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An introduction - The Orientalist

About An introduction

An introduction Mar. 22nd, 2004 @ 11:39 pm Next Entry
On June 12th I’m boarding an airplane to Cairo for a little post university vacation. I am mostly doing this as a way of prolonging my applications to grad-school. As unoriginal as the idea of a post university jaunt to the Orient is, I hope it might yield some novel insights and observations. Synchronize your watches folks, the countdown to Cairo begins.

As for the title of my journal ‘The Orientalist’ it refers to the Western approach to studying the East. Edward Said, who recently passed away, coined the term to refer to the exotic fascination the West has for the East. I chose this as my title because despite my course in Religious Studies I have no doubt that it might apply to me.
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Date:March 23rd, 2004 06:54 am (UTC)

An Honest Title

I admire your honesty with choosing such a title as "The Orientalist". I guess I also sense the courage you must have or will have to consider yourself guilty of this "exotic fascination" and yet still be striving toward an honest interaction between "the East" and yourself.

I myself just returned from living in Java, Indonesia for the past 8 months, and I can say that my struggle to stop thinking about the exotic difference between myself and others next to me was difficult. It felt for natural at times to accept differences and embrace similarities.

I look forward to reading this travel journal as it continues.
Date:June 22nd, 2004 12:51 am (UTC)

origin of term "orientalist"

FYI, Edward Said did not coin the term Orientalist. The term had been used for over 200 years before he wrote his book, since before the American Revolution, mainly as a title for scholars of the Orient, specifically oriental languages. It was not meant as a term of disparagement, and, indeed, there were many different kinds of orientalists, some sympathetic towards the East, others condescending, some colonialist, some anti-colonialist. The term was recast much more narrowly by Said, but many people are resurrecting its previous general meaning, especially as a noun, as in "an Orientalist" or "the Orientalist". Indeed, your blog does so, though traditionally an orientalist would have needed to have some expertise on the East before setting off on a trip. As an adjective, as in an "orientalist" attitude, it will likely continue to have the connotation Said put on it. Bon voyage.
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