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2. Edward Said - Orientalism.docx

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University of Toronto St. George

Monday September 17, 2012 Edward Said “Orientalism” Book Cover  Painting by Jean-Leon Gerome called “The Snake Charmer”  Is something that will attract the reader’s attention  Represents a foreignness that isn’t necessarily supposed to be the Orient but shows how different the worlds are nonetheless Key Questions  When was/is the postcolonial? o It doesn’t have clear boundaries because, for the most part, it is defined based on perspective. Some people feel that they are still in a colonial period, while others believe that they are in a neo-colonial period.  Where is it/Which countries may be said to be ‘postcolonial’? o This is also contested generally. For some it includes Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. For most, it includes India, Pakistan, Africa, and the Caribbean.  White settler colonies have a slightly different relationship to their former Empire.  What is ‘transnationalism’? o Often used to describe the movement of goods, products, material, thought, art, the way in which some people live in a world that is not as guarded by borders. Although there is more freedom in regards to movement and migration, there is also a tighter control on it so that it stays that way. Theoretical Contexts  Marxism o Inflects Spiervack’s writing in particular in regards to class  Poststructuralism (Foucault) o Notion of discourse, panoptic guard of society  Feminist Theory o An exchange between two schools of thought. o Talks about matters and notions of identity that are highly gendered.  Breaking open the idea of fixed gender identity  Queer Theory o Post-postcolonial in a sense o Has recently become a subject of interest by emphasizing the importance of sexuality o Foreignness was often eroticized by those who went there  Sexual relations between those of difference races/cultures/ethnicities  Psychoanalysis Monday September 17, 2012 o The ideas have been used in lots of different ways; more straightforward with people like Fanon “Orientalism” – Preface  Written in 2002  Helped to change views and attitudes o No longer describe someone as “orient”  Says that this book is very much tied to the tumultuous events of history o For Said, there is a continuum between his political activism and writing  Its not enough to sit within the ‘ivory tower’ of the university discussing ideas – needs to go out and create/bring about change  It is not a book about politics, but there is a way in which all the ideas expressed are important in political situations o Made clear on pg. xix when he discusses the invasion of Iraq by the US and how they are informed through scholarship – the point where academia meets politics – Bush’s advisors were well educated scholars who supported and encouraged his decision to invade  The key point of this book is to get us to see our culture and realize that these stereotypes are not innocent. They are not just abstract and random; they are actually informed by cultural work. o There is a clear correlation between writing, work, and appropriation of territory “Orientalism”: Discussion Points  What is the connection between power and knowledge? Between knowledge and politics?  How did Europeans use ideas to subjugate other peoples? o Said is not talking about guns, tanks, etc. but about ideas that are keeping people down and oppressing them  Why was/is “Orientalism” such a successful discourse? o These ideas are still incredibly relevant and readily available in our society.  Think of potential critiques of Said: in what ways might he be said to ‘Orientalize’ Orientalism? o If Orientalism is such a seismic discourse then we are all apart of it. We cannot critique it if it
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