Edward Said as a Critic | Orientalism & Edward Said

Edward Said as a Critic 

Table of contents :
1) Introduction : Edward Said
2) Works of Edward Said
3) Before Orientalism
4) Orientalism

   4.1 Term Orient
   4.2 Orientalism: Definitions
       4.2.1 Academic descipline
       4.2.2 Style of thought
       4.2.3 Corporate institution

5) After Orientalism
6) Critique of Orientalism

Introduction : Edward Said:-

🔹Born in West Jerusalem in 1935.

🔹Spent his early life in Egypt and Lebanon.

🔹Received higher education in america and lived here almost his entire mature life.

🔹 Edward Said was trained as a literary critic in america and wrote his first book named 'joshef Conrad and the fiction of autobiography' in 1966.

🔹The arab-israel war of 1967 changed the world for Said. He committed to the cause of Palestine and was a strong critic of Zionist expansion and brutality and western misrepresentation of the Arabs and Palestinians.

🔹He had a good knowledge of music and could play piano to the perfection. His method of Contrapuntal reading came from music. He wrote numerous columns on music.

Edward Said
Edward Said as a Critic | Orientalism & Edward Said
Born Nov 1, 1935, Jerusalem
Died Sep 25, 2003, New York
Era 20th century philosophy
Subject of study Literary Criticism, middle East culture
Notable work Orientalism
Notable Ideas Orientalism, Occidentalism
Influenced by Derrida, Frantz Fanon, Chomsky, Foucault

Works of Edward Said :-

🔹He was an influential public intellectual and literary critic of 20th century.

🔹Said wrote more than twenty books, numerous essays and articles and delivered lectures in universities all over the globe.

🔹His most famous book is Orientalism (1978).

🔹Other important work- The world, the text and critic, Culture and imperialism, Peace and its discontents.

Before Orientalism:-

Said argues that, Orientalism is, "a way of coming to terms with the orient that is based on the Orient's special place in European western experience".

Before Said a number of thinkers worked on western representation of the orient, criticised orientalism as a meta-discourse and tried to expose the falsifying nature of it.


Structurally the book is divided into three parts:-

1) The scope of Orientalism
which focuses on the western representation of the orient. On 'Orientalizing the oriental' as Said put it.

2) Orientalist structures and restructures, 
Said attempts at an exposition of how the physiological, historical and literary writers of 19th century had looked at it.

3) Orientalism Now, analyses modern Orientalism.
It locates the continuity of the practices of British and French Orientalism in the contemporary american discourse on orient.

Term Orient :

The term orient is often used as an alternative to the term east. As a location Orient or East may be taken to extend from those countries that begin with Islam on Eastern Mediterranean and stretch through Asia.

Said's orientalism is chiefly concerned with the Islamic Middle East as the Orient and attends to the constructedness of this Orient.

Orientalism : Three definitions-

Said defines Orientalism as-

1) an academic discipline,

2) a style of thought,

3) a corporate institution.

Orientalism as an academic discipline:-

 The academic discipline of orientalism emerged in the 19th Century with the growing interest of Europe in the culture of East and persist in the contemporary world in different form such as area studies or Oriental studies, Islamic Studies etc.

With a plethora of text written, translated, imitated, the unfamiliar, unable Orient became familiar and known.

These text help in the formation of certain Western stereotypes of the Orient and added to the cause of the Empire. 

Edward Said justify the complexity of academic discipline of orientalism with the Imperial power by pointing out that the upsurge of Oriental studies coincided with the period of European Imperial expansion between 1815 and 1914.

Orientalism as a style of thought :-

 A style of thought that presupposes an ontological and epistemological distinction between the Orient and the occident. 

Orientalism in other words, construct binary opposition, where the Orient become the inferior than other of the superior West.

Orientalism as a corporate institution:-

The corporate institution for dealing with the Orient dealing with it by making statements about it, authorising views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it. In short, orientalism is a western style for dominating, structuring and having authority over the Orient.

After Orientalism:-

Edward Said's approach has gone beyond the study of Orient and has provided the methodology to critique any form of cultural prejudice and mis representation. 

He supplied the methodology of writing back to power. It opened up the possibility of the silent having a voice not only against the Western cultural hegemony but similar other hegemonic practices in different locales. 

It paved the way of deconstructing, Multiple other relationships of domination and sub ordination.

The book has proved most influential in the area of colonial discourse analysis. Considered to be the originary movement for post colonial studies. 

Edward said's formulations have been critically worked upon and extended by homi k. Bhabha and Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak.

Said, Bhabha and Spivak are considered a short of 'Holy Trinity' in the field of post colonial studies.

Critique of Orientalism:-

1) Orientalism is a historical,

2) it ignore the resistance by the passive, 

3) Said ignore the resistance within west, 

4) Said ignores gender differences and class difference,

5) Said provides no alternative to orientalism,

6) orientalism is very Monolithic in its concepts of the Orient and the occident.

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