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Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (Penguin Modern Classics) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 28. August 2003

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"The theme is the way in which intellectual traditions are created and trans-mitted... Orientalism is the example Mr. Said uses, and by it he means something precise. The scholar who studies the Orient (and specifically the Muslim Orient), the imaginitive writer who takes it as his subject, and the institutions which have been concerned with teaching it, settling it, ruling it, all have a certain representation or idea of the Orient defined as being other than the Occident, mysterious, unchanging and ultimately inferior." --Albert Hourani, New York Review of Books -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.

Synopsis

"Orientalism" is one of the greatest and most influential of books of ideas to be published since the end of the European empires. For generations now it has defined our understanding of colonialism and empire and with each passing year its influence becomes if anything even greater. To mark its 25th anniversary, "Orientalism" rightfully takes its place as a Pengun Modern Classic.

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Format: Taschenbuch
When it was written, Orientalism administered a much-needed correction to the study of the Arab and Asian worlds. Any historian, social scientist or humanist working in related fields should own a copy.
The strength of Edward Said's Orientalism is its highlighting of the underlying assumptions of dominance and subjection in Orientalist scholarship. Said correctly points out that the British, French and United States have relied on the reduction of the Orient to an academic study backed by a mythical image of its inhabitants and cultures as more primitive, passionate, mystical and illogical. Complementing this has been a presumption of Western superiority that allows diagnosis of social ills and prescription of Western remedies for these ills.
Said also pointed out a secondary weakness in the Orientalist approach to its studies. If Westerners presume the Orient to be more passionate and mystical, they may assume that it provides absolute alternatives to the ills of Western culture and modernism. Thus the span of Western history scrutinized by Said has seen individuals and groups embracing ill-understood religions and cultural precepts. The anti-majoritan/left-leaning subcultures arising during the upheavals of the 1960's are particularly susceptible to this.
This leads naturally to Aijid Ahmad's primary criticism of Said. Orientalism doesn't consider the varied responses of the Orient/Third-World to its theories. In particular, Ahmad correctly points out that Orientalism over-focuses blames on the West and doesn't address the self-inflicted problems of "Oriental" societies. Based on this criticism, the proper approach is to balance the effects of Western Orientalism and the indigenous difficulties.
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Format: Taschenbuch
Pro: Good analysis of the Eurocentric view of the Orient.
Con: Could have been much shorter to get the point across...
Edward Said is a Palestinian-American professor of literature at Columbia University in NYC. Having grown up in two seemingly opposing worlds, he has investigated this 'opposition' and come up with very interesting results. As this will probably be an academic read, I will shortly summarize what you will find: His thesis is that European (and later American) culture has mystified the Orient, made it seemingly inaccessible and foreign. This was done not only by rulers and propaganda, but much more subtly by authors, artists, journalists and -lately- the media. It is not necessarily an intentional act, but rather one that has to do with identity: the Orient was necessary for Europe to create its own identity. Said then argues that the academic field of study 'Orientalism' was the avantgarde of creating the myth of the Orient, and thus creating European identity. Said is not really arguing for or against the status quo, but rather analyzing it and questioning it.
'Orientalism' will make you think, but can also bore you if you really intend to read every paragraph. As an academic read in media studies or cultural studies it is essential, but not all of it is relevant for every subject. The book just covers 'too much'...
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Von Ein Kunde am 17. Februar 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
At first sight, arcane knowledge of the classical "Orient" and seemingly objective inquiry into cultures other than "ours" may not bear any great impact on politics or other more decisive facets of life. Said demonstrates, however, that knowledge does affect political power in extremely significant ways. He thoroughly documents how apparently "objective" scholars from Europe and later America formulated and taught academic dogmas about the "inferior East." These academic doctrines, in turn, acquired an aura of authority on the basis of their seemingly immense knowledge, and thus acquired the power to (mis)represent "the Orient" to the Occidental audience. Through various reductionist stereotypes, such Orientalist dogmas climbed their way into state-sponsored academic chairs and experts who, up to his very day, have the power to guide and direct national policies. Said's Orientalism is a forceful and cogent political argument against binary oppositions and harmful divisions which unfortunately still pervade much of "our" scholarship and politics.
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Format: Taschenbuch
It is not often that a brilliantly, exhaustively researched book on an alternatingly controversial and trivial subject can engender an emotional response of the magnitude with which this work does. In documenting the psychological architecture of the western mind and its perspective on the East- or the "Orient", he deconstructs it. The idea that it exists deconstructs it by nature; before reading this book you will swear that most of what we know of the Arabian East is the absolute truth, and isn't much of anything complimentary, let alone influential.
I rate this book, for its effect on our psyche as Americans alone (regardless of race or assumed political leanings), as one of the most important written in this now closing century. The world looks the way it does not because of natural law,like the reasons why the Sahara has become a desert- or at least not by the natural laws we have imagined. Edward Said shows this in remarkable fashion.
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