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Chapter 3 EDWARD W. SAID ORIENTALISM From Orienta/ism New York: Random House, 1978. 0 N A V I S I T T 0 B E I R U T during the terrible civil war of 197 5-6 a French journalist wrote regretfully of the gutted downtown area that 'it had once seemed to belong to ... the Orient of Chateaubriand and Nerval' (Desjardins 1976: 14). He was right about the place, of course, especially so far as a European was concerned. The Orient was almost a Europe~n invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memones ~nd ~andscapes, remarkable experiences. Now it was disappearing; in a sense it had happened, Its time was over. Perhaps it seemed irrelevant that Orientals themselves had some-thing at stake in the process, that even in the time of Chateaubriand and Nerval Orientals had li~~d there, and that now it was they who were suffering; the main thing for the European VISitor was a European representation of the Orient and its contemporary fate, both of which had a privileged communal significance for the journalist and his French readers ..... The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe's greatest and nchest and ~ldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of Its deepest and most recurring images of the Other. In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience. Yet ~one. ~f. thi.s Orient is merely imaginative. The Orient is an integral part of European maten.al CIVIl~zatwn and culture. Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and ~ven Ideologic~lly as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, Imagery, doctrmes, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles. In contrast, the American understanding of th~ Orient will seem considerably less dense, although our recent Japanese, ~or:an, ~nd Indochmese adventures ought now to be creating a more sober, more realistic Onental awareness. Moreover, the vastly expanded American political and economic role in the Near. East (the Middle East) makes great claims on our understanding of that Orient. . It wil_l ?e cl~ar to the reader ... that by Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, m my opmwn, Interdependent. The most readily accepted designation for Orientalism is an academic one, a~d indeed the label still serves in a number of academic institutions. Anyone who teaches, wntes about, or researches the Orient-and this applies whether the person is an anthr~pologist: soci.ologist, historian, or philologist -either in its specific or its general aspects, IS an Onentahst, and what he or she does is Orientalism. Compared with Oriental studies or area .st~dies, it is true that the term Orientalism is less preferred by specialists today, bo~ becaus~ It IS too vague and general and because it connotes the high-handed executive attitude of mneteenth-century and early twentieth-century European colonialism. Nevertheless books are written and congresses held with 'the Orient' as their main focus, with