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Joshua Commander

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Orientalism

“The ‘brute’ reality of history”
“[B]y Orientalism [Said] mean[s] several things,
all of them . . . interdependent..."
The Orient is also many things…
Said & Other Critics
“Above all, authority can, indeed must, be analyzed” (Said 1881). Remind you of anyone?

expresses and represents [the Orient’s integral part of European material civilization] culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles” (1866-67).

is “a manner of regularized (or Orientalized) writing, vision, and study, dominated by imperatives, perspectives, and ideological biases ostensibly suited to the Orient” (Orientalism 202).

“Said propounds a broad definition of
, encompassing both Western academic scholarship in disciplines whose field of study is the ‘Orient’—such as anthropology, philology, history, and area studies—and the general Western image of the ‘Orient’ depicted in novels, political accounts, and contemporary media” (1862).

, as a book, is “a critical overview of the history of Western understandings of Arab culture” that examines “the political dimension of literature and culture” (1862).

is “a created body of theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been considerable material investment” (1870).

is “a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient’s special place in European Western experience” (1866).

is more “a sign of European-Atlantic power over the Orient than it is a veridic discourse about the Orient” (1862).

is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made both between ‘the Orient’ and (most of the time) ‘the Occident’” (1867).

is “a dynamic exchange between individual authors and the large political concerns shaped by the three great empires—in whose intellectual and imaginative territory the writing was produced” (1877).

How to make sense of all these Orientalisms?
The distinction “between an almost unconscious (and certainly an untouchable) positivity, which [he calls]
latent Orientalism
, and the various stated views about Oriental society, languages, literatures, history, sociology, and so forth, which [he calls]
manifest Orientalism
. Whatever change occurs in knowledge of the Orient is found almost exclusively in
manifest Orientalism
; the unanimity, stability, and durability of
latent Orientalism
are more or less constant” (Orientalism 206).
“[R]epresentations [of the Orient] rely upon institutions, traditions, conventions, agreed upon codes of understanding” (1883). (
Latent Orientalism
: Orientalism that is present, but not visible)

“Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient—dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it; in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient” (1868). (
Manifest Orientalism
: Orientalism that is tangible or visible, such as written works)

was almost a European invention, and has been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences” (1866).

is an integral part of European material civilization and culture” (1866).

is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other” (1866).

is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West” (1869).

The Orient is viewed as separate, eccentric, backward, silently different, passive, sensual; it exhibits supine malleability and feminine penetrability; it is inclined to move away from progress and in the direction of despotism (Orientalism 206; Norton 1868). (Recall on page 1868: “Oriental despotism, Oriental splendor, cruelty, sensuality”). In other words, the Orient is represented as being passive, submissive, feminine, emotional, and inferior, which makes the West active, dominant, masculine, rational, and superior.
The Orient and the Occident

“[A]s both geographical and cultural entities—to say nothing of historical entities—such locales, regions, geographical sectors as ‘Orient’ and ‘Occident’ are man-made” (1869). “The two geographical entities support and to an extent reflect each other” (1869).
The Oriental
The Oriental is the person represented by such thinking.
The Orientalist
The Orientalist is “[a]nyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient . . . either in its specific or general aspects” (1867).
Said & Foucault
“...method of archival research, his focus on cultural and historical knowledges as constituting a system of ‘discourse,’ and his tracing of the complex interrelation of power and knowledge” (1863).
Society’s system of insertion, distribution, surveillance, and observation “produces the very desires and behaviors it claims to abhor, relying largely on
. Power can operate physically on bodies, but
discursively it carves up the world
. Through language various bodies are assigned to various categories (race, gender, IQ, etc.) and various actions are designated as in relation to [for our purposes, Western] norms . . .
Discourse disposes; it puts everything into place
,” such as in drawing a line between East and West and positioning the Orient and the Occident as a binary opposition (1472).
“[W]ithout examining Orientalism as a
one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage—and even produce—the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-enlightenment period. In brief, . . . the Orient was not (and is not) a free subject of thought or action” (Said 1868).
“Foucault believes that in general the individual text or author counts for very little; empirically, in the case of Orientalism (and perhaps nowhere else) [Said] finds this not to be so” (1884).
Said, Exteriority, and Representation
Said “shows how Western writers, archaeologists, linguists, historians, and politicians from the eighteenth century to the present day have ‘discovered’ and in a sense invented the Orient”—and have done so via representations (1862).
“In any instance of at least written language, there is no such thing as a delivered presence, but a
, or a representation. The value, efficacy, strength, apparent veracity of a written statement about the Orient therefore relies very little, and cannot instrumentally depend, on the Orient as such. On the contrary, the written statement is a presence to the reader by virtue of its having excluded, displaced, made supererogatory any such
real thing
as the ‘Orient.’ Thus all of Orientalism stands forth and away from the Orient: that Orientalism makes sense at all depends more on the West than on the Orient, and this sense is directly indebted to various Western techniques of representation that make the Orient visible, clear, ‘there’ in discourse about it [that is, manifest Orientalism]. And these representations rely upon institutions, traditions, conventions, agreed upon codes of understanding for their effects [that is, latent Orientalism], not upon a distant and amorphous Orient” (1883).
Said’s Methodological Devices for Studying Orientalism and Authority
Strategic Location
: “[A] way of describing the author’s position in a text with regard to the Oriental material he writes about” (1881).
Strategic Formation
: “[A] way of analyzing the relationship between texts and the way in which groups of texts, types of texts, even textual genres, acquire mass density, and referential power among themselves and thereafter in the culture at large” (1881).
Applying Orientalism to Literary Analysis
“For the students of literature and criticism, Orientalism offers a marvelous instance of the interrelations between society, history, and textuality; moreover, the cultural role played by the Orient in the West connects Orientalism with ideology, politics, and the logic of power” (1885).
“. . . it will not take [an aspiring] modern Victorian specialist long to admit that . . . even Dickens had definite views on race and imperialism, which are quite easily to be found at work in [Dickens’] writing” (1876).
“Dickens ferocity at the mutinous sepoys knew no civilized bounds. His reactions were savagely punitive. He applauded the reports of the ‘wretched Hindoos being blown from an English gun” (Sutherland xii). Dickens told Miss Burdett-Coutts, with whom he had founded the house for fallen women, “that he wished he was commander in chief in India and that then ‘[he] should do [his] utmost to exterminate the Race upon whom the stain of the late cruelties rest’” (Sutherland xiii).
Neville in
The Mystery of Edwin

by Charles Dickens

“I have been brought up among
abject and servile dependents
, of
an inferior race
, and I may easily have contracted some affinity with them. Sometimes, I don’t know but that it may be a drop of what is
tigerish in their blood

“’We quarrelled, sir. [Edwin] insulted me most grossly. He had heated that
tigerish blood
I told you of to-day, before then.”

“’Seeing what I have seen to-night, and hearing what I have heard,’ adds Jasper, with great earnestness, ‘I shall never know peace of mind when there is danger of [Edwin and Neville] coming together, with no one else to interfere. It was horrible. There is something of the
tiger in [Neville’s] dark blood.’”

“Retribution” (1858) by Edward Armitage
Full transcript