Theory, Space, Society Space And Its Influences On Both Academic And Social Worlds

1999 Words8 Pages
GEO2313 - Theory, Space, Society 1 Candidate Number: 630012188 Using examples, critically evaluate the different roles that theoretical ideas can play in shaping research in human geography. In using Edward Said’s theory of orientalism as a reference point for analysis, this essay will explore the different ways in which an academic theory can shape geographical research, with a particular focus on the fields of imaginative geographies and postcolonial geographies. This inquiry will focus on Said’s (1978) seminal text “Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient” and its influences on both academic and social worlds since the twentieth century. D. Gregory’s interpretations and other studies of orientalism in contemporary culture will…show more content…
Said claims that this practice of representation creates a hierarchical relationship between the ‘Orient’ and the ‘Occident’, with the ‘West’ establishing a cultural hegemony over the inferior ‘East’. Subsequently, orientalism is viewed as an epistemological device for guaranteeing Western control over the ‘Orient’. In “Orientalism” Said (1978) outlines the two crucial operations of orientalist practices : firstly, the ‘Orient’ was constructed as a wild space that had to be normalised and disciplined via a forceful ‘Occident’ who had to project their perception of order and control over the ‘East’ (Gregory et al. 2009:513). Secondly, the ‘Orient’ was presented as an exotic and bizarre region; a “living tableau of queerness” and in complete contrast to  GEO2313 - Theory, Space, Society 2 Candidate Number: 630012188 the ‘West’ (Said, 1978:103). According to Said, the Orient is the “cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other” (1978:1). This essentialist distinction allows the ‘Orient’ to be seen as a mystical space which is always presented as ‘other’ in contrast to the normalised ‘West’. Orientalism can subsequently be seen as a system of cultural misrepresentation which is created to consolidate “European-Atlantic power over the Orient” (Said, 1978:6). The methods of binary logic imposed via orientalist practices is systematic to the logics of
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