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Orientalism: Western Conception of the Orient

The book “Orientalism” written by Edward W. Said is published in 1978.Said has divided the book into three main chapters. The first one The Scope of Orientalism is about the different dimensions of Orientalism.The academically fabrication of the Orient, that later allows the west to colonize the Orient. The made up geography and the standing against Islam and the Near East. In the second chapter, Orientalist Structures and Restructures, Said tries to track the modern Orientalism’s history by showing it chronologically.

He points to common tools being used by the writers and academics within the discipline of Orientalism, across other disciplines and the attitude of the imperial powers of the last centuries. The third chapter Orientalism Now is about the imperial powers biggest expansions, from 1870’s until the Second World War. He then moves on to the time after WWII when it goes from many imperial powers to an American hegemony and how this affects the Orient today.

The Orientalism is described as a vague term. Edward has described Orientalism as having multiple meanings. He described Orientalism as having geographical area. He discusses East countries as orient countries. The term occident refers to the countries of Europe, France, Germany, England and Canada. The occident countries termed oriental countries as inferior countries. The occident ruled the orient countries. They have made them weak. Edward Said highlights the fact that Britain ruled India, West Indies. Their ulterior motive was to exploit the orient countries.

They fool them by saying that they civilized the orient countries. Said calls Orientalism as a way of coming to terms with the orient that is based on the orient special place in European Western experience. Orientalism is a western style for dominating restructuring and having an authority over the orient. This book is a case study of western ethnocentrism where he exposes the frivolities of western empire. Edward said has exposed the relationship of strong and weak between the occident countries and orient countries.

Orientalism should be approached as a discourse in order to understand the context of Orientalism.Whatever is written about Orient is the projection of Western conception of Orient in a way to keep the balance of power between the West and East/Orient. Oriental knowledge is actually the representation of political power of West on East. Political imperialism has an enormous influence on Orient. There is a sense of superiority among Europeans. Europeans exercise their power upon the Orient.Said wants to highlight the issue of untrue representation of Orient by the Westerners.

Western metaphors must change, stereotypes must be undone. This term Orient is the invention of Europeans. Orient is the place of Europe’s greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages. European culture has gained in strength and identity by setting itself against the Orient. Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of dominion, of varying degrees of a complex hegemony. The structure of Orientalism is nothing more than a structure of lies or of myths. He says that Orientalism is more particularly valuable as a sign of European-Atlantic power over the Orient.

This book is a good attempt to expose the untrue representation of Orient by the West. West wants to keep their political hegemony. This dark side of Orientalism is exposed in the book. The book explores the different facets of Orientalism.The author has masterfully depicted the role of West upon Orient. In the book the author has exposed the vindication of Western imperialism. West termed Orient countries as backward countries. There is established a relationship of dominance between Occident and Orient. Said represented Orient and Occident as completely opposite.

These two were represented as Western superiority and Oriental inferiority. The author has said that Orientalism imposed limits upon thought about the Orient. He says that Orientalist reality is both antihuman and persistent. The author said that Orientalism can express the strength of the West and Orient’s weakness. The writer has highlighted the fact that west has portrayed the Orient as backward, weak and inferior. According to writer, in the past the Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences. But now this view is completely changed.

The writer describes it as an academic discipline. It shows its increasing scope and appeal. The writer also reveals the powerlessness of Orient and show it is helpless to bring changes in the conceptions of Orient.Orientalism is a kind of Western projection and will govern over the Orient.Orientalism had accomplished its self metamorphosis from a scholarly discourse to an imperial institution. The author also put into light the relationship of politics and Orientalism.

Said has discussed the limitations of Orientalism, the limitations that follow upon disregarding, essentializing, denuding the humanity of another culture, people or geographical region. But Orientalism has taken a further step than that: it views the Orient as something whose existence is not only displayed but has remained fixed in time and place for the West. The West is the actor, the Orient a passive reactor. The West is the spectator, the judge and jury, of every facet its of Oriental behavior. Modern Orientalism has been an aspect of both imperialism and colonialism.

Orientalism has the extraordinarily rich and celebrated cultural position with its most important technical characteristics. It has an aesthetic and historical power.Orientalism has been described in relation to power by the European countries. Orientalism has suffered from prejudice and bias from the Europeans. The author has done a comparative study in order to show the ontological inequality of Occident and Orient.Orientalism is a systematic discipline as the acquisition of Oriental material and its regulated dissemination as a form of specialized knowledge.

In the end we can conclude that Edward Said has described the state of Orient and Orientalism. He has lifted this issue on an appropriate time. We should take to ponder over this issue on a sincere note.

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