Postcolonialism

2. ORIENTALISM

‘In this view, the outlying regions of the world have no life, history or culture to speak of, no independence or integrity worth representing without the West.’ (Said, 1993: xxi). Orientalism (1978) alongside Culture and Imperialism (1993) are key texts written by the respected academic Edward Said.

He asked if ‘imperialism was principally economic‘ and looked to answer that question by highlighting ‘the privileged role of culture in the modern imperial experience’ (1997:3) Said, cites V. G. Kiernan (American: The New Imperialism): ‘an economic system like a nation or a religion, lives not by bread alone, but by beliefs, visions, daydreams as well, and these may be no less vital to it for being erroneous’ (cit in Said, 1993:350)

The mode is characterised by ‘the desire to contain the intangibilities of the East within a western lucidity, but this gesture of appropriation only partially conceals the obsessive fear.’ (Suleri, 1987:255) This means, in effect, that ‘the East becomes the repository or projection of those aspects of themselves which Westerners do not choose to acknowledge (cruelty, sensuality, decadence, laziness and so on). At the same time, and paradoxically, the East is seen as a fascinating realm of the exotic, the mystical and the seductive.’ (Barry, 2017:195)

Overall, POSTCOLONIALISM operates a series of signs maintaining the European-Atlantic power over the Orient by creating ‘an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient into Western consciousness’. (Said, 1978:238)

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