Writing Out Loud: Orientalism

Edward Said’s depiction of how Western literature, art, and scholarship perpetuates a systematic prejudice toward Asia and the Middle East in Orientalism remains a foundational piece of postcolonial theory. The selection in Social Theory Re-Wired is from the introduction to the book, but we recommend picking up the whole text when you get a chance. Ponder the following questions as you move through the excerpt.

Theme: Shifting the Paradigm


  1. Said writes we can’t understand cultures without studying their “configurations of power.” What do you think he means?
  2. In the conclusion of the essay, Said uses his concept of imaginative geography to explain how the West has always converted “the Orient from something into something else.” What “something else” is Said talking about?
  3. Think of two concrete examples from mass media, popular culture, or academia that depict people from Asia or the Middle East in a way that Said might consider a perpetuation of Orientalism.
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