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  \'Orientalism\' has at least three meanings. The first two involve (i) the scholarly study of the Orient, and (ii) a more general (and especially aesthetic or cultural) interest in the Orient; but neither of them pays close attention to the ways in which the object of their interest — \'the Orient\' — is itself a predominantly European and American construction produced within a grid of power, knowledge and geography. This is the focus of the third, critical definition proposed by the Palestinian/American cultural critic Edward Said (1978): Orientalism as (iii) both a discursive formation and a \'corporate institution\' for the production and domination of \'the Orient\' (p. 3).

Said acknowledged that in this latter sense Orientalism has a long and tangled history within western thought, but his specific focus was on the distinctively modern apparatus of Orientalism that started to emerge at the end of the eighteenth century with the short-lived Napoleonic occupation of Egypt and its visual and textual inventory constructed in the \'Description de l\'Egypte\' (see Godlewska, 1995). Said\'s emphasis on Orientalism as an \'institution\' — the materiality of its constellation of power-knowledge — is also highly significant: while he was keenly interested in the production and circulation of imaginative geographies of \'the Orient\' he insisted that Orientalism was not \'an airy European fantasy about the Orient, but a created body of theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been considerable material investment\' (p. 6). What gave Orientalism its peculiar power — and also confounded its constructions — was its exteriority: from the perspective of Orientalism, \'what gave the Oriental\'s world its intelligibility and identity was not the result of his own efforts but rather the whole complex series of knowledgeable manipulations by which the Orient was identified by the West\' (p. 40). It was this, above all else, that so deeply implicated the discourse of Orientalism in a constellation of colonizing power: it made \'the Orient\' appear as \'an essentialized realm originally outside and untouched by the West, lacking the meaning and order that only colonialism can bring\' (Mitchell, 1992, p. 313, emphasis added; see also Mitchell, 1988).

To specify these \'knowledgeable manipulations\' and the series of absences that Orientalism construed as constitutive of \'the Orient\', Said drew upon the work of the French philosopher Michel Foucault and made creative appropriations of both his \'archaeology\' (which was concerned with \'spaces of knowledge\') and his genealogy (which mixed in a concern with \'spaces of power\': see Gregory, 1995). Said thus characterized the discourse of Orientalism in terms of a series of binary oppositions between the positivities of the \'West\' and the corresponding absences that constituted the \'East\'.

|||Said\'s characterization and critique of Orientalism had its origins in his personal political commitment to the Palestinian cause (Gregory, 1995; Kasbarian, 1996), and while his work has met with vigorous criticism — from both Right and Left — it has also proved to be of the utmost importance to the political-intellectual corpus of post-colonialism. The critical interrogation and development of Said\'s work has taken several directions. Many critics have explored the internal architecture of Orientalism (and of Said\'s subsequent work): they have been exercised, among other issues, by the conjunction of Said\'s avowed humanism with the anti-humanism of Foucault (Clifford, 1988); by the complicated and sometimes fraught relationship between Said and historical materialism (Ahmad, 1992; cf. Parry, 1993); and by Said\'s seeming inability to break out from the dualistic structure of Orientalism itself: his account remains confined within the binary distinctions that are the very object of his critique (Young, 1990).

Much of this critical discussion comprises variations on the theme of essentialism: Said is typically charged with reducing the complexity of European and American engagements with non-western cultures to a single, totalizing \'essence\'. Other scholars (including Said himself) have sought to engage with this objection by developing a more nuanced analysis of Orientalism. Their key propositions include the following:

Orientalism is not a synonym for colonial discourse in general. There are overlaps between its practices and other colonial discourses, but scholars have recovered the construction of other imaginative geographies for other places and periods. Said (1993) has extended his own inquiries to the wider relations between culture and imperialism, and many writers have directed their attention to imaginative geographies of (for example) Africa, Australia and South America. Others have considered the relations between \'nature\' and imperialism and, inspired by Said\'s example, have drawn attention to the production of concepts of \'environmental otherness\'. Thus Arnold (1996, p. 142) argues that \'we need to understand the tropics as a conceptual and not just physical space\', and proposes a critical mapping of the concept of tropicality.

The focus of Said\'s original inquiry was not so much \'the Orient\' at large but Egypt and Palestine in particular. It is perhaps easier to see how the \'exteriority\' of Orientalism came to assume such power in those regions where European and American powers declared a colonizing interest than in (say) Japan or China where different discursive formations were developed; but even in colonial India Orientalism assumed different forms. This has prompted a recognition of the ways in which the discourses of Orientalism discriminated, however imperfectly, between the different geographies of \'the Orient\' (see, for example, Breckenridge and van der Veer, 1993; Jewitt, 1995).

There were also significant differences between the collective authors of Orientalism, and scholars have sought to trace the historical curve of Orientalism in more detail and to map its cultural geographies by distinguishing between the discourses of (for example) British and French Orientalisms (Lowe, 1991) and showing the heterogeneity of Orientalisms in the USA (Schueller, 1998).

Mapping the complexity of Orientalism\'s discursive terrain has also qualified the exteriority of Orientalism. It is misleading to imply that power — including the power of representation — lay entirely with the colonizer, and this has produced a more nuanced view of cross-cultural exchanges — of mimicry, hybridity, and transculturation — and of the achievements of anti-colonial resistance.

Said recognized that Orientalism was a gendered and sexualized discourse, but he was always much more interested in its metaphorical codings (\'the Orient as feminine\'), and feminist scholars have paid much closer attention to the gendered and sexualized experiences, practices and representations of Orientalist travellers, artists and writers (Lewis, 1996; Melman, 1992; Yegenoglu, 1998).

Much of Said\'s work was concerned with the written texts of high culture, and scholars have paid increasing attention to other modes of representation (including art and photography) and to more mundane cultural practices like travel writing (Gregory, 1999).

Much of this revisionist work has been broadly historical in nature, and the emergence of the interdisciplinary field of postcolonialism has sparked considerable debate over the relations between literary and cultural studies on the one side and the discipline of history on the other. Said has often become the talismanic figure through which the contending parties identify themselves (MacKenzie, 1995; cf. Gregory, 1997). But it is important to recognize that Orientalism is by no means confined to the past; on the contrary. Here too there is the same complexity of terrain: from the Orientalist stereotypes deployed to represent Iraq during the Gulf War of 1991 to the signs of what Morley and Robins (1992) have called a \'Techno-Orientalism\' directed against Japan and other Asian societies. (See also Occidentalism.) (DG)

References Ahmad, A. 1992: Orientalism and after: ambivalence and metropolitan location in the work of Edward Said. In his In theory: classes, nations, literatures. London: Verso, 159-219. Arnold, D. 1996: The problem of nature: environment, culture and European expansion. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Breckenridge, C. and van der Veer, P., eds, 1993: Orientalism and the postcolonial predicament: perspectives on South Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Clifford, J. 1988: On Orientalism. In his The predicament of culture: twentieth-century ethnography, literature and art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 255-76. Godlewska, A. 1995: Map, text and image: the mentality of enlightened conquerors. A new look at the Description de l\'Egypte. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 20: 5-28. Gregory, D. 1995: Imaginative geographies. Progress in Human Geography 19: 447-85. Gregory, D. 1997: Orientalism re-viewed. History workshop journal 44: 269-78. Gregory, D. 1999: Scripting Egypt: Orientalism and cultures of travel. In J. Duncan and D. Gregory, eds, Writes of passage. London and New York: Routledge, 114-50. Jewitt, S. 1995: Europe\'s \'Others\'? Forest policy and practices in colonial and postcolonial India. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13: 67-90. Kasbarian, J.A. 1996: Mapping Edward Said: geography, identity and the politics of location. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 14: 529-58. Lewis, R. 1996: Gendering Orientalism: race, femininity and representation. London and New York: Routledge. Lowe, L. 1991: Critical Terrains: British and French Orientalisms. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. MacKenzie, J. 1995: Orientalism: history, theory and the arts. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Melman, B. 1992: Women\'s Orients: English women and the Middle East, 1718-1918. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Mitchell, T. 1988: Colonising Egypt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mitchell, T. 1992: Orientalism and the exhibitionary order. In N. Dirks, ed., Colonialism and culture. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 289-317. Morley, D. and Robins, K. 1992: Techno-Orientalism: futures, foreigners and phobias. New formations 16: 136-56. Parry, B. 1993:Acritique mishandled. Social Text 35: 121-33. Said, E. 1978: Orientalism. London: Penguin. Said, E. 1993: Culture and imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Schueller, M.J. 1998: U.S. Orientalisms: race, nation and gender in literature 1790-1890. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Yegenoglu, M. 1998: Colonial fantasies: towards a feminist reading of Orientalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Young, R. 1990: White mythologies: writing History and the west. London: Routledge.

Suggested Reading Prakash, G. 1995: Orientalism now. History and Theory 34: 199-212. Said (1978). Sprinker, M., ed., 1993: Edward Said: a critical reader. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.



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