Edward Said Orientalism Thesis

Edward Said Orientalism Thesis-69
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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Knowledge is power, or if you’d rather, textualized discourse is power.

Said then makes a distinction between “pure” and “political” knowledge,” stating: “For if it is true that no production of knowledge in the human sciences can ever ignore or disclaim its author’s involvement as a human subject in his own circumstances, then it must also be true that for a European or American studying the Orient there can be no disclaiming the main circumstances of his actuality: that he comes up against the Orient as a European or American first, as an individual second.” (p.

It is a fundamentally important point, that one should keep in mind while reading his analysis, since it is a hopeful consideration that mitigates some of his harsher social criticisms.

Having established a definition of Orientalism, Said proceeds to provide a deeply detailed record of the development, evolution and impact of Orientalism.

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.

Said opens by defining Orientalism as three interdependent ideas.

First he states, “The most readily accepted designation for Orientalism is an academic one …

As one might expect from an academic whose discipline is comparative literature, Orientalism is a text-based analysis with many literary and historical references and quotations, some in French or German without translation.

However, Said’s text is so richly defined, detailed and clearly written that the reader does not loose the core message because of a paucity of knowledge about referenced authors or the inability to fully understand the occasional multi-lingual presentation.

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