Orient In Orientalism Analysis

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In order to explore the relation between the Occident and the Orient, Edward Said publishes his book Orientalism in 1978. Borrowing from Foucauldian discourse analysis, Orientalism, as Bill Ashcroft and Pal Ahluwalia stress, “pivots on a demonstration of the link between knowledge and power, for the discourse of Orientalism constructs and dominates Orientals in the process of ‘knowing’ them” (54). The conception of Foucault’s discourse has established an important foundation for Said to discover how Europe defines the Oriental knowledge by possessing power. John McLeod highlights in his book Beginning Postcolonialism that “[Edward Said’s] Orientalism is one particular theorisation and manifestation of how colonial discourses might operate,…show more content…
In general, the definition of representation is “using language to say something meaningful about, or to present, the world meaningfully, to other people” (Hall, “Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices” 15). Representation, therefore, is to create a meaning. In Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, Stuart Hall additionally points out in the first chapter The World of Representation(一樣是要用斜體還是quotation?) that “[r]epresentation is an essential part of the process by which meaning is produced and exchanged between members of a culture. It does involve the use of language, of signs and images which stand for or represent things” (15). When it comes to Orientalism, it demonstrates that the meaning of the Orient is articulated by the Occident through language and visuals. Meanwhile, by representing the East, it indicates that the Occidentals believe that “[the Orientals] cannot represent themselves; they must be represented” (335), as Said cites from Karl Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Since the Orientals have difficulties to speak for themselves, the Occidentals are taking this responsibility to help the Orient to be seen. In other words, the voiceless East requires the Western…show more content…
In this way, Orientalism written by Orientalists seems having troubles in faithfully representing the Orient. Said insists that “exteriority of the representation is always governed by some version of the truism” (21). The problem is this truism does not amount to the truth especially as it involves “evaluative interpretation[s]” (Said 227). In this way, it loses objectivity by including personal viewpoints. Nevertheless, the Occident takes advantage of the Orient by insisting the Orient is not capable of presenting itself. Thus, the West has to take this responsibility to represent the pathetic Orient in order to make the Orient be known. By making this statement, the Occident justifies the action of representation to the Orient and at the same time, gains the power over the Orient. As the Orient has to be represented, even though the representation is entirely wrong, it has no voice to correct any mistakes. Thus, the West has absolute power to construct its fascinating Orient. Edward Said, therefore, concludes that Orient is “almost a European invention”
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