2 Haziran 2009 Salı

Anti-colonialism and Orientalism/Ersoy-May 20 and 22,2009

Decolonization and Orientalism
Lectures I and II

Early 20th century developments – ripening conditions for challenging western political and cultural hegemony:

1906 Iranian Constitutional Revolution;
1908 Ottoman Constitutional Revolution;

Spread of Bolshevism; Turkish Independence War (1919-1922)

World War I as watershed – worldwide social / economic disruptions; spread of nationalism in the third world

“Decolonization” as a worldwide historical process, gaining momentum especially after the Second World War

Main agendas of anti-colonial struggle: gaining independence; and the reconstruction of local identity

Independence of India (1947); Algerian uprising (1954-1962); British withdrawal from Egypt (1954)
Decolonization interlinked with (and as impetus for) the student movement, the anti-war, civil rights, feminist, and gay and lesbian movements (50s, 60s, 70s)

Decolonization movement’s intellectual foundations:
1. Challenging western colonial authority and oppression (military, political, economic)
2. Critique of cultural norms, mental habits and intellectual traditions and practices used to subjugate the non-western world

Frantz Fanon (1925-1961)


Black Skin White Masks (1952): Effects of colonial subjugation – imposition of the colonizer’s language and world view

The predicament of decolonization and westernization: Assuming the mental frameworks and intellectual norms of the colonizer – having to operate with the western intellectual baggage, even when searching for local roots and authentic identity

The Wretched of the Earth (1961): the necessity of “purifying violence” during anti-colonial struggle

Anouar Abdel Malek: Orientalism in Crisis (1963): The agenda of Orientalism (as a scholarly field – the scientific study of the Orient) and its links with imperialist /
colonial modes of subjugation and control – Eurocentrist biases embedded in the social sciences

Abdel Lateef Tibawi: English-Speaking Orientalists (1964): Orientalism’s religious
prejudices and hostility towards Islam

Edward W. Said: Orientalism (1978)

Edward Said
Two (interlinked) aspects of Orientalism:
1. Academic field of Orientalism, as body of scientific knowledge and expertise (used to sustain and nourish cultural biases and stereotypes)

2. Orientalism as pervasive cultural construct, a system of thought (an internalized body of thoughts, images, practices, embedded stereotypes, and unconscious cultural attitudes and reflexes) used by the west to envision and create its “oriental other” – an integral part of the creation of European self-identity. Orientalism’s accumulated negative images used to justify western (colonial) intervention in the non-western world

Orientalism’s intimate linkage to structures of power: The image of the Orient shaped and informed by the unequal power relation between the east and the west

Orientalism as a potent tool for serving and justifying colonialism and imperialism Orientalism as an inordinately complex and systematic cultural / institutional mechanism for defining, portraying, and controlling the Orient.