Said – Orientalism (Intro)

Orientalism

by Edward Said

[ Said, Edward. 1977. Orientalism, Vintage Books, ]

Part I

Points & Quotes:

“By Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, in my opinion, interdependent. …
[1] Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient—and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist—either in its specific or its general aspects, is an Orientalist …
[2] Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between “the Orient” and (most of the time) “the Occident.” …
[3] the third meaning of Orientalism, which is something more historically and materially defined than either of the other two. Taking the late eighteenth century as a very roughly defined starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed 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: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.(2-3)

without examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage—and even produce—the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period. Moreover, so authoritative a position did Orientalism have that I believe no one writing, thinking, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by Orientalism. In brief, because of Orientalism the Orient was not (and is not) a free subject of thought or action. This is not to say that Orientalism unilaterally determines what can be said about the Orient, but that it is the whole network of interests inevitably brought to bear on (and therefore always involved in) any occasion when that peculiar entity “the Orient” is in question. How this happens is what this book tries to demonstrate. It also tries to show that European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self.” (3)

Part II

“…as much as the West itself, the Orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West. The two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other.
Having said that, one must go on to state a number of reasonable qualifications:

  1. In the first place, it would be wrong to conclude that the Orient was essentially an idea, or a creation with no corresponding reality. … There were—and are— cultures and nations whose location is in the East, and their lives, histories, and customs have a brute reality obviously greater than anything that could be said about them in the West
  2. A second qualification is that ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied.
  3. This brings us to a third qualification. One ought never to assume that the structure of Orientalism is nothing more than a structure of lies or of myths which, were the truth about them to be told, would simply blow away. ” (5-6 formatting added)

“In a quite constant way, Orientalism depends for its strategy on this flexible positional superiority, which puts the Westerner in a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand.” (7)

Part III

Distinction between Pure and Political Knowledge

“I doubt that it is controversial, for example, to say that an Englishman in India or Egypt in the later nineteenth century took an interest in those countries that was never far from their status in his mind as British colonies. To say this may seem quite different from saying that all academic knowledge about India and Egypt is somehow tinged and impressed with, violated by, the gross political fact—and yet that is what I am saying in this study of Orientalism. For if it is true that no production of knowledge in the human sciences can ever ignore or disclaim its author’s involvement as a human subject in his own circumstances, then it must also be true that for a European or American studying the Orient there can be no disclaiming the main circumstances of his actuality: that he comes up against the Orient as a European or American first, as an individual second. And to be a European or an American in such a situation is by no means an inert fact. It meant and means being aware, however dimly, that one belongs to a power with definite interests in the Orient, and more important, that one belongs to a part of the earth with a definite history of involvement in the Orient almost since the time of Homer.” (11)

“Therefore, Orientalism is not a mere political subject matter or field that is reflected passively by culture, scholarship, or institutions; nor is it a large and diffuse collection of texts about the Orient; nor is it representative and expressive of some nefarious “Western” imperialist plot to hold down the “Oriental” world. It is rather a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and philological texts; it is an elaboration not only of a basic geographical distinction (the world is made up of two unequal halves, Orient and Occident) but also of a whole series of “interests” which, by such means as scholarly discovery, philological reconstruction, psychological analysis, landscape and sociological description, it not only creates but also maintains; it is, rather than expresses, a certain will or intention to understand, in some cases to control, manipulate, even to incorporate, what is a manifestly different (or alternative and novel) world; it is, above all, a discourse that is by no means in direct, corresponding relationship with political power in the raw, but rather is produced and exists in an uneven exchange with various kinds of power, shaped to a degree by the exchange with power political (as with a colonial or imperial establishment), power intellectual (as with reigning sciences like comparative linguistics or anatomy, or any of the modern policy sciences), power cultural (as with orthodoxies and canons of taste, texts, values), power moral (as with ideas about what “we” do and what “they” cannot do or understand as “we” do). Indeed, my real argument is that Orientalism is—and does not simply represent—a considerable dimension of modern political-intellectual culture, and as such has less to do with the Orient than it does with “our” world.” (12)

Annotation Summary for Title of Work

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, re- markable experiences.”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “the French and the British—less so the Germans, Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, and Swiss—have had a long tradition of what I shall be calling Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with theOrient that is based on the Orient’s special place in European Western experience. The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other. “

Page 1, Highlight (Yellow):
Content: “Orientalism,”

Page 1, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient’s special place in European Western experience.”

Page 1, Underline (Blue):
Content: “the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other. In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) 1”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West)”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience.”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “by Orientalism I meanseveral things, all of them, in my opinion, interdependent. The most readily accepted designation for Orientalism is an academic one, and indeed the label still serves in a number of academic institutions.”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “by Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, in my opinion, interdependent.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches theOrient—and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist—either in its specific or its gen-eral aspects, is an Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orien-talism. Compared with Oriental studies or area studies, it is true that the term Orientalism is less preferred by specialists today, both because it is too vague and general and because it connotes the high-handed executive attitude of nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century European colonialism. “

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient—and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist—either in its specific or its gen- eral aspects, is an Orientalist,”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Orientalism”

Page 2, Highlight (Yellow):
Content: “Orientalism”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between “the Orient” and (most of the time) “the Occident.””

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between “the Orient” and (most of the time) “the Occident.””

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Thus a very large mass of writers, among whom are poets, novelists, philosophers, political theorists, economists, and im- perial administrators, have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Orient, its people, customs, “mind,” destiny, and so on. “

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “third meaning of Orientalism, which is something more historically and materially defined than either of the other two. Taking the late eighteenth century as a very roughly defined starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed 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: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having au-thority over the Orient. “

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “third meaning of Orientalism, which is something more historically and materially defined than either of the other two. Taking the late eighteenth century as a very roughly defined starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed 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: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having au-thority over the Orient. “

Page 3, Highlight (Yellow):
Content: “Orientalism”

Page 3, Underline (Red):
Content: “Michel Foucault’s”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “without examiningOrientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand theenormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage—and even produce—the Orient politically, socio-logically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period. “

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “without examiningOrientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand theenormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage—and even produce—the Orient politically, socio-logically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Moreover, so authoritative a position did Orientalism have that I believe no one writing, think-ing, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by Orientalism. In brief, because of Orientalism the Orient was not (and is not) a free subject of thought or action. This is not to say that Orientalism unilaterally determines what can be said about the Orient, but that it is the whole network of interests inevitably brought to bear on (and therefore always involved in) any occasion when that peculiar entity “the Orient” is in question. “

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Moreover, so authoritative a position did Orientalism have that I believe no one writing, think- ing, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by Orientalism. In brief,”

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “because of Orientalism the Orient was not (and is not) afree subject of thought or action. This is not to say that Orientalism unilaterally determines what can be said about the Orient, but that it is the whole network of interests inevitably brought to bear on (and therefore always involved in) any occasion when that peculiar entity “the Orient” is in question.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “How this happens is what this book tries to demonstrate. It also tries to show that European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “To speak of Orientalism therefore is to speak mainly, although not exclusively, of a British and French cultural enter-prise, a project whose dimensions take in such disparate realms as the imagination itself, the whole of India and the Levant, the Biblical texts and the Biblical lands, the spice trade, colonial armies and a long tradition of colonial administrators, a formidable schol-arly corpus, innumerable Oriental “experts” and “hands,” an Orien-tal professorate, a complex array of “Oriental” ideas (Oriental despotism, Oriental splendor, cruelty, sensuality), many Eastern sects, philosophies, and wisdoms domesticated for local European use—the list can be extended more or less indefinitely.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “From the beginning of the nineteenth century until the end of World War II France and Britain dominated the Orient andOrientalism; since World War II America has dominated the Orient, and approaches it as France and Britain once did”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “II”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “as much as the West itself, the Orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West. The two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other.”

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: “as much as the West itself, the Orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West. The two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Having said that, one must go on to state a number of reasonable qualifications. In the first place, it would be wrong to conclude thatthe Orient was essentially an idea, or a creation with no cor-responding reality.”

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Having said that, one must go on to state a number of reasonable qualifications. In the first place, it would be wrong to conclude thatthe Orient was essentially an idea, or a creation with no cor-responding reality. “

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “There were—and are—cultures and nations whose location is in the East, and their lives, histories, and customs have a brute reality obviously greater thananything that could be said about them in the West.”

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: “There were—and are—cultures and nations whose location is in the East, and their lives, histories, and customs have a brute reality obviously greater thananything that could be said about them in the West.”

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: “A second qualification is that ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or moreprecisely their configurations of power, also being studied.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “A second qualification is that ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or moreprecisely their configurations of power, also being studied. “

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “This brings us to a third qualification.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “One ought never to assume that the structure of Orientalism is nothing more than a structure of lies or of myths which, were the truth about them to be told, would simply blow away.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Orientalism, therefore, is not an airy European fantasy about theOrient, but a created body of theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been a considerable material invest-ment. Continued investment made Orientalism, as a system of knowledge about the Orient, an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient into Western consciousness, “

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “In any society not totalitarian,”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “certain cultural forms predominate over others, just as certain ideas are more in-fluential than others; the form of this cultural leadership is what Gramsci has identified as hegemony, an indispensable concept for any understanding of cultural life in the industrial West. “

Page 7, Highlight (Yellow):
Content: “hegemony,”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “In a quite constant way, Orientalism depends for its strategy on this flexible positional superiority, which puts the Westerner in awhole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “I mentioned three aspects of my contemporary reality: I mustexplain and briefly discuss them now, so that it can be seen howI was led to a particular course of research and writing. 1. The distinction between pure and political knowledge. “

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “I doubt that it is controversial, for example, to say that an Englishman in India or Egypt in the later nineteenth century took an interest in those countries that was never far from their status in his mind as British colonies. To say this may seem quite different from saying that all academic knowledge about India andEgypt is somehow tinged and impressed with, violated by, the gross political fact—and yet that is what I am saying in this study of Orientalism. For if it is true that no production of knowledge in the human sciences can ever ignore or disclaim its author’s involvement as a human subject in his own circumstances, then it must also be true that for a European or American studying the Orient there can be no disclaiming the main circumstances of his actuality: that he comes up against the Orient as a European or American first, as an individual second. And to be a European or an American in such a situation is by no means an inert fact. It meant and means being aware, however dimly, that one belongs to a power with definite interests in the Orient, and more important, ‘hat one belongs to a part of the earth with a definite history of in-volvement in the Orient almost since the time of Homer. “

Page 11, Underline (Blue):
Content: “an Englishman in India or Egypt in the later nineteenth century took an interest in those countries that was never far from their status in his mind as British colonies. To say this may seem quite different from saying that all academic knowledge about India and Egypt is somehow tinged and impressed with, violated by, the gross political fact—and yet that is what I am saying in this study of Orientalism.”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Therefore, Orientalism is not a mere political subject matter or field that is reflected passively by culture, scholarship, or institu-tions; nor is it a large and diffuse collection of texts about the Orient; nor is it representative and expressive of some nefarious”Western” imperialist plot to hold down the “Oriental” world. It is “

Page 12, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Orientalism is not a mere political subject matter or field that is reflected passively by culture, scholarship, or institu- tions;”

Page 12, Underline (Blue):
Content: ” It is rather a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and philological texts;it is an elaboration not only of a basic geographical distinction (the world is made up of two unequal halves, Orient and Occident) but also of a whole series of “interests” which, by such means as scholarly discovery, philological reconstruction, psychological analysis, landscape and sociological description, it not only creates but also maintains”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “rather a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and philological texts;it is an elaboration not only of a basic geographical distinction (the world is made up of two unequal halves, Orient and Occident) but also of a whole series of “interests” which, by such means as scholarly discovery, philological reconstruction, psychological analysis, landscape and sociological description, it not only creates but also maintains; it is, rather than expresses, a certain will or intention to understand, in some cases to control, manipulate, even to incorporate, what is a manifestly different (or alternative and novel) world; it is, above all, a discourse that is by no means in direct, corresponding relationship with political power in the raw, but rather is produced and exists in an uneven exchange with various kinds of power, shaped to a degree by the exchange with power political (as with a colonial or imperial establishment), power intellectual (as with reigning sciences like comparative linguistics or anatomy, or any of the modern policy sciences), power cultural (as with orthodoxies and canons of taste, texts, values), power moral (as with ideas about what “we” do and what “they” cannot do or understand as “we” do). Indeed, my real argument is that Orientalism is—and does not simply represent—a con- siderable dimension of modern political-intellectual culture, and as such has less to do with the Orient than it does with “our” world. “

Page 12, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Indeed, my real argumentis that Orientalism is—and does not simply represent—a con-siderable dimension of modern political-intellectual culture, and as such has less to do with the Orient than it does with “our” world.”

Page 12, Note (Orange):
End here for Anth 1002

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