This book is a fascinating study of a hitherto neglected topic: the way in which British, French and Arab men and women related to each other sexually, primarily during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In examining sexual perceptions propagated in travel writing, paintings and novels together with sexual experiences of individuals, Derek Hopwood argues that sexual attitudes have deeply influenced Euro-Arab relationships in the past and still do so today. Sexual attitudes and proclivities affected the ways in which people reacted to each other and, perhaps more controversially, influenced the course of history. Inherited sexual ideas coloured everyday relations in the Middle East and the relationships of Arabs in Europe. The lives of numerous individuals are studied, including Lawrence, Burton, Bell, Eberhardt, Gide and Thesiger, as are certain institutions which so fascinated Europe, such as the harem, hammam, veiling and slavery. The final section examines how modern Arab writers have treated Euro-Arab sexual relations in their many novels and short stories.
This book is an important contribution to the social history of empire in the Middle East and to the understanding of the contemporary Euro-Arab relationship.
Dr Derek Hopwood OBE is Reader in Middle Eastern Studies and Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford. He has been teaching Middle Eastern history for over thirty years and has travelled extensively in the Middle East. As director, he served and developed the Middle East Centre of St Antony's College for 13 years, until he stepped down in late 1998. His previous publications include Egypt: Politics and Society 1945-1984; Syria 1945-1986: Politics and Society and Tales of Empire.