Laura Nader, “Berkeley Book Launch: What the Rest Think of the West” (October 29, 2016)

Focusing on four civilizations—Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, and South Asian— Laura Nader has collected observations made over centuries by scholars, diplomats, missionaries, travelers, merchants, and students reflecting upon their own “Wests.” These writings derive from a range of purposes and perspectives, such as the seventh-century Chinese Buddhist who goes west to India, the missionary from Baghdad who travels up the Volga in the tenth century and meets the Vikings, and the Egyptian imam who in 1826 is sent to Paris to study the French. The accounts variously express critique, adoration, admiration, and fear, and are sometimes humorous, occasionally disturbing, at times controversial, and always enlightening. With informative introductions to each of the selections, Laura Nader initiates conversations about the power of representational practices.