Orientalism (Edward W.Said)
In this reading, the author discusses the concept of Orient and Orientalism. Orient is countries of East and East Asia and is a term created by the Europeans. The article furthermore discusses that the creation of the term Orient not only differentiated the East from the West but also created the image of ‘the other’.
The author however, tackles the explanation of the term in a very different way and explains the three different meanings of Orientalism. The explanation he has derived of the term includes the literal meaning, the social meaning and the psychological meaning. He goes into great detail by explaining the effects of separating the East and the West and labeling them into Orient and Occident.
Orientalism as explained by Edward Said is simply and academic term and anyone who teaches, writes or researches the Orients is an Orientalist. However, in an effort to study the Orient, the Occident’s created them as ‘the other’ and the Orients were studied as exotic beings, whereas the countries themselves became places of remarkable experiences.
He further elaborated that Orientalism is a style of thought made upon the distinction between the Orient and the Occident.
These distinctions further became starting points for theories, social descriptions, study of the culture and assumptions on the mindset of the Orients. In Said’s view, the Orient is turned into a Western representation of the Orient
However, as stated in the article, in the 18th century Orientalism became a corporate instituition of dealing with the Orient and was used as a way to dominate the East, reconstruct it and stereotype it. But most importantly, it became a way to dominate the Orient and highlight the areas they were different at from the Occident. Therefore the Europeon culture gained strength by projecting the image of the Orient as inferior.
The idea of the Orientalism and the Orient furthermore, has become a way a manipulating the East and East Asia.
I agree with the discussion the author has presented because just by creating the Orient, the world instantly gets divided into two halves. The division however is unequal and it is the Occident who has created the inequality by treating the East as subjects. For instance in the study of psychology the behavior and habitat of animals was studied to understand how humans could possibly react to different stimuli. The West similarly has bought down the East to that level. They study the Orient and experiment on them as well as devise ways to restrain and reconstruct the way they live.
This may be because the East is a place for Europe’s oldest colonies and they still consider themselves the rulers of the Orient. However, the impact of colonial rule in the history of the East is so deeply embedded in the roots of the Orient that they have accepted themselves to be inferior.
Orientalism can be seen in many Hollywood movies and dramas where Chinese and Japenese women are shown to dress in a certain way. And when they enter the scene, a particular kind of music that is linked to these nations is played in the background. However, in reality the Orient or ‘the other’ that the West have created are different from the perceived image created by the Orientals.
– Fatima Niazi