Interrogating Orientalism: Contextual Approaches and Pedagogical Practices
Orientalism is based upon the traditional belief that Western culture is superior to that of Islamic countries of the Near and Middle East. It arose in the British colonial period in the belief that the East was not civilized enough to understand itself; therefore, it had to be “interpreted” by the West for both Easterners and Westerners, thus giving rise to an “Us versus Them” dichotomy which has proved to be increasingly dangerous. As a concept, Orientalism has generated new fields of study and dynamically affected fields as diverse as anthropology, history, popular culture, and architecture.
The essays in Interrogating Orientalism: Contextual Approaches and Pedagogical Practices, edited by Diane Long Hoeveler and Jeffrey Cass, confront the problematics of Orientalist definition and representation. The contributors to this volume define “Interrogating Orientalism” as a method of introducing students—at all levels—to the ways in which Orientalism is not an academic concept, but one that exists in their everyday lives.
Moving chronologically, the first section of the volume explores a variety of the theoretical approaches to British Orientalism. Some of the essays interrogate the concept and survey the ways that Orientalism has been approached in literary and cultural studies. Others historically outline various iterations of Orientalism, from Edward Said’s famous exploration of the term in Orientalism to the postcolonial critics who have challenged Saidian Orientalism: Homi Bhabha, Ali Behdad, Ania Loomba, Dennis Porter, James Clifford, and Sara Mills. Some of the essays further construct a critique that attempts to render the field of Orientalism and its representations more dynamic, more capable of producing a critical model that explains the complex interchanges between Orient and Occident.
Ohio State University Press
Literature in English, British Isles