The Importance Of Orientalism

1387 Words 6 Pages
Ever since the early stages of contact, the East has seemed to have a bewitching appeal that has enraptured the interests and fascinations of Europe. Because cultures and societies found in the East were vastly dissimilar and detached from life in the West, the Orient served to represent a foil to Europe during the age of colonialism and imperialism – a foil so curious to Europeans, that the desire to obtain the Orient was fostered amid a time of unprecedented exploration and conquest. The birth of modern Orientalism transpired not only due to the European desire to possess a fabricated vision of the Orient, but also was supported by their self-reinforced sense of superiority, and permitted by the creation of a structure where the West assumed …show more content…
The significance of European hegemony and its ability to obtain the Orient became clear in 1813 when the East India Company was able to assert sovereignty of the British over territories owned by the company in India. In his essay titled The Disease of Civilization, Mahatma Gandhi explains that the reason Europeans were able to take over India was because India accepted their role as the submissive ‘other’ in the power paradigm created by the West. Gandhi declares, “The English have not taken India; we have given it to them. They are not in India because of their strength, but because we keep them.” “We created the circumstances that gave the Company its control over India.” When the British Crown unexpectedly found themselves as the imperial rulers of India, the influence of Orientalism and its implications of unchallenged European dominance was fully exhibited. Through a “long and slow process of appropriation by which Europe, or the European awareness of the Orient, transformed itself from being textual and contemplative into being administrative, economic and even …show more content…
Superficial transmissions of Eastern cultures were reinforced further by these public displays since it was now possible for Westerners to ‘see the Orient.’ “The display of both subjected peoples and products from foreign possessions made colonialism concrete to those at home and reaffirmed the colonizing society’s racial superiority.” With the expansion of colonial territories in East, the exoticism of Orient increasingly belonged to the West. By the 19th century, Western hegemony and its ability to obtain the Orient allowed a wide spread communication of Orientalism. No longer limited to just written and contemplative methods, the system of knowledge which Orientalism filtered into Western consciousness was now solidified by physical representation for public entertainment. Although Orientalism came into being through the self-centered Western imagination, it was not just an airy European fantasy. Through their self-confirmed superiority as an unmatched progressive power, the relationship between Europe and the Orient was established based upon a systematic placement of Eastern cultures into an inferior and submissive position. This power dynamic, along with the absence of genuinely felt and experienced Orient reinforced the set of dogmatic beliefs diffused by

Related Documents