Orientalism Questions and Answers
by Edward W. Said

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What is the viewpoint of Edward Said as expressed in Oreintalism and what links the text of Orentialism with lieterature, including novels, film, or plays?

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The viewpoint Edward Said expresses in Orientalism is founded upon his three-point definition of his concept of "Orientalism":

  • an academic field within multiple disciplines.
  • a conception of reality based on the binary form of "Occidental" opposing "Oriental" [Occident, West; Orient, East].
  • Imperialistic philosophy and mechanization's of the Occident to dominate and control the Orient.

Said's particular interest as expressed in Orientalism is the Muslim Middle East, due in part to Said's own ethnic background. Thus the particulars of Orientalism--as an academic field and as a binary form--as it relates to the Muslim Middle East forms another part of Said's viewpoint.

The arguments that Said makes that express his viewpoint can be summarized in about four points expressing his polemic (i.e., refuting and attacking accepted...

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katiekeene | Student

Edward Said's thesis is that Western views of the Middle East and Asia were inaccurate and exploitative. He claimed Westerners depicted "Oriental" people & culture in stereotypes for their own purposes. 

"A central idea of Orientalism is that Western knowledge about the East is not generated from facts or reality, but from preconceived archetypes that envision all "Eastern" societies as fundamentally similar to one another, and fundamentally dissimilar to "Western" societies."

In his book, Orientalism, Said wrote about how (he believed) the West viewed the Orient and protested against it..

Books & films stereotyped Middle Easterners in films like "Raiders of the Lost Arc" (all 'Indiana Jones' movies) "The Thief of Baghdad, "Casablanca," Lawrence of Arabia," all films of "Sinbad," voyages, etc.  

"Said effectively redefined the term "Orientalism" to mean a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the Middle East."* (link below.)

The culture, ethos, & values of the Middle East and Asia are different than Western, but Edward Said purported that the West fabricated a viewpoint to dominate them. Said disputed the West's prejudicial "attitude" toward the "Orient" He argued how Western thinking generalized Eastern people and their "exotic" culture. Nowadays it's considered political correct to refer to Easterners as Asians or Middle Eastern — not as Orientals. Orientalism holds there is "A Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient."