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Postcolonial Theory

Presentation for Intercultural Encounters and Postcolonial Theory

Henry Salas Lazo

on 9 February 2015

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Transcript of Postcolonial Theory

Why Orientalism?
2.Masculine vs. Feminine
Argo Revisited: A Postcolonial Analysis on the Western
Stereotypical Preconceptions about the Middle East
Research Questions
1.White vs. Black
Considered one of the central works within Postcolonial Theory.

Analyze and theorize about the power structures that construct the categories of East and West.

Main focus based on Anglo-French-American relations to the Middle-East and Islam.
Structure of Today's Presentation
1. Introduction
2. Theoretical Framework:
Edward Said & Orientalism
3. Analysis of Argo:
White vs. Black
Masculine vs. Feminine
Peaceful vs. Violent
Powerful vs. Weak
Modern vs. Backward Society
Western Superiority vs. Eastern Inferiority
4. Discussion
Before we begin, please write down the three first words that come to mind when thinking about Iran.
Intercultural Encounters and Postcolonial Theory, Spring 2013
Analysis of ARGO
America as a masculine, Iran as feminine.
Iranians overemotional, irrational, hysteric.
CIA agents analytical and heroically patriotic.
3. Peaceful vs. Violent
Americans violent by self-defense, Iranians violent by nature.
Americans hiding, people hanged - link to anti-Semitism?
Iranians terrorize Americans to "have a laugh".
Iranians without a voice.

Violence by Americans as exception to the norm, violence by Iranians as the norm.
Only one violent act by Americans - exception!
Iranians possess a gun or vendetta to kill.
4.Powerful vs. Weak
. Neglect of acknowledging Iran as a direct economic and military threat -> Iran is portrayed as a passive and weak object of experimentation.

2. Dog held captive behind barbed wire -> US will be victorious in times of adversity -> word and images as tools for categorization.
After listening to the presentation, do you agree or disagree with our points of analysis? Why?
Do you think Hollywood movies have hidden agendas? Why?
Think back to the words you selected for describing Iran -> Do you think movies like Argo affect your perceptions?
5. Modern vs. Backward Society
6. Western Superiority vs. Eastern Inferiority
7. Christianity vs. "Paganism"?
What REALLY happened?
Movie trailer begins with words "Actions of Iran have shocked the civilized world"-> modernity as a Western construct.

Iran as
Terra Incognita


Terra Nullius.

(Homi Bhabha)

The West is portrayed as being the primary habitus of the modern.
1. ARGO: The "best of the worst ideas." -> Iranian savage nature is eliminated by interaction with the white man, the marker of civilization.

2. Superior Morality: Iranian subject as having animal-like characteristics: wild, uncontrolled, furious, and dangerous.

About the film:
Iran: “Hollywoodism”
Canada: Operation run by Americans.

About the actual events:
Western media not capable of understanding Iran or Islamism.
Media helped promote “us-vs-them” dichotomy.
Diplomats never in danger & no confrontation with security officials.
Original script "Lord of Light". Title changed to "Argo" by the CIA.
Definition of Argo in Urban Dictionary:

Key word in a classic "knock-knock" joke:
pat: knock-knock!
nat: who's there?
pat: Argo.
nat: Argo who?
Our Team's Hypotheses
Orient then: camels, flying carpets, and genies in a bottle

Orient now: home of terrorists and violence
Most traditional plot in film-making: battle between good vs. evil.

Everlasting division of West vs. East.
Political and economic interests:
Oil & energy reserves
Profitable arms trade related to the "terrorist hunt"
Focus on an external enemy effectively takes public attention away from internal disputes, such as high unemployment or recession
-> Share and discuss with the person sitting next to you.
Ultimate goal of purification
White flag -> surrender of friendship
Witchcraft (Black Magic)
The unknown

Stock market crash of 1929 -> dubbed "Black Tuesday." Links the color
with loss, depression, and despair.
Symbolism of Black
in The American Tradition
Construction of The East vs. The West Through Colors
American Symbolism of Blackness
Americans -> white shirts.
Light behind -> divine.
Americans going to the light
Americans submerged to the underworld: the room and the hoods.
Peaceful without black guns.
White people with hands behind their backs -> sign of surrender at the mercy of the death.
Iranians with black clothes -> the evil.
Darkness behind them and going towards the underworld.
Masters of the basement, the hoods -> equal the underworld.
Death = black guns -> life of Americans in their hands.
Star Wars
The Planet of The Apes
Sub-human (robot -human)
Undeveloped society
Similar to humans, but behaved differently
Gorillas try to catch and killed as many humans as
Americans Going to The Underworld - Black vs. White
Darth Vader
Orientalism as a Western Construct
Several definitions:
Academic study of the Orient.
Division East/West as starting point for thinking.
A discourse -> how the West dominates the Rest.

Idea of Europe as superior when defined as ‘Us’ against ‘Them’.

Closely tied to socio-economic and political institutions.

Based on constructed representations.
Orientalism as our Framework
European and American identity against that of the East.

The European point of view -> Standardized stereotypes.

Definition of cultural domination -> ‘unlearning’
Nothing more than ‘Third Worldism’ of the 70’s and 80’s

Theoretical naïvety
Christianity = Civilization
Paganism = Savagery
(Aimé Césaire)
Christianity vs. "Paganism"?
Christianity = Civilization
Paganism = Savagery
(Aimé Césaire)
In America:
Men are in charge of the operation.
Woman as the wife.
In Iran:
Iranian women in military uniforms.
Public speeches given by woman.
Said: a masculine West dominating a feminized Orient
Full transcript