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Orientalism and its discontents

November 13th, 2006 · No Comments

Thirty years after Edward Said’s groundbreaking “Orientalism,” a British scholar responds..
Perhaps Said spoiled his case by implicitly inventing Occidentalism with an equal and opposite bias.
Here the study of the eonic effect can help: There is no inherent distinction between Orient and Occident. We speak of Western Civilization, but that is misleading and counterproductive. We can see that there is one Civilization emerging via a series of connected locations.
Further, after several generations of New Age movements, many people are so ‘orientalized’ that they have lost perspective on world history.

By Michael Dirda
Sunday, November 12, 2006; Page BW15

DANGEROUS KNOWLEDGE

Orientalism and Its Discontents
By Robert Irwin

Nearly 30 years ago, the late Edward Said brought out his most famous book, Orientalism (1978). Till then, Orientalism had been regarded as simply the branch of European scholarship focusing on the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. But Said argued that it was, in fact, a highly politicized concept, the umbrella term for a kind of intellectual — fostering racism, justifying Western interference in largely Muslim nations, and generally controlling how the West perceived the Middle East. It was, to use the now familiar academic catchphrase, a hegemonic discourse, reducing rich and vital cultures, peoples and religions to a set of patronizing stereotypes. As a scholarly discipline, Orientalism was rotten with bad faith or its students were the naive tools of a colonialist ideology.

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