Top 4 Orientalism quotes

  • The result is usually to polarize ... the Oriental becomes more Oriental, the Westerner more Western.” - Edward Said, Chapter 1, Part 1 

    In the first chapter, Said delves into the fundamental question of whether people can be genuinely divided along cultural lines. In the above-mentioned quote Said states that distinctions in cultural groups only ever lead to polarisation and alienation, no matter how well the cultural boundaries have been drawn up.

  • Orientalism carries within it the stamp of a problematic European attitude towards Islam." - Edward Said, Chapter 1, Part 3

    This quote applied to modern Orientalism, which Said explores both in his preface, afterword, and the concluding sections of the book. Said explains that there has always been a bias against Islamic nations, practiced not only by the European powers but also the other powerful nations of the world. Said believes that this bias has been unfairly perpetrated against the Islamic people due to the problematic framework of Orientalism since its inception.

  • It seems a ... human failing to prefer the ... authority of a text to ... direct encounters.” - Edward Said, Chapter 1, Part 4

    In the fourth section of the first chapter, Said explains that one of the greatest limitations of Orientalism as a field has been the textual attitude that Orientalists have adopted. The textual attitude caused the orientalists to propagate the old ideas that they had learned from their texts rather than realizing that the information provided is stereotypical and discriminatory.

  • Orientalism failed to identify with human experience, failed also to see it as human experience.” - Edward Said, Chapter 3, Part 4

    These are the closing words of the final chapter of Orientalism, and Said summarizes the core message of the book in this sentence. Throughout the book, he works diligently to prove how the ideas about the Orient were fundamentally flawed for the west failed to treat the people of the orient as individuals and instead viewed them as a set of people who possessed the same qualities. 

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