Glossary of Orientalisms


Note:  in the text of each entry, users will find terms for Orientalisms sometimes highlighted in bold and sometimes highlighted in italics.  Bold Orientalisms (e.g. Aboriginal Orientalism) refer to main entries in this glossary.  Italicized Orientalisms (e.g. Afro Orientalism) do not have their own entry but are referred to in an another entry, which is indicated by a "See" entry (e.g. Afro Orientalism. See Black Orientalism).



Deep Orientalism


Sheldon Pollock coined this term in a controversial 1993 article devoted to broadening the scope of Edward W. Said’s notion of Orientalism as being a Western ideology of European colonial power and domination. Pollock argues that the deep commitment 19th and earlier 20th century German scholars made to Indology in the absence of any colonial agenda (unlike the French or British) suggests that Said’s view of Orientalism was too limited.  He then plays with the idea that Said’s Orientalism is only a species of a deeper, more fundamental ideology of domination, which in the German case was directed at discovering Germany’s European identity and to dominating (“colonizing”) Europe rather than Asia, which is especially seen in German National Socialism.  German Indology, he argues further, also points to a link between pre-colonial Indian ideologies of power and those of latter-day German National Socialism, thus expanding the notion of Orientalism to a still deeper level of equating it with virtually all “discourses of domination” whatever their origin—Europe or Asia.  Pollock’s article has received attention in the larger community of scholars studying Orientalism, but his notion of “deep Orientalism” has not been become a part of the vocabulary of Orientalism studies and generally has received little ongoing attention.  There is a sense that it so broadens the basic concept of Orientalism as to render it superfluous—i.e. if Orientalism encompasses virtually every “discourse of domination,” the term loses any specificity.  It isn’t needed.  Among some Indian scholars, however, Pollock’s apparent linking of ancient India to modern Nazism and Sanskrit to the Holocaust is felt to be repellent and to amount to scholarly malpractice so that the controversies surrounding “deep Orientalism” continue to live on to a degree in India.  [6/19]

See also: Internal Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Vishwa P. Adluri, “Pride and Prejudice: Orientalism and German Indology.” International Journal of Indian Studies 15 (2011); Ashay, “The Shallowness of Pollock’s ‘Deep Orientalism’,” 2016. At A Critique of Contemporary Indology (, accessed 6/19; Wilhelm Halbfass, “Research and Reflection: Responses to My Respondents.” In Beyond Orientalism: The Work of Wilhelm Halbfass and its Impact on Indian and Cross-Cultural Studies (Motilal Barnardsidass, 2007); Purva Paksha, “Sheldon Pollock’s Idea of a ‘National-Socialist Indology’” (Paper, The First Swadeshi Indology Conference, 2016); Sheldon Pollock, "Deep Orientalism? Notes on Sanskrit and Power Beyond the Raj." In Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)

Demotic Orientalism

John M. MacKenzie (1995) coined this term to describe a form of Victorian British popular Orientalism that involved the use of supposedly Oriental aesthetic styles in various forms of popular Victorian architecture associated with entertainment and leisure activities, for example, in seaside resort architecture. A number of factors including the growth of the middle class and increasing amounts of disposable income led to the emergence of demotic (from the Greek demos, “the people”) Orientalism in the mid-19th century as a popularization of what had previously been a leisure industry limited primarily to the elite. While the inspiration for these styles may have been more artistic than ideological, demotic Orientalist architects still imagined and constructed an essential, changeless Orient as the source of that inspiration.

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Architectural Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Seaside Orientalism, Victorian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Teresa Breathnach, “For Health and Pleasure: The Turkish Bath in Victorian Ireland.” Victorian Literature and Culture 32 (2004); Fred GrayDesigning the Seaside (Reaktion Books, 2006); John M. MacKenzieOrientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester, 1995).


This term is not frequently used by scholars. When they do use it, they generally use it to describe the application of Jacques Derrida's "strategy of deconstruction" (deconstructionism) to Orientalist discourses. De-Orientalism is thus a form of critical analysis that intends to unpack ("deconstruct") the deeper meanings and assumptions underlying the ways in which Orientalists imagine and construct Others, most frequently as being essentially inferior. The goal of de-Orientalism is usually to redress the injustices that underlie Orientalist stereotypes. Scholars point out, however, that "de-Orientalists" often end up playing the same Orientalist game of treating groups of people as categories who are essentially "inferior" because of their Orientalism. Thus, for example, Australian discourses of various sorts can be deconstructed as being essentially Orientalist in nature, showing that Australians, again generally, engage in unjust stereotyping of Others—which judgment is itself an unfair (covert) Orientalist stereotyping of "all" Australians. Interestingly, scholars who use this term do not apply it to Edward W. Said's book, Orientalism (1978), even though a number of other scholars have observed that in it Said was in fact deconstructing the idea of Orientalism.

See also: Covert Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Joanna R. BarlowSubject to Change: The Lessons of Latin American Women’s Testimonio for Truth, Fiction, & Theory (U. of North Carolina, 2005); Steven Heine, “Ie-ism and the Discourse of Postmodernismin Relation to Nativism/ Nationalism/Nihonism.” In Japan in Traditional and Postmodern Perspectives (State U. of New York, 1995); Brett Levinson, “The Death of the Critique of Eurocentrism: Latinamericanism as a Global Prasix/Poiesis.” Revista de Estudios Hispanicos 31 (1997); Jeff Lewis, “The Blind Puppeteer: the Australia Indonesia Communications Relationship in the Postmodern Context” (Ph.D. diss, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, 1994).

Desert Orientalism

This term is very rarely used, appearing primarily in Priya Satia's, Spies in Arabia (2008). The relationship, however, of the desert to Orientalist imaginings and constructions is more widely recognized in the scholarly literature on the notion of Orientalism. Satia uses this term to describe late 19th century and early 20th century British romantic fiction's attraction to the vast and austere openness of especially the deserts of Arabia and Egypt, which are seen to have a spiritual, mythic, and mystical quality. Hsu-Ming Teo, who does not use this term as such, also describes how British authors imagined these deserts as being "a landscape of the exotic" and "a primitive, romantic geography" and; and he also notes the connection between the desert and spirituality. Although not directly tied to this term, European Orientalist artists have historically produced many paintings of desert landscapes. [revised 7/17]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Fictional Orientalism, Geographical Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism.


Sources & Examples: Priya SatiaSpies in Arabia: the Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East(Oxford, 2008); Hsu-Ming TeoDesert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels (U. of Texas, 2012).

Dialectical Orientalism

Scholars generally use this term and the term Orientalist dialectic to describe an approach to the study of Western ideological Orientalism that is an alternative to and frequently critical of Edward W. Said's notion of Orientalism—i.e. Saidian Orientalism. Scholars critical of Said argue that his treatment of Orientalism is too one-sided, rigid and negative. Specifically, he constructs Western Orientalism as being essentially a set of virtually absolute oppositions (Us versus Them, West versus East), which he contends have enabled Western colonialism and imperialism. Some of these critics propose instead a (dialectical) method that sees Orientalist binary relationships as being complex, interdependent, reflexive, situational, and more both-and instead of either-or. These scholars sometimes claim that historical European Orientalists have actually employed such a (dialectical) approach, and they also argue that scholars of Orientalism themselves should be more sensitive to the complexities of Western understandings of the Orient and do well to apply their own dialectical methodology to that end. Defenders of Said claim that a closer reading shows that he himself did have a nuanced approach open to the interdependent nature of binary Orientalist relationships. Other scholars critical of Said also argue that he focuses his attention too narrowly on especially French and British Orientalisms dating from the late 18th century. They contend that Europeans prior to the 18th century had a more nuanced and complex relationship with "the Orient," especially the Ottoman Empire, which, again, is better understood by employing a dialectical approach to the study of those earlier periods. While both of these terms can be used interchangeably, scholars tend to use the term "dialectical Orientalism" to discuss broader issues of methodology and the term "Orientalist dialectic" to focus on the interactions within those relationships themselves. Marilyn Ivy, for example, uses the term "Orientalist dialectic" to describe the ways in which the West has (dialectically) imagined Buddhism as a repository of traditional virtues useful to the modern West, constructed Buddhists as backwards (and not useful), and posited Buddhism itself as a pre-modern resource for the modern West, a kind of middle ground between the (dialectical) poles of the primitive and the modern.  [10/18]

See also: Anti-Orientalism (First Usage), Binary Orientalism, Comparativist Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Dialectical Orientalism: Marcus Keller & Javier Irigoyen-García,“Introduction: The Dialectics of Early Modern Orientalism.” In The Dialectics of Orientalism in Early Modern Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); Victor Li, “Edward Said’s Untidiness,” 2004.  At Postcolonial Text (  Accessed 10/18; Shlomy Mualem, “Imaginative Geography: Dialectical Orientalism in Borges.”  Trasnsmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 6 (2016); Tanya Narozhna & W. Andy Knight, Female Suicide Bombings: A Critical Gender Approach (Toronto Press, 2016); Satoshi Toyosaki & Eric Forbush, “Japan’s Internationalization: Dialectics of Orientalism and Hybridism,” 2017. At ResearchGate (, accessed 10/18.  Orientalist Dialectic: Sylvia Chan-Malik, “Chadors, Feminists, Terror : The Racial Politics of U.S. Media Representations of the 1979 Iranian Women's Movement
.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 637 (2011); Jagvinder Gill, "Re-Oriented Britain – How British Asian Travellers and Settlers have Utilised and Reversed Orientalist Discourse 1770-2010" (Ph.D. diss., Warwick, 2010); Marilyn Ivy, “Modernity.” In Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism (U. of Chicago, 2005); Ann Kontor, “The Bold and the Beautiful: A Courtois Saladin?” Chimères 28 (2004); Andria D. Timmer, “Constructing the ‘Needy Subject’: NGO Discourses of Roma Need.” PoLAR 33 (2010).

Dialogic Orientalism

Debashish Banerji has used this otherwise extremely rarely used term to describe an alternative, spiritual form of Romantic Orientalism identified with the Indian nationalist thinker Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) who imagined and sought to construct a critically insightful dialogue between the "rational" West and "spiritual" India, which reveals that each shares the essential characteristics of the Other. The goal of this dialogue is a mutual transformation leading to the possibility of new futures.

See also: Alternative Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Spiritual Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Debashish Banerji, “Sri Aurobindo, India, and Ideological Discourse.” Collaboration: Journal of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother  34 (2009).

Disguised Orientalism. See Hidden Orientalism.

Dissident Orientalism

Laurence Cox coined this term to describe Europeans who embrace aspects of Asia, particularly Asian religions, and then use what they embrace to critique their own society. Cox uses the term specifically to describe Irish converts to Buddhism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

See also: Alternative Orientalism, Counter-Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Laurence CoxBuddhism and Ireland: From the Celts to the Counter-culture and Beyond (Equinox. 2013); Laurence Cox, “Rethinking Early Western Buddhists: Beachcombers, ‘Going Native’ and Dissident Orientalism.” Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 14 (2013).

Divergent Orientalism. See Self-Orientalism.

Dogmatic Orientalism

This rarely used term is used by a very few scholars to refer to the most rigid, unthinking, and uncompromising forms of ideological Orientalism, which assume that the West is truly superior to the East ("Orient") in the real world. Dogmatic Orientalism is thus taken to be the Orientalism described by Edward W. Said (1978)—that is, Saidian Orientalism.

See also: Anti-Islamic Orientalism, Blatant Orientalism, Hard Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Islamic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Kerim Balci, “S-type Dogmatic Orientalism.” World Bulletin 7 (2008); Deborah Jean Lisle, “The Politics of Contemporary Travelogues” (M.A. thesis, McGill, 1992); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Domestic Orientalism. See Internal Orientalism.

Double Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually in one of two ways. First, some scholars use it to describe situations in which an Other is treated as having two different but mutually reinforcing essential characteristics. China is, for example, seen as being both essentially Asian ("Oriental") and essentially Communist; or, again, Japan is treated as being both the very essence of traditional Asia but also of modern techno-Orientalism.  Second, other scholars use this term to describe situations in which a nation that is itself the object of Orientalist prejudice, such as Japan, in turn treats another nation, such as Tibet or Nepal, as being in some sense essentially inferior. Other scholars use the terms secondary Orientalism (second usage) or nesting (nested) Orientalism to describe this second type of double Orientalism. In addition, a few other scholars use this term idiosyncratically to describe other situations in which essentializing Orientalist categories are applied in two related ways, such as when Orientalisms in historical novels are said to reflect and even promote Orientalisms in real life.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Neo-Victorian Orientalism, Nesting [Nested] Orientalism, Secondary Orientalism (2nd definition).

Sources & Examples: Amir Abbasi, “Islam and Africa Terms,” n.d. At Quizlet (, accessed 10/17; Robert Barnett, “Violated Specialness’: Western Political Representations of Tibet.” In Imagining Tibet—Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies (Wisdom Publications, 2001); Dina GusejnovaEuropean Elites and Ideas of Empire, 1917-1957 (Cambridge, 2016); Toshio Miyake, “Towards Critical Occidentalism Studies: Re-inventing the ‘West’ and ‘Japan’ in Mangaesque Popular Cultures.” In Contemporary Japan: Challenges for a World Economic Power in Transition (Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 2016); Umemura Mugio,“Visual Images of Japanese Culture
 in Geography Textbooks in Italy (1912-2014).” In New Steps in Japanese Studies (Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 2017); Jane Chi Hyun ParkYellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema (Minnesota, 2010); Greg Perreault, "'Islam Is Everywhere': Pre-Arab Spring Coverage of Islam in the English Egyptian Press." Journal of Media and Religion, 13 (2014); Daný van Dam, "A Conscious Failure to Pass: Dressing across Sexual and Racial Borders in Neo-Victorian Fiction." Neo-Victorian Studies 9 (2017).

Dramatic Orientalism. See Theatrical Orientalism.

Dualistic Orientalism. See Binary Orientalism.