Which framework serves best for the relationship between the concepts of Orientalism and Occidentalism?

Term Paper, 2008

8 Pages, Grade: 2,3


1. Introduction

Globalization has led many authors to finding explanations for the connections between the different cultures. Three of the most discussed concepts which aim at explaining these relations are Huntington's “Clash of Civilizations”, Ritzer's “McDonaldization” and Pieterse's “Hybridization”. Two more focused views of each others culture are Said's concept of “Orientalism” and Buruma's and Margalit's “Occidentalism”.

The question is, how the link of these two concepts fit in one of the paradigms mentioned above. In the following I will argue, that the concept of McDonaldization will serve as the best framework for this relationship. To achieve this goal I will first sketch the concepts of Orientalism and Occidentalism. After that, it is important to explain what the relationship between the two concepts is about, in order to assign this relation to a framework. Before arguing why the McDonaldization thesis serves best, I will explain why Hybridization and Clash of Civilizations do not fit as a framework for the relationship between Orientalism and Occidentalism.

2. The Concepts of Orientalism and Occidentalism

2.1 Orientalism

Orientalism (Said, 1978) describes a Western, eurocentric view on the societies of the Orient and the Arabic world. This view expresses dominance and authority over the Orient and furthermore a feeling of advantage and superiority of the West over the East. Said describes two forms of Orientalism. The “latent” form is an unspoken and unconscious notion what Orient means. This certainty, that the West is better than the East, never changes, it is static. The Orient is always seen as “The Other”, as backward and different, no matter what information is found. New knowledge will only change the “manifest” Orientalism, which is the form that is spoken and acted upon, for example in political actions.

Still nowadays this thinking is part of the political, academic and intellectual culture in which the enlightened West dominates the “mysterious” Orient. The West thinks, that it holds the power of definition. He defines the human situation in the East and as outcome of this, takes away their right of self-determination. Accordingly there are exotistic, culturalistic and racist pictures which serve as the legitimation of colonizing the Orient. (Said, 1978)

2.2 Occidentalism

Buruma and Margalit define “(...) Occidentalism as the dehumanising picture of the West painted by its enemies.” (Boer, 2004, p. 1541) Their main thesis is, that these views, which form Occidentalism, actually have their roots in the West and were later transferred over the globe. Boer summarizes Burumas and Margalits point: “There was and is resistance against liberal democracy in the West itself. The roots of Occidentalism are to be found in Europe, in German romanticism, which was a reaction to the enlightenment and the French revolution.” (Boer, 2004, p. 1541) An Occidentalist is therefore always connected to the Occident itself.

Occidentalists see the West as a soft and mediocre civilization, which is unheroic and corrupt (Buruma, 2004, p. 55). The mind of the West “(...) is a mind without a soul, efficient, like a calculator, but hopeless at doing what is humanly important. (...)” (Buruma, 2004, p. 75).

2.3 Relationship between Orientalism and Occidentalism

Before allocating a proper paradigm to the relationship between Orientalism and Occidentalism, it is essential to understand, what this relation is about. Obviously both concepts are a description of another culture. Both are of course not an objective analysis, but a stereotypical allocation of mostly negative characteristics. Either concept is doing the same, which is the formation of identity. It does not only shape the identity of the enemy, but also its own, by stating, that the own culture is the dominant and better one, and that the other should be colonized or even destroyed. So at the first glance, the concepts are in very bipolar order. But as mentioned before, both, Occidentalism and Orientalism have its roots in the West. Therefore it is necessary to analyze which implications arise from these circumstances regarding the relationship between the two concepts. Buruma and Margalit point out “(...) that no Occidentalist, even the most fervent holy warrior, can ever be entirely free of the Occident.” (Boer, 2004, p. 1542). This implies, at least for Buruma and Margalit and we have to keep the focus on their demonstrations in order not to go beyond the scope, that the concept of Occidentalism is an outcome of western civilizations, even if it is a critique of it.


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Which framework serves best for the relationship between the concepts of Orientalism and Occidentalism?
Maastricht University
Cultural Diversity and Gender in Global Perspective
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ISBN (eBook)
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445 KB
globalisierung, global world, clash of civilizations, McDonaldisation, hybridization, hybridisierung, orientalism, orientalismus, occidentalism, okzidentalismus, edward said, framework, culture, kultur, exotistic, culturalistic, racist, rassismus, orient, Buruma, Margalit, Huntington, orientalist, okzidentalist, zivilisation, global politics, identity, cultural identity, kulturelle identität, ethnie, westen, osten, land, staat, country, staaten, länder, countries, global order, global melange, bordercrossing, Cultural mixing, McDonaldizing
Quote paper
Markus Stegmann (Author), 2008, Which framework serves best for the relationship between the concepts of Orientalism and Occidentalism?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/149312


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