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Orientalism - Edward Said

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Natalia Toronchuk

on 26 March 2013

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Transcript of Orientalism - Edward Said

Orientalism - Edward Said Why, when thinking of the
Middle East, do we have preconceived
notions of what kind of people,
what kind of life goes on there? Jean-Baptiste Huysmans (1826-1906) Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904) Orientalist Paintings Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) Gustav Flaubert Portrayal of Carthage's culture as morally corrupting, violent, and suffused with dangerously alluring eroticism. (Wikipedia) Salammbô "The brazen arms were working more quickly. They paused no longer. Every time that a child was placed in them the priests of Moloch spread out their hands upon him to burden him with the crimes of the people, vociferating: "They are not men but oxen!" and the multitude round about repeated: "Oxen! oxen!" The devout exclaimed: "Lord! Eat!". (Chapter 13) Art by Alphonse Mucha (1896) Contemporary Orientalism in Popular Media Orientalism in Television and Films What does Orientalism say about
the Culture "doing" the Other-ing? European Orientalism Influential Theorists Antonio Gramsci "Hegemony" Civil and political society vs. state institutions "certain cultural forms predominate over others, just as certain ideas are more influential than others; the form of this cultural leadership is what Gramsci has identified as "hegemony," an indispensable concept for any understanding of cultural life in the industrial West." (Said, 1871) consensual vs. coercive Michel Foucault "discourse" "Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureacracies and colonial styles" (1866-67). knowledge - power cultural and historical knowledge "Every writer on the Orient... assumes some Oriental precedent, some previous knowledge of the Orient, to which he refers and on which he relies" (1882). history as a product "Too often literature and culture are presumed to be politically, even historically innocent; it has regularly seemed otherwise to me... that society and literary culture can only be understood and studied together." (1887) Pure and Political Knowledge Is the "Other-ed" culture complicit
in its own Orientalization? American Orientalism Said's Theory of Orientalism “The Orient” is a European invention.
The Orient has been used to define what Europe is not - Binary relationship.
Orientalism is a style of thought based on distinctions between Orient and Occident.
It is a power relationship, bestowing all the power upon the West or Occident.
Representations of the Orient (and the ability to represent it) was appropriated by Europeans.
Orientalism is a system of knowledge, a body of theoretical and practical knowledge which frames the Orient in the Western consciousness.
European identity is hierarchilized as superior to all others. India, East Asia Middle East Pure Knowledge "The distinction between 'humanists' and persons whose work has policy implications, or political significance, can be broadened further by saying that the former's ideological color is a matter of incidental importance to politics (although possibly of great moment to his colleagues in the field, who may object to his Stalinism or fascism or too easy liberalism), whereas the ideology of the latter is woven directly into his material - indeed, economics, politics, and sociology in the modern academy are ideological sciences - and therefore taken for granted as being 'political'" (1873). Victor Hugo The depiction of Turks in "Les Orientales" mixes condemnation, idealisation, and crude envy. It is often cited as being representative of the "Orientalist" attitudes in much of French literature. (Wikipedia) Les Orientales Illustration by Gérard Seguin freedom-loving Greeks vs. the imperialistic Ottoman Turks 41 poems, tableaux depicting Eastern Mediterranean Orientalism in Popular Literature and Media Fiction News A "humanist" (someone in the field of humanities) "is not involved in anything political" because "what he does seems to have no direct effect upon reality in the everyday sense" (1873). "humanists" importance to politics is "incidental" "the general consensus that 'true' knowledge is fundamentally non-political" (1873) Political Knowledge Knowledge of political importance // proximity of the field to ascertainable sources of power in political society. "Literary history" (as opposed to "economics") does not appear to saturate the academy as much (1874). Said's View "There is such a thing as knowledge that is less, rather than more, partial than the individual... who produces it. Yet this knowledge is not therefore automatically non-political" (1873) "No one has ever devised a method for detaching the scholar from the circumstances of life, from the fact of his involvement with a class, a set of beliefs... These continue to bear on what he does professionally, even though naturally enough his research and its fruits do attempt to reach a level of relative freedom" (1873) "to be a European or an American... meant and means being dimly aware, however dimly that one belongs to a power with definite interests in the Orient" (1874). The idea held that "most knowledge produced in the contemporary west... (ought to be) scholarly, academic, impartial,above partisan or small-minded doctrinal belief" (1873). Orientalist Literature The author of a text writes from a perspective of his/her relationships - a position not always situated in the Orient, but in the West.
The Orientalist writer attempts to place himself outside of the Orient, aiming for objectivity, but still carries a western bias.
“Unnnatural” depictions of the Orient - they emanate from western techniques of representation.
Orientalism is a system of citing works and authors. Like any other such system, it builds upon itself, thus transmitting Orientalism throughout the culture.
It connects literary study with ideology, politics, and the logic of power.
Orientalism is anti-libertarian, repressive and manipulative. It follows the logic of Foucault’s power/knowledge.
It is pervasive in contemporary media; film, television. It is today even more politicized than before.
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