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Cindy Hill

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Transcript of Orientalism

Edward Said's Understanding of Orientalist Knowledge

Edward Said described his life as ,
“a constant disparity [he] felt between [his] experience of being an Arab was, and the representations that one saw in art”
Said, 1998

The Orient came to be constructed in Western culture as the “other”.
Michel Foucault
The Big Bang Theory
Iggy Azalea - Bounce
Ferdinand De Saussure
Orientalist Representation through the 'Western eye'
Edward Said described Orientalism as, “
A European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences
" (
Said, 9
Hmmmm..How does knowledge relate to power?
Madness and Civilization (1961, non-fiction)
Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel (1963, non-fiction)
Birth of the Clinic (1963, non-fiction)
The Order of Things (1966, non-fiction)
The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969, non-fiction)
Discipline and Punish (1975, non-fiction)
The History of Sexuality, Vol. I: An Introduction (1976, non-fiction)
The History of Sexuality, Vol. II: The Use of Pleasure (1984, non-fiction)
The History of Sexuality, Vol. III: The Care of the Self (1984, non-fiction)

Michel Focault's Contribution to Philosophy
Michel Foucalt asked the big question: “What is the relationship between Power and Knowledge?" Foucalt was interested in thinking about knowledge of human beings. He contributed to philosophy by concluding that, “The people deciding what is true are deciding matters that define humanity, which ultimately affects people enormously. He was the main contributor to the term, “Knowledge is Power”. An example is Columbus to Jamaica. In this example, the term "Knowledge is Power significant because Columbus belived that he had more knowledge than the people living in Jamaica, therefore he had more power.
Michel Foucalt & Edward Said
Edward Said speaks of orientalism as the Occident believing that they have more power over the Orient because they believe that they have more knowledge.
Michel Foucault contributes to our understanding of Said by the statement "Knowledge is Power".
Said agrees with Foucault by explaining the concept of Orientalism by incorporating Foucault's theory.
Ferdinand De Saussure
Ferdinand De Saussure was born in Geneva, Switzerland.
He earned his PhD from the University of Leipzig in 1876.
He wrote a book entitled Memoire sur la systeme primitif de voyelles dans les langues indo-européens (Memoir on the primitive system of vowels in the Indo-European languages).
In 1981, he became a professor of Linguistics at the University of Geneva.
He was called the "Knight of the legion of honor" while teaching at the Ecloe pratique des hautes etudes.
He died February 22nd,1913 in Vufflens-le-Chateau, Vaud, Switzerland.
Busta Rhymes - Arab
2 Broke Girls - Han Lee
Difference between Orientalism & Stereotyes
Orientalism is a way of considering that assumes highlights, exaggerate and disfigure differences of the East & Eastern cultures as compared to the West. IOrientalism involves the West constructing an idea of the East, and the history where the West characterizes the East to be extremely different and inferior, and that they are in need of Western intervention, in order to be rescued from an abnormal lifestyle. Through Orientalism, it is revealed the role power plays between the West and East. The West seems to be dominating the East, and it is evident that the East is an undesirable place to be. This is also caused by the misunderstandings and misconceptions formed by the West, by categorizing the East as one, where it is a place of various cultures. An example of this concept would be paintings and photographs by Europeans. Edward Said identifies a series of assumptions that are made by the West about the East – the Orient. He explores how these assumptions are constructed in opposition to what the West thinks about themselves, and therefore defines this projected image of the Eastern people in te mind of Westerners as the “other” = we define the other by what we are not. In addition, half the globe cannot be labelled “the Orient” – you can barely make generalizations that will apply equally to Indians as you can to the Japanese.
Stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. Stereotypes and stereotyping may seem to be quite familiar to Edward Said's theory of Orientalism; however, stereotyping consists of a fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular person or thing. Stereotyping may be justified as a reasonable judgement of a concept, due to past experiences or facts. While Orientalism deals with constructing an idea, stereotyping categorizes people which involves racist comments, and is common worldwideAn example of a stereotype would be that all Asians are Smart, or all Muslims are terrorists. These stereotypes may or may not be true for all Asians or all Muslims, yet we still believe them.
Difference between
Orientalism & Stereotyes
Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism basically is one group of people – the Occident, using ideas to define themselves based on what they are not, the Orient has to be. For example, the Occident may believe that the East is filled with exotic sexual beings just because they are not filled with exotic sexual beings. Stereotyping is based on ignorance which is the lack of knowledge that the person stereotyping has about the group that they are stereotyping. For example, a stereotype about Indians is that all Indians love curry. However, this is not true for all stereotypes, so the person lacks in knowledge about Indians. Moreover, Stereotypes are also based on past experiences. For instance, after the 9/11 attack, people’s first impression of Muslims is that all Muslims are terrorists. In addition, stereotypes can be made by the East of the West, however Orientalism is how the West imagines, highlights, exaggerates about the East - it cannot be reversed like Stereotypes can. Furthermore, the difference between Said's theory of Orietnalism and sterotypes is the fact that Orientalism is involveved with power, control & dominacne aover someone they construct as being inferior while sterotypes is something you say to avoid coloniasm. Stereotypes are individual preferences.
Difference between
Orientalism & Stereotyes
Difference between
Orientalism & Stereotyes
To conclude, Orientalism is a way that the Occident defines itself in opposition to what the Orient is through power, control & dominance, whereas, typical stereotypes are based on ignorance and past experiences of individuals.
Ferdinand De
Saussure - Contribution to Philosophy
One of the eminent linguists, Ferdinand de Saussure, has contributed various theories in order to enhance our understanding of philisophy today, and has changed the way philosophy is understood.
The three main theories in which Saussure contributed are:
Synchrony and Diachrony
Langue and Parole
Signified and Signifier.

Ferdinand De
Saussure - Contribution to Philosophy
Thirdly, the theory of which we are all familiar with is semiotics, the study of the sign. The meaning of the sign is formed through the relationship of other signs, and there is no fixed meaning. It's merely a concrete object, until the signifier and signified, which reveals and understanding of the sign. A key idea which Saussure stated is that signs are arbitrary in nature, meaning the words and concepts may not always portray a definite idea. Therefore, if there are no fixed meanings in regards to the signifier or signified, Saussure demonstrated that absolute knowledge is a myth.
Ferdinand De Saussre
& Edward Said
Saussure's ideas of language which is expressed through writing, the importance of spoken word, the way written word seems as a concrete object, and the theory of the sign which consists of the signifier and signified, contribute to our understanding of Said. This is because, we are aware that signs do not portray a specific meaning. This could be related to Said's theory that the orient and occident have no fixed meaning. The orient consists of identifying ourselves by pinpointing the negative attributes in others. We identify ourselves by determining who we are not. For example, the word, "East," which is represented by the West, could be a sign.
Ferdinand De Saussure
& Edward Said
Ferdinand De Saussre
& Edward Said
More specifically, this word does not consist of any meaning, as it's merely a concrete object until the signifier (sound) and signified (concept) compose the relationship which gives one an understanding of the East. Said stated the meaning of the East could be derived from the thought that it is the opposite of the West, a binary opposition. The theory that the Arab culture, for instance, is seen to be exotic, uncivilized, and dangerous, is the basic distinction of the East. This would be the signified, which creates a meaning of the sign, East, to be different or inferior to the West. Moreover, Saussure's ideas contribute to our understanding of Said, as the paintings created by European artists depicted the Arabs as exotic, mysterious, belly dancers, harems, etc. This painting, just by a glance, does not provide significant meaning; however, the clues present within the painting provides the meaning, which is the signifier and signified.
November 26th, 1857
Michel Foucalt & Edward Said
To start off, synchrony is a concept explains that language is a system of signs which is studied as a whole system. Whereas, diachrony is the change in the meaning of the words over a period of time.
Secondly, he theory of langue and parole identifies that the way we speak consists of two aspects: langue, which is the language system, and parole which is the act of speaking.
Ferdinand De
Saussure - Contribution to Philosophy
Ferdinand De
Saussure - Contribution to Philosophy
Michel Foucault's
Major Works
He said, "Orientalism as a discourse 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. Moreover, so authoritative a position did Orientalism have that I believe no one writing, thinking, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by orientalism."
(Said, 3)

Foucault contributed to modern critical theory, and Edward Said used his advanced theory. Edward Said wrote essays on Michel Foucault in the early 1970's which later became an important chapter in the book
Michel Foucalt & Edward
Michel Foucalt &
Edward Said
Michel Foucault was born on October 15, 1926 in Politers, France. He graduated from Saint Stanislas School. He studied philosophy.
In 1946, with an extraordinary academic record he entered the École Normale Supérièure d’Ulm – most prominent French school for studying humanities.
Michel earned a BA degree in Psychopathology in 1947.
As a philosopher he was interested in Power & Knowledge & how they work together. His contributions to philosophy still remain relevant today, which will be discussed later.
Taught at 3 French Univsities. In the 1960s, Foucault was the head of the philosophy department at the University of Clermont – Ferrand. He met a philosophy student at this time, Daniel Defert. Degertès political activism was a major influence on Foucault and his work.
In 1970s, Michel Foucault was a professor at Collége de France. He was by far the most influential social theorist of the second half of the 20th century.
He was politically active as well. Also, Foucualt protested on behalf of homosexuals as he himself was homosexual.
He worked on the History of Sexuality, in 1976; the first volume of the work was published. During the last 8 months of his life, he worked on the 2nd and 3rd volume of the book were published just before he passed away.
In 1984, Foucault developed AIDS, and his health wasn’t doing so well.
On June 26, 1984, he passed away in Paris, France.
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Applying to the Real World
2 Broke Girls is an example of Orientalism because it displays generalizations about the Orient (Korean Han Lee). They imply that all Asians are short, cannot connect with women intimately, are babies or girls, and last but not least that they have a small gentials. Now, if the Orient is what is described above, the Occident is exactly the opposite - tall, connects with women intimiately, is a man.
Edward Said's concept of Orientalism exists even in movies, songs, TV shows, etc. We will discuss 4 examples today.
Jean-Leon Gerome
The Moorish Bath
, 1870
Jean Discart
The Pottery Workshop in Tangiers
, c1890
Michel Foucalt's Major Works
The Big Bang Theory is an example of Orientalism because Raj Koothrappali - the Oriental (Eastern), cannot connect with females, is a nerd and that is all there is to him. His accent in the show is made purposely that way to sound funny to the Western viewers and basically say that all Eastern men sound like that.
Tre Melvin on Sterotypes
Youtuber, Tre Melvin displays various different sterotypes of Caucasian and African-American Peoples. He explains that people think of different scenerios when they think of these two races.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81f4OBkh89 E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cI1A405jBq g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ThBtJpAMd M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcuAw77J8_ Y
This is an example of Orientalism because Iggy Azalea is
generalizing all Indians to be "exotic" and somewhat created out of "fanatsy":
Riding on an elephant in the middle of spathe street does not occur on a daily basis
Indians are unintelligent, thus only being used as a background for her music video
It may seem strange or disrespectful for a non-Indian to be dressed in such attire and create a video which has no relation to the wedding scenery.
The beginning shows the less developed areas of India. Reveals a low standard of living compared to the West.
The festival of Holi was incorporated during the wedding
. It's inaccuate as the festival of colours does not take place in a wedding.
Indian women are seen as sexual objects
Shows no respect for the Indian traditional dress or culture
She gets her idea of what India is like with no actual evidence of her assumptions
What she is rapping about has nothing to do with the song's intended meaning
Reaching the culture was not shown, as no one would dress like a goddess and ride an elephant for entertainment purposes, it seems rather mocking
The children look poor and oppressed
She, (the white "Westerner"), looks glamorous and rich while everyone else in India is poor
(West= rich, East= poor)
Francis Gabriel Lepaulle (French, 1804-1886) – The Pasha and his Harem

The West is projecting its sexual fanatsies in Oriental art.
The women are made to look "exotic"
Oriental women are seen as prostitutes, ready for sex.

Women are seen as a sexual object and mysterious. They are submissive and will follow the man's command
Degrading women
Music, try's to associate it with Arab culture, but the dance moves are irrelevant, this shows the western influence
Desert, and mosque setting tries to create an image that these are the typical surroundings of Middle Eastern countries, when there are various other sceneries.
"Michel Foucault - Biography." Michel Foucault. European Graduate School EGS, n.d. Web. 18
Oct. 2014.
Kelly, Mark. "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.
Laros, Samantha. "The Characteristics of Muslim and Arab Orientalism."EHow. Demand Media,
Inc. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.
Pierre, Tristam. "When Arab and Muslim Stereotype Fuels Dangerous Assumptions." About.
About.com. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.
Singh, Amardeep. "Amardeep Singh: An Introduction to Edward Said, Orientalism, and
Postcolonial Literary Studies." Amardeep Singh. 24 Sept. 2004. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.
"A Cairene Woman Waited upon by a Galla Slave Girl, Illustration from The Valley of the Nile,
Engraved by Mouilleron, Pub. by Lemercier, 1848."Orientalism in Art. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

A Cairene Woman waited upon by a Galla Slave Girl, illustration from The Valley of the Nile
, engraved by Mouilleron, pub. by Lemercier, 1848
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres,
The Turkish Bath
, 1862
“We must take seriously Vico’s great observation that
men make their own history
, that what they can know is what they have made, and extend it to geography: as both geographical and cultural entities-to say nothing of historical entities –
such locales, regions geographical sector as “Orient” and “Occident” are man-made
. Therefore as much as the West itself,
the Orient 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.
two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other

(Said, 12-13)

Orientalism is defining yourself by identifying in opposition to another;
for example, the West in opposition to the East.
The Domination of the West
Death of Sardanapalus
, Eugène Delacroix, 1827
The West (Europe) felt that the East needed to be taken care of
Father (The West)-son (The East) relationship
Beleive in Democracy
Beleive they are right
Believe that the East "needs" their help to be better (or more like them)

Seen as irrational and wild like children
The West thought they needed to be controlled
Seen as oppressed due to political power
This Orientalist painting of the 19th century portrays a white woman, supposedly Western, waiting for her slave girl to arrive. This picture depicts the white woman to be resting, not required to perform any duties, while this black woman must fulfill her needs. This portrays the power of which the West has over the East. It seems as if the East is unable to function independently, as they rely on the West to save them from an uncivilized and undesirable life. The fact that the slave woman is a part of the East, reveals that the in the Western eye, Eastern people are not capable of anything, except to be the slaves for Westerners.
This painting is an example of the Occident's view of the Orient and the West is mainly conceived as a deserted place with strange animals. Eastern people are seen as riding these strange animals in the desert. This painting also shows the Eastern people wearing something that seems like a layer of a lot of clothes.
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