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Said's Orientalism related links 

Amy Yeh
October 31, 2000
Thesis: Said's Orientalism decodes the power relationship between the Occident and the Orient to analyze how the West manipulates knowledge of and for the Orient, and to elaborate how the East is influenced and existed in knowledge.
I.The History of Orientalism
A.18th ¡V19th: an Oriental Renaissance

B.19th ¡V20th: "With such experiences as Napoleon's the Orient as a body of knowledge in the West was modernized," which means that Orientalism becomes and academic branch (Rivkin 882).*Imperialism

C."Orientalism imposed limits upon thought about the Orient" (Rivkin 882).

II.The definition of the Orient and Orientalism

A.The definition of the Orient

1.The Orient is "the other" for the West, which means the existence of the Orient is to be the "contrasting image, idea, personality, experience" (Introduction 2) for the West.

2.The Orient is not alienated: "The Orient is an integral part of European material civilization and culture" (Introduction 2). *economic structure and culture expansion

B.The definition of Orientalism

1."Orientalsim is an academic one, and indeed the label still serves in a number of academic institutions"  (Introduction 2).

2."Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between 'the Orient' and 'the Occident' (Introduction 2).

3."Orientalism is a Western style for dominating, reconstructing and having authority over the Orient" (Introduction 3).

4.Depicting Foucault's theory of "discourse": "Orientalism as a discourse" (Introduction 3), which means that European culture employs the "systematic discipline" to "manage and even produce" (Introduction 3) Orientalism.

III.Orientalism is man-made and constructed by the West

A.". . . the Orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the west" (Introduction 5).

B.The Orient is created and "Orientalized."

C."The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of a complex hegemony. .  ." (Introduction 5).

lGramsci¡¦s notion of hegemony: it is hegemony of imperial power so that Orientalism is a system of knowledge.

lThe Orient is the representation of Western hegemony

D.Orientalism is not myth: "Orientalism is more particularly valuable as a sign of European-Atlantic power over the orient than it is as a discourse about the Orient" (Introduction 6).

IV.Said¡¦s three perspectives in researching Orientalism

A.The distinction between pure and political knowledge

1."Orientalism is rather a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and philological texts. . . " (Introduction 12) (Rivkin 873).

2.Orientalism is "a certain will or intention to understand, in some cases to control manipulate, even to incorporate, what is a manifestly different"  (Introduction 12) (Rivkin 874).

3.The Orient is not only a cultural and political representation but a "considerable dimension of modern political-intellectual culture, and as such has less to do with the Orient than it does 'our'¦ world" (Introduction 12) (Rivkin 874).

B.The methodological question

1.The experience of the Orient in British, French, and American is as an unit.

2.Methodology for authority study

a.Strategic location: "describing the author¡¦s position in a text which regard to the Oriental material he writes about" (Introduction 20).

b.Strategic formation: "analyzing the relationship between texts and the way which groups of texts, types of texts, even textual genres" (Introduction 20).

3.The problem of "representation": "if the Orient could represent itself, it would; since it cannot, the representation does the job, for the west, and for the poor Orient" (Introduction 21) (Rivkin 875), and "various Western techniques of representation that make the Orient visible, clear 'there' in discourse about it" (Introduction 21) (Rivkin 876).

lOrientalism is about the Orient and also isolated from the Orient.

C.The personal dimension

V.The issue of knowledge and power in Orienatalism / Knowing the Oriental

A.The West owns knowledge about the Orient and it produces the power and authority.

B.The West manipulates the power which produces the binary opposition.

West / East

Powerful / Powerless

Feminine / Masculine

Irrational / Rational

Depraved / Virtuous

Childlike / Mature

Different / Normal

C.". . . the Orient was identified by the West" (Knowing the Oriental 40) (Rivkin 880).

D.". . . the Oriental is contained and represented by dominating frameworks" (Knowing the Oriental 40) (Rivkin 880).

E."Orientalisn can also express the strength of the West and the Orient¡¦s weakness-as seen by the West" (Knowing the Oriental 45) (Rivkin 884).


l". . . the notions about bringing civilization to primitive or barbaric peoples, the disturbingly familiar ideas about flogging or death or extend punishment being required when 'they' misbehaved or became rebellious, because 'they' mainly understood force or violence best; 'they' were not like 'us,' and for that reason served to be ruled" (Introduction xi).

Works Cited

Said, Edward W."Orientalism."Literary Theory: An Anthology.Eds.Julie Rivkin and 

Michael Ryan.Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1998.873-885.

Said, Edward W."Introduction."Orientalism.New York: Vintage Books, 1979.1-28.

--- "Knowing the Oriental."Orientalism.New York: Vintage Books, 1979.31-49.

--- "Introduction."Culture and Imperialism.New York: Vintage Books, 1994.xi-xxviii.

1. for beginners:

  1. Edward Said - Observation Worksheet
  2. Orientalism by Edward Said - A Socio-Political Overview
  3. Orientalism Revisited
  4. Edward Said on Imperialism ..[from "Yeats and Decolonization" 1988, delivered in Ireland] 1996 ...
  5. Edward Said; The Text, the World, The Critic
 2. Recent controversies: 3. Further research:
  1. The Edward Said Archive: a list of articles on and by Said available online, bibliographies, biographies, etc.

  2. Edward W. Said: A comprehensive and searchable Bibliography