Orientalism as a Tool of Colonialism

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by civfanatic, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    "Orientalism" is the term used by Professor Edward Said to describe the way in which the West views the "East". Said claims that the West's image of the "East" is distorted and oversimplified, and portrayed as an "Other" of the West - something to be reviled as backwards, primitive, unchanging, and lacking the ability to "modernize" as the West has. Said explains how the Orientalist paradigm developed in the 19th century as the ideological counterpart of physical European colonialism in Asia. I haven't read Said's work, but these videos seem interesting.

    Orientalism as a Tool of Colonialism 1/4 - YouTube

    Orientalism as a Tool of Colonialism 2/4 - YouTube

    Orientalism as a Tool of Colonialism 3/4 - YouTube

    Orientalism as a Tool of Colonialism 4/4 - YouTube

    @The Messiah @Known_Unknown @LurkerBaba @Razor
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
    Known_Unknown and The Messiah like this.
  2.  
  3. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    Will watch this.
     
  4. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    760
    Admittedly I didn't watch this video, but I have read a little about this topic.

    While I'm sure there were some academics who were genuinely interested in the study of Asian cultures many simply used this field to engineer conclusions that supported colonial practices and agendas by giving it a facade of intellectualism.

    Either way there's no point to seething in anger over past wrongs. How colonial empires of past justified their behavior through intellectually dishonesty does not affect the problems a society like India faces today.
     
  5. Das ka das

    Das ka das Tihar Jail Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Messages:
    896
    Likes Received:
    447
    Location:
    Redneckistan
    The Indian psyche has been negatively influenced by Macaulayism, it would be ignorant to think otherwise.
     
  6. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    760
    Constantly reveling in it is all the more detrimental because it promotes insecurity and an inferiority complex. India is a free nation in charge of its own destiny and one with much economic promise. It's utterly pointless to hinder development by constantly carrying unwarranted baggage from the past.
     
    Illusive likes this.
  7. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    Actually, the point that Said makes in the video is that Western nations (or at least, the Western public at large) are grossly uninformed about the "East" (which is not a collective entity in the first place) and that the general views of the West towards the "East" are still tainted and distorted by what Said calls "Orientalism", which he identifies as the ideological counterpart of colonialism which emerged in the 19th century. I agree that seething over past "wrongs" is a waste of time, but this video is not about that. The video is about a contemporary issue with roots in recent history, namely the problems in the depiction and image of the "East" in contemporary Western media.

    I do recommend watching the video.
     
  8. afako

    afako Regular Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    882
    Likes Received:
    654
    The artificial construct of a 'nation' is itself a continuation of the past.

    Only a Fool would deny that there is no connection between the Social, Geopolitical, Cultural, Religious, Political, Economic Past and Present!
     
  9. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    760
    Yes, I'll certainly take a look at the video when I get a chance, albeit I'm at least decently acquainted with some of the factors which are bound to be discussed in the video. In the mean time I'll say a couple of things which I hope are pertinent. First, neither the "West" nor the "East" are collective entities, so you can't really attribute a particular point of view to a "Western public at large". Also the distorted views established during the colonial era have served as the foundation of not just the West's view of the East, but also the East's view of the West. Point being that the misunderstanding is mutual.

    Globalization has disrupted the status quo and for the first time everyone's on an equal playing ground (as in one party is no longer in the position to define the other). There is undoubtedly going to be a period of flux where various cultures around the world try and get a better understanding with one another. Eventually cultures that are able to disregard historically reenforced misconceptions to establish a better understanding will be successful in the new globalized world and ones who don't will suffer.
     
  10. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    760
    I have no idea what you're trying to say
     
  11. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    I disagree. The West is indeed a collective entity, in the sense that it forms a distinct civilization. This civilization, in the traditional definition, encompasses Western Europe, North America, and Australia & Oceania. In other words, Europe and its direct colonial offshoots. Latin America is also sometimes included as part of the West, but I regard it as a separate civilization, as the late Samuel Huntington did. The modern Western civilization is identified by its features such as the rule of law, separation of state and religious authority, emphasis on rationalism and science as a means of obtaining objective knowledge, etc. Which is not to say that other civilizations did not or do not have have similar characteristics, but the combination of these features and others that the West developed over its turbulent history make it distinct from other civilizations and have given it an edge over the rest of the world for the past ~400 years.

    The "East", on the the other hand, is not a single civilization like the West, but rather a highly diverse collection of civilizations, which have their own histories and worldviews and developed in their own unique ways. The civilizations that make up the "East" include the Islamic, Indic, Chinese/Sinic, and Japanese civilizations, all of which are greatly different from one another. The notion that all these civilizations form a single entity and that all Orientals are "pretty much the same" is one of the misrepresentations of the Eastern world that is associated with the Orientalist paradigm.


    I agree. Many non-Westerners have a poor understanding of the history and distinctive features of the Western civilization, including (unfortunately) many Indians. But the crucial difference here is that the media influence of the West, along with its economic, military, and geopolitical clout, is far greater than that of the "East", and as a result the Western views of the "East" have a much greater impact than the "Eastern" views of the West.
     
    parijataka likes this.
  12. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    Saw the video. Nothing much that i didn't already know about. The west needs an "other" and so obviously they will club, distort and generalize others for there own ends. It is the "other" that should stop caring that its being portrayed wrongly and not give any importance to the west propaganda and should instead do exactly to the west in the form of eastern propaganda (i know there are different civilizations in the east).

    Thats only because people in the east care about what the people in the west think about them. The day such people stop giving a shit about what the west thinks and instead go about there work and form there own opinion about the west will be the day the propaganda effect of western media will take a dive. The general person on the street either in the east or the west doesn't care about details so we must stop caring that western media is not portraying us correctly. Basically looking for approval from the west is the weakness of some people of the east which reinforces the sterotype of the western propaganda.
     
    Phenom likes this.
  13. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    We should make efforts to promote Pan-Asianism and encourage greater understanding and political/cultural bonds between the different Eastern civilizations and nations, especially between India, China, and Iran. We share much of the same interests as our neighbors as opposed to the West and we should capitalize on this. We should also be on good terms with the West (America specifically) at least in the short-term, but as soon as we become powerful enough to pose a threat to the Western presence in Asia and the Indian Ocean, we will probably be viewed in the same way as China is today (provided we don't become a lackey like South Korea).
     
  14. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Messages:
    7,308
    Likes Received:
    2,976

    An excellent idea.... for the last century. This "Orient" and "West" thing is becoming moot against the onslaught of globalism. A global village is forming where national identities are playing less prominent roles than before. The advancement of technology and increase in living standards of people around the World will only hasten this trend.
     
    Energon likes this.
  15. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    Globalism is only changing the superficial aspects of human culture. It is causing Saudis and Pakistanis and everyone else to drink coca-cola and to wear faded jeans, but it is NOT causing them to become "westernized"; it is not resulting in the creation of some sort of "universal" civilization. Differences between human cultures will continue to persist.

    I don't think anyone can reasonably say that nationalism and national identity will cease to play important roles in the near future. If anything, nationalism is witnessing a resurgence throughout the "East". I think some recent images from Tahrir Square show that quite well:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Why are these people protesting and demanding change? It is because they love their country and they want it to be prosperous. It is nationalism which will fuel protest and movements for social and political reform throughout the "East" in the 21st century.
     
  16. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    760
    If current events in Europe have shown us anything it's that the West isn't nearly the collective entity as people believe it to be. The standard definition of the West as embodied by individualism, constitutionalism, equality, rule of law, separation of Church and state, human rights, free markets, democracy etc. are actually Anglo-American ideals, not pan European. Here too it's an example of the victors writing the history as they see fit. I'm glad you brought up Sam Huntington, because his entire outlook was shaped by the ideological divide of the cold war where the "West" as he saw it was pitted against the rest. Except, the West he kept on referring to was the post War Europe which was overwhelmingly dominated by the United States and England. Anyone who has traveled/lived in Europe can attest to the fact that when it comes to ethos, the Italians or the Spaniards have virtually nothing in common with the likes of the Germans or the Swiss or the Scandinavians. Actually the evolution of the various colonial states were markedly different and only a few actually espoused any of the ideals mentioned earlier. Most were merely beneficiaries of shared ideas. Subsequently the trajectories of the various European nations as we see today have also been markedly divergent. For all the greatness of the Greco-Roman ideals, neither Greece nor Italy would survive if it weren't for other wealthier states propping them up. Heck some people don't even bother including Greece in the West. The fact of the matter is that the world is a far more complex place than what most people both in the "East" and the "West" believe it to be.
     
  17. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Messages:
    7,308
    Likes Received:
    2,976
    I think you are wrong in thinking that the overt cultural manifestations of globalization is only superficial. With the change in culture comes a deeper change in social and political attitudes. Whether we like it or not there is an irreversible trend towards a confluence of culture.


    I said nationalism will play a "lesser" role.


    Do you think nationalism fueled the protests in Egypt? Why, was Mubarak a foreign ruler? The Egyptians revolted for a lot of reasons (the Muslim Brotherhood wanted an Islamic country while the younger urban protesters wanted a more liberal/democratic country) but at the top was that they're fed up with a 30-year old domestic dictatorship.
     
    parijataka and Energon like this.
  18. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    760
    This is correct. I too am convinced that the phenomenon of globalization (which is still in its infancy) will be a harbinger of deep changes in social and political attitudes around the world. If anything, the societies that refuse to change and catch up will face catastrophic failures.

    It is true that currently the influences of countries like the United States and Western Europe have a greater impact upon the developing nations. But that's only because up until the end of the cold war (and the beginning of globalization) the disparities between the "occident" and the "orient" were vast. But now people around the world desire a similar standard of living, and some societies have wizened up to the fact that in order to improve their lot they have to evolve and adopt modern tools. Up until now the terms "modern" and "Western" have been synonymous, but this is bound to change as other nation states and cultures evolve and find their own way. Just because a society modernizes doesn't mean it becomes "Western". Japan and now South Korea are good examples of how societies adopt modern technology and methodology to radically change their own standard of living but also retain their original cultural attributes.

    The Egyptian uprising is actually a very good example of how technology has had an impact upon a society that previously was cut off from the modern world. For better or for worse the internet inspired many people to revolt against a corrupt extractive regime and establish a more stable republic. Albeit how this turns out in the long run remains to be seen.
     
    asianobserve likes this.
  19. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    760
    While I certainly understand what you're saying, the paradigm of the "West vs the rest" upon which your assertion rests is no longer relevant. The fact of the matter is that all societies/ civilizations operate at their own pace and the influence they exert is directly proportional to their increasing level of success. It's not really possible for China, India and Iran to unionize and ablate previously held misconceptions because all three nations are at different stages of development. As time goes on we will see an increasing Chinese footprint upon global culture and subsequently a better understanding of Chinese culture. Iran on the other hand will remain isolated and misunderstood as long as the country is represented by a regressive regime; the same goes for various Islamic nations. India too will increasingly dispel formerly held erroneous notions as the state becomes more successful.

    I do not think India's absolute dominance in its surrounding region will equate its perception to China in the eyes of the United States because the nature of mistrust between the latter two isn't present between India and the US. The two relationships will evolve differently assuming India does become a more organized, progressive and economically successful state.
     
    asianobserve likes this.
  20. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    No, these ideals are indeed pan-Western European. All the ideals that you mentioned developed in the larger context of the 18th century Enlightenment, which was a pan-Western European phenomenon. The Enlightenment, along with the earlier phenomena of the Renaissance and Reformation (and Counter-Reformation) played a major role in shaping the modern Western civilization. There were numerous prominent intellectuals of the Enlightenment who were not of an Anglo-American background, including Montesquieu (a Frenchman), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Swiss), Immanuel Kant (a German) and many others. These figures and others contributed greatly to the civilizational fabric of the West - including the Anglosphere - and made it what is today. The concept of separation of powers between the legislature, judiciary, and executive, for example, was conceived by Montesquieu, and was later adopted by the American colonists following their revolution. Throughout Europe in the late 18th and 19th centuries, revolutionary movements such as the French Revolution that demanded republicanism, secularism, constitutionalism, and other such ideals that we associate with the "West" were largely indigenous phenomena that were inspired by broad Enlightenment values rather than specific Anglo-American ones. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, for example, was a unique and revolutionary document that had no real counterpart in Britain - indeed, the British regarded the republican movement in France as one of dangerous radicals and mobilized considerable resources in the aid of pro-monarchy reactionary forces.

    The Italians and Spaniards have a whole lot in common with the Germans and other North Europeans. They share a common Judeo-Christian tradition, which is common throughout much of Europe and historically played a huge role in shaping Western civilization, and share a similar worldview and agree on much of the same basic ideals that were mentioned above. Their cultures and nations were both shaped by the same historical processes that were common to all of Western Europe. The relationship between a Spaniard and a Scandinavian is somewhat similar to the relationship between peoples from two different parts of India - say, a Telugu and a Punjabi. There are great differences between the two, to be sure, but there are also great commonalities, and these over-arching commonalities are what constitute a common civilization.

    I do not agree with many aspects of Huntington's thesis, but I do agree with the general notion that the world can be divided into broad, cultural categories called "civilizations". No one is claiming that these civilizations (including the West) are monolithic, homogeneous entities - they are far from that. But neither can anyone deny that the various nation-states of what we call the West have much more in common with each other than they do with the nations of any other place in the world, owing to their shared history and culture.

    Modern Western civilization is NOT synonymous with Greco-Roman civilization, which is extinct. Although some aspects of Greco-Roman civilization were literally resurrected during the Renaissance and had considerable influence on the subsequent development of Western civilization, the two entities are quite distinct from one another and should be differentiated. The reason why Greece is not included as part of the modern West is because Greece did not undergo the same historical processes like the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment that Western and Northern Europe did, and developed in a different manner owing to their long occupation by the Ottoman Turks and relative isolation from the rest of Europe.
     
  21. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    Please give me some concrete examples rather than meaningless abstractions. There is no change in "culture" - eating burgers and wearing faded jeans is not what constitutes "Western culture" and "westernization". An example of true "westernization" and adoption of "Western culture" would be the profound sociopolitical changes that Turkey underwent under Ataturk, such as the enforcement of secularism and dissolution of the Caliphate, introduction of a constitutional government and the rule of law, institutionalization of liberal democracy, and even the replacement of Arabic script with Latin script. We see nothing similar to this in places like West Asia and China; what we have instead are people who dress the same as Americans, eat much of the same food as Americans, listen to the same music, etc. but whose actual values and worldviews remain quite different. There is no "universal civilization" in the making.

    Of course nationalism fueled the protests in Egypt. The whole idea of nationalism is that the people (the nation) constitute the polity (the state), that the state should work in the interests of the nation rather than for the small group of people that make up the ruling elite, and that the state should continue to exist irrespective of whoever is ruling in the government. Nationalism by nature is inextricably linked with the masses; the Egyptian people were opposed to a foreign-backed government that increasingly failed to meet the needs of the nation (the people) and therefore demanded its ouster. You can draw a direct parallel to the French Revolution, which was (AFAIK) the first true nationalist revolution.

    I would also like you to explain to me why tens of thousands of Egyptians were waving national flags and carrying signs saying "We Love Egypt" and other such slogans, if their protests had nothing to do with nationalism.
     
    The Messiah likes this.

Share This Page