Orientalism: An Analysis Of Orientalism By Edward Said

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Orientalism (Draft) When future scholars take a look back at the intellectual history of the last quarter of the twentieth century, the work of Professor Edward Said of the Columbia University is identified as very important and influential. In particular, Said’s 1978 book orientalism will be regarded as of profounding significance. Orientalism revolutionised the study of the Middle East and helped to create and shape entire new fields of study such as post-colonial theory as well as influencing disciplines as diverse as English, history, anthropology, political science and cultural study. Said’s book is one of the most controversial books of the last 30 years sparking intense debates and disagreements. Orientalism tries to answer the question…show more content…
It is an examination of a quite concrete historical and institutional context that creates it. Specifically, Said locates the construction of orientalism within the history of imperial conquest. As empires spread across the globe, historically the British and the French have been the most important in terms of the East. They conquered not only militarily, but also ideologically. The question for these empires is how we understand the natives that we are encountering so that we can conquer and subdue them easier. This process of using large abstract categories to explain people who look different, whose skin is a different colour has been going on for a long time as far back as there has been contrast between different cultures and people but orientalism makes this general process more formal and represents itself as object…show more content…
Indeed, anti-Arab racism seems to be almost officially sanctioned. You can make generalised and racist statements of Arab people that would not be tolerated by any other group. At the heart of how this new American orientalism operates is a threatening and demonizing figure of the Islamic terrorists that is emphasized by journalists and Hollywood. Now, Said recognizes that terrorism exists as a result of the violent political situation of the Middle East but he argues that there is a lot more going on there that is misunderstood or not seen by the people of the West. The result of the media’s focus on one negative aspect alone means that all the people of Islamic world come to be understood in the same negative and paranoid way, i.e. as a threat. So when we think of people who look like that and come from that part of the world, we think fanatic, extreme and violent. Said argues that understanding a vast and complex region like the middle east in this narrow way takes away from the humanity and diversity a millions of ordinary people living decent and humane lives

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