ORIENTALISM Edward Said Edward Said surveys the history

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ORIENTALISM Edward Said

ORIENTALISM Edward Said

Edward Said surveys the history and nature of Western attitudes towards the East, considering

Edward Said surveys the history and nature of Western attitudes towards the East, considering Orientalism as a powerful European ideological creation – a way for writers, philosophers and colonial administrators to deal with the ‘otherness’ of Eastern culture, customs and beliefs. � Said directly challenged what Euro-American scholars traditionally referred to as "Orientalism. " � Orientalism is an entrenched structure of thought, a pattern of making certain generalizations about the part of the world known as the 'East'. As Said puts it: � “Orientalism was ultimately a political vision of reality whose structure promoted the difference between the familiar (Europe, West, "us") and the strange (the Orient, the East, "them"). ” � �

� Said examines the historical, cultural, and political views of the East that are

� Said examines the historical, cultural, and political views of the East that are held by the West, and examines how they developed and where they came from. � He basically traces the various views and perceptions back to the colonial period of British and European domination in the Middle East. � During this period, the United States was not yet a world power and didn't enter into anything in the East yet. The views and perceptions that came into being were basically the result of the British and French. � The British had colonies in the East at this time; the French did not but were trying to acquire some.

� The beginning of the study of Orientalism is traced to the early eighteenth

� The beginning of the study of Orientalism is traced to the early eighteenth century and focused on language. � This early study consisted of translating works from the Oriental languages into European languages. � The colonial rulers could not rule properly, it was believed, without some knowledge of the people they ruled. � They thought they could acquire this knowledge from translating various works from the native language into their own. � The Orient existed to be studied and that studying was done by Westerners who believed themselves to be superior to the "others", which is how they described the East.

� They were basically the opposite of the East and considered to the active

� They were basically the opposite of the East and considered to the active while the Orient was considered to be passive. � The Orient existed to be ruled and dominated.

� The Orientalist scholars did not distinguish among the countries of the region. �

� The Orientalist scholars did not distinguish among the countries of the region. � The term "Oriental" was used to describe the Middle East and Near East and Far East. � All of these different cultures were basically lumped into one for the purposes of study. � The reason for the study was political also. � The focus is on language and literature and the study in the area of philology where the already written texts and other works were translated as a means of studying the culture.

� The misrepresentations of the Orient and the various aspects of the Orient led

� The misrepresentations of the Orient and the various aspects of the Orient led to confusion and misinterpretation by the scholars and politicians.

� Said points out the errors in the ways of these early Orientalists. �

� Said points out the errors in the ways of these early Orientalists. � He questions the claim that the Orient was biologically inferior to the European and thus required domination. � Said wants the study to focus on the human experience of the cultures and societies. � He points out the errors in many of the earlier studies. � The Orientalists, and therefore the Europeans, did not understand the Muslim or Oriental and were afraid, based on their fears. � Their studies propagated these fears and persisted until a certain level of understanding was reached.

� This occurred after World War I when the study of the Orient shifted

� This occurred after World War I when the study of the Orient shifted from Europe to the United States and became part of the area studies of various social science departments at universities. � The Orient should be viewed for itself and its own cultures and societies and not viewed in the concept of Western perspective. � Said's perspective basically led to a difference in the way the Orient was approached in studies, which led the field into a more modern approach.

� The stereotypes assigned to Oriental cultures and "Orientals" as individuals are pretty specific:

� The stereotypes assigned to Oriental cultures and "Orientals" as individuals are pretty specific: Orientals are despotic and clannish. They are despotic when placed in positions of power, and sly and obsequious when in subservient positions. � Orientals, so the stereotype goes, are impossible to trust. � They are capable of sophisticated abstractions, but not of concrete, practical organization or rigorous, detail-oriented analysis. � Their men are sexually incontinent, while their women are locked up behind bars. Orientals are, by definition, strange.

� this idea of the Oriental is a particular kind of myth produced by

� this idea of the Oriental is a particular kind of myth produced by European thought, especially in and after the 18 th century. In some sense his book Orientalism aims to dismantle this myth, but more than that Said's goal is to identify Orientalism as a discourse. � The oriental is a myth or a stereotype, but Said shows that the myth had, over the course of two centuries of European thought, come to be thought of as a kind of systematic knowledge about the East.

� It was accepted as a common fact that Asians, Arabs, and Indians were

� It was accepted as a common fact that Asians, Arabs, and Indians were mystical religious devotees incapable of rigorous rationality. � It is unsurprising, therefore that so many early European studies into, for instance, Persian poetry, discovered nothing more or less than the terms of their inquiry were able to allow: mystical religious devotion and an absence of rationality.

� � � Said showed that the myth of the Oriental was possible because

� � � Said showed that the myth of the Oriental was possible because of European political dominance of the Middle East and Asia. In this aspect of his thought he was strongly influenced by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. The influence from Foucault is wide-ranging and thorough, but it is perhaps most pronounced when Said argues that Orientalism is a full-fledged discourse, not just a simple idea, and when he suggests that all knowledge is produced in situations of unequal relations of power. In short, a person who dominates another is the only one in a position to write a book about it, to establish it, to define it. It’s not a particular moral failing that the stereotypical failing defined as Orientalism emerged in western thinking, and not somewhere else.