orientalism

Orientalism - ’ QRHENTAMSM I-——— Edward W Said Vintage Books A Division of Random House A New York Introduction 1 On a visit to Beirut

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Unformatted text preview: ’ QRHENTAMSM I -———- Edward W. Said . Vintage Books A Division of Random House A New York Introduction 1 On a visit to Beirut during the terrible-civil war of 1975—4976 a French. journalist wrote regretfully of the gutted downtown area that “it had once seemed to belong to . . . the Orient of Chateau— briand and. Nerval.”1 He was right about theplace, of course, especially so far as a European was concerned. The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, re— markable experiences. Now it was disappearing; in a sense it had happened, its time was over. Perhaps it seemed irrelevant that Orientals themselves had something at stake in the process, that even in the time of Chateaubriand and Nerval Orientals had lived 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. ' .. Americans Will not feel quite the same about the Orient, which for them is much more likely to be associated very differently with _ the @ East (China and Japan, mainly). Unlike the Americans, the French and the British—Jess so the Germans, Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, and Swiss—have had a long tradition of what I shall be calling 0rientalism,_a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the 'Orient’s_ special place in European Western experience. 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. In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) 1 2 ORIENTALISM as its WWW Yet none of this Orient is merely imaginative. The Orient is an integral part of European material civilization and culture. Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles. In contrast, the American understanding of the Orient will seem considerably less dense, although our recent Japanese, Korean, and . Indochinese adventures ought now to be creating a more sober, more realistic “Oriental” 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 will be clear to the reader (and will become clearer still throughout the many pages that follow) that 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. n one writes abo (Orient—and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist——either in its specrfic or its gen- eral aspects, is an Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orien- talism. Compared with Oriental studies or area studies, it is true that the term Orientalism is less preferred by specialists today, both because it is too vague and general and because it connotes the high-handed executive attitude of nineteenth-century and early- twentieth-century European colonialism. Nevertheless books are written and congresses held with “the Orient” as their main focus, with the Orientalist in his new or old guise as their main authority. The point is that even if it does notsurvive as it chipmu- talisrn lives on 36W WW . the Orient and h Oriental. Related to this academic tradition, whose fortunes, trangmigra- tions, specializations, and transmissions are in part the subJect of this study, is a more general meaning for Orientalism. Orientalism I is a 5 1e of thou ht based u on an ontolo ‘ d'stinction made between “the Ori ntfjndmosLoLthehmeLithe Occident.” Thus a very large mass of writers, among whom are poets, nov—le ists, philosophers, political theorists, economists, and im- perial administrators, have acceptcdlh ' ‘ ' 'ion between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptibns, and political accounts concerning the t Introduction 3 Orient, its people, customs, “mind,” destiny, and so on. This Orien- talism can accommodate Aeschylus, say, and Victor Hugo, Dante and Karl Marx. A little later in this introduction I shall deal with the methodological problems one encounters in so broadly con- strued a “field” as this. - The interchange between the academic and the more or less imaginative meanings of Orientalism is a constant one, and since the late eighteenth century there has been a considerable, quite disciplined—perhaps even regulated—traffic between the two. 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 CW mt b ' ut it authorizin views of it, describing iE_l_3y teac in it settlin it rulin " ' ' alism , st le for dominatin restructurin , and havin au- thpgt over the Orient. I have found it useful here to employ ‘ Michel Foucault’s notion of a discourse, as described by him in The Archaeology of Knowledge and in Discipline and Punish, to identify Orientalism. My contention is that without examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was K able t e—and even roduce—the Orient oliticall , socio- lo icall , militaril ideolo icall , scientificall , and ima inatively durin the post-Enlightenment eriod. Moreover, so authoritatlve a position did rientalisrn have thatI believe no one writing, think- ing, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by Orientalism. In brief, mm. This is not to say that Orientalisrn unilaterally determines what can be said about the Orient, but that it is the whole network of interests inevitably brought to bear on (and therefore always involved in) any occasion when that peculiar entity “the Orient” is in question. How this happens is what this book tries to demonstrate. It also tries to show that European _ culture ained in stren th and identit by setting itself off a ainst l;th ' round elf. Historically and culturally there is a quantitative as well as a qualitative diiference between the Franco-British involvement in the Orient and—~until the period of American ascendancy after 4 . ORIENTALISM World War II—the involvement of every other European and At-‘ l-antic power. To speak of Orientalism therefore is to speak mainly, although not exclusively, of a British and French cultural enter- ‘prise, a project whose dimensions take in such disparate realms as the imagination itself, the whole of India and the Levant, the Biblical texts and the Biblical lands, the spice trade, colonial armies and a long tradition of colonial administrators, a formidable schol- arly corpus, innumerable Oriental “experts” and “hands,” an Orien- ' tal professorate, a complex array of “Oriental” ideas (Oriental despotism, Oriental splendor, cruelty, sensuality), many Eastern sects, philosophies, and wisdoms domesticated for local European use——the list can be extended more or less indefinitely. My point is that Orientalism derives from a particular closeness experienced between Britain and France and the Orient, which until the early nineteenth century had really meant only India and the Bible lands. From the beginning of the nineteenth century until. the-end 'of World .War II France and Britain dominated the Orient and Orientalism; since World War II America has dominated the _ Orient, and approaches it as France and Britain once did. Out of that closeness, whose dynamic is enormously productive even if it always demonstrates the comparatively greater strength of the Occi— dent (British, French, or American), comes the large body of texts "3 I call Orientalist. . ' It should be said at once that even with the generous-number of books and authors that I examine, there is _a much larger number ' that I simply have had to leave out. My argument, however, de— pends neither upon an exhaustive catalogue of texts dealing with the Orient nor upon a clearly delimited set of texts, authors, and ideas that together make up the Orientalist canon. I have depended instead upon a different methodological alternative—whose back- bone in a sense is the set of historical generalizations I have so far been making in this Introduction—and it is these I want now to discuss in more analytical detail. ' II I have begun with the assumption that the Orient is not an inert fact of nature. It is not merely there, just as the Occident itself is not just there either. We must take seriously Vico’s great obser- Introduction 5 vation that men make their own history, that what they can know ‘ is What they have made, and extend it to geography: as both geo- graphical and cultural entities—to say nothing of historical entities "such locales, regions, geographical sectors as “Orient” and “Occi- dent” are man-made. Therefore as much as the West itself, the Orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of tho ht, -—-—..-...__ ima cry, and vocabulary that Have wen it realit an in and for the West. The two geographical entities thus support and to mach other. . \ Having said that, one must go on to state a number of reasonable qualifications. In the first place, it would be wrong to conclude that the Orient was essentially an idea, or a creation with no cor- responding reality. When Disraeli said in his novel Tancred that the East was acareer, he meant that to be interested in the East was something bright young Westerners would find to be an all~_ consuming passion; he should not be interpreted as saying that the _ East was only a career for Westerners. There were—wand are— cultures and nations whose location is in the East, and their lives, histories, and customs have .a brute reality obviously greater than anything that could be said about them in the West. About that fact this study of Orientalism has very little to contribute, except to acknowledge it tacitly. But Wei—Orientals“; IWMWWW when- tallSIIlEflgfiMS about thggwmespue ficyomwwm ” Ogierlt, My point is that Disraeli’s statement about the East refers mainly to that created consistency, that regular. constellation of ideas as the pre-eminent thing about the Orient, and not to its mere being, as Wallace Stevens’s phrase has it. A second qualification is that Wt precise] their confi urations of ower ' ' . To be— lieve that the Orient was created—or, as I call it, “Orientalized” —and to believe'that such things happen simply as a necessity of the imagination, is to be disingenuous. The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of a complex hegemony, and iS'quite accurately indicated in the title of K. M. Panikkar’s classic Asia and Western Dominance.2 The Orient was Orientalized not only because it was discovered to be “Oriental” in all those ways considered common- w" 6 ORIENTALISM place by an average nineteenth-century European, but also because it could hem—that is, submitted to being—made Oriental. There is very little consent to be found, for example, in the fact that Flau» bert’s encounter with an Egyptian courtesan produced a widely in- ,_ fluential model of the Oriental woman; She never spoke of herself, she never represented her emotions, presence, or history. He spoke for and represented her. He was foreign, comparatively wealthy, male, and these were historical facts of domination that allowed him not only to possess Kuchuk Hanem physically but to speak for her and tell his readers in what way she was “typicallyIOriental.” My argument is that Flaubert’s situation of strength in relation to Kuchuk Hanemwas not an isolated instance. It fairly stands for the pattern of relative strength between East and' West, and the discourse about the Orient that it enabled. This brings us to a third qualification. One (Jqu that the struct ‘ ‘ 'smismothing—mme—Ihan-a—st-rueture 0 lies 0 ' wer , d sim ] blgw away . I myself believe that Orientalism is more particularly valuable as a sign of European-Atlantic power over the Orient than it is as a veridic discourse about the Orient (which is what, in its academic or scholarly form, it claims to be). Never- theless, what we mustrespect and try to grasp is the sheer knitted— WWW enabling sociQ—egonomic and 110le able durability. After all, any system of ideas that can remain unchanged as teachable wisdom (in academies, books, congresses, universities, foreign-service institutes) from the period of Ernest Renan in the late 18403 until the present in the United States must be something more formidable than a mere collection of lies. Orientalism, therefore, is not an airy European fantasy about the _ Orient, but a created body of theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been a considerable material invest; m Continued investment made Orientalism, as a system of knowledge about the Orient, an accepted grid for-filteringmthrougli the Orient into Western consciousness, just as that same investment multiplied—"indeed, made truly productive—the statements prolif- erating out from Orientalism into the general culture. Gramsci has made the useful analytic distinction between .cixil d olitical societ in which the former is made up of voluntary ' (or at least rational and noncoercive) affiliations like schools, P“ “if P3!» Q“ . 1 7 Introduction ,families,,,and unions, the latter of state institutions (the army, the I "—4 M - v . pohce, the central bureaucracy) wmmmohty 1s direct dflrllilléiilln- CDJIIJIZQ. of course is to be found operating wrifiin civil society, where the influence of ideas, of institutions, and of other persons works not through domination but Wmsci calls consent. In any society not totalitarian, then, certain cultural ‘ forms predominate over others, justas certain ideas are more in- fluential thanothers; the form of this ufllutalJeadershipis what Gramsci has identified as , an indispensable concept for any understanding of cultural life in the industrial West. It is hegemony, or rather the result of cultural hegemony at work, that gives Orientalism the durability and the strength I have been speak- ' ing about so far. Orientalism is never far from what Denys Hay has called the idea of Europe,3 a collective notion identifying “us” Europeans, as against all “those” non-Europeans,'and indeed it can be argued that thmnaiwmnmuflmmneaumkumJS—pm- .61] 11]] .Il.-l. .113- _ 1 . 1 EE . . . . . .ally overriding the possibility that a more independent, or more 7 skeptical, thinker might have had different views on the matter. In a quite constant way, Orientalism depends for its strategy on this flexible pOSitfonal superiority, which puts the Westerner in a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand. And why should it have been " otherwise, especially during the period of extraordinary European ascendancy from the late Renaissance to the present? The scientist, the scholar, the missionary, the trader, or the soldier was in, or thought about, the Orient because he could be there, or could think about it, with vgflttlemesistance on the Orient‘s part. Under the general heading of knowledge of the Orient, and within the urn- brella of Western hegemony over the Orient during the period from the end of the eighteenth century, there emerged a complex Orient suitable for study in the academy, for display in the museum, for reconstruction in the colonial office, for theoretical illustration in anthropological, biological, linguistic, racial, and historical theses about mankind and the universe, for instances of economic and sociological theories of development, revolution, cultural person- 3 " ' ' ORIENTALISM ality, national or religious character. Additionally, the imaginative examination of things Orientallwas based more or less exclusively upon a sovereign'Western consciousness out of whose unchallenged centrality an Oriental world emerged, first according to general ideas about who or what was an Oriental, then according to a detailed logic governed not simply by empirical reality but 'by a battery of desires, repressions, investments, and projections. If we can point to great Orientalist works of genuine scholarship like Silvestre de Sacy's Chrestomathie arabe or Edward William Lane’s Account of the Manners and Cilistoms of the Modem Egyptians, we need also to note that Renan’s and Gobineau‘s racial ideas 'came out of the same impulse, as did a great many Victorian pornographic novels _(see the analysis by Steven Marcus of “The Lustful Turk“). _ And yet, one must repeatedly ask oneself whether what matters in Orientalism' is the generalgroup of ideas overriding the mass of material.—-about which who could deny that they were shot through with doctrines of European superiority, various kinds of racism, I imperialism, and the like, dogmatic views of “the Oriental“ as a kind of ideal and unchanging abstraction?—or the much more varied work produced by almost uncountable individual writers, whom one would take up as individual instances of authors dealing with the Orient. In a sense the two alternatives, general and particular, are really two perspectives on the same material: in both instances one would have to deal with pioneers in the field like William Jones, with great artists like Nerval or Flaubert. And why would it not be possible to employ both-perspectives together, or one after the other? Isn’t there an obvious danger of distortion (of precisely the kind that academic Orientalism has always been prone to) if either too general or too specific a level of description is maintained systematically? _ My two fears are W, or rather the kind of inaccuracy produced by too dogmatic a generality and too posi- tiv' tic a localized focus. In trying to deal with these-problems I have tried to deal with three main aspects of my oWn contemporary reality that seem to me to point the way out of the methodological or perspectival difficulties 1 have been discussing, difficulties that might force one, in the first instance, into writing a coarse polemic on so unacceptably general a level of description as not to be worth the efiort, or in the second instance, into writing so detailed and atomistic a series of analyses as to lose all track of the general_ Introduction . 9 lines of force intorming the field, giving it its special cogency. How I then to recognize individuality and to reconcile it with its in— telligent and by no means ' ' " , _ passwe or merel dictatorial en and hegemonic context? y , g era} In I mentioned three-aspects of my contemporary reality: I must explain and briefly discuss them now, so that it can be seen how I was led to a particular course (if research and writing. mi: The distinction between pure and political knowledge. It is very easy to argue that knowledge about Shakespeare or Words— worth 18 not 'political whereas knowledge about contemporary China or the Sov1et Union is. My own formal and professional designation is that. of “humanist,” a 'title which indicates the humanities as my field and therefore the unlikely eventuality that there might be anything political about what I do in that field Of course, all these labels and terms are quite unnuanced as I use them here, but the general truth of what I am pointing to I think Widely held. One reason for saying that a humanist who writes about Wordsworth, or an editor whosespecialty is Keats is not involved in anything political is that 'what he does w no direct eifect u on realit in the ever da sense. A scholar whose field is Soviet economics works in a highly charged area where there is much government interest, and what he mivht D produce in the way of studies or proposals will be taken up by policymakers, government ofiicials, institutional economists, in— lelligence BXPBHS- ~whose work has olic im lications, or olitical si ifica bebr _, I‘ n ,..n; I-. I‘ III‘ to o; _ 01' is a "tics althou ' y ;_'- ‘ I l a a; ‘_- n: -: - --- t hisFS'tgli ' s li er ' H V 2 id . . . . . . —indeed, _CCOHOJTIICS, olitics, and sociolo in the modern academ are deological sciences—and therefore taken for granted as being “political.” NevertheleSs the determining impingement on most knowledge 10 ORIENTALISM produced in the contemporary West (and here I speak mainly about the United States) is that it be nonpolitical, that is, scholarly, academic, impartial, above partisan or small-minded doctrinal belief. One can have no quarrel with such an ambition in theory, . perhaps, but in practice the reality is much more problematic. No 0 ever 's d a ct f ’ the s e ' ' , act of his invol ' or unconsciou cl social osition or from the mere ' er of a societ . These continue to bear“ on what he does professionally, even though naturally enough his research and its fruits do attempt to .reach a level of relative freedom from the inhibitions and the restrictions of brute, everyday reality. For there is such a thing as knowledge ' that is less, rather than more, partial than the individual (with his entangling and distracting life circumstances) who produces it. Yet this knowledge is not therefore automatically nonpolitical'. Whether discussions of literature or of classical phi1010gy are fraught with—or have unmediated—political significance is a very large question that I have tried to treat in some detail elsewhere.5 What I am interested in doing now is suggesting how WEI liberal consensus that “t ” wled e is f non; olitical and conversely, that overt] olitical knowled e is not “true” knowledge) obscures the hi 1 if obscurel or anize pol' ical circumstances obtainin when knowled e is roduced. ' Noone is helped in understanding this today when the adjective “political” is used as a label to discredit any workfor daring-to violate the protocol of pretended suprapolitical objectivity. We may say, first, that civil society recognizes a gradation of political im- portance in-the various fields of knowledge. To some extent the poiitical importance given a field comes from the possibility of its direct translation into economic terms; ‘but to a greater extent political importance comes from the closeness of a field to ascertain- ~ able sources of power in political society. Thus an economic study of long-term Soviet energy potential and its effect on military capability is likely to be commissioned by the Defense Department, and thereafter to acquire a kind of political status impossible for a study of Tolstoi’s early fiction financed in part by a foundation. Yet both works belong in what civil society acknowledges to be a similar field-Russian studies, even though one work may be done by a very conservative economist, the other by a radical iiterary Introduction 1 1 historian. My point here is that “Russia” as a general subject matter has political priority over nicer distinctions such as “economics” and “literary history,” because polittcaL' society in Gramsci’s sense reaches in ' ' i and «saturates them with si nificance of d' ' I do not want to press all this any further on general theoretical grounds: it seems to me that the value and credibility of my case can be demonstrated by being much more specific, in the way, for example, Noam Chomsky has studied the instrumental connection between the Vietnam War and the notion of objective scholarship as it was applied to cover state-sponsored military research.G Now because Britain, France, and recently the United States are imperial powers, their political societies impart to their civil societies a sense of urgency, a direct political infusion as it were, where and when- ever matters pertaining to their- imperial interests - abroad are concerned. I doubt that it is controversial, for example, to say that an Englishman in India or Egypt in the later nineteenth century took an interest in those countries that was never far from their status in his mind as British. colonies. To say this may seem quite different from saying that WWWd E . I . 1 l . ,1 .1 . 1 j 1 18 gross political fact—and yet that is what I am saying in this study of Orientalism. For if it is true that no reduction of knowled e_ in th ‘ _ ver i more or disclai ' ' WWW it ' must also be true that for a Euro _ ' ' he rient there c ' ' ' ' ‘ ' c s of his ac'tualjjy; that he comes u a ainst the Orient as ‘ Who a European or an American in such a situation is by no means an inert fact. _It meant and means being aware, however dimly, that one belongs to a power with definite interests in the Orient, and more important, that {one belongs to a part of the earth with a definite. history of in- volvement in the Orient almost since the time of Homer. Put inthis way,_these political actualities are still too undefined and general to be really interesting. Anyone would agree to them without necessarily agreeing also that they mattered very much, for , instance, to Flaubert as, he wrote Salammbo, or to H. A. R. Gibb as he wrote Modem Trends in Islam. The trouble is that there is too great aldistance between the big dominating fact, as I have de- 12 ORIENTALISM scribed it, and the details of everyday life that govern the minute discipline of a novel or' a scholarly text as each is being written. - Yet if we eliminate from the start any notion that “big” facts like imperial domination can be applied mechanically and deterministic- ally to such complex matters as culture and ideas, then we will begin to approach an interesting kind of study. My idea is that European and then American interest in the Orient was political according to some of the obvious historical accounts of it that I have given here, but that it was the culture that created that interest, that acted dynamically along with brute political, eco- nomic, and military rationales to make the Orient the varied and complicated place that it obviously was in the field I call Orientalism._ r Therefore, Orientalism is not a mere political subject matter or field that is reflected paSSively by culture, scholarship, or institu- tions; nor is it a large and diffuse collection of texts about the Orient; nor is it representative and expressive of some nefarious “Western” imperialist plot to hold down the “Oriental” world. Itis' rather at ca] awareness into esthetrc, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and hilological texts; 1 "san boraiion not on o e co ra hical distinctro world is made 0 une ual halve ' .t and Occident) but - also of a whole series of “intere ” " mea sc olarl discove hilolo ical reconstruction, s cholo 'ical r anal sis landscape‘and sociological description, it not only creates but also maintains; it is, rather than ex resses a certain w: r _ Intention to understand in some caSes to control, manipulate, even . to inco o'ra _ t or alternative and novel) world; it is, above all, a'discourse that is by no means in direct, corres ondin “Are anons 1 ' ' ' I but rather is r ‘ uneven exc an e w‘ power political (as with a colonial or imperial estab IS ment), power intellectual sciences like corn e linguistics or anatomy, or any of the modern policy sciences), power cultura as 1 or 0 0x165 an canons o taste, texts, va ues , ower mora as Wit 1 e s a out w at we 0 an w at the ” cannot do or understand as “we” do). Indeed, my real argument is that Orientalism is-_and does not simply represent_—a con- siderable dimension of modern political-intellectual culture, and as such has less to o with the Orient than it does with “our” world. this“? L"“l's' 'M‘F Introduction 13 Because Orientalism is a cultural and a political fact, then, it does not existin some archival vacuum; quite the contrary, I think it can be shown that what is thought, said, or even done about the Orient follows (perhaps occurs within) certain distinct'and in- tellectually knowable lines. Here too a considerable degree of nuance and elaboration can be seen working as between the broad superstructural pressures and the details of composition, the facts of textuality. Most humanistic scholars are, I think, perfectly happy with the notion that texts exist in contexts, that there is such a thing as intertextuality, that the pressures of conventions, predecessors, and rhetorical styles limit what Walter Benjamin once called the “overtaxing of the productive person in the name of . . . the principle of ‘creativity,’ ” in which the poet is believed on'his own, and out of his pure mind, to have brought forth his workf’ Yet there is a'reluctance to allow that political, institutional, and ideo- logical constraints act in the same manner on the individual author. A humanist will believe it to be an interesting fact to any interpreter of Balzac that he was influenced in the Come’die humaine by the conflict between Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Cuvier, but the same sort of pressure on Balzac of deeply reactionary monarchisrn is felt in some vague way to demean his literary “genius” and therefore to be less worth serious study. Similarlywas Harry Bracken has been tirelessly showing—philosophers mil] conduct their discussions of Locke, Hum. e and empju‘gism Elm-flaw: _ a t ' these classic wri ers ' “ hilos ic” doctrines and 'al Lionf—the'se are common enEh ways by which contemporary WW. Perhaps it is true that most attempts to rub culture‘s nose in the mud of politics have been crudely iconoclastic; perhaps also- the social interpretation of literature in my own field has simply not kept up with the enormous technical advances in detailed textual analysis. But there is no getting away from the fact that literary studies in general, and American Marxist theorists in particular, have avoided, the effort of seriously bridging the gap between the superstructural and the base levels in textual, historical scholarship; on another occasion I have gone so far as to say that the literary-cultural establishment as a whole has declared the serious study of imperialism and culture oil limits.” For Orientalism brings one up directly against that question—that is, to realizing ‘ putt. 14 ORIENTALISM that political thudy, imagina_.' tion, and scholarl institutions—in such a way as to make it w1 a ways remain the perennial escape mechanism of saying that; a literary scholar and a philosopher, for example, are trained‘ in- literature and philosophy respectively, not in politics or ideological analysis. In other words, the specialist argument can work quite-- effectively to block the larger and, in my opinion, the more intel- ' lectually serious perspective. . _ Here it seems to me there is a simple two-part answer to be:3 given, at least so far as the study of imperialism and culture (or _' Orientalism) is concerned. In the first place, nearly every: Introduction , 15 _individual authors and the large political concerns shaped by the three great empires—British, French, American—in whose in- tellectual and imaginative territory the writing was produced. What interests me most as a scholar is not the gross political verity but the detail, as indeed what interests us in someone like Lane or Flaubert or Renan is not the (to him) indisputable truth that Occi- dentals are superior to Orientals, but the profoundly worked over and modulated evidence of his.detailed work within the very wide space opened up by that truth. One need only remember that Lane’s Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians is a classic of historical and anthropological observation because of its style, its enormously intelligent and brilliant details, not because of its nineteenth-century writer (and the same is true enough of writers_'. in earlier periods) was extraordinarily well aware of the fact of. empire: this is a subject not very well studied, but it will not take .- a modern Victorian specialist long to admit that liberal cultural'._ heroes like John Stuart Mill, Arnold, Carlyle, Newman, Macaulay - Ruskin, George Eliot, and even Dickens had definite views on race... and imperialism, which are quite easily to be found at work i their writing. So even a specialist must deal with the knowledg _ that Mill, for example, made. it clear in On Liberty and Representa‘ rive Government that his views there could not be applied to India (he was an India Office functionary for a good deal of hi life, after all) because the Indians were civilizationally, if no _ racially, inferior. The same kind of paradox is to be found in Mars as I try to show in this book. In the second place, to_be.lie1e__tha . politics in the form of imperialism bears upon the producition o I 1W n means 6 uival _' ‘I _ ‘ ' _ or deni rat ' . Quite the contrary: my whole point is to sa that we can better understand the persistence and the durability o saturating hegemonic systems like culture when we realize that thei W, 110 unilaterally inhibiting. It is this idea that Gramsci, certainly, an Foucault and Raymond Williams in their very different ways hav been trying to illustrate. Even one or two pages by Williams on “th uses of the Empire” in The Long Revolution tell us more abou nineteenth-century cultural richness than many volumes of hermeti textual analyses.m I Therefore I study Orientalism as a dynamic ekchange betwee' simplc reflection rof racial superiority, to understand yvhat I am‘ saying here. (Pb Anita. L ' The kind of political questions raised by Orientalism, then, are 2. as follows: What ot r s ' Martel energies_'_went _',non.hkcfthc_flnentalisLme?—H0wdid—phflolog§+lexiqlgmphy, - IhlstoryLEPMmmmcmmed “lyric oetr come to the ' ' ' ’ ' ' ist revolutions take ' ' ' ' ' ' 7' I _ on inalit of cont ' ' ' ‘ ' ' ontext? How does Orientalism transmit o u itself from one e och to af—P-fi'——'- another? In fine how can we treat the ' ' - uncond1t1 _ . . .' - 'v v. '; g" S .:. -l ‘.I‘ tween cultural work, political tendencies, the state, and the specific realiTies—Of domination? Governed by such concerns a humanistic study can responsibly address itself to olitics an ture. But this is not to say that such a study establishes a hard-and-fast rule about the relationship between knowledge and politics. My argument is that each humanistic investigation must formulate the nature of ' that connection in the specific context of the study.z the subject matter, and its historical circumstances. 2. The methodological question. In a previous book I gave a good deal 'of thought and analysis to the methodological importance for work in the human sciences of finding and formulating a first Step, a point of departure, a beginning principle.11 A major lesson such of Orientalism as ' —not mere 16 - ORIENTALISM I learned and tried to present was that there is no such thing as a merely given, or simply available, starting point: beginnings have to b eac ' ' a as to ws rom them. Nowhere in my experience has the difficulty of this Wu more consciously lived-(with what success—or failure —I cannot really say) than in this study of Orientalisrn. The idea of beginning, indeed the act of beginning, necessarily involves an act of delimitation by which something is cut out of a great mass of material, separated from the mass, and made to stand for, as well as be, a starting point, a beginning; for the student of texts _ one such notion of inaugural delimitation is Louis Althusser‘s idea of the problematic, a specific determinate unity of a text, or group - of texts, which is something given rise to by analysis.” Yet in the case of Orientalism (as opposed to the case of Marx’s texts, which is what Althusser studies) there is not simply the problem of finding 7 apoint of departure, or problematic, but also the question _. of .' designating which texts, authors, and periods are the ones best. suited for study. ' - . . . 2. It has seemed to me foolish to attempt an encyclopedic narrative ' history of Orientalism, first of all because if my guiding principle was to be “the European idea of the Orient” there would be”. virtually no limit to the material I would have .had todeal with; ‘ second, because the narrative model itself did not suit my descripfi tive and political interests; third, because in such books as Raymond. Schwab’s La Renaissance orientate, Johann Puck’sDEe Arabischen \Studien in Europa bis in den Anfang desZO. Jahrhunderrs, and more recently, Dorothee Metlitzki‘s The Matter of Araby in Medieval England‘s there already exist encyclopedic works on cer: tain aspects of the European-Oriental encounter such as make the critic’s job, in the general political and intellectual context I sketched above, a different one. _ There ‘still remained the problem of cutting down a very fat archive to manageable dimensions, and more important, outlining something in the nature of an intellectual order within that group of texts ‘without at the same time following a mindlessly chron logical order. My starting point therefore has been the British, French, and American experience of the Orient taken as a um, what made that experience possible by way of historical and inte ' ‘ lectual background, what the quality and character of the e perience has been. For reasons I shall discuss presently I limited- that already limited (but still inordinately large) set of questions to Introduction 17 the Anglo—French-American experience of the Arabs and Islam, which for almost a thousand years together stood for the Orient. Immediately upon doing that, a large part of the Orient seemed to have been _eliminated—-—lndia, Japan, China, and other sections of the Far East—not because these regions were not important (they obviously have been) but because one could discuss Europe's experience of the Near Orient, or of Islam, apart from its ex- ‘ perience of the Far Orient. Yet at certain moments of that general European history of interest in the East, particular parts of the Orient like Egypt, Syria, and Arabia cannot be discussed without also studying Europe’s involvement in the more distant parts, of which Persia and India are the most important; a notable case in point is the. connection between Egypt and India so far as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain was concerned. Similarly the French role in deciphering the Zend-Avesta, the pie-eminence of Paris as a center of Sanskrit studies during the first decade of the nineteenth century, the fact that Napoleon’s interest in the Orient was contingent upon his sense of the British role in India: all these Far. Eastern interests directly influenced French interest in the Near East, Islam, and the Arabs. Britain and France dominated the Eastern Mediterranean from about the end of the seventeenth century on. Yet my discussion of that domination and systematic interest does not do justice to (a) the important contributions to Orientalism of Germany, Italy, Russ:a, Spain, and Portugal and (b) the fact that one of the im- portant impulses toward the study of the Orient in the eighteenth century was the revolution in Biblical studies stimulated by such variously interesting pioneers as Bishop Lowth, Eichhorn, Herder, and Michaelis. In the first place, I had to focus rigorously upon the British-French and later the American material because it seemed inescapany true not only that Britain and France were the pioneer nations in the Orient and in Oriental studies, but that these vanguard positions were held by virtue of the two greatest colonial networks in pre-twentieth-century history; the American Oriental position since World War II has fit—I think, quite self-consciously _1n the places exCavated by the two earlier European powers. Then too, I believe that the sheer quality, consistency, and mass of British, French, and American writing on the Orient lifts it '- above the doubtless crucial work done in Germany, Italy, Russia, and elsewhere. But I think it is also true that the major steps in .- Oriental scholarship were first taken in either Britain and France, 1 8 ORIENTALISM then elaborated upon by Germans. Silvestre de Sacy, for example, was not only the first modern and institutional European Orientalist, who worked on Islam, Arabic literature, the Druze religion, and Sassanid Persia; he was also the teacher of Champollion and of . Franz Bopp, the founder of German comparative linguistics. A’ similar claim of priority and subsequent pie—eminence can be made for William Jones and Edward William Lane. ' In the second place—and here the failings of my study of Orientalism are amply made up for—there has been some important recent work on the background in Biblical scholarship to the rise of what I have called modern Orientalism. The best and the most illuminatingly relevant is E. S. Shaffer’s impressive “Kubla Khan” and The Fall of Jerusalem,” an indispensable study of the origins of Romanticism, and of the intellectual activity underpinninga great deal of what goes on in Coleridge, Br0wning, and George Eliot. To some degree Shaffer’s work refines upon the Outlines pro— vided in Schwab, by articulating the material of relevance to be found in the German Biblical scholars and using that material to read, in an intelligent and always interesting way, the work of three major British writers. Yet what is missing in the book is some sense of the political as well as ideological edge given the Oriental material by the British and French writers I am principally con— cerned with; in addition, unlike Shaffer I attempt 'to elucidate subsequent developments in academic as well as literary Orientalism that bear on the connection between British and French Orientalism on the one hand and the rise of an explicitly colonial—minded im- perialism on the-other. Then too, I wish to show how all these earlier matters are reproduced more or less in American Orientalism after the Second-World War. - Nevertheless there is a possibly misleading. aspect to my study, where, aside from an occasional reference, I do not exhaustively discuss the German developments after the'inaugural period domi—_ nated by Sacy. Any work that seeks to provide an understanding of academic Orientalism and pays little attention to scholars like _ Steinthal, Miiller, Becker, Goldziher, Brockelmann,'Ntildeke—to mention only a handful—needs to be reproached, and I freely re- proach myself. I particularly regret not taking more account of the great scientific prestige that accrued to German scholarship by the middle of the nineteenth century, whose neglect was made into a denunciation of insular British scholars by George Eliot. I have in mind Eliot’s unforgettable portrait of Mr. Casaubon in Middle- Introduction 19 march. One reason Casaubon cannot finish his Key to All Mythol- ogies is, according to his yOung cousin Will Ladislaw, that he is unacquainted with German scholarship. For not only has Casaubon- chosen a subject “as changing as chemistry: new discoveries are constantly making new points of view”: he is undertaking a job similar to a- refutation of Paracelsus because “he is not- an Orientalist, you know.”15 Eliot was not wrong in implying that by about 1830, which is when Middlemarch is set, German scholarship had fully attained its European pre-eminence. Yet at no time in German scholarship during the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century could a close. partnership have developed between Orientalists and a protracted, sustained national interest in the Orient. There was nothing in Germany to correspond to the Anglo-French presence in India, the Levant, North Africa. Moreover, the German Orient was almost exclusively a scholarly, or at least a classical, Orient: it was made the subject of lyrics, fantasies, and even novels, but it was never actual, the way Egypt and Syria Were actual for Chateaubriand, Lane, Lamartine, Burton, Disraeli, or Nerval. There is some signifi— cance in the fact that the two .most renowned German works on - the Orient, Goethe’s Wesriistlr'cher Diwan and Friedrich Schlegel’s Uber die Sprache and Wefshei't der Indier, were based respectively on a Rhine journey and on hours spent in Paris libraries. What German Oriental scholarship did was to refine and elaborate tech- niques whose application was to texts, myths, ideas, and languages almost literally gathered from the Orient by imperial Britain and France. ' . Yet what German Orientalism had in common with Anglo- French and later American Orientalism was a kind of intellectual ' authority over the Orient within Western culture. This authority must in large part be the subject of any/description of Orientalism, and it is so in this study. Even the name Orientalism suggests a serious, perhaps ponderous style of expertise; when I apply it to‘ modern American social scientists (since they do not call them- selves Orientalists, my use of the Word is anomalous), it is to draw attention to the way Middle East experts can still draw on the vestiges of Orientalism’s intellectual position in nineteenth-century Europe. Thege is nothing mysterious or natural about authority. It is formed, irradiated, d1ssem1nated; it is instrumental, it is ersuasive; it has status, it_esta5|_rshes canons of taste and value; itlis virtually “‘"M 20 ORIENTALISM indistin uishable from certain ide as true, and from tra ltions, erce tions and 'ud ansmits, re ro- duces. Above all, authority can, indeed must, be analyzed, All ' ' ' 1' and much of what these attributes of authonty apply to Orienta 18m, I ' , I do in this study is to describe both the historical authority in and the personal authorities of Orientalism. . ‘ My principal methodological devices for studying authority here are what can be called strategic location, which is a way of describ- lwmmwmm material he writes about, and 5 ate ic formation, whi ' way WWM groups of texts, types 0W3 densit , and referential ow reafter inwml use the notion of strategy simply to identify the problem ever writer on ' has faced: how to get hold OWWWIfizifl-im or overwhelmed by its sublimity, its scope, its awful dimensions. Everyone who We voice ilds the kinds of images, _ themes motifs that circulate in his text—all of which ad dmwdtammfimmwit, and fina_l_l re resentin it or ‘ ' 'in its behalf. None of this takes place in the abstract, however. Every writer on the Orient (and this is true even of Homer) assumes some Oriental precedent, some previous knowledge of the Orient, to which he refers and on which he relies. Additionally, @ng . itself with other wmdiences, with. institution ' the ofi‘lmmfim, audiences, and some particular aspects of the Orient therefore constitutes an analyzable. formation—for example, that of philo— logical studies, of anthologies of extracts from Oriental-lucrature, of travel books, of Oriental fantasies—whose presence in time, in discourse, in institutions (schools, libraries, foreign services) gives it strength and authority. ' ‘ It is clear, I hope, that my concern with authority does not entail analysis of what lies hidden in the Orientahst text, but analysis rather of the text’s surface, its exteriority to what it de- scribes. I do not think that this idea can be overernphasized.' Oirientalism'is premised upon exteriority, that is, on the fact that the Drientalist, poet or scholar, makes the Orient 'Speakhdesctll-beS' ' \4’ Introduction J 21 the Ogent, renders its In steries lain for and to West. He is never consented with the Orient except as the first cause of what he says. What he says and writes, by virtue of the fact that it is said or written, is meant to indicate that the (WWW The principal product of this exteriority is of course representation: as early as Aeschylus’s play The Persians the Orient is transformed from a very far distant and often threatening Otherness into figures that are relatively familiar (in Aeschylus’s case, grieving Asiatic women). The dramatic immediacy of representation in The Persians obscures the fact that the audience is watching a highly artificial enactment of what a non-Oriental has. made into a symbol for the whole Orient. My analysis of the Orientalist text therefore places emphasi on the evidence, which is by no means invisible, for such representa- tions as representations, not as “natural” depictions of the Orient. This evidence is found just as prominently in the so-called truthful 7 text (histories, philological analyses, political treatises) as in the _ avowedly'artistic (i.e., openly imaginative) text. The things to look at are style, figures of speech, setting, narrative devices, historical and social circumstances, not the Wu nor its fidelity to some great originatfflimimmm- sentation is always governed by some version of the truism that if the""Orien cou represent itself, it would; since it cannot, the ' representation does the job, for the West, and fante a‘e mieux, for th . . . . _. mmpmmamuwmen vertreten werden,” as Marx wrote in The Eighteenth Bramaire of Another reason for insisting upon exteriority is that I believe it needs. to be made clear about cultural discourse and exchange within a culture that what is commonl circulated b it is not “truth” but re resentations. It hardly needs to be demonstrated again that language itself is a highly organized and encoded system, which employs many devices to express, indicate, exchange messages and information, represent, and so forth. In any instance of at least written language, there is no such thing as a delivered presence, but a re-presence, or a representation. The value, efficacy, strength, apparent veracity of a written statement about the Orient therefore relies very little, and cannot instrumentally depend, on the Orient as such._ On the contrary, the written statement is a presence to the reader b virtue of its havin excluded, dis laced, made supererogatory any such real thing as “the Orient.” Thus all 22 ORIENTALISM of Orientalism stands forth and away from the Orient: that. Orient 'sm makes sense at all de ends more on the West than on, t e ' nt and this sense is direct] ' arious Western techni ues of re entation tha ' visible, clear, “there” in discourse about it And these-representations rely upon, W‘ . institutions, traditions, conventions, agreed-upon codes of under- standing for their effects, not upon a distant and amorphous Orient. The difference between representations of the Orient before the last third of the eighteenth century and those after it (that is, those belonging to What I call modern Orientalism) is that the range of representation expanded enormously in the later period. It is true that after William Jones and Anquetil-Duperron, and after ' Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition, Europe came to know the Orient more scientifically, to live in it with greater authority and discipline than ever before. But what mattered to Europe was the. expanded scope and the much greater refinement given its techniques for receiving the Orient. When around the turn of the eighteenth century the Orient definitively revealed the age of its languages—' thus Outdating Hebrew’s divine pedigree—it was a group of Euro— peans who made the discovery, passed it on to other scholars, , "‘ and preserved the discovery in the new science of Indo-European philology. A new powerful science for viewing the linguistic Orient was born, and with it, as Foucault has shown in The Order of‘ Things, a whole web of related scientific interests. Similarly William _ Beckford, Byron, Goethe, and Hugo restructured the Orient by ' their art and made its colors, lights, and people visible through their. images, rhythms, and motifs. At most, the “real” Orient provoked a writer to his vision; it very rarely guided it. Orientalism responded more to the culture that produced it than. to its putative object, which was also produced by the West. Thus- - ' ' c and a - the histor of Orientalism h ijsmm‘ highly articulated set of relationships to the dominant culture sur- rdfihdfg it. My analyses consequently try to show the field’s shape and internal organization, its pioneers, patriarchal authorities,- canonical texts, doXological ideas, exemplary figures, its followers, ; elaborators, and new authorities; I try also to explain how Oriental: ism borrowed and was frequently informed by “strong” ideas, I; doctrines, and trends ruling the culture. Thus there was (and is) a mmnent, a Wt, a Spenglerianwgrient, af- Darwinian Orient, a racist Orient—and so on. Yet never has there ‘1 M Introduction been such a thing as a pure, or unconditional, Orient; similarly, never has there been a ' of Orientalisrn, much less somethi ‘ “' ea” of the Orient. In- this underlying conviction and in its ensuing methodological consequences do I differ from scholars who study the history of ideas. For the emphases and the executive form, above all the material effectiveness, of statements made by =Orientalist discourse are possible in ways that any hermetic history of ideas tends completely to scant. Without those emphases and that material effectiveness Orientalism would be just another idea, whereas it is and was much more than that. Therefore I set out to examine not only scholarly works but also works of literature, political tracts, journalistic texts, travel books, religious and philological studies. In other words, Mybgid per- spective ' ' rical and “anthro olo ical " ' WT ’“believg all texts to be worldly and circumstantial in of course $5.131? thW W11 genreto peribdto ' "m Yet unlike Michel Foucault, to whose work I am greatly in« debted, I do believe in the determining imprint of individual writers upon the otherwise anonymous collective body of texts constituting a discursive formation like Orientalism. The unity of the large ensemble of. texts I analyze is due in part to the fact that they frequenfly-refepto—eachmhgr: Orientalism is after all a system for citing works and authors. Edward William Lane’s Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians was read and cited by such diverse figures as Nerval, Flaubert, and Richard Burton. He was an authority whose use was an imperative for anyone writing or think— ing about the Orient, not just about Egypt: When Nerval borrows passages verbatim from Modern. Egyptians it is to use Laneis authority to assist him in describing village scenes in Syria, not Egypt. Lane’s authority and the opportunities provided for citing him discriminately as well as indiscriminately were there because Orientalism could give his text the kind of distributilecurrency that he acquired. There is no way, however, of understanding Lane’s currency without also understanding the peculiar features of his text; this is equally true of Renan, Sacy, Lamartine, Schlegel, and a group of other influential writers. Foucault believes that in general the individual text or author counts for very little; empirically, in the case of Orientalism (and perhaps nowhere else) I find this not to be so. Accordingly my analyses employ close textual readings Mm} intrude I, 23 (7 24 ' ORIENTALISM whose goal is to reveal the dialectic between individual text or writer and the complex collective formation to whichhis work is a contribution. Yet even though it-includes an ample selection of writers, this book is still far from a complete history or general account of Orientalism. Of this failing I am very conscious. The fabric of as thick a discourse as Orientalism has survived and functioned in' Western society because of its richness: all I have done is to describe parts of that fabric at certain moments, and merely to suggest the - existence of a larger whole, detailed, interesting, dotted with fascinating figures, texts, and events, I have consoled myself with believing that this book is one installment of several, and hope there are scholars and critics who might want to write others. There .is still a general essay to be written on imperialism and culture; other studies would go more deeply into the connectionbetween Orientalism and pedagogy, or into Italian, Dutch, German, and Swiss Orientalism, or into the dynamic betweenkscholarship and , _ imaginative writing, or into the relationship between administrative ideas and intellectual discipline. Perhaps the most important task fiflmm—MWWO' Orientalism, to ask how one can stud other ultures and co les from a libertarian or a n nr ' ulative er- spective. But then one would have to,_rethink the whole complex I M . problem of knowledge and power. These are all tasks left em- barrassingly incomplete in this study. The last, perhaps self-flattering, observation on method that I want to make here is that I have written this study with several audiences in mind. For students of literature and criticism, Oriental- - ism offers a marvelous instance of the interrelations between society, history, and textuality; moreover, the cultural role played by the Orient in the West connects Orientalism with ideology, politics, and the logic of power, matters of relevance, I think, to the literary com— munity. Foi‘cont orar students 'ent, from university _ scholars to policymakers, I have written with two ends in mind: one, to present their intellectual genealogy to. them in a way that V has not been done; two, to criticize—withihe hope 0f,stit[ing7(fl§- fWor the general reader, this study deals with matters that always compel attention, all of them connected not only with Western conceptions and treatments of the Other but also with the singularly important role played by Western culture Introduction 25 in what Vico called the world of nations. Lastly, for readers in the so—called Third World, this study prop05es itself as a step towards an understanding not so much of Western politics and of the non— Western world in thOSe politics as of the strength of Western _ cultural discourse, a strength too often mistaken as merely decora- tive or “superstructural.” We structure ' ' ' ' rly colonized peoplesz the dangers and temptations of employing this stmgmre "Wm. ‘ The three long chapters and twelve shorter units into which this book is divided are intended. to facilitate exposition as much as possible. Chapter One, “The Scope of Orientalism,” draws a large cmmwmpmmm historical time and experiences and in terms of hiloso hical and 1mm— 3 ructures,” attempts to trace the development of modern Oriental- ism by a broadly chronological description, and also by the description of a set of devices common to the work of important poets, artists, and scholars. Chapter Three, “Orientalism Now,” begins where its predecessor left off, at around 1870, This is the period of great colonial expansion into the Orient,_ and it cul— minates in World War II, The very last section of Chapter Three characterizes the shift from British and French to American hegemony; I attempt there finally~to sketch the present intellectual and social realities of Orientalism in the United States. - 3. The personal dimension. In the Prison Notebooks Gramsci says: “The startin - oint 0 critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one reall is and is ‘knowin th self’ as a preduct of the W” The only available English translation inexplicably leaves Gramsci’s comment at that, whereas in fact Gramsci’s Italian text concludes by adding, “therefore it is WWW?“ Much of the personal investment in this study derives from ' my awareness of being an “Oriental” as a child growing up in two British colonies. All of my education, in those colonies (Palestine and Egypt) and in the United States, has been Western, and yet that deep early awareness has persisted. In many ways my study of Orientalism has been an attempt to inventory the traces upon me, the Oriental subject, of the culture whose domination has been so powerful a factor in the life of all Orientals. This is why for me the it a“ 26 ORIENTALISM Islamic Orient has had to be the center of attention. Whether what I have achieved is the inventory prescribed by Gramsc1 is not for me to judge, although I have felt it important to be conscious 1(13f trying to produce one. Along the way, asseverely and as rationa y as I have been able, I have tried to maintain a critical consc1ousness, aswell as employing those instruments of historical, humanistic, and cultural research of which my education has made me the fortunate beneficiary. Innone of that, however, have I;ever lost hold of the cultural reality-of, the personal involvement in havmg been constituted as, “an Oriental.” I The historical circumstances making such a. study posmble are - fairly complex, and I can only list them schematically here. Anypng . resident in the Westsince- the 1950s, particularly 111 the Unite States, will have lived through an era of extraordinary. turbulence in the relations of East and West. No one will have failed-to note how “East” has always signified danger and threat during this period, even as it has meant the traditional Orient as well .as I Russia. In the universities a growing establishment of area-studies ' programs and-institutes has made the scholarlylstudy of the Orient a branch of national policy. ic aflai n th a ' ' ' ' (1 economic h ._1m_l_ln1§rennmheflrmu_asimidfioritsstrategic an __,_ _ iwflmflm If the world has become immediately accessible to a Western citizen living in the electronficl: age, the Orient too has drawn nearer to him, and is now less a my perhaps than a place crisscrossed by Western, espec1ally American, ' StS- _ ,_ . . .. ._ mtgiie: aspect of the electronic, postmodern world is that-there has been a reinforcement of the stereotypes by. which the Orientis viewed. Television, the films, and all the media’s resources have forced information into more and more standardized molds. Mr I as the Orient is concerned, standardization and cultural stereot .in ima inative 'emono o. of “them sterio ' _ ”_ThIS‘lS nowhere more true than in the ways by which the Near East is grasped. hree things have contributed to making even the Simplest percep- tion of the Arabs and Islam into a highly-politimzed, almost. raucous matter: one, the history ' of popular anti-Arab and. anti-Islamic prejudice in the West, which is immediately reflected in the history: of Orientalism; two, the struggle-between the Arabs and Israeli Zionism, and its effects upon American Jews as well as upon both: the liberal culture and the population at large; three, the almost- vinced me (and I hope will convince my together. In addition, and by an almost i Introduction total absence of any cultural position making it possible either to identify with or dispassionately to discuss the Arabs or Islam. Furthermore, it hardly needs saying that because the Middle East is now so identified with Great Power politics, oil economics, and the simple—minded dichotomy of freedom-loving, democratic Israel and evil, totalitarian, and terroristic Arabs, the chances of anything like a clear view of what one talks about in talking about the Near East are depressingly small. My own experiences of these matters are in part what made me write this book. The life of an Arab Palestinian in the West, particularly in America, is disheartening. There exists here an almost unanimous consensus that politically he does not exist, and he does, it is either as a nuisance or as an racism, cultural stereotypes, political im— perialism, dehumanizing ideology holding in the Arab or the Muslim is very strong indeed, and it is this web which every Palestinian has come to feel as his uniquely punishing destiny. It has made matters worse for him to remark that no person academic- ally involved with the N ear East—no Orientalist, that is—has ever in the United States culturally and politically identified himself wholeheartedly with the Arabs; certainly there have been identi- fications on some level, but they have never taken an “acceptable” form as has liberal American identification with Zionism, and all too The nexus of knowledge and power creating “the Oriental” and in a sense obliterating him as a human being is therefore not for me an exclusively academic matter. Yet it is an intellectual matter of some very obvious importance. I have been able to put to use my humanistic and political concerns for the analysis and description of a very worldly matter, the rise, development, and consolidation of Orientalism. Too often literature and culture are presumed to be politically, even historically innocent; it has regularly seemed otherwise to me, and certainly my study of Orientalisni has con- literary colleagues) that society and literary culture 'can only be understood and studied 27 _- ...
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Orientalism - ’ QRHENTAMSM I-——— Edward W Said Vintage Books A Division of Random House A New York Introduction 1 On a visit to Beirut

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