Research Proposal: Orientalism

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Orientalism

What is Orientalism?

Orientalism has to do with the depiction of Eastern cultures by the West in various forms of media. According to Edward Said, though, Orientalism actually makes a stronger divide between Eastern and Western cultures instead of bringing them closer together (Said, 1978). The goal of Orientalism was not to cause this divide but to bring East and West closer together and get people who have strong differences to start recognizing what they have in common, as well. Unfortunately, this did not end up being the case. Said believed that Orientalism was very judgmental, and that was why people from the East had such a problem with it (Said, 1978). They were not being portrayed accurately, but stereotypically, often times with a lot of anger and aggression that was not needed for any reason and had virtually no place in anything of actually value or merit (Said, 1978).

There are also three different kinds of Orientalism. These are academic, imaginative, and Orientalism as a discourse (Said, 1978). They tie into one another, of course, and they are all used depending on what a person believes about the concept of Orientalism and how important that concept is to the individual. Academic Orientalism is the most valid in that it is more clinical and relies on the facts that are offered. Imaginative Orientalism is more stereotypical and talks more about things that are generally seen to be racist or ethnocentric instead of things that are actually completely factual. Orientalism formed by opinion is not the same thing as Orientalism formed by fact, and that difference is important. Using Orientalism as a discourse means that people are willing to talk about it, and that is very significant because people who do not talk about the differences that they have and the way that they feel about those differences not only do not learn of their similarities but also do not learn of the stereotypes that are incorrect (Said, 1978).

Orientalism and Western Policy - Colonialism

In addition to the three forms of Orientalism, there are two different kinds: latent and manifest (Said, 1978). When Orientalism is latent it is below the surface and not talked about very much. It might be something that a person keeps to himself or herself because it seems racist or would not be appreciated, or it might be a misconception or stereotype that they really do not even realize that they have. When it is manifest, it is out in the open and people talk about it or show how they feel. This can be good or bad, depending on whether people think that Orientalism is a dangerous thing or whether they accept it as being normal and realistic. Some of this is addressed based on what a person's lifestyle is like and how he or she 'fits in' with others - as well as what those others think, feel, and show to the world when it comes to their opinions and perceptions regarding Orientalism.

The relationship between Orientalism and Western policy is sometimes complex, because there are many differences in the way that the West perceives the East and the way that the East actually is (Said, 1978). That is something that most people do not realize when they start talking about people in other areas of the world. The way that those people are perceived and the way that they really are, of course, are often very different. Some opinions will be closer than others, but keeping an open mind is the key, and a lot of people do not do that. Instead, they take what they read and hear as being truthful rather than take the time to find out about a people and their culture from individuals who actually know what is accurate and what is not.

Muslims and Orientalism

People in Muslim countries have a difficult time with Orientalism because they see how it is inaccurate and 'Americanized.' One of the best examples of this is the book Cities of Salt. It was first published in 1984 over in Beirut. There are many politics issues that are introduced in the book, and it is important to understand how the novel enhances the understanding that others have of both politics and society within the Middle East. The novel is really an epic that brings out many… [END OF PREVIEW]

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