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Orientalism
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Cruise Seminars -reference reads > "Orientalism" by Edward Said(Jan/May 2011)

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message 1: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Our first seminar of the cruise will be Orientalism by Edward Said. This is an incredibly important book, perhaps especially for westerners. You can read a little bit about Said's biography at wikipedia, where the article describes the book and its importance:

The book presented his influential ideas on Orientalism, the Western study of Eastern cultures. Said contended that Orientalist scholarship was and continues to be inextricably tied to the imperialist societies that produced it, making much of the work inherently politicized, servile to power, and therefore suspect. Grounding much of this thesis in his intimate knowledge of colonial literature such as the fiction of Conrad, and in the post-structuralist theory of Foucault, Derrida and others, Said's Orientalism and following works proved influential in literary theory and criticism, and continue to influence several other fields in the humanities. Orientalism affected Middle Eastern studies in particular, transforming the way practitioners of the discipline describe and examine the Middle East. Said came to discuss and vigorously debate the issue of Orientalism with scholars in the fields of history and area studies, many of whom disagreed with his thesis, including most famously Bernard Lewis.


Aamir | 11 comments So many things came alive for me on reading Orientalism. Things that were obvious, but I didn't quite understand them till I read the book.


message 3: by Ingy (new) - added it

Ingy (ngnoah) Great!
I've started this book last year but couldn't go through with it and had to set it aside.. Now with the group reading it, it's a GREAT opportunity for me to get on with it again.
Is there a specific plan to read it or everyone goes as one wishes?


message 4: by Lastoadri (new) - added it

Lastoadri | 0 comments Thats amazing!
I would love to read this book.. but tell me, what is the schedule, or how you've arrange collective read or discussion?


Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
It is a side read , so any one can start or finish whenever he wants; and share his thoughts :)

I am planning to start reading it soon inshaa alah , I have to finish some books first.


message 6: by Ingy (new) - added it

Ingy (ngnoah) And for how long are we planing to read it? Is it also through Jan and Feb?


Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Also we have several members who already read it , they are ready to start talking about it anytime and help us :D


Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Lastadri
I am very happy to see you here , welcome ondoard ;)


Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Ng wrote: "And for how long are we planing to read it? Is it also through Jan and Feb?"

We are online in the same time , it is confusing !!

six month as a begining , it is a hard book and a lot of members are interested in it :)


message 10: by Ingy (new) - added it

Ingy (ngnoah) Perfect! I wish I can finish it in just 2 or 3 months or else it will be hard to follow, but having this long period of time can be very good with such a book.


message 11: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
Maybe we should discuss it in sections, instead of all as a piece?


message 12: by Lastoadri (new) - added it

Lastoadri | 0 comments I am sure that this is a very difficult and long read.. I second Marcia and Ng.. we should plan some way for reading together..


message 13: by Niledaughter (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Ok ...Marcia , can you put a plan :(certain sections for specific periods) ? :)


message 14: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
what do you guys think of quarterly side reads? we would read Orientalism in January, February, March, and April and hopefully by April we will have identified another important book to read together over a four-month period.

Those of you who have read it before, how do you think we would best plan our readings? Like Nile Daughter asked Marcia--Marcia, the book is divided into three long chapters, does it make sense to read/discuss a chapter per month and then have April to discuss the entire book or otherwise wrap things up? or would it make more sense to not discuss at all in January, only read? a schedule could look like this:

January: read chapter one
February: discuss chapter one, read chapter two
March: discuss chapter two, read chapter three
April: discuss chapter three/whole book.

Or does Orientalism need more time? should we keep it open-ended?


message 15: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
Yes, I think your plan makes sense. Actually, his anniversary introduction can also stand alone as a discussion piece, although if we have different editions, that won't do.

If we give it more time than a month, then it just spreads out into something unmanageable. Undergraduates can read it a section a week, although of course they're getting a grade. :-)

I think it's better NOT to keep it open-ended, but I've really never participated in an informal book group before.


message 16: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
oh--i have his anniversary edition!...what do others have who want to participate?


message 17: by Niledaughter (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
this plan sounds good , I do not know about my edition , it is in Arabic , I will check it .


message 18: by Ingy (new) - added it

Ingy (ngnoah) I'll have to check my edition too, also in Arabic.
I agree on the 4-months plan.


message 19: by Niledaughter (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
This is my copy:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48...

It has two introductions ,one by Edward Said (30 pages)- is this his anniversary introduction ? the other introduction is by the translator (more bigger!).


message 20: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
How does it begin? Anyhow, if it's not the same, I will scan in mine... I'd be interested in seeing what your translator intro says, too!


message 21: by Lastoadri (last edited Dec 29, 2010 12:17AM) (new) - added it

Lastoadri | 0 comments Marcia can u send us the link of the anniversary book? I think I have it, but its not near by to check :S
I have this one: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35...


message 22: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
Yes, that's it. This will be fun!


message 23: by Ingy (new) - added it

Ingy (ngnoah) Mine is this one http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/65...
I think it is his anniversary edition, I'll check when I get beack home today.


message 24: by Niledaughter (last edited Dec 29, 2010 02:58AM) (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Marcia wrote: "How does it begin? Anyhow, if it's not the same, I will scan in mine... I'd be interested in seeing what your translator intro says, too!"

It is not with me now , I will give you more details in few days :)

I am very happy about this experience :D


message 25: by Ingy (new) - added it

Ingy (ngnoah) It's not mentioned on my edition whether it's the anniversary edition or not.
But it's a translation of the book published on 1995.
So?


message 26: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Ng wrote: "It's not mentioned on my edition whether it's the anniversary edition or not.
But it's a translation of the book published on 1995.
So?"


i don't think that's the anniversary edition. i wonder if there is a way to read the special intro without having that edition? i'm not having luck with quick&dirty searches online, though...


message 27: by Lastoadri (new) - added it

Lastoadri | 0 comments @Marieke Do you mean this?
http://www.4shared.com/file/45946812/...


message 28: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Lastoadri wrote: "@Marieke Do you mean this?
http://www.4shared.com/file/45946812/..."


i'm not sure...i can't download that here but the date on the document says 1977; i think the new intro would be dated 2003?


message 29: by Lastoadri (new) - added it

Lastoadri | 0 comments This one is from 2003.. 1977 to date back the original book.


message 30: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Lastoadri wrote: "This one is from 2003.. 1977 to date back the original book."

okay! then i think that should be it! hopefully Ng and others will be able to view that. :D
i just got the 25th anniversary edition, so i'll have a look at it at home to compare with this shared file.


message 31: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
All right, I just re-read the preface and the introduction, and am feeling very psyched about this side "cruise," which, el hamdulallah, will be much more healthier than going down the Nile on one of those big diesel-belching boats. :-)

#

I think Edward Said's 2003 preface is important for the links it makes with contemporary politics and scholarship. However, the core introduction is where he sets out what he's going to do.

So! I would love to point to a couple key points from the introduction that could be discussed, if people so choose.

1) Of course, he says, the places we live and the cultures we live in are real. But: "I have begun with the assumption that the Orient is not an inert fact of nature. It is not merely there, just as the Occident itself is not just there, either. ... [such] geographical sectors as 'Orient' and 'Occident' are man-made."

I think for post-moderns like ourselves, that one's pretty easy to swallow.

2) "A second qualification is that ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied."

This is a more controversial idea, but also fairly commonly held.

3) To this end, Said underlines that there can be no absolute distinction between "pure" and "political" knowledge. He notes, quite famously and (here we go!) controversially:

"I doubt that it is controversial, for example, to say that an Englishman in India or Egypt in the later nineteenth century took an interest in those countries that was never far from their status in his mind as British colonies. To say this may seem quite different from saying that all academic knowledge about India and Egypt is somehow tinged and impressed with, violated by, the gross political fact---and yet that is exactly what I am saying in this study of Orientalism."

The italics are Said's. I think many Westerners with a very light knowledge of Said complain that he's saying "no Westerner can speak truthfully about the 'Orient,' or the 'Arab,'" and their brains shut down at this point.

But indeed, I would argue that he is saying we are all (who have been educated in a certain way) tinged with these ideas, to greater and lesser extents.

4) He goes into detail on "the methodological question," and if this feels overwhelming I encourage you to read it lightly. Note that he is not looking for what is "hidden" in the text, but its exterior nature and its *effects.*

And: "My hope is to illustrate the formidable structure of cultural domination and, specifically for formerly colonized peoples, the dangers and temptations of employing this structure upon themselves or others."

5) He also is quite up front with "the personal dimension"; what makes this work important to him as an "Oriental" and as an Arab.

#

I would love to hear what others think is salient and key from the introduction, and/or what moved them...whether it's their 1st read or their 10th. Yella, ba'a!


message 32: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Thanks, Marcia! i am hoping to read the preface and introduction this weekend...i'll try to keep these points in mind while i'm reading and see if i can come up with any intelligent-sounding comments. :D


message 33: by Niledaughter (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Thanks, Marcia! I do not have time now but I will read your post tommorrow (inshaa alah) with my book in my hands :D


message 34: by Niledaughter (last edited Jan 03, 2011 01:46AM) (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Marcia,
I think I may be ready to start in few days (in shaa alah) , thanks for the notes ; I read them and I will keep them in mind , My edition is not the anniversary one , neither Lastadri’s link worked with me :( . in my book ; the translator introduction is about the importance of the book and the translation process , then Edward’s original intro follows .

BTW .. you may not be going down the Nile on one of those big diesel-belching boats now :p but when we arrive to Egypt ; we may take a side tour in the Nile in one of our traditional boats (Feluccas )so prepare your motion sickness medicine ;)

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message 35: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
Nile daughter wrote: "Marcia,
I think I may be ready to start in few days (in shaa alah) , thanks for the notes ; I read them and I will keep them in mind , My edition is not the anniversary one , neither Lastadri’s ..."


Oh, elhamdullallah, I love a good felucca ride! Too chilly for one now, maybe in a couple months. :-)

Let me see if my scanner works, and I will post the preface.


message 36: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
Michelle recommends this video on Orientalism.

So, even if you're not reading, spend a few minutes listening to Edward Said talk about his major work:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH2T6a...

Or, if you ARE reading, this can help spur you along!


message 37: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
I read the preface and intro early in the week but have yet to start the first chapter. I almost feel like i should read the preface and intro again...Said's brain is astounding.


message 38: by Niledaughter (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Marcia,

I watched the 4 parts of the intrview and added them to GR , Thank you so much !!

N.B
I have not start reading :(


message 39: by Bernadette (new) - added it

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Ooooohhh, an interview does sound like a good way to help spur us along! I've got a copy of the book now and I hope to start it this week.


message 40: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
I had better write up some comments on Part I soon. Forgot that I'm giving birth mid-Feb. Yikes.


message 41: by Niledaughter (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Marcia ...that is a very good news ,(te2omy bel salama) :D

I started reading , still in intro (finished part one going in two) ..I know I am slow , but it has a difficult approach somehow !

I read the translator intro partly , the main point I got , is not to receive this book as only an analytic look into history , or the relation between east and west , but a discovering the power of Knowledge and its role in domination , how can I see others through the eyes I see myself , making the productive representation the absolute truth .

For Said intro , the multiple definitions of need to be re-read , the part discussing the difference between : England and France from side and USA from anther side was interesting .

I know I seem stupid , but i will do more effort :o


message 42: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
Nile daughter wrote: "Marcia ...that is a very good news ,(te2omy bel salama) :D

I started reading , still in intro (finished part one going in two) ..I know I am slow , but it has a difficult approach somehow !

..."


Not at all! I am not sure about the translation, but I think that---generally---reading Said, you need some time to warm up to him. But then, the more you grow used to his style, the clearer it becomes.

So glad you've started on this journey!


message 43: by Marieke, Former moderator (new) - added it

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Marcia wrote: "I had better write up some comments on Part I soon. Forgot that I'm giving birth mid-Feb. Yikes."

that made me laugh! you "forgot."

i still have to start Part 1. it was a lot of work to get through the preface and intro--he is a super smart guy who knows a lot of stuff!! i need to watch the videos, as well...i'm sure they will help.


message 44: by Niledaughter (last edited Jan 12, 2011 11:43AM) (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
Marcia
thanks ,I will resume after my weekend , thanks :)

Mariieke
I liked the videos !


message 45: by Bernadette (new) - added it

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments My thoughts/connections after reading the preface and introduction:

My understanding is that “Orientalism”, as Said is using the term, is the “lens” (to borrow a term from the video) that is distorting the West's view of the East. And Said's goal with this book is to analyze this lens – how it began, how and why it was perpetuated, the implications for people in both the West and the East, etc.

The idea of a “lens” automatically took me back to my university days when I was studying geography. One of my professors was constantly discussing our “cultural glasses” (as he held his hands, fingers splayed, upside down over his eyes) – our own thoughts and beliefs through which we viewed – and judged - other cultures. He was always pushing us to “take off these glasses” and that is exactly what (I think) Said is trying to get us to do – to realize we, as Westerners, are wearing these glasses and, that for a more authentic understanding of the East, we need to take them off! I'm excited that Said will be also addressing the effect of this Orientalist lens on “Orientals” themselves – something that my husband and I have often talked about.

So, to Marcia's Point 3:

"To say this may seem quite different from saying that all academic knowledge about India and Egypt is somehow tinged and impressed with, violated by, the gross political fact---and yet that is exactly what I am saying in this study of Orientalism."

I agree with Marcia that we are all tinged with these ideas. It is hard to ignore our “Mother Culture” - the beliefs, ideas, impressions, stereotypes, etc. that are portrayed and passed on to us through our parents, the media, public education, government policy, etc. And all (usually) without our conscious knowledge!

As Said quotes Gramsci: “The starting-point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is 'knowing thyself' as a product of the historical process to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory. Therefore it is imperative at the outset to compile such an inventory.”

It is our “Mother Culture” (a term I first encountered in Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit) who has left many of these traces on us and I am confident that Said's work will help us all begin to make such an inventory.

Other random connections:

A recent article in Saudi Aramco World, “America's Arabian 'Cuppa Joe'” , discusses American Orientalism and coffee advertisements.

Then there's “Behind Orientalism's Veil” about Orientalist art. Interesting – most of the buyers of this art today are Middle Eastern.

The magazine has several other related articles if anyone is interested in searching for more information – Edward Lane, Flaubert, and more about Orientalist art.

(This book is going to be a definite challenge to get through – but one I am looking forward to. I wrote this post with a horrible head cold and 7 loud Bedouin children in my garden. I hope it makes sense!)


Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 41 comments I started the book yesterday and am half way through the Introduction, not the Anniversary edition which I may try yet to get. Appreciate what Marcia said [Message 31] about reading lightly -- a good idea as otherwise I may not get through this.

I hope that the discussion will help me understand and delve more deeply when pertinent. Also appreciated the link to the video and listening to Said. I'm hoping to read this book in two months by reading 8-10 pages/day (50-70/week).


message 47: by Niledaughter (last edited Jan 17, 2011 01:22AM) (new) - added it

Niledaughter | 2798 comments Mod
I finished the intro , I am more into the book now , I can not add any notes but one : I just relished that the book was not addressing only the west as I thought before , it is addressing us too , to realize the affect of that term – orientalism -on us !

Bernadette , I loved that glasses example !
The oriental art article was very interesting , I find the remark about :specially paintings from “Enter the Harem” were bought by clients from the Arab world ,pushing me wondering … why ? - little bit out of topic or in …not sure - Last week I was reading about (Algerian women in their apartment) painting while I was reading about Assia Djebar , I found myself remembering that while reading that article !


Catherine ,
I am so glad you joined us :D


Catherine  Mustread (cuiblemorgan) | 41 comments End of Part 3 of Chapter 1, The Scope of Orientalism. I'm finding this quite difficult -- reminds me of required reading, but certainly does makes some good points, when I can understand them. Seems like excess verbiage, but I think that is because it is scholarly and he is defending every point he makes.


message 49: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new) - added it

Marcia Lynx | 158 comments Mod
Catherine wrote: "End of Part 3 of Chapter 1, The Scope of Orientalism. I'm finding this quite difficult -- reminds me of required reading, but certainly does makes some good points, when I can understand them. Se..."

If there's a particular passage/area that gives you trouble, you want to note it and we can all talk it through?


message 50: by Bernadette (new) - added it

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments I need to pick this book back up!! I agree with you, Catherine, about the excess verbiage - there's a lot to get through to find his points! Good idea, Marcia, about talking through difficult passages on here.


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