Some Thoughts on Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978)

                                                      ”The east is a career.” – Benjamin Franklin, Tancred    

What we see in the meaning of the Orient is a special term that defines the aspects of Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures (Eastern cultures) by the West.

Since the publication of Edward Said‘s Orientalism in 1978, much academic discourse has begun to use the term “Orientalism” to refer to a general patronizing Western attitude towards Middle Eastern, Asian and North African societies. In his highly acclaimed book, Said surveys the history and the nature of Western attitudes towards the East, considering orientalism as a powerful European ideological creation – a way for writers, philosophers, and colonial administrators to deal with the ‘’otherness’’ of Eastern culture, customs and beliefs. Drawing his own experiences as an Arab-Palestinian living in the West, Said examines how these ideas can be a reflection of European imperialism and racism.

In Said’s work, he mentions three aspects of contemporary reality: We must explain and briefly discuss them now, so that it can be seen how he was led to a particular course of research and writing.

The scope of orientalism

First I am going to approach the essential knowledge of Orientalism by Said’s analysis. And what Europeans share is not only land or profit or rule, it is kind of intellectual power that Said has been calling Orientalism. The term as well as those refer to Western superiority and oriental inferiority.  In Said’s analysis, the West essentializes these societies as static and undeveloped—thereby fabricating a view of Oriental culture that can be studied, depicted, and reproduced. Implicit in this fabrication, writes Said, is the idea that Western society is developed, rational, flexible, and superior. Strictly speaking, Orientalism is a field of learned study which attributes to a geographical ambition.

edward said

Orieantalist structures and restructures

But how did and does Orientalism work?

Orientalists define the East as ‘underdeveloped’ and the West as ‘modern’ with this respect. In this consideration, particularly Western thinkers, writers and intellectuals often were portrayed the East under the name of ‘Eastern Problem’. After questioning the Eastern customs and values, they finally came up end with the idea that the East needs the West to develeop and this idea paved the way through how the West’s own value system that channeled to the East.

Orientalism is a way of thinking, narratives, discourses conditioned and conditioner installed a detection process as a framework for how the world that published in 1978 by Edward Said in his book Orientalism has been announced. West, did not hesitate to write the history in a wrong way to liberate the East.

As a result, today’s Western socities which are insulting, condescending, and using every opportunity to democratize the Eastern socities needs more  orientalism discipline to redefine correctly their references.  In order to meet this, necessity in academic circles, universities, civil society organizations and the media has become an important requirement.

Orientalism now

What we see now that everything changes constantly. The term of West and East does not include explicit meanings. It is undeniable fact that, since the first human groups start to connection with  each other, we have been finding ourselves in a quick change. Establishing states, empowering trade proceeding, and the occuring of first colonial structures-explotation was the main steps of world and then it continued with the Enlightening Age and modernism and it changed the way of the world; helped to emerge new term like liberalism and globalization. For some, globalization has already was a common process however, it only named after that and I agree with this persuasion as the world in a quick change trend.

Now, I necesserialy do not believe that we can make a clear definition of the stuructues easily. We can assume that modernism replaced with post-modernism as it redefine the West and East in a new way. It passinonately argue that East and West are two terms that we cannot think them seperate as they have been mixed for  the last century. It also emphasizes the neo-liberalism phenemonen while explain new cultures emergence in the modern world.

Thus, the thesis of Samuel Huntington extinct and cannot find a proper place in this post modern world. West and East are not homogene anymore, they both does not have soldiers to bring them down each other. This mixtured structure build the reality of the post modern world. Taken as a whole, everything improves as Edward Said predicts: The world is an highly coloured of art painting, which seems impossible to think each colour as seperately.

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