Timothy Mitchell - Orientalism and the Exhibitionary Order

Topics: Europe, Exhibitions, Exhibition Pages: 5 (1208 words) Published: October 20, 2012
Timothy Mitchell – Orientalism and the Exhibitionary Order (1989)

It is no longer unusual to suggeste that the construction of the colonial order is related to the eloboration of modern forms of representation and knowledge ( This has been examined by critique of Orientalism

Best known analysis on Orientalism: Edward Said

Orientalist world is defined by:
1. It is understood as the product of unchanging racial / cultural essences/ characteristics 2. These characteristics are always the opposite of the West (passive/ active, static/ mobile, emotional/ rational, chaotic/ ordered) 3. Oriental ismarked by fundamental absences (of movement, reason, order, meaning) ( In terms of these characteristics the colonial world can be mastered

19th century image of the Orient was constructed in Oriental studies, romantic novels, colonial administrations and world exhibitions

1889: Exposition Universelle in Paris
( To demonstrate French commercial and imperial power

The new apparatus of representation (world exhibiotions) gave a central place to representation of the non-Western world ( This construction of ‘the other’ was important to manufacture national indentity and imperial purpose

What Mitchell speaks about in first half of article: Examines the distinctiveness of the modern representational order exemplified by the world exhibition ( What Arab writers found in the West was the world itself being ordered up as an endless exhibition. This world-as-exhibiotion was a place where the artificial, the model and the plan were employed tot generate an unprecedented effect of order and certainty

What Mitchell speaks about in second half of article: Examines the connection between the world-as-exhibition and Orientalism through reading of European travel accounts of 19th century Middle-East

La rue du Caire

Four members of the Egyptian delegation went to the world exhibition in Paris and were disgusted by what they saw when they entered the street that was supposed to represent an medieval street in Cairo

This delegation then traveled to Stockholm to attend the Congress of Orientalists where they themselves were looked at as pieces of an exhibition

An Object World

Middle Eastern visitors found Europeans a curious people with an uncontainable eagerness to stand and stare ( This European curiosity is encountered in almost every Middle Eastern account ( Individuals were being surrounded and stared at like an object on exhibit

This curious attitude was connected with a corresponding objectness: The curiosity of the observing subject was something demanded by a diversity of mechanisms for rendering things up as its object, beginning with the Middle Eatern visitor himself

Le spectacle: Places in which they represent for the person the view of a town or country or something like that ( Goal: To set the world up as a picture, an object on display to be investigated and experienced by the European gaze

Paris Exhibition 1889: For the education of people, natives and artifacts were arranged to provide the direct experience of a colonized object-world ( Arabic accounts of the West became accounts of these object-worlds

The World-as-Exhibition

The effect of objectness: Not just a matter of visual arrangement around a spectator, but of representation ( The carefull organization enabled them to evoke some larger meaning and reduce the world to a sytem of objects ( The arrangement of things was supposed to stand for something larger (empire/ history/ progress)

The Europe one reads about in Arabic accounts was a place of spectacle and visual arrangement, of the organization of everything and everything organized to represent a larger meaning ( Organization of the view

The world-as-exhibition: Means not an exhibition of the world, but the world organized and grasped as though it were an exhibition

The Certainty of Representation

Political certainty of the imperial age: Endless spectacles...
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