Internalism of the Leftby
Isam al-Khafaji, Tormented Births: Passages to Modernity in Europe and the Middle East (London: I. B. Tauris, 2005).
Any book-length comparison of the historical trajectories of Western Europe and the region “extending from Iran in the east to Egypt in the west, and from Turkey in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south” is ambitious by definition. In the outstanding Tormented Births, “written and researched over two decades in exile” from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Isam al-Khafaji has attempted more than comparison. He has attempted a new narrative for both European and Mashriq histories. The goal is nothing less than to “show the non-uniqueness of the third world path to modernity, which means by implication the non-uniqueness of the point of reference: Europe’s path to modernity.”