Edward Wadie Said born in
Jerusalem to Palestinian
Preeminent scholar and an
important figure in
Well known as an activist in
Middle Eastern politics
A cultural critic best known for
the 1978 book Orientalism.
Orientalism means the study of Near and Far
Eastern societies and cultures, languages, and
peoples by Western scholars.
Orientalism by Edward Said is a cononical text
of cultural studies in which he challenges the
concept of orientalism or the difference
between east and west.
Crisis ( In Orientalism):
• Edward Said in his essay “ Crisis “ describes the
dissimilarity between reality and what texts say about
reality, using what Orientalists say about the orients in
• “ What seems unexceptionable good sense to these writers
is that it is a fallacy to assume that the swarming,
unpredictable and problematic mess in which human
beings live can be understood on the basis of what books-texts
say; to apply what one learns out of book to reality is
to risk folly or ruin.”
Two situations that favor a textual attitude: One is,when a
human being confronts at close quarters something
unknown and threatening and previously distant, one has
to recourse not only to one’s previous experience but also
to what one has read about it.
For Example : travel books and guide books.
Second is appearance of success.
Said sets this up to describe the Orientalist- a group of
intellectuals from the west .
For the Orientalists the Orient, was something to be
encountered and dealt with to a certain extent.
This happened because of the mysteriousness of the Orient
to the Westerners.It was the text of the Orientalists, from
the West, that shaped the image and reality of the Orient.
They held a textual attitude towards the Orient.
Said next move is “ preposterous transition” – Orientalists
overrode the Orient.
This transition comes down to Westerners wanting to
control the Orient, to dehumanize them in a way to make
the Orient their own, their slave.
Thus, Said relates Orientalism to Colonization.
“ to colonize meant at first the identification – indeed, the
creation of interests; these could be commercial,
communicational, military, religious, cultural.”
Orientalism is grounded in text. It is then a textual and
mental colonization of the Orient. This makes the
Orientalists to control the Orient.
Said says ,“ It is as if ,on the one hand, a bin called ‘
Oriental’ existed into which all the authoritative,
anonymous and traditional Western attitude to the East
were dumped. On the other, true to the trsdition of
storytelling, one could nevertheless tell of experiences
with or in the Orient.”
One important thing that Said points out is that the
modern Orientalists stands apart from the Orient, yet still
shapes that image and forms a textual opinion of
something so far from reality.
His Orient is not the Orient as it is, but the Orient as it has
By the end of World War I both Africa and Orient formed
not so much an intellectual spectacle for the West. The
scope of Orientalism matched the scope of empire that
provoked crisis in history of western thought about Orient.
Said brings out that, a white middle-class Westerner
believes that it is human prerogative not only to manage
the non-white world but also to own it, just because by
definition ’it’ is not quite as human as ‘we’ are.
It is this dehumanization that Said connotes with
Said finishes his essay describing his and the Orient’s
“ The present crisis dramatizes the disparity between texts
He not only exposes the source of Orientalism’s views but
also to reflect on its importance, for the contemporary
intellectual feels that to ignore a part of the world is to
So this avoiding of reality is the crisis.