The Gravity Of Orientalism Essay

1364 words - 5 pages

The Gravity of Orientalism
In Orientalism, Edward Said argues the countless aspects of the term “Orientalism”, as well as its roots, the principal philosophies and arguments behind it, and the influence that Orientalism has had on the relationship between the West and the East. Several reasons including political, economic, moral, and cultural justify the necessity for conquest of the Orient. Said’s concept of Orientalism analyzes the concepts that offer the political, economic, and cultural motives for imperialist actions by more powerful nations like the United States and Europe.
I think Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism asks us to ponder whether or not the global West is driven by selfish ideas that inspire foreign involvement into sovereign nations’ affairs and therefore the spread of Western ideologies to independent cultures. Orientalism in Said’s reading is mainly concerning power and knowledge. Western hegemony as implied by Said empowers the concept of Orientalism since the Occident is politically, culturally, and economically superior and it justifies the incentive that they need to be in control. Said asks us to reflect on whether intervention by force is a higher, effective way to change a country, or whether there might be more peaceful ways in which the West can help countries within the Orient conduct their own self-government in ways that which are appropriate to them.
I believe that Orientalism is vital not solely to our philosophies of the ways in which the West creates representations and images of the East, however to how the dogma of orientalism is portrayed through art and literature in order to portray the idea of inferiority. My argument is that the concept of Orientalism is a Western misconception of the East that led to biases within the West. These biases are presently influenced by popular culture.
Said’s argument of Orientalism is that it does not merely represent a substantial “dimension” of recent “political intellectual culture, and has less to do with the orient than it does with “our” own.” (Said, 12) I believe Said placed “our” in quotations because he was making an attempt to form a significant purpose. The point he was trying to make was that Orientalism is what we predict it to be. The Western audience has a misconception of the Orient. Said points out that Western hegemony creates the concept of Orientalism because of its transition from a myth to discourse by European colonizers who possessed a biased knowledge of the East.
In chapter one, Edward Said describes the limited European understanding of the Orient. Dating from the late 1700s to the early nineteenth century, publications and written accounts of Oriental studies were being produced. Some of these studies are La Renaissance orientale of Raymond Schwab, and Jules Mohl’s Ving-sept Ans d’histoire des etudes orientales, an account of everything that dealt with Orientalism throughout the mid-1800s. Said points out that even the “rapport”...

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