What Is Orientalism?

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  • Topic: Western world, Orient, Orientalism
  • Pages : 3 (589 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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What Is Orientalism?

Said made a clear analogy between orientalism and colonialism. They are both set with the same binary opposition.

white/ non white
occidental/ non occidental

In a very detailed and structured study of the orient (behavior, habit, tradition ...) we document a large amount of fact and data. All compile in a general study they produce the illusion of a well understood and objectively constructed knowledge.

These are, in fact, mere observations and purely subjective entities (seen only with the western eyes) which do not explain nor reflect the true nature of the object.

We then generalize from theses singles observations, set up categories and labels. We are now able to answer questions very simply creating this illusion of knowledge.

We witness the realization of cliches; single sided beliefs that fuels themselves upon their own ignorance.

SAID then explains how this technique empowers his creator. The rigorous discourse, the elaboration of thought and ideas, subjectively authenticated itself. The content is no longer address and leaves the victim of the discourse reduced to plain and pure denial. The content has become a set of prejudicial belief (cliches).

To remind you of the famous aphorism: "the pen is mightier than the sword"

He writes:

"Orientalism is fundamentally a political doctrine willed over the orient because the orient was weaker than the west."

Though injustice has already been served and the political establishment is capitalizing on those cliches, it is interesting to notice that SAID himself already looks at the orient with orientalism (western eye).

Was the orient really weaker than the west?

Could it be simply that the orient was just farther? May be not interested? Had no curiosity towards the western world?

Could it be that the orient was to busy and was not much...
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