Understanding Orientalism and its genesis

Troublesome Thirties

The Orient occupies a singular place in the “European Western experience” (Said, 1979:1). It is a place that intrigues as much as it frightens. The Orient is not only a cryptic neighbor perceived as alien to Europe, it is also the location of Europe’s 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, 1979:1). In many ways, Europe defined itself in direct contrast to the Orient. Orientalist thought emerged primarily as a discourse seeking to describe this imagined Orient through a unique set of vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, and doctrine.

Although, it was readily accepted at one point as an academic designation for those who researched, taught, or wrote about the Orient, “it is true that the term Orientalism is less preferred by specialists today (…)” (Said, 1979:2). For some the term is too vague…

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