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Explicate and discuss Edward Said's notion of 'orientalism'. How useful is this notion in understanding the role which soc - Essay Example

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Orientalism and the Contemporary Society [Author’s s name] Orientalism and the Contemporary Society I. Edward Said on Orientalism The depiction and portrayal of elements pertaining to the East Asian culture is referred to as Orientalism; it has become a very important notion in the discipline of Cultural Studies and the idea is slowly getting embedded in the Media as well…
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Explicate and discuss Edward Saids notion of orientalism. How useful is this notion in understanding the role which soc
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Extract of sample "Explicate and discuss Edward Said's notion of 'orientalism'. How useful is this notion in understanding the role which soc"

Download file to see previous pages According to Said, Orientalism is not based on facts or the knowledge of the west regarding Eastern culture, but they project predetermined archetypes and apply them on to eastern societies. They work on the assumption that by default Eastern civilization is antithetical to the Western Civilization and basically treat all Eastern Cultures as being the same. This can be further seen as to how Arabs are automatically equated with Islam, whereas there is a vast population of Christian and Jewish Arabs in the region as well. Edward Said has incorporated Gramsci’s theory of hegemony with his theory of Orientalism to further elucidate how the western culture have dominated the entire globe and thereby serves as barometer to determine the norm (Mackenzie, 1995, 1-20). In his book, Said unravels a new facet of the concept that largely alludes to a set of false characteristics and pre-conceived notions about the Middle-Eastern and East Asian culture. Said further elaborates that use of the terms occident and the orient is further speculated to be used as the civilized and the uncivilized, which clearly highlights the West’s apparent “superiority complex”. These ideas have now become the shorthand for the feeling that is now greatly instilled in the minds of the Western civilization, who deem themselves superior and better than the people living the non-western parts of the world. Orientalism is now used to portray the non-western part of the world as backward and heavily dependent on the west (Halliday, 1993, 145-163). The author further explains that Orientalism is not a novel concept or something that he has invented, but the existence of this notion dates back to the era of European Enlightenment and colonization of the east. However, the development of ‘Orientalism’ was flawed from the very beginning, as it failed to become an all-encompassing notion and virtually ignored other Asian cultures, such as Russian Orientalism or German Orientalism, who shared a common ancestor with the people of the sub-continent. The latter point clearly illustrates how the western view of Orientalism was extremely restricted and had several gaps in it. (Macfie, 2002, 25-28; Kramer, 2007) Orientalism based on the western perspective actually ignores the fact that migration may result in overlapping aspects in various cultures, therefore no culture is superior or inferior to one another. Western artists also try to capture a glimpse of early Orientalism; one of the best examples is that of France. French artists have shown their interest in oriental art by the establishing a famous “Society of Orientalist Painters” in 1893 by Jean Lean Gerome. The concept of Orientalism can be clearly seen in European photography, paintings and in pictures that were displayed at the World Fair held in the United States in late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These oriental works of art clearly illustrate the non-Western world as backward and exotic. (Bhambra, 2007, 653-662) As mentioned earlier, the notion of Orientalism has now transcended into a set of preconceived ideas about the east ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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