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  • The A - Z of isms... orientalism.

  • The late academic, Edward Said,

  • developed the term orientalism

  • to describe how Europeans portray the orient

  • as inferior, uncivilised and all around weird.

  • But importantly, Said argued this was also, simultaneously,

  • about defining Europe as the orient's opposite -

  • superior, civilised and all around wonderful.

  • The actual term 'the orient' refers to the rising of the sun in the east

  • and comes from the Latin word 'oriens'.

  • So we can think of orientalism as Eastern-ism

  • or stereotyping of the East.

  • Orientalism then, is the form of knowledge, in quotation marks,

  • that authorises and justifies the assertion of Western power

  • over the East.

  • But what does this actually mean?

  • Orientalism acts like a pair of glasses that distort your vision

  • and exaggerate cultural and religious differences.

  • With these glasses,

  • just about everything and everyone seems highly exotic and strange

  • or worse, fanatical and dangerous.

  • Women in the Middle East, for example,

  • appear only as exotic - a belly dancer -

  • or oppressed - a 'veiled woman' -

  • with no nuances in between.

  • And in the early 20th Century,

  • you might have seen men portrayed as exotically romantic

  • or more recently as crazy and fanatical, a terrorist,

  • and miss all the ordinary human beings along the way.

  • Many Arabs, Muslims and Asians embrace this controversial term

  • to describe the unique kind of racism they experience.

  • Orientalism encapsulates, for many,

  • how their culture, religion and ethnicity

  • are so often reduced to a stereotype,

  • causing their humanity to be overlooked and culture misunderstood.

  • Isn't this just a form of stereotyping then?

  • Well, yes and no.

  • Orientalism is about a much broader set of power relations.

  • When the US government views the Middle East

  • through orientalist glasses

  • it creates policies with far-reaching consequences.

  • From outright war waged on other countries

  • to imposing a travel ban on whole groups of people.

  • Perhaps the trickiest thing about orientalism

  • is that it's not fuelled by ignorance or a simple lack of knowledge,

  • just the opposite.

  • It has historically been produced as knowledge

  • by those in positions of power,

  • whether government officials, religious figures, or the media.

  • For example when President Trump stated,

  • "I think Islam hates us,

  • we can't allow people coming into this country

  • who have this hated for the United States."

  • He effectively characterised the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide

  • as anti-American.

  • Even today,

  • orientalism continues because it is so ingrained

  • in how we see other peoples and cultures that it goes unnoticed.

  • Even the term, 'The Middle East' is considered to be orientalist,

  • because it standardises a Western viewpoint

  • by referring to West Asia and North Africa as the middle of the East.

  • Much of what counts as knowledge about the Middle East

  • and parts of Asia

  • is still produced through those distorting and reductive glasses.

  • And just like in the 18th and 19th Centuries,

  • orientalism remains powerful because it shapes,

  • not just how people in the West view the East,

  • but also how they view themselves.

  • Thanks for watching. Don't forget to subscribe! :)

The A - Z of isms... orientalism.

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東方主義和權力。我們何時才能停止對人的刻板印象?| 英國廣播公司思想 (Orientalism and power: When will we stop stereotyping people? | BBC Ideas)

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    Summer 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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