Orientalism Questions and Answers
by Edward W. Said

Start Your Free Trial

What is discourse according to Edward Said?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,074 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

A discourse, according to Foucault, is an authoritative form of speech. A discourse doesn't simply speak: it speaks with power and credibility, in a context in which what it says is taken to be accurate and truthful. Because a geology professor has the institutional backing of his university, for example, when he speaks about rock formations, people are primed to believe him, because he is the designated expert.

Discourse can set the frame and boundaries of a subject and use its power to decide what can and cannot be said in a topic. Modern economics, for example, may take certain portions of well-being, such as happiness, off the table, when discussing the impacts of economic growth.

Said called Orientalism a discourse could because it functioned as a way for the Western nations to dominate "the Orient," a huge swathe of land that went from Egypt and Turkey to India to Japan to China. The West spoke about the "Orient" with an authority that was unquestionable while at the same time...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 877 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write5,866 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Kristin Pasculle eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write91 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial