Edward Said Orientalism Thesis

Edward Said Orientalism Thesis-39
Said proceeds to outline his methodology for the book and adds a personal dimension, ending with a resonate statement, calling out his own secular humanism, “If this stimulates a new kind of dealing with the Orient, indeed if it eliminates the “Orient” and “Occidental” altogether, then we shall have advanced a little in the process of what Raymond Williams has called the “unlearning” of “the inherent dominative mode.” (p.28) This aspirational desire that people can and should work to obliterate (or eliminate) the duopolistic and negative results of seeing the world as East or West, European or Asiatic, Oriental or Occidental, ‘us’ or ‘them’, is reiterated throughout Said’s text.

Said proceeds to outline his methodology for the book and adds a personal dimension, ending with a resonate statement, calling out his own secular humanism, “If this stimulates a new kind of dealing with the Orient, indeed if it eliminates the “Orient” and “Occidental” altogether, then we shall have advanced a little in the process of what Raymond Williams has called the “unlearning” of “the inherent dominative mode.” (p.28) This aspirational desire that people can and should work to obliterate (or eliminate) the duopolistic and negative results of seeing the world as East or West, European or Asiatic, Oriental or Occidental, ‘us’ or ‘them’, is reiterated throughout Said’s text.

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3) And with this third definition, Said references Michel Foucault’s ideas about discourse as a source of power, and how one can reveal the hierarchies of power structures through the analysis of texts.11) The core idea, that one can never escape one’s cultural baggage, is reiterated several times in Orientalism and in the closing chapter, Said states, “My principal operating assumptions were – and continue to be – that fields of learning, as much as the works of even the most eccentric artist, are constrained and acted upon by society, by cultural traditions, by worldly circumstances, and by stabilizing influences like schools, libraries, and governments; more over, that both learned and imaginative writings are never free, but are limited in their imagery, assumptions, and intentions.” (p.202) One can question Said’s position that one’s cultural background and the racial and social constructs they are raised with will always dominate how they experience or understand a foreign place or their perception of ‘others’, because Said fails to consider the possibility of a change in consciousness due to new experiences and knowledge.Before reverting to the origins of Orientalism during the European Enlightenment, Said presents excerpts from Arthur Balfour’s speech to the House of Commons in June 1910, defending Britain’s claims and obligations to remain as the colonizing power in Egypt. You may look through the whole history of the Orientals in what is called, broadly speaking, the East, and you never find traces of self-government.Balfour, a former Prime Minster of the United Kingdom (1902-1905), states, “Western nations as soon as they emerge into history show the beginnings of those capacities for self-government … All their great centuries — and they have been very great — have been passed under despotism, under absolute government. Is it a good thing for these great nations – I admit their greatness – that this absolute government should be exercised by us? I think that experience shows that they have got under it far better government than in the whole history of the world they ever had before, and which not only is a benefit to them, but is undoubtedly a benefit to the whole of civilized West. We are in Egypt not merely for the sake of the Egyptian, though we are there for their sake; we are there also for the sake of Europe at large.” (p.Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient – and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist …is an Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orientalism.” (p.Surely one must always consider their own ‘position’ in life, their cultural baggage, but attitudes, relationships and policies do change both amongst individuals and societies.This change may be imperfect and have inconsistent results, but it does happen.Although Said states early on that, “There still remained the problem …outlining something in the nature of an intellectual order within that group of texts without at the same time following a mindlessly chronological order” (p.

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