A major theme of interest that arose in our class discussion of Edward Said’s “Orientalism” was Said’s argument that Western perceptions of “The Other” or the “Oriental” in fact reveal more about the West than they do about The Orient. In our café discussion group this week, we started by conversing about this argument. We thought Said’s theory was particularly interesting in that it clearly separates out different geographic and socio-cultural borders. Orientalism is one of the first theories we discussed that is openly and explicitly critical of the West. Are we offended by this? Is this why we’re writing a blog post about Orientalism? To express our OUTRAGE at Said?
No. As Global Studies majors, we have grown accustomed to being critical of every aspect embedded in the Western world, including ourselves. It wasn’t that hard to see Said’s point of view, what we struggled to grapple with in our analysis of Orientalism was the resounding relevance of Said’s arguments, especially in a post 9/11 world. Here are some images we found that portray how we think “Orientalism” manifests itself in society past and present: