Monday, 17 March 2014

The -ism Series (10): Orientalism

The cultural critic Edward Wadie Said's (1935-2003) concept of Orientalism revolutionised the studies of "the East". Orientalism is referred to as "a body of ideas, beliefs, cliches, or learning about the East". Said describes the Orient as a European invention, as a European representation of the East. For him, Orientalism connotes 19th and 20th century European colonialism since the image of the East created by the West justified its supremacy.

Most interestingly, the concept of Orient differs from culture to culture. While US-Americans associate the Far East, i.e. mainly Japan and China, with the Orient, the French and the British have a notion of the Orient that is based on the European Western experience.

The "other", the East, helped Europe to define itself as its contrast. Said comes to the conclusion that "the Orient is not an inert fact of nature. It is not merely there, just as the Occident is not just there either." He continues that Orient and Occident are "man-made".

Said, E. (1977) Orientalism. London: Penguin
photos via and via and via


  1. Sweet posting, interesting points!

  2. Truly interesting!

    1. I'm glad to hear that. I personally find the whole concept very interesting and highly fascinating, too. Thank you, Kenneth.

  3. Replies
    1. ... there are plenty of them to follow ;-)

  4. Replies
    1. Rather difficult not to notice them, isn't it? :-)
      Thanks for commenting, Wim!