Congress 3, no. 2 (2016): 203–6, and Usama Gad, “Troublemakers, Visa Applications, and Global Challenges,” Everyday Orientalism, 21 August 2019,


See Katherine Blouin, “Papyri, Classics and What-Not: Topics, Tongues and Occluded Histories at the International Congresses of Papyrology,” Everyday Orientalism, 4 March 2019, Blouin’s article was rejected from publication in a journal. In it she provides a thorough study of papyri conferences: the languages used, their locations, etc. She demonstrates how classics as a field is not innocent of orientalism.


“The Orient here would be the object toward which we are directed, as an object of desire. By being directed toward the Orient, we are orientated ‘around’ the Occident. Or, to be more precise, the Occident coheres as that which we are organized around through the very direction of our gaze toward the Orient” (Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, 116).


As Blossom Stefaniw states in a different context, “any change held up as an indication of progress is, on closer examination, a net benefit to the dominant party” (“Feminist Historiography,” 268). Stefaniw is here borrowing from critical race theory.


See Rey Chow, “Introduction,” in Writing Diaspora: Tactics of Intervention in Contemporary Cultural Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 1–26.


For an example of this in a different context, see Kim Tallbear, “Standing with and Speaking as Faith: A Feminist-Indigenous Approach to Inquiry,” Journal of Research Practice 10, no. 2 (2014): Article N17.


Edward W. Said, “In the Shadow of the West,” in Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said, ed. Gauri Viswanathan (Vintage Books, New York: 2002), 39–52.