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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).



Faddish Orientalism. See Orientalist Fad.

Fairy Orientalism

Aidan Day uses this term to describe the relationship of the "magical realism" of Angela Carter (Angela Olive Carter-Pearce) to ideological Orientalism. Philippe Saad uses it more broadly to describe a poetic imagination of the exotic.

See also: Exotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Poetic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Aidan Day, "Angela Carter's Fairy Orientalism: ‘Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsumer Night's Dream’." Marvels & Tales 26 (2012); Philippe Charles Saad, “Beirut and Mount Sannin…A Contemporary Orientalist Myth.” In The Mediteranean Medina (Gangemi Editore International Publishing, 2009).

Fake Orientalism. See False Orientalism.

False Orientalism

This term is one of a family of terms that critics, commenters, and scholars of the arts across a number of aesthetic and literary fields use to describe Orientalisms that misrepresent the "true Orient". These terms include: (1) False Orientalism, which serves here as the umbrella term for the whole family; (2) Artificial Orientalism, which adds a nuance to the treatment of “false” Orientalisms by seeing them as unnatural; (3) Bogus Orientalism(4) Ersatz Orientalism(5) Fake Orientalism(6) Faux Orientalism, which, similarly to “imitation Orientalism,” suggests that things genuinely Oriental serve as models for identifying fake imitations; (7) Imitation Orientalism, which is generally used to describe Orientalisms that take genuine Orientalisms as a model and thus are not themselves genuine; (8) Mock Orientalism(9) Phony (Phoney) Orientalism(10) Pseudo-Orientalism(11) Sham Orientalism(12) Simulated Orientalism, which also shares the sense of taking things genuinely Oriental as models; and (13) Spurious-Orientalism. [Note: the 2nd meaning of fictional Orientalism is actually a 14th term in this family (6/19).] These terms collectively represent a tradition in naming and describing the notion of Orientalism that is independent from and predates the work of Edward W. Said (1978). Where Said treats Orientalism in moral terms as an ideology of oppression, these critics use these terms to describe Orientalism as an aesthetic phenomenon, a matter of style and taste. In the Saidian tradition, Orientalisms are false representation of things Asian. In this tradition, there are such things as genuine Orientalisms, which by their very nature represent the real Asia.  Writing in 1862, an anonymous author  summarized this perspective when she or he described “sham Orientalism” as being an artificial treatment of Oriental styles that are “pretended imitations of oriental art” that are “practised and accepted in lieu” of the real thing (p. 385). [Source: “Gossip About the International Exhibition.”  The Builder 20, 1008 (31 May 1862): 384-386.] Based on the assumption that there are genuine Orientalisms, this tradition then argues that Western artists, composers, poets, playwrights, producers, decorators, architects, and designers have imagined and created their own versions of things Asian, ones that as a rule have little or nothing to do with the genuine Orient. They thus trade in artificial, bogus, ersatz, fake, false, faux, imitation, mock, phony, pseudo-, sham, simulated, or spurious Orientalisms.

Since at least 1860, then, critics, commenters, and scholars of the arts have used these 13 terms usually in one of two ways to describe the use of Oriental themes, subjects, styles, images, techniques, and content in music, opera, ballet, the theater, painting, literature, architecture, interior design, motion pictures, and other artistic fields.  First and much more frequently, they have used these terms to criticize false Orientalisms as being vapid, ill-designed, over-done, titillating, outlandish, inferior, affected, fantastical, sensuous, stylized, conventional, tedious, predictable, excessive, affected, melodramatic, turgid, commonplace, or a popular obsession—among other things. They argue that such false Orientalisms represent an unfortunate romantic influence on Western art that panders to popular tastes and amounts to misrepresentations that have little or nothing to do with the actual Orient. Thus, for example, over the years they have panned Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot (1926) as being an uncreative, even over-done example of mock, bogus, ersatz, faux, phony, or sham Orientalism that has exotic, oriental-like overtones. Second and less often, users of all of these terms have also recognized that there is a place for false Orientalisms in art if they are used circumspectly, creatively, and to provide a certain counterpoint to the opera, the poem, the interior design, the orchestral piece, or other work in question. More rarely, a critic will glory in a full-blown, uninhibited use of such Orientalisms. Bernard Carragher (n.d.) thus praises the production of the musical comedy, Aladdin (2011), because it “is never slowed down by the inanities of the plot, its bogus Orientalism or its fairy tale complications.” Such Orientalisms can at times be playful, colorful, melodic, and complex. Critics also observe that these Orientalisms can be used to deliver a message indirectly or to mask ideas that otherwise might be unacceptable to an audience. It should also be noted that Dick Pountain and David Robbins (2002) argue that the hippies of the 1960s reinvented many aspects of 19th century Romanticism including an emphasis on the imagination, personal feelings, and a fascination with the mysterious and exotic—all of which replicated 19th century mock Orientalism. 

Searches on these terms conducted in March 2019 using scholarly, book, and general search engines establish a tentative chronology for their use. According to that survey, six of these terms were in use in the 19th century as early as 1860, that is: Sham Orientalism (the first hit being 1860), Spurious Orientalism (1868), False Orientalism (1872), Pseudo-Orientalism (1874), Mock Orientalism (1879), and Artificial Orientalism (1896). In the decade of the 1910s, critics, commentators, and scholars of the arts apparently began to use three more terms of this family: Simulated Orientalism (1911), Fake Orientalism (1913), and Imitation Orientalism (1919). According to that survey, since that time, critics have added another four terms: Bogus Orientalism (1945), Phony Orientalism (1950), Ersatz Orientalism (1981), and Faux Orientalism (1994). Across the decades since 1860, critics and commentators have most frequently used the terms Pseudo-Orientalism (231 hits ), Faux Orientalism (115 hits), Fake Orientalism (103 hits),  Sham Orientalism (94 hits), False Orientalism (93 hits), and Mock Orientalism (90 hits). The rest of the terms had less than 70 hits with Imitation Orientalism having the fewest (8 hits). In sum, it is important to state again that across all of these decades, critics and others have consistently used these various terms in fundamentally the same way to describe and criticize aesthetic Orientalisms that supposedly are not genuinely Oriental.  [revised 4/19]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Authentic Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Fictional Orientalism, Genuine Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Musical Orientalism, Operatic Orientalism, Oriental Fad, Orientalist Myth, Pictorial Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Theatrical Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Artificial Orientalism: Nazlan Ertan, “Anatolian Travels at Arkas Cast Realistic Eye on 19th Century,” 2016.  At Hürriyet Daily News (, accessed 3/19; Linda NochlinThe Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-century Art and Society (Westview Press, 2010); Alistair Wightman, Karol Szymanowski: His Life and Work (Ashgate, 1999).  Bogus Orientalism: Bernard Carragher, “’Aladdin’,” n.d.  At Catholic Transcript Online (, accessed 3/19; Joseph Kerman, Opera as Drama, rev. ed. (U. of California, 1988); Barbara SpackmanAccidental Orientalists: Modern Italian Travelers in Ottoman Lands (Oxford, 2017).  Ersatz Orientalism: Oliver Arditi, “Luminous Monsters/Guranoman—We Go Wandering at Night and are Consumed by Fire (drone/math),” 2013. At Oliver Arditi (, accessed 3/19; Karl Gert zur Heide, “The Orientalization of American Show Business - A Selective Timeline,” 2011. At Brazilian Music Day (, accessed 3/19; Alfred Hickling, “Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Petrenko,” 2010. At The Guardian (, accessed 3/19; Dan Morgan, “CD Review: “The Swan—Classic Works for Cello and Orchestra,” n.d.  At MusicWeb International (, accessed 3/19.  Fake Orientalism: Anthony BurgessEarthly Powers (Europa Editions, 2012); Geoff Diggins, “Oriental Musical Fantasies at the Proms from François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles,” 2017. At Seen and Heard International (, accessed 3/19; Mark Kanny, “’Salome’ Will Be Told ‘in All It’s Gory Detail’ by Pittsburgh Opera," 2001. At TribLive (, accessed 3/19; Cy Musiker, “Aladdin Delights Despite Our Resistance," 2017. At KQED Arts (, accessed 3/19.  False Orientalism: Pyeaam Abbasi & Alireza Anushiravani, "Coleridge's Colonial Interest in Abyssinian Christianity." k@ ta12 (2010); Muna Al-Alwan, “The Orient ‘Made Oriental’: A Study of William Beckford’s ‘Vathek’.” Arab Studies Quarterly 30 (2008); Emily ApterContinental Drift: From National Characters to Virtual Subjects (Chicago, 1999); Emily Apter, “Ethnographic Travesties: Colonial Realism, French Feminism, and the Case of Elissa Rhaïs.” In After Colonialism: Imperial Histories and Postcolonial Displacements (Princeton, 1995); Gail Holst-Warhaft,  “The Tame Sown and the Wild Boar: Hybrdiization and the Rebetika.” In Songs of the Minotaur: Hybridity and Popular Music in the Era of Globalization (Lit Verlag, [2002]); Naji B. Oueijan, “Orientalism: The Romantics' Added Dimension; or, Edward Said Refuted.” In Romanticism in its Modern Aspects: Review of National Literatures and World Report (Council on National Literatures, 1998); “Art. II-1. Dunlop’s History of Fiction. 2. The Works of Daniel Defoe...” The Quarterly Review 178 (1894).  Faux Orientalism: David Karlin, “Faux Orientalism Meets La Dolce Vita: Garsington’s L’italiana in Algeria,” 2016. At bachtrack(, accessed 3/19; Rachel Mikos, "Hidden in Plain Sight: The Story of ‘Mother Mongolia’." Mongolo-Tibetica Pragensia 136 (2013); J. Scott Morrison, “A Pleasant Faux-Oriental Ballet & A Fine Overture,” 2006. At (, accessed 3/19.  Imitation Orientalism: Donal Henahan, “Opera: ‘Satyagraha,’ Taale of Ghandi, in Brooklyn,” 1981. At The New York Times (, accessed 3/19.  Mock Orientalism: Srinivas AravamudanEnlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (Chicago, 2012); James Huneker, Egoists, a Book of Supermen: Stendahl, Baudelaire... (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1921); Charles Kent, ed.The Works of Father Prout (The Rev. Francis Mahony) (George Routledge & Sons, 1881); John LowersonAmateur Operatics: a Social and Cultural History (Manchester, 2005); Dick Pountain & David Robins, Cool Rules: Anatomy of an Attitude (Reaktion, 2000).  Phony (Phoney) Orientalism: Denis FormanA Night at the Opera: An Irreverent Guide to The Plots, The Singers, The Composers, The Recordings (The Modern Library, 1994); Larry HamberlinTin Pan Opera: Operatic Novelty Songs in the Ragtime Era (Oxford, 2011).  Pseudo-Orientalism: A.V.B., “Lakmé {60}Metropolitan Opera House,” 1947. At Metopera Database (, accessed 3/19; Harlan P. BeachKnights of the Labarum: Being Studies in the Lives of Judson, Duff, Mackenzie and Mackay (Student Volunteer Movement, 1896); Anthony Clarke, “Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini…,” 2011. At Limelight: Australia’s Classical Music and Arts Magazine (, accessed 3/19; Abdulla Al-Dabbagh, Literary Orientalism, Postcolonialism, and Universalism (Peter Lang, 2010); Martha Pike ConantThe Oriental Tale in England in the Eighteenth Century (Columbia, 1908); Gerald Heard, “Kahlil Gibran: Comforter and Friend,” 1950. At New York Times on the Web (, accessed 3/16; Albert W. Ketelbey& “Ariel,” “Pseudo Orientalism.” The Musical Times 68 (1927).  Sham Orientalism: Gerald AbrahamOn Russian Music (William Reeves, 1939); Kenneth W. JonesArya Dharm: Hindu Consciousness in 19th-century Punjab (U. of California, 1976); Alfred C. LyallStudies in Literature and History (John Murray, 1915); George SaintsburyBallads and Contributions to ‘Punch’ 1842-1850 by William Makepeace Thackeray (Oxford, 1908).  Spurious Orientalism: James C. ManganJames Clarence Mangan: His Slected Poems (John Lanes, 1897); Rowland SmithJulian's Gods: Religion and Philosophy in the Thought and Action of Julian the Apostate (Routledge, 1995).

Fantastic Orientalism. See Orientalist Fantasy.

Fantasy Orientalism. See Orientalist Fantasy.

Fascist Orientalism

Scholars most frequently use this term to describe a form of hard Orientalism and was an element in European fascist ideology from the late 19th century. It is primarily associated with Italian and German fascism but can also include other fascist dictatorships such as in Argentina. Fascist Orientalists defined the East with the usual set of Orientalist stereotypes and prejudices, but they emphasized the supposedly feminine (weak, passive, irrational, decadent) nature of the "Orientals". They also were mostly anti-Semitic and overtly racist; and fascist Orientalism typically had as its goal the salvation and renewal of Western, white culture. Some scholars see fascist Orientalism as being closely connected to 19th century Romanticism.  Nazi Orientalism was a closely related form of fascist Orientalism, and sometimes scholars use "fascist Orientalism" to describe the same thing as Nazi Orientalism. Rarely, this term is used to mean a domineering type of Orientalism having nothing to do with the historical phenomenon of fascism.

See also: Anti-Semitic Orientalism, European Orientalism, Hard Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Nazi Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Sexist Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: J. J. ClarkeOriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought (Routledge, 1997); Frederico FinchelsteinTransatlantic Fascism: Ideology, Violence, and the Sacred in Argentina and Italy, 1919-1945 (Duke, 2010); Todd Kontje, German Orientalisms (U. of Michigan, 2004); Seung-hwan Lee, A Topography of Confucian Discourse: Politico-philosophical Reflections on Confucian Discourse Since Modernity (Homa & Sekey Books, 2004).

Fashion Orientalism

This term is one of a family of terms scholars use to describe the relationships between the design, production, advertising, and wearing of clothing and the notion of Orientalism. A number of the terms in this family—such as “Orientalist styling” or “Orientalist fabrics”—are not technical terms, being used simply as descriptive modifiers. The more technical scholarly terms include: (1) Fashion Orientalism itself, which serves here as an umbrella term for the whole family; (2) Orientalist Fashion (first definition),” which is a synonym for “fashion Orientalism”; (3) Sartorial Orientalism (or, “Sartorientalism,” a term coined by Jaimee K. Comstock-Skipp (2011) but otherwise seldom used), which functions similarly to “fashion Orientalism” but tends to focus on more sharply ideological issues concerning clothing as Orientalist “discourses”; (4) Orientalist Costume, which also functions similarly to “fashion Orientalism” but is usually used to describe the earlier, transitional stages of fashion Orientalism in the 19th and early 20th centuries; (5) Orientalist Masquerade, which is very close to “Orientalist costume” but emphasizes the role of costumes in masking identity where “Orientalist costume” usually refers more generally to wearing supposedly Asian-like garments; and (6) Transorientalism, a term coined by Adam Greczy to describe the unique relationship between the design and wearing of Orientalist clothing and the notion of Orientalism.

According to scholars, “Oriental” influences on western clothing styles and fabrics has a long history, which began to take ideological shape in the 16th century as Europe expanded outward toward Asia. From that time on for several centuries, orientalist fashions functioned as costumes that wittingly or unwittingly participated in the larger ideological movements of imagining and constructing “Orientals” as having essential, unchanging, exotic, and usually inferior natures. By the 19th century, however, Orientalist paintings and the emerging art of photography presented an increasingly large body of "Oriental" visual representations, which were replicated in the performing arts including the theater, ballet, opera, and even circuses where performers dressed in supposedly Oriental costumes that were gaudy and revealing. Scholars argue that wearing Orientalist costumes allowed especially (white) women performers to assert a more independent identity even as those costumes reinforced images of sensuality—a blended dynamic that is a key theme in the emergence of Orientalist fashion. The late 19th century women’s dress reform movement also contributed to a growing Western interest in Oriental dress, such as “harem pants,” which allowed women to dress in less constraining clothing. By the early 20th century, these various movements led to the transition from Orientalist costume to Orientalist fashion—that is from a more to a less ideological profile. Most scholars credit the French fashion designer, Paul Poiret (1879-1944), with being a key figure in that transition. In the United States, Hollywood also played a role in promoting fashion Orientalism as it became identified with female stardom in particular and then spread into the world of high society fashion. At heart, this transition was a commercial one as the design, manufacture, advertising, and sale of clothing inspired by Oriental styles became an important part of the Western fashion industry and Orientalist fashions entered the Western fashion mainstream.

Scholars observe that as Orientalist fashions had an increasingly large impact on Western dress, especially for women, it also increasingly reflected a very different kind of Orientalist dynamic from the one described by Edward W. Said (1978). He portrays Orientalism as being a dualistic Western colonialist and imperialist ideology that stereotypes “Orientals” in negative ways in order to exercise power over them. On the one hand, scholars of fashion Orientalism do not deny that there are clear links between the uses of Orientalist costume and Saidian Orientalism or that even today Oriental fashions can function as a medium of aesthetic Orientalist expression. On the other hand, Orientalist costuming and Orientalist masquerade have allowed especially women to experiment with presenting themselves in ways at once more exotic and more liberating. The transition to modern fashion Orientalism has only magnified this development, as Orientalist fashions became a key part of mainstream Western fashion. Scholars also note that the Orientalist clothing medium is different from other types of Orientalism in that people wear it physically and, thus, in a sense identify with an imagined “Orient”. Over the decades, meanwhile, fashion design has become increasingly divorced from ideological Orientalism as “Oriental” fashions are mixed and matched with other designs through generations of stylistic and design changes. Adam Geczy has coined the term Transorientalism to describe the complexities of fashion Orientalism. He also notes that fashion Orientalism in Asia is at times a type of reverse Orientalism by which Asians use certain fashion styles to imagine their national identity as well as promote Asian fashions for commercial purposes including tourism. That link between fashion and identity is a key theme in fashion Orientalism as religious, political, ethnic, or other minority groups also wear supposedly Oriental clothing styles to set themselves apart—as do social groups, clubs, and other organizations. Because of this complex, dynamic relationship between fashion and the notion of Orientalism, Geczy argues that the study of fashion Orientalism offers insights into the dynamics of other aesthetic Orientalisms, which similarly become more and more divorced from ideological Orientalism over the course of the decades.  [12/18]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Chinoiserie, Cinematic Orientalism, Commercial Orientalism, Consumer Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Eclectic Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, Fashionable Orientalism, Gendered (Gender) Orientalism, Hybrid Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Limited Orientalism, Material Orientalism, Meta-Orientalism, Operatic Orientalism, Oriental Enthusiasm, Oriental Fad, Oriental Look, Orientalist Fad, Orientalist Fashion, Pictorial Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism, Transorientalism, Visual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Fashion Orientalism: Hsin-Ying Cho, "The Study on the Relationship between Fashion and Orientalism." Journal of the Hwa Gang Textile 23 (2016); Adam GeczyFashion and Orientalism: Dress, Textiles and Culture from the 17th to the 21st Century (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013);  Yoo Jin Kwon & Min-Ja Kim, “Orientalism in Fashion.” Paideusis - Journal for Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Studie5 (2011); Hiroshi Narumi, “Fashion Orientalism and the Limits of Counter Culture.” Postcolonial Studies 3 (2000); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Peter Wollen, "Fashion/Orientalism/the Body." New Formations 1 (1987).  Orientalist Costume: Donatella Barbieri, Costume in Performance: Materiality, Culture, and the Body (Bloomsbury, 2017); K. M. Cockin, "Formations, Institutions and the 'Free Theatre': Edith's Pioneer Players 1911-25." Keywords 15 (2017); Berna Gueneli, “Orientalist Fashion, Photography, and Fantasies: Baron Max Oppenheim’s Arabian Nightsin Context.” German Quarterly 90 (2017); Fiona I. B. NgôImperial Blues: Geographies of Race and Sex in Jazz Age New York (Duke, 2014); Gaylyn Studlar"’Out Salomeing Salome’: Dance, The New Woman, and Fan Magazine Orientalism.” Michigan Quarterly Review 34 (1995); Rosie White, "‘You’ll be the Death of Me’: Mata Hari and the Myth of the Femme Fatale." In The Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).  Orientalist Fashion: Adam GeczyTransorientalism in Art, Fashion, and Film: Inventions of Identity (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2019); K. M. Cockin, "Formations, Institutions and the 'Free Theatre': Edith's Pioneer Players 1911-25." Keywords 15 (2017); Andrew S. Jones, “Kay Nielsen: Orientalism in the Illustration during the Belle Époque” (M.SA. thesis, U. of Alabama at Birmingham, 2009); Rosie White, "‘You’ll be the Death of Me’: Mata Hari and the Myth of the Femme Fatale." In The Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).  Orientalist Masquerade: Ali BehdadBelated Travellers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (Cork U., 1994); Pam Cook, “Picturing Natacha Rambova: Design and Celebrity Performance in the 1920s,” n.d. At screening the past (, accessed 12/18; Elizabeth M. SheehanModernism à la Mode: Fashion and the Ends of Literature (Cornell, 2018).  Sartorial Orientalism: Jaimee K. Comstock-Skipp, “Art Deco Sartorientalism in America: Persian Urban Turbans and Other Versions.” Chitrolekha International Magazine on Art and Design 1 (2011); Sally Howell, “Laying the Groundwork for American Muslim Histories: 1865-1965.” In The Cambridge Companion to American Islam (Cambridge, 2013); Minh-Ha T. Pham, “Beach of Passionate Love, 1950s,” 2011. At Threadbared (, accessed 12/18; Marie-Cecile Thoral, “Sartorial Orientalism: Cross-cultural Dressing in Colonial Algeria and Metropolitan France in the Nineteenth Century.” European History Quarterly 45 (2015).

Fashionable Orientalism

Scholars use this term normally to describe the use of "Oriental" themes in both the arts and popular culture including the cinema. These themes are understood to be exotic, extravagant, sumptuous, and ornate based on what is imagined to be Oriental tastes and aesthetics, which are often understood to be sensuous as well as culturally inferior to the West. Fashionable Orientalism's hey-day ran from the 18th century into the 20th century.

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Commercial Orientalism, Fashion Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism.

Faux Orientalism. See False Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Richard Dyer, “Cabiria.” In Directory of World Cinema: Italy (Intellect, 2011); Burton D. FisherLakmé: Story Synopsis, Principal Characters in the Opera, Story Narrative with Music Highlights, Background, Analysis, Commentary (Opera Journeys Publications, n.d.); Adrienne McLean, “The Thousand Ways There Are to Move: Camp and Oriental Dance in the Hollywood Musicals of Jack Cole.” In Visions of the East: Orientalism in Film (Rutgers, 1997); Richard Middleton, “Musical Belongings: Western Music and Its Low-Other.” In Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music (U. of California, 2000); Rosie ThomasBombay before Bollywood: Film City Fantasies (State U. of New York, 2013).

Fellaheen Orientalism

This very rarely used term is associated with the writings of author Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) and is an expression of beat Orientalism used by him to imagine and construct the Arab poor (fellaheen) as being essentially an admired, idealized Other. [revised 9/21]

See also: Beat Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Strategic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Jimmy FazzinoWorld Beats: Beat Generation Writing and the Worlding of U.S. Literature (Dartmouth, 2016); Rob Wilson, “Masters of Adaptation: Paul Bowles, the Beats, and ‘Fellaheen Orientalism.” Cultural Politics 8, 2 (2012).

Female Orientalism. See Feminist Orientalism.

Feminine Orientalism. See Feminist Orientalism.

Feminist Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually in one of two ways.  First, it can mean feminist analysis of ideological Orientalist discourses, institutions, and practices directed specifically against women. It is more usual for scholars to term this usage sexual Orientalism, and it is also sometimes called female Orientalism.  Second, this term is also used by scholars to encompass the various ways in which women participate in and exhibit Orientalist prejudices. In this usage, this term is sometimes used by feminist scholars specifically to analyze critically the ways in which the Western feminist movement has "Orientalized" women of other races and cultures, seeing themselves as superior to women especially in the East or South. Some scholars of feminist Orientalism reverse the term to read, "Orientalist feminism," which usually is applied to this second usage. And some scholars use the term feminine Orientalism instead of feminist Orientalism but with the same two meanings.

See also: Canadian Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Homoerotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Implicit Orientalism, French Orientalism, Neoliberal Orientalism, Paternalistic Orientalism, Sexist Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism; Women's Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Lila Abu-Lughod, "’Orientalism’ and Middle East Feminist Studies." Feminist Studies 27 (2001); Christina Ho, “Responding to Orientalist Feminism: Women’s Rights and the War on Terror.” Australian Feminist Studies 25 (2010); Reina Lewis, Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (Routledge, 1996); Joanna Liddle & Shirin Rai, "Feminism, Imperialism and Orientalism: the Challenge of the ‘Indian Woman’." Women's History Review 7 (1998); Sunaina Maira,“Belly Dancing: Arab-Face, Orientalist Feminism, and U.S. Empire.” American Quarterly 60 (2008); Charlotte Weber, "Unveiling Scheherazade: Feminist Orientalism in the International Alliance of Women, 1911-1950." Feminist Studies (2001); Meyda Yeğenoğlu, Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism (Cambridge, 1998); Joyce Zonana, "The Sultan and the Slave: Feminist Orientalism and the Structure of 'Jane Eyre'." Signs 18 (1993).

Fictional Orientalism

Scholars use this infrequently used term usually in one of two ways. First, it is used as an alternative for the term Oriental fiction.  Second, it is used to mean a made up, false, or fake ("fictional") Orientalism, such as a dress or architectural design that presents itself as "Oriental" but actually is not.  [11/18]

See also: False Orientalism, Oriental Fiction, Orientalist Fiction.

Sources & Examples: Meaning “Oriental Fiction”: Srinivas AravamudanEnlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (U. of Chicago, 2012); Abdulla Al-Dabbagh, Literary Orientalism, Postcolonialism, and Universalism (Peter Lang, 2010).  Meaning “Fake Orientalism”:  Richard H. Martin & Harold Koda, Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994).

Financial Orientalism. See Economic Orientalism.

Finnish Orientalism

Scholars note that Edward W. Said's book, Orientalism (1978), has had very little impact on the study of the Orient/Middle East among scholars in Finland, and there has been almost no inclination to examine esp. academic Orientalism—Said's focus—in Finland. Said has, rather, been seen as irrelevant because he was "trendy" and focused on French and British Orientalisms, where the Fins have tended to follow German approaches to Orientalism. As a result, very little research has been done on the ways in which Finns, including scholars, imagine and frame Others, near or far. What research has been done suggests that at least some Finnish Orientalists have treated Muslims and Arabs as having an essential identity that is inferior to the West, to one degree or another.

See also: Borealism, Ideological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scandinavian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Riina Isoltalo, “Edward Westermarck and Hilma Granqvist in the Field of Orientalist Discourse in Finland” (Paper, 3d Nordic Conference on Middle Eastern Studies, 1995); Hannu Juusola, "Notes on the Orientalism Debate and Orientalism in Finland." Studia Orientalia 114 (2013).

Flexible Orientalism

This term is not frequently used among scholars and usually not intended to be a specialized term. When it is used, however, it is usually used in one of at least three ways.  First, scholars most often use it to describe how Orientalists adapt the ways in which they imagine and construct an essential, exotic, and inferior Other to changing contexts and situations of the Other and/or to changing contexts, situations, and self-interests of the Orientalists themselves. Such changes take place over time, again as contexts, situations, and self-interests change.  Second, a few historians use this term specifically to describe the earlier 19th century British educational policy in colonial India that promoted both European and Indian classical learning.  This usage is more widely called Constructive Orientalism.  Third and more rarely, a few other scholars use this term to describe situations in which Western Orientalists understand "Orientals" to be less rigid and more adaptable at given times and in given contexts while remaining essentially "Oriental".

See also: Constructive Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Positive Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: J. H. BrimmellCommunism in South East Asia: A Political Analysis (Oxford, 1959); Ella M. Frantantuono, “Self-righteous Beneficence: American Diplomats and Missionary Perceptions of the Ottoman Empire, 1908-1914” (Thesis, Richmond, 2008); John Frow & Meaghan Morris, “Introduction.” In Australian Cultural Studies: A Reader (Illinois,1993); David KopfBritish Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: The Dynamics of Indian Modernization, 1773-1835 (U. of California, 1969); Jedidiah J. Kroncke, "Substantive Irrationalities and Irrational Substantivities: The Flexible Orientalism of Islamic law." UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law 4 (2004-2005); Rebecca L. Stein, “Traveling Zion.” Interventions 11 (2009).

Folk Orientalism

Gisli Pálsson uses this otherwise seldom-used term to describe a form of ideological, popular Orientalism historically found in Iceland, which tells tales enshrined in sagas about an essential Self opposed to exotic, outlandish Others.  Scholars use this term mostly when citing Pálsson. 

See also: Popular Orientalism, Scandinavian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Paul BurkeLaw's Anthropology: From Ethnography to Expert Testimony in Native Title (ANU E Press, 2011); Gísli PálssonThe Textual Life of Savants: Ethnography, Iceland, and the Linguistic Turn (Routledge, 1995); Vilhjalmur Stefansson & Gísli PálssonWriting on Ice: The Ethnographic Notebooks of Vilhjalmur Stefansson (U. Press of New England, 2001).

French Orientalism

Beginning with Edward W. Said (1978), modern-day scholars and students of Orientalism frequently use the notion of Anglo-French Orientalism to describe important aspects of French Orientalism, which aspects it shared in parallel with British Orientalism. Both emerged during the 16th century; both were originally dominated by amateur scholars including travelers to the East; both were embodied in rich artistic and literary traditions and had parallel economic concerns; both became closely tied to and justifiers of their respective nation’s colonial expansion in Asia and North Africa; and both French and British Orientalisms shared a common ideological heritage rooted in a tradition of both admiration for and fear of “the Turk”. They shared a common body of knowledge about the Orient, and developed parallel academic establishments dedicated to the study and expansion of that knowledge. From a Saidian perspective, both exhibited a profound antipathy to the Orient treating it ideologically as having one essential, timeless, and irredeemable nature that has usually been taken to be to be inferior to the West. Most scholars accept the premise that Anglo-French Orientalism greatly influenced European Orientalism generally and was the heart and soul of late 18th century to mid 20th century classical Orientalism. There is some sense that France was the “senior partner” of Anglo-French Orientalism especially in its earlier decades. Scholars sometimes use the term North African Orientalism (also known as “the North African school”) to describe French Orientalism in North Africa.

French Orientalism itself began to take shape in the 16th century building on a fascination with ancient Egypt that went back at least to the Renaissance era. Scholars generally consider Guillaume Postel (1510-1581) to be the first prominent French Orientalist; he both sought to develop a body of scholarship based on Muslim texts he collected and founded the philological method for studying those texts. In the 17th century, French Orientalists continued to concern themselves with the Ottoman Turks and with Islam, which was seen as a dangerous threat to Christian Europe. France also expanded the scope of its Orientalism by developing contacts in East Asia, notably with China and Siam. In the 18th century, fully developed classical Orientalism began to take shape. Two key moments in that development were, first, Antoine Galland’s (1646-1715) publication of The Thousand and One Nights (1704-1717), which was widely taken to be an authoritative description of the Orient; and, second, Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt and Syria (1798-1801), which eventually led to the publication of a seminal multi-volume scholarly work, Description de ‘Égypte (1809-182). Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney (1757 – 1820) was an important Orientalist in the later part of the 18th century, having spent three years in Egypt and Syria after which he published two popular accounts documenting his experiences.

In the 19th century, there emerged in France a pervasive passion for the Orient that influenced nearly every aspect of national life. At the same time, French Orientalism became inextricably entangled with French colonialism and was particularly focused on North Africa and the Middle East. The seizure of Algeria in 1830 and subsequent French colonization in North Africa marked a significant development in French Orientalism both in popular imagination and scholarly study. French Orientalist scholars not only focused a great deal of attention on North Africa, but they also played important roles in maintaining French colonial rule in the region. Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838) was the premier 19th century French Orientalist. Like Postel, he emphasized the collection and study of Asian texts and he trained a generation of Orientalist scholars, who were crucial in maintaining French rule in North Africa. As the century progressed, there emerged in France a desire for more “realistic” presentations of the Orient, which in fact were imaginative renderings of the East portrayed in supposedly minute detail that actually had little to do with the realities of Asia and North Africa. The famous French painter, Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) particularly embodied this style of Orientalist art and aesthetics.

In the 20th century, Orientalism remained in the ascendent for some time, but political and scholarly developments increasingly threatened French classical Orientalism. On the academic front, the modern social sciences increasingly replaced traditional Orientalism in the study of Asia and North Africa. Jacques Berque (1910–1995) stands as the last prominent academic Orientalist. He was a social scientist as well as an Islamic scholar whose work and influence facilitated the transition from scholarly Orientalism to modern-day Asian studies and the demise of French academic Orientalism by 1980. The loss of Algeria in 1962 and the larger disintegration of France’s colonial empire also hastened the end of classical French Orientalism, which found itself unable to adapt to the political and scholarly challenges of the 20th century. Orientalism persists in France, however, in more covert, popular, and modern forms including, for example, the ongoing political and cultural debate over Muslim women’s dress, which manifested itself in a liberal Orientalism that imagines Muslim women to be oppressed and in need of assistance from their (white) French sisters and the French government. There was, as another example, a movement among French scholars of Orientalism in the 1970s that amounted to a textbook case of Orientalism in reverse by which they felt compelled to resist all criticisms of Islam. [revised 10/22]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Amateur Orientalism, Anglo-French Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Decadent Orientalism, Egyptomania, European Orientalism, Feminist Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Liberal Orientalism, Neoliberal Orientalism, Oriental Enthusiasm, Oriental Fad, Orientalism in Reverse, Philological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Gilbert Achcar, Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopoltanism (Saqi Books, 2013); Mohammed Arkoun, “The Study of Islam in French Scholarship.” In Mapping Islamic Studies: Genealogy, Continuity, and Change (Mouton de Gruyer, 1997); Edmund Burke III, “The Sociology of Islam: The French Tradition.” In Genealogies of Orientalism: History, Theory, Politics (U. of Nebraska, 2008); Elizabeth C. Childs, Daumier and Exoticism (Peter Lang, 2004); Emily Crosby, “Faux Feminism: France’s Veil Ban as Orientalism.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 15 (2014); Claudia Gyss, “The Roots of Egyptomania and Orientalism From the Renaissance to the Nineteenth Century.” In French Orientalism: Culture, Politics, and the Imagined Other (Cambridge Scholars, 2010); Abdelmajid Hannoum, “’Faut-il Brûler L’Orientalisme?’ On French Scholarship of North Africa.” Cultural Dynamics 16 (2004); Daren Hodson, Changing French Orientalism.” French Forum 36 (2011); Robert Irwin, “The Real Discourses of Orientalism.” In After Orientalism (Brill, 2015); Adalyat Issiyeva, “Dialgoues of Cultures, French Musical Orientalism in Russia, ‘Artistic Truth,’ and Russian Musical Identity.” Revue musicale OICRM, 3 (2016); Julia Kueten, A Female Poetics of Empire (Routledge, 2014); Ina Baghdiantz McCabe, Oreintalism in Early Modern France (Berg, 2008); Marta Panighel, “Unveiling (post) colonial République: Gendered Islamophobia in France.” AG About Gender-International Journal of Gender Studies 11 (2022); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Bryan S. Turner, “Outline of a History of Orientalism.” In Orientalism: Early Sources. v. 1, Readings in Orientalism (Routledge, 2000); Barbara Wright, “Eugène Fromentin and Orientalism.” In Eastern Voyages, Western Visions (Peter Lang, 2004). North African Orientalism: Francesca d’Ath, “Musée du Louvre, Aile Richelieu Rez-de-Chasussée & Entresol: French & Northern European Sculpture 12th-16th Centuries,” 2016. At Supernaut (, accessed 10/22; James Mokhiber, “’Le protectorat dans la peau’: Prosper Ricard and the ‘Native Arts’ in French Colonial Morocco, 1899-1952).” In Revisiting the Colonial Past in Morocco (Routledge, 2013); Jonathan E. Verbeten, “An American in Paris: Musical Exoticism in the Solo Piano Works of Louis Moreau Gottschalk” (M.Mus., U. of Arkansas, 2012); Laura M. Winn, “The Art of Becoming: Mimicry, Ambivalence, and Orientalism in the Work of Henry Ossawa Tanner and Hilda Rix” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Florida, 2018).

Franchised Orientalism

Leong Yew coined this otherwise rarely used term to describe the ways in which the nation of Singapore imports Western goods and services including fast food franchises, which goods and services remain overtly Western in form but are also reconfigured to fit into its own cultural circumstances. The result is a nuanced blend that relies on Western ways of thinking, acting, and organizing but is also influenced by the Singaporean context.

See also: Economic Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Hybrid Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Transorientalism.

Sources & Examples: Leong YewAsianism and the Politics of Regional Consciousness in Singapore (Routledge, 2013); Leong Yew, “Singapore, Southeast Asia and the Place of Orientalism.” In Alterities in Asia: Reflections on Identity and Regionalism (Routledge, 2011).

Franciscan Orientalism. See Jesuit Orientalism.

Frontier Orientalism

Scholars usually use this term, coined by Andre Gingrich, to describe a particular variety of ideological Orientalism found in those areas of Europe that border or once bordered Muslim territory, especially in the Balkans. In most aspects, it is similar to ideological Orientalism, but it differs in the fact that the Muslim Other is close, powerful, and perceived to be threatening. Frontier Orientalism thus influences all social classes and historically has had a marked impact on national identity and expressions of nationalism.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Local Orientalism, Nesting Orientalism, Peripheral Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: AlenkaBartulović,“’We have an Old Debt With the Turk, and it Best be Settled': Ottoman Incursions through the Discursive Optics if Slovenian Historiography and Literature and Their Applicability in the Twenty-first century.” In Imagining 'the Turk' (Cambridge Scholars, 2010); Andre Gingrich, "Frontier Myths of Orientalism: The Muslim World in Public and Popular Cultures of Central Europe." In MESS: Mediterranean Ethnological Summer School, Piran-Pirano, Slovenia 1996, v. 2 (Institute for Multicultural Research, 1998); Sabina Mihelj, “To Be Or Not To Be A Part Of Europe: Appropriations Of The Symbolic Borders Of Europe in Slovenia.” Journal of Borderlands Studies 20 (2005); Inmaculada M. García Sánchez, Language and Muslim Immigrant Childhoods: The Politics of Belonging (Wiley, 2014); Andre WheatcraftThe Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe (Basic Books, 2008).

Front-Stage Orientalism. See Blatant Orientalism.

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