SEMINAR REFLECTION – ORIENTALISM

Following on from last week’s lecture on colonialism, we discussed the way cultures were spread during these movements. We discussed that ideologies, systems of beliefs and values, were transferred from country to country. As Michael Foucalt explained the notion of ‘discourse’, which is the way in which knowledge is communicated. This concept was very important when it came to discussing colonialism and orientalism, which is a study of how Western colonial powers represented African and Middle Eastern countries. The West tends to refer to the Middle East as ‘the other’: everything that ‘they’ are not. Edward Said further explored this idea in his book ‘Orientalism’, in which he argued that the West considers the Middle East everything that they themselves are not. This representation is also apparent in today’s mainstream media as it demonstrates the idea that the West and East are different and are the complete opposites. He goes on to say that the ‘colonised’ are not allowed to develop their own culture and continue to feel the consequences of colonisation. We also argued this idea and discussed the way in which certain cultures were represented in movies and in news. In particular, we discussed the way our old favourite and innocent Disney movies carry lots of stereotypical characteristics references to specific cultures. However, we said that the notion of ‘the other’ has allowed the West to define their culture and territory as it posed a contrasting image to their conceptions and ideas of their culture.

 

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