Name: Tutor: Course: Date: University: Orientalism Introduction Orientalism has dominated the world of study, writing, vision, and ideologies. This paper seeks to discuss the meaning of orientalism and its influence on Western interpretation of past and present cultures in the Near East…
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Orientalism could also be used to mean a manner of seeing, which distorts and emphasizes differences in cultures between the Arabic people and people, from Europe and the U.S. It entails viewing the Arab culture as uncivilized, exotic, dangerous, and backward (Said 1978, p. 2). Said defined orientalism as “the west acceptance of the differences between West and East.” He purported that this acceptance serves as the starting point for detailed social descriptions, epics, theories, and political accounts about the Orient, mind, its people, and customs. In a nutshell, orientalism can be described as the image of the ‘Orient’ portrayed as a thought system. As a scholarly discipline, orientalism began in the eighteenth century following the European colonial conquest of countries in the Middle East. Academic disciplines that addressed the orient flourished; this led to the adoption of orientalism in France, England, and other European nations. Orientalism became the basis of the western exertion of power over the Orient (Near East Cultures). The west viewed the Middle East as an exhausted, stagnant, and defective region, which needed the involvement of Europeans to enhance civilization. This justification happened with an aim to keeping the dreams and ambitions of the western powers alive. Therefore, Oreintalism can be regarded to have originated from the west’s desire to conquer the Near East and exert significant influence (MacKenzie1995, p. 24). Influence of Orientalism on Western Interpretation of Cultures in the Near East Orientalism has had a profound influence on the way Western cultures depict aspects of the cultures from the East. Western writers and designers have always portrayed the East negatively. Further, artists from the west represent the cultures of the East as backward. For example, French artists in the 19th century used orientalism in their description of Eastern cultures (Kennedy 2000, p. 351). These Orientalists used colors, styles, and elements that portrayed Mediterranean countries of the Near East. Westerners have come to adopt eastern styles, motifs, and subject matter in design, architecture, and art. For example, Turquerie as a fashion dominated the western art work from 15th century to 18th century. Therefore, the west has used fashion, and other artistic styles to portray the Near East negatively (Tausch 2006, p. 83). Further, the West depictions of Islamic Moors, especially the Muslim groups of West Asia and North Africa, portray orientalism. For example, in early biblical scenes, Jewish and Roman characters were displayed with exotic costumes. This reflected the culture of clothing such as wearing of turbans in the near East. In addition, the portrayal of oriental carpets in paintings of renaissance depicts the cultures of the Far East (MacKenzie1995, p. 27). As more Western artists travelled to the Middle East, they represented numerous scenes, which entailed aspects of the Oriental culture. They depicted the cultures as exotic owing to its differences. The artists had a keen interest on the Islamic cultures of the Near East. For example, French artists Eugene Delacroix and Jean Leon painted pictures, which depicted Islamic culture. These pictures had an impact on western interpretation of the Western Cultures (Tausch 2006, p. 84). In the West, the use of the orient has continued in the Movies, as westerners use
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