Orientalism


Orientalism
   A term fraught with political and cultural baggage referring vaguely to the East and long used to refer to collectively, if imprecisely, to the diverse societies east and south of Europe. The term Orientalism was originally used to name the expertise of specialists in Semitic and Indo-European languages and societies. Sir William “Oriental” Jones was the archetypal Orientalist; an official of the East India Company, he noted the similarities between Sanskrit and classical Greek, and hypothesized the now widely accepted common origins of the languages of India and those of Europe. In British India, the term Orientalist referred to those such as Jones who did not think that the cultures they studied should be ranked below that of the West. By contrast, anglicizers such as Thomas Babington Macaulay held that Oriental learning was obsolete and that Indians should be trained in the language and culture of the superior Western society.
   Outside India, the term Orientalist was in general applied to students of Islamic and Asian languages and societies, and normally implied great and recondite learning. In the arts, Orientalism referred to the use of the Orient as a setting or character, symbolizing a diverse range of attributes from splendor to squalor, majesty to decadence. This was true in 1819 for Goethe’s West-östlicher Diwan, a collection poems inspired by the Persian poet Hafiz, as well as for Richard Strauss’s Salome, an opera first performed in Dresden in 1905. In 1978, Edward Said published his study - some would say his polemic - Orientalism, which argued that Orientalists had constructed a hostile caricature of the Orient designed to justify imperial conquest. Though Said’s work has been subjected to destructive criticism on many grounds, under his influence the term Orientalism has become almost impossible to use in its earlier sense; for many, especially in leftist and so-called postcolonial circles, it signifies the imposition of hostile categories on oppressed peoples rather than erudition.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Irwin, Robert. For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies. London: Allen Lane, 2006;
    Lewis, Bernard. “The Question of Orientalism.” The New York Review of Books, June 24, 1982;
    Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Norton, 1978.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • orientalism — ORIENTALÍSM s.n. Ceea ce caracterizează pe orientali, moravurile, felul de a fi al orientalilor. ♦ (Rar) Ceea ce se referă la Orient şi la orientali. ♦ (Rar) Orientalistică. [pr.: ri en ] – Din fr. orientalisme. Trimis de ionel bufu, 08.05.2004.… …   Dicționar Român

  • Orientalism — O ri*en tal*ism, n. [Cf. F. orientalisme.] [1913 Webster] 1. Any system, doctrine, custom, expression, etc., peculiar to Oriental people. [1913 Webster] 2. Knowledge or use of Oriental languages, history, literature, etc. London Quart. Rev. [1913 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Orientalism — in reference to character, style, trait, or idiom felt to be from the Orient, 1769, from ORIENTAL (Cf. oriental) + ISM (Cf. ism) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Orientalism — [ôr΄ē en′t l iz΄əm] n. [ ORIENTAL + ISM] [also o ] 1. any trait, quality, mannerism, etc. usually associated with people of the East 2. the study of Eastern culture 3. a viewpoint, as held by someone in the West, in which Asia or specif. the… …   English World dictionary

  • Orientalism — For the book by Edward Said, see Orientalism (book). Anonymous Venetian orientalist painting, The Reception of the Ambassadors in Damascus, 1511, the Louvre. The deer with antlers in the foreground is not k …   Wikipedia

  • orientalism —    by Rex Butler   Like many of Baudrillard s key terms, otherness [altérité] is divided in its meaning: it is both what is lost in today s society and what Baudrillard opposes to society. It is this that complicates tremendously any analysis of… …   The Baudrillard dictionary

  • orientalism — oriental ► ADJECTIVE ▪ of, from, or characteristic of the Far East. ► NOUN often offensive ▪ a person of Far Eastern descent. DERIVATIVES orientalism noun orientalist noun orientalize (also orientalise) verb orientally adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • orientalism — noun Usage: often capitalized Date: 1769 1. something (as a style or manner) associated with or characteristic of Asia or Asians 2. scholarship or learning in Asian subjects or languages • orientalist noun or adjective, often capitalized …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Orientalism — Orientalisme Pour les articles homonymes, voir Orientalisme (homonymie). Marie Adelaïde de France en robe turque. Portrait typique du genre …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Orientalism — Orientalist, n. /awr ee en tl iz euhm, ohr /, n. (often l.c.) 1. a peculiarity or idiosyncrasy of the Oriental peoples. 2. the character or characteristics of the Oriental peoples. 3. the knowledge and study of Oriental languages, literature, etc …   Universalium


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