Representation and Orientalism

As we discuss the shifts of cultural centres of influence in the modern global media, the debate surrounding the resurgence of Orientalist thought  is largely unavoidable.  Orientalism, theorised by Said (1978), is the concept of the Western world forming pre-conceived notions about it’s Eastern counterparts without having any practical, contextual interactions with those societies and their members. The study of Orientalism reflects how and why such perspectives based on ethnicity and culture develop, and how power and fear motivates the continuation of such thought.

The following interview with Edward Said, a great contributor to this area of study, comprehensively explores these issues.

 

In regards to both entertainment and news media, Said’s work forces producers and consumers of transnational cinema and international television coverage to ask themselves a highly contentious question. In an effort to represent the cultures of “other” societies, are we portraying them as something exotic and anecdotal, and so perpetuating the stereotyping and cultural dominance of Orientalism?

 

Said, E.W. 1978, Orientalism, Penguin, London.

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