Orientalism

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  • Topic: Orientalism, Orient, Western world
  • Pages : 3 (1063 words )
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  • Published : June 18, 2013
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Second Reading Summary

The Orient is a place of great riches, legend and mystery. To many it seems that so much is already known about this “place”, however, there are a few questions that have been ever elusive: Where did the idea of ‘the Orient’ come from, what exactly defines Orientalism, and where is the Orient? Are all of these preconceived notions about the Orient true, or is civilization as a whole being duped to believe that this “place” is something it is not? In analyzing Edward Said’s writing, Orientalism, one can see why the Orient may have never had a chance to define itself; adversely, other historians such as Ian Buruma, Avishae Margalit and Bernard Lewis have ideas that may conflict with Said.

Edward Said begins Orientalism by first describing what and where the Orient is. In America, the idea of the Orient is usually people of Asian descent, but in Europe, Said believes that this is not the case:

“Unlike the Americans, the French and British—less so the Germans, Russians, Spanish, Portugese, Italians, and Swiss—have had a long tradition of what I shall be calling Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient’s special place in European Western Experience. The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other” (Said, 1)

Said believes not only that the European Orient is more than just a place in the Far East, but also everything that Europe is not. In Europe, the Orient is a vast region covering many cultures and countries and includes most of Asia and the Middle East. Said’s analysis of the Orient lies very close to his initial thought. He believes that Orient was created by the Europeans, but not only by them, for them. As Europe began to explore these new Eastern lands, they studied them and...
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