What is Edward Said's book Orientalism about?

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Though the previous educator's analysis is correct, Said's analysis of "Orientalism" predates the Imperialist era of the nineteenth century. In fact, he writes that "Orientalism is considered to have commenced its formal existence with the decision of the Church Council of Vienne in 1312" (72). This decision resulted in the formation of language "chairs" for Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac in Paris, Oxford, Bologna, Avignon, and Salamanca. Scholars were devoted to the translation and interpretation of canonical texts, but they were not immune to the biases of their time.

In the introduction, Said defines Orientalism as "the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient—dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it settling it, ruling over it" (26). Thus, Orientalism becomes "a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient" (26).

Said discusses the rigidity of the Orientalist's view of the Middle East by noting that it is often imbued with "unshakable abstract maxims about the 'civilization' he had studied" (75). Their research was more committed to validating their positions than to understanding the intricacies and complexities of the respective regions they studied. As a result, "Orientalism produced not only a fair amount of exact positive knowledge about the Orient but also a kind of second-order knowledge . . . the mythology of the mysterious East, [and] notions of Asian inscrutability" (75). These notions persist even today and are evident in films, television shows, and...

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