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Orientalism - Essay Example

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In the first video, Prof. Sut Jhally describes the book, ‘Orientalism’, written by Edward Said, as one of the most controversial scholarly books in the last 30 years. Prof. Jhally tells us that the book is about how we perceive the people of Middle East, how we hold a…
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Download file to see previous pages depiction of Arab world by the media, literature and films, which were full of sensual women who were there to be used by men and East was depicted as a mysterious place full of secrets. This had no link with the people, who actually lived there, says Said. Said calls this viewpoint, orientalism and emphasises that this orientalist approach was creating an image outside history as if the life of the orient was placid, still and eternal. He elaborates his argument by saying that this was actually the creation of an ideal ‘other’. In the next part, orientalism is located by Said in the context of imperial conquest. Said reminds that Napolian invaded Egypt not only with his army, but with scientists, architects, philologists, biologists, historians etc. Said says that the job of these non-military people was to record Egypt for the Europians, conveniently suiting the invader’s ideology. The second section also specifically deals with American orientalism. According to Said, the ideas of Britain and France of the orient were weaved around direct experience of ruling these nations but US never directly occupied the east or Middle East and so their experience was indirect. So, says Said, the American orientalism is much more based on abstractions. And he adds that American orientalism is politicized by the presence of Israel. Said reminds us that there is no word spoken in US about the dispossessed millions in Palestine and the prolonged Israeli occupation of Gaza but Hamas is depicted as villains who kill Israeli children.. So the average American never gets the opportunity to see without prejudice, the real Arab world, says Said. Said enters the contemporary realm at this stage and goes on to say that orientalism today is mainly, the demonisation of Islam in the news and popular culture. He states that always the Muslims are shown dressed in black, wearing masks and conducting violent acts, by the media.
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