What has Foucault said on Orientalism?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's difficult to get an exact read on what Foucault said about Said's work and the concept of "Orientialism," in general.  Part of it might be that Foucault was doing what Said wanted most to do in their understanding of "the other."  Instead of writing generalizations that "demonized" "the other," Foucault was actually touring the area, becoming familiar with the inner workings of it, and understanding it more beyond the controlled image of "the East."  In Foucault's work with the new Iranian government in 1979, Foucault was heeding Said's call in not allowing Western perceptions to color what one sees in another region of the world.  Indeed, Foucault would have understood Said's premise that what is constructed of "the Orient" or "the East" is a presupposition that is motivated by social, economic, and political necessity. This use of language and imagery as a form of power is something that would have been embraced by Foucault for he helped to inspire it.  Said's analysis forces one to concede that "The West" needed to construct a vision of "the other" that supported its own invincibility, and oppressed others in the process.  This might be where Foucault would give rousing support to Said's work.