Orientalization Of Orientalism

2114 Words 9 Pages
As explorers such as Ferdinand Magellan and Christopher Columbus discovered exciting new lands throughout much of human history, the vastness and diversity of the known world continued to increase. However, thanks to significant advances in transportation and communication, planet earth has, in effect, gotten “smaller” over the past few centuries. Air travel now allows inhabitants of all parts of the earth to fly from one side of the globe to the other in less than a day. Simply by pressing a button on a touchscreen, individuals separated by the span of an ocean can instantly be connected with a text, call, or even a video chat. Many immigrants travel thousands of miles to seek a life in a society into which they were not born. All people, …show more content…
The idea encompasses a vast area and includes parts of North Africa, the Near East, and sections of western Asia (Pittman). Oriental beliefs generally held by the English population and other parts of western Europe during the time of the British Empire emphasize the viewpoint that people of Oriental societies needed assistance in governing themselves and updating their culture and way of life. Edward Said speaks of this extensively in his book Orientalism, saying “Orientalism is better grasped as a set of constraints upon and limitations of thought. . .the essence of Orientalism is the ineradicable distinction between Western superiority and Oriental inferiority” (42). In short, proponents of Orientalist ideas succeeded in fabricating a negative vision of Eastern culture that included everything from the Orientals’ supposed lazy nature to the way women were treated in Oriental societies at the time. This set of beliefs allowed the British to feel good about their control over territories in the Orient; far from oppressing a successful society, they were assisting in modernizing the people of the Orient according to their Western …show more content…
In his book Ethics and Infinity, Emmanuel Levinas states: ’The face is signification, and signification without context” (86). By saying this, the contemporary philosopher points out that when a person meets another individual for the first time, the only defining characteristic these two people know about one another is their face. If two strangers were to look exclusively at one another’s’ faces, differentiating features such as occupation, social status, religious preference, and sexual orientation would be unnoticeable and irrelevant. While most western subscribers to Orientalist thought at the time would never dare venture to the Orient itself, Lady Mary had the opportunity to live in and absorb the culture and habits of the citizens who populate it. This personal experience places the noblewoman in a unique position to speak for the subaltern people of the Orient and attempt to correct a variety of western notions regarding

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