Monday September 17, 2012
Edward Said “Orientalism”
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
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
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.
o Inflects Spiervack’s writing in particular in regards to class
o Notion of discourse, panoptic guard of society
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
o Post-postcolonial in a sense
o Has recently become a subject of interest by emphasizing the importance
o Foreignness was often eroticized by those who went there
Sexual relations between those of difference
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
“Orientalism”: Discussion Points
What is the connection between power and knowledge? Between knowledge
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
Think of potential critiques of Said: in what ways might he be said to ‘Orientalize’
o If Orientalism is such a seismic discourse then we are all apart of it. We
cannot critique it if it