Daniel Martin Varisco's Reading Orientalism: Said And The Unsaid

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With the publication of Orientalism in 1978, Edward Said hugely influenced scholarly debates about the Middle-East and the perception of the West. In 2007, Daniel Martin Varisco presented an in-depth, critical reflection of Said’s book Orientalism in Reading Orientalism: Said and the Unsaid. Varisco does this by analyzing supporters as well as opponents of Said’s book about orientalism. Varisco’s reasoning for writing the book was not because he necessarily disagreed with what Said argues, it is rather that Varisco thought Said’s points could be better argued with the right evidence. When Said published Orientalism in 1978, the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle-East received large attention in the Western media coverage. Edward Said, himself from Palestine descent, therefore decided to write the book motivated by his own Palestine background as well as what was happening at the time; the portrayal of the conflicts by Western news media, which coverage was shaped by different motives, as for instance the promises made to the Israeli people. According to Said, the media reinforced stereotypes of the Orient. (26-27). In order to show where these stereotypes came from, Said traced its roots back into history, as he…show more content…
One of the obvious and main criticisms of Varisco about Said’s Orientalism, is the absence of “real” Orient voices in his book. As Varisco rightly observes, “The force of Said’s argument persuades in large part because the real Orient is all absence” (55). This is for instance clearly visible in the sources Said uses when he talks about Napoleon conquering Egypt. He chooses sources from Napoleon and French travelers, yet the voices of the people of Egypt itself are missing. According to Varisco there are sources that represent these Egyptians, but Said “simply assumes them to be mute”

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