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caryl louise anne billones

on 7 August 2014

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Transcript of ORIENTALISM

Three aspects of Contemporary Reality
1. The distinction between pure and political knowledge
• Knowledge about Shakespeare or Wordsworth is not political whereas knowledge about contemporary China or the Soviet Union is.

• A humanist who writes about Wordsworth, or an editor whose specialty is Keats, is not involved in anything political is that what he does seems to have no direct political effect upon reality in the everyday sense.

• A scholar whose field is Soviet economics

Methodological devices for studying authority

1. strategic location - describing the author's position in a text with regard to the oriental material he writes about

2. strategic formation - analyzing the relationship between texts
2. The Methodological Question
The Orient
played an instrumental role in the construction of the European Culture
Islamic Orient has had to be the center of attention

Anyone resident in the west since the 1950's, particularly in the United States will have lived through the era of extraordinary turbulence in the relations of East and West.

In the universities a growing establishment of area-studies programs and institutes has made the scholarly study of the orient a branch of national policy.

Public affairs in this country include a healthy interest in the orient, as much for its strategic and economic importance as for its traditional exoticism.
Standardization and cultural stereotyping have intensified the hold of the nineteenth-century academic and imaginative demonology of "the mysterious Orient."
• No one has ever devised a method for detaching the scholar from the circumstances of life, from the fact of his involvement (conscious or unconscious) with a class, a set of beliefs, a social position, or from the mere activity of being a member of a society.

• 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 from the inhibitions and the restrictions of brute, everyday reality.
Reasonable Qualifications
1. It would be wrong to conclude that the Orient was essentially an idea, or a creation with no corresponding reality.

2. Ideas, cultures and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied.

3. Never to assume that the structure of Orientalism is nothing more than a structure or lies or of myths which, were the truth about them to be told, would simply blown away.
3. The personal dimension.
• What other sorts of intellectual, aesthetic, scholarly, and cultural energies went into the making of an imperialist tradition like the Orientalist one? How did philology, lexicography, […], novel-writing, and lyric poetry come to the service of Orientalism’s broadly imperialist view of the world? What changes, modulations, refinements, even revolutions take place within Orientalism? What is the meaning of originality, of continuity, of individuality, in this context? How does Orientalism transmit or reproduce itself from one epoch to another?


- An integral part of European material civilization and culture.

-Not an inert fact of nature.

-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.
- A combined representation of the Orient in the Western culture, science, politics, etc.

"a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distiction made between "the Orient" and "the Occident"
Expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrine, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles.

- Not simply the work of European imagination-it is all about power, domination, hegemony and authority.

- Was not "simply" a collection of misrepresentations about the Orient in Europe, it "created body of theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been a considerable material invesment"

Orientalism in the European Culture became an instrument for maintaining "content", i.e. voluntary reproduction by the subjects of the social reality desired by the power.
Orientalism depends for its strategy on this flexible positional superiority

Distinction between civil and political society, The former is made up of voluntary affliations, The latter of state institutions whose role is direct domination, Culture, Influence of ideas, of institutions, and of other persons works not through domination
Cultural forms predominate over others

An indispensable concept for any understanding of cultural life in the industrial West.

Hegemony gives orientalism the durability and strength
• “True” knowledge is fundamentally non-political

• Political knowledge is not “true” knowledge

• Political importance comes from the closeness of a field to ascertainable sources of power in political society

• Political society in Gramsci’s sense reaches into such realms of civil society as the academy and saturates them with significance of direct concern to it.

• European and then American interest in the Orient was political according to some of the obvious historical accounts
• It was the culture that created that interest, that acted dynamically along with brute political, economic and military rationales

• It is a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and philological texts;

• It is an elaboration not only of a basic geographical distinction(Orient and Occident)

• Orientalism is a cultural and a political fact
• Each humanistic investigation must formulate the nature of that connection in the specific context of the study, the subject matter, and its historical circumstances
...there is no such thing as a merely given, or simply available, starting point:
beginnings have to be made
for each project in such a way as to enable what follows from them."
-Edward Said
Idea of beginning

•Louis Althusser - idea of the problematic

•Karl Marx - "there is not simply the problem of finding a point of departure, or
, but also the question of designating which texts, authors, and periods are the ones best suited for the study."
Orientalist Text

•places emphasis on the evidence

•found in the truthful text

•what is commonly circulated is not always "truth" but
"....Orientalism stands forth and away from the Orient: that Orientalism makes sense at all
more on the West than on the Orient, and this sense is directly indebted to various Western techniques if representation that make the Orient
visible, clear,
"there" in discourse about it

the range of representation expanded enomously in the later period
•expanded scope

•greater refinement for receiving the Orient
18th century

Linguistic orient
"Orientalism is after all a system for citing works and authors."

- Edward Said
In the prison notebooks Gramsci says: "the staring point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is 'knowing thyself' as a product of the historical process to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory."

"therefore it is imperative at the outset to compile such and inventory."
1.) the history of popular anti-Arab and anti-Islamic prejudice in the west

2.) the struggle between the Arabs and Israeli Zionism and its effects upon American Jews as well as upon both the liberal culture and the population at large.

3.) the almost total absence of any cultural position making it possible to identify with or dispassionately to discuss the Arabs or Islams.
The life of an Arab Palestinian in the West, particularly in America.
The web of racism, cultural stereotypes, political imperialism, dehumanizing ideology holding in the Arab or the Muslim is very strong indeed, and it is this web which every Palestinian has come to feel as his uniquely punishing destiny.
the study of orientalism has convinced said that society and literary culture can only be understood and studied together.

Orientalism resemble each other very closely is a historical, cultural, and political truth that needs only to be mentioned in Arab-Palestinian for its irony to be perfectly understood
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