Glossary of Orientalisms

Last Updated: April 2021


Since 1978 when Prof. Edward W. Said published his groundbreaking work, Orientalism, scholars of Orientalism have expanded and refined the meaning of the notion of Orientalism, and in the course of things they have created literally hundreds of terms to describe particular Orientalisms. And because the study of Orientalism spans a number of fields, the various scholars working in their individual fields have devised their own sets of Orientalisms. The result has been, to say the least, a confusion of Orientalisms—"chaos" may not be too strong a word. Not infrequently, one term is used in different and even contradictory ways meaning one thing in one source and another in another. More often, two scholars or groups of scholars name the same Orientalism using two different modifiers; this is particularly true of the term ideological Orientalism, which has a veritable treasure trove of synonyms. Or again, two terms may seem to have the same meaning, but there are nuances or implications that differ. Thus, as one example, the meaning of nesting (nested) Orientalisms is similar to internal Orientalism to a degree, but not entirely. The study of Orientalism, furthermore, is an ongoing process, which inevitably leads to giving new meanings to old terms and inventing new terms to name new insights (which sometimes aren't actually new but still get a new name).

The purpose of this glossary is to address and, it is to be hoped, mitigate this complexity by listing, briefly describing, and cross-indexing the many different Orientalisms found in the scholarly literature.

The glossary does this by providing a brief description of each term listed, sufficient to provide users with an initial orientation to its meaning. These entries are as purely descriptive as possible, and they are not intended to reconcile contradictory usages, evaluate the efficacy of a given term, or contribute new perspectives. Nuances and details are left to the further study of users. The references appended to each entry provide typical examples of the usage of a term. They usually include one or more key works, but they are are not intended to be suggestions for further study as such. Since the definitions of the terms in this glossary were developed primarily through online searches, it is entirely possible that scholars have used a given term in ways other than described here. In consequence, this glossary is very much a "work in progress," more-or-less permanently so. The breadth and complexity of the field means that it is impossible even to contemplate a "complete" set of entries for all of the names for Orientalism.  Finally, users' attention is directed to the Essays page, which contains essays intended to supplement this glossary's entries by exploring issues, insights, and themes in more depth than can be done in the entries.

For all of its complexity, in any event, Orientalism as a field of study is highly useful, at times exciting, and worthy of study. I offer this glossary in the hopes that it will help students of Orientalism make sense of it all. Enjoy!

Herbert R. Swanson
September 2016


Recently Added Entries:

  • Cognitive Orientalism — added December 2019

  • Orientalist Archive — added December 2019

  • Overt Orientalism — added December 2019

  • Educational Orientalism — added January 2020

  • Intellectual Orientalism — added January 2020

  • Orientalist Education — added January 2020

  • Neo-Orientalism — added February 2020

  • Orientalist Science — added February 2020

  • Science Fiction Orientalism — added March 2020

  • Catholic Orientalism — added April 2020

  • Jesuit Orientalism — added April 2020

  • Protestant Orientalism — added April 2020

  • American Orientalism — added July 2020

  • Eurocentric Orientalism — added July 2020

  • European Orientalism — added July 2020

  • Pop Orientalism — added July 2020

  • Tertiary Orientalism — added July 2020

  • Vulgar Orientalism — added July 2020

  • Administrative Orientalism — added August 2020

  • Orientalist Teleology — added August 2020

  • Practical Orientalism (19th Century) — added August 2020

  • Oriental Enthusiasm — added September 2020

  • Oriental Fad — added September 2020

  • Oriental Rage — added September 2020

  • Inner City Orientalism — added December 2020

  • Adolescent Orientalism — added January 2021

  • Antinomic Orientalism — added January 2021

  • Ottoman Orientalism — added January 2021

  • Paradoxical Orientalism — added January 2021

  • Republican Orientalism — added January 2021

  • Turkish Orientalism — added January 2021

  • Bourgeois Orientalism — added February 2021

  • Conventional Orientalism — added February 2021

  • Cooperative Orientalism — added February 2021

  • Creeping Orientalism — added February 2021

  • Comparativist Orientalism — added February 2021

  • Unconscious Orientalism — added April 2021

  • Mature Orientalism — added April 2021

  • Orientalism Proper — added April 2021