Edward Said's Orientalism

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Edward Said's Orientalism

Western civilization, generally speaking, is extremely egotistical and has the view that Western culture is superior to all others. They believe they are more civilized and more educated than the rest of the world and because of this, stems the idea that it is the duty of Western civilization to take other, less developed societies under their wing. These concepts of supremacy and domination are closely related to Said's ideas of Orientalism. In his book, Orientalism, Edward Said explains in detail exactly what he believes the word Orientalism means. He tries to prove his concepts through the words of statesmen, including Britain's Evelyn Baring Cromer. Cromer's words reflect the concepts introduced by Said.

According to Said, one definition of Orientalism is that it is a "style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between 'the Orient' and the 'Occident'." This is connected to the idea that Western society, or Europe in this case, is superior in comparison to cultures that are non-European, or the Orient. This means that Orientalism is a kind of racism held toward anyone not European. Said wrote that Orientalism was "a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient." This Western idea of the Orient explains why so many European countries occupied lands they believed to be Oriental.

This first concept of Orientalism is blatantly reflected in the words of Evelyn Baring Cromer. Cromer was England's representative in Egypt between 1882 and 1907. He believed in European supremacy and called Egyptians, and all other people he considered Oriental, subject races. He justified European occupation in Egypt with this idea of superio...

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This idea is shown through Cromer's words as well. Two quotes perfectly show what Said is trying to get across to the reader. Cromer states:

I content myself with noting the fact that somehow or another the Oriental generally acts speaks and thinks in a matter exactly opposite to the European.

From this quote he concludes:

Europe is always in a position of strength, The Oriental is irrational, depraved, childlike, "different", thus the European is rational, virtuous, mature, "normal".

Cromer believes that the Orient would be nothing without Western Civilization. He embodies everything Said means by the term Orientalism including having a superiority complex and over generalizing a large group of people into one category. Cromer clearly is the epitome of what it is to be an Orientalist since he obviously agrees with what Said means by Orientalism.
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