topic 9 orientalism - Edward Saids Orientalism and U.S Imperialism Little Egypt Chicago Worlds Fair 1893 John Singer Sargent Fume d'Ambre Gris(Smoke of

topic 9 orientalism - Edward Saids Orientalism and U.S...

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Unformatted text preview: Edward Said’s Orientalism and U.S. Imperialism “Little Egypt,” Chicago World’s Fair, 1893 John Singer Sargent, Fumée d'Ambre Gris (Smoke of Ambergris), 1880 Frederick Arthur Bridgman, Harem Fountain ? v=eEGlJP4X4vc ? v=2uHSv1asFvU What stereotypes does Orientalist discourse assign to “Oriental” cultures and peoples? despotic; sly untrustworthy clannish strange gender and sexual identities and roles Terrorists primitive Edward Said Who Was Edward Said? - very influential writer on colonialism. - a scholar in the humanities who grew up in Egypt and Palestine, but whose entire education was Western - author of over 20 books, including: Orientalism (1978); Culture and Imperialism; Blaming the Victims; and The Politics of Dispossession - died in 2003 at age 67 Colonialism and Orientalism The relationship between the East has been a tumultuous one throughout our history. Major colonial invasion of the Middle East began with the invasion of Syria and Egypt in 1798 by Napoleon Bonaparte. In this invasion we also see the beginnings of Orientalism and a clear example of Said's distinction between knowledge obtained for the purpose of enlightenment and knowledge obtained for the purpose of imperialism-- Napoleon did not only bring fighting men with him to the Orient, he also brought an army of scholars who studied the culture of the people who they found there. They studied the language, and the music, and the art, and the religion, and the culture... For the sake of greater understanding? Purpose and Value of Said’s book Orientalism Purpose to advance our understanding of the way cultural domination of oppressed people has operated. Value - offers insights about colonialism from the perspective of one who has been colonized. We can often generalize what he says about “The Orient” and “Orientalism” to the relationship of Indigenous peoples with colonizers elsewhere in the world. - forms the basis of many Indig intellectuals’ challenges to cultural colonialism How does Said define Orientalism? an entrenched structure of thought a pattern of making certain generalizations about the part of the world known as the 'East'. “Orientalism was ultimately a political vision of reality whose structure promoted the difference between the familiar (Europe, West, "us") and the strange (the Orient, the East, "them").” --Said Major Claims of Orientalism: The Orient is a homogeneous entity geographically Its features do not fundamentally change over time Defined by lack of progress/modernisation Emphasis on how the Islamic civilisation is in decline because Islam is flawed (- anti modern) Bound to be despotic (and violent) because Islam cannot adapt to the modern world Said’s Different (and Overlapping) Uses of the Term ‘Orientalism’ 1. A Mode of Discourse for Representing ‘the Other’ - with supporting images, vocab, etc. 2. A Style of Thought - based on a “East” & “West” (Orient distinction between & Occident) - The essence of this style of thought is “the ineradicable distinction between Western superiority and Oriental inferiority”. - That belief in a radical difference between the two creates an ongoing state of tension in the relationship between the two. 3. A Corporate Institution and Network of Vested Interests e.g., congresses, universities, foreign-service institutes The Importance of ‘The Orient’ to Europe’s Self-Definition CONTRAST CONCEPTION: - is the source of one of Europe’s deepest and most recurring images of ‘the Other’ - has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience. “European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self.” SUPERIORITY / INFERIORITY: - Those in the West saw themselves not just as different, but as superior in comparison to all nonEuropean peoples and cultures. That became hegemonic (dominant and accepted by consent as conventional wisdom or common sense) in Europe. (A. Gramsci) “Othering” What is “Othering”? a way of defining and securing one’s own positive identity through the stigmatization of an "other." “us” and “them” “in-groups” and “out-groups” “Othering” Exercise Make a list of “in-groups” and “outgroups” relative to your perspective. The Colonized as ‘Object’ to the Colonizer To Said the colonized people are “something one judges (as in a court of law), something one studies and depicts (as in curriculum), something one disciplines (as in a school or prison), something one illustrates (as in a zoological manual.” “The point is that in each of these cases, the Oriental is contained and represented by dominating frameworks.” Mere Object of Study: “The Orient and Orientals are considered by Orientalism as an ‘object’ of study, stamped with an otherness…. –- passive, non-participating, … above all, nonactive, non-autonomous, non-sovereign with regard to itself…. Thus one ends with a typology…which makes of the studied ‘object’ another being with regard to whom the studying subject is transcendent.” Nature and Use of the Colonizer’s ‘Knowledge’ About the Colonized (drawing from Foucault) Knowledge = Power/Domination For the colonial regime to have knowledge about a colonized people is to dominate it, to have authority over it. ‘Knowledge’ As Stable (Unchanging Orthodoxy) Lack of Objectivity of the Orientalist The Orientalist does not stand back and view the Orient and its people objectively, even though (s)he might think (s)he does. Instead, his so-called detachment is weighted heavily with all the attitudes, perspectives, and moods [e.g., fear] of Orientalism. Uses of the Orientalist’s Knowledge Orientalist’s loyalties lie with the West - Orientalist’s knowledge of the colonized gets put to use in ways that are inherently political Knowledge and Power Edward Said says, concerning study of other cultures, that two separate sorts of knowledge exist: Knowledge meant to enhance understanding of the other culture and Knowledge meant to be used to a hegemonic advantage for the studying culture. Preliminary Question How might it influence current U.S. politics and culture with regard to Islam, Middle Eastern politics, and the War on Terror? PASSAGES Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between "the Orient" and (most of the time) "the Occident." Thus a very large mass of writers, among whom are poets, novelists, philosophers, political theorists, economists, and imperial administrators, have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, "mind," destiny, and so on. -p. 2. Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978. By Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, in my opinion, interdependent. The most readily accepted designation for Orientalism is an academic one, and indeed the label still serves in a number of academic institutions. Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orientand this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist-either in its specific or its general aspects, is an Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orientalism. Here I come to the third meaning of Orientalism, which is something more historically and materially defined than either of the other two. Taking the late eighteenth century as a very roughly defined starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orientdealing 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. The Orient 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. -p. 1. Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978. [The] common [feature of] Orientalism was a kind of intellectual authority over the Orient within Western culture … There is nothing mysterious or natural about authority. It is formed, irradiated, disseminated; it is instrumental, it is persuasive; it has status, it established canons of taste and value; it is virtually indistinguishable from certain ideas it dignifies as true, and from traditions, perceptions, and judgments it forms, transmits, reproduces. (19-20) Edward Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (1978) According to Said, how does Orientalist discourse inform power relations between the “knower” and the “known”? One ought never to assume that the structure of Orientalism is nothing more than a structure of lies or of myths which, were the truth about them to be told, would simply blow away. I myself believe that Orientalism is more particularly valuable as a sign of European-Atlantic power over the Orient than it is a veridic discourse about the Orient … what we must respect and try to grasp is the sheer knittedtogether strength of Orientalist discourse, its very close ties to the enabling socio-economic and political institutions, and its redoubtable durability. (6) Edward Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (1978) Here Said comments on the materiality of discourse – its role in structuring power relations, and its influence on society and politics Orientalism is premised upon exteriority, that is, on the fact that the Orientalist, poet or scholar, makes the Orient speak, describes the Orient, renders its mysteries plain for and to the West … The principal product of this exteriority is of course representation … My analysis of the Orientalist text therefore places emphasis on the evidence … for such representations as representations, not as "natural" depictions of the Orient. (20-21) Edward Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (1978) What does Said mean by “exteriority” in this passage? If [my contribution] stimulates a new kind of dealing with the Orient, indeed if it eliminates the "Orient" and "Occident" altogether, then we shall have advanced a little in the process of what Raymond Williams has called the "unlearning" of "the inherent dominative mode." (28) Edward Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (1978) “Orientalism” Assignment Find an example of a “western” misrepresentation of “the Orient.” ...
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