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Glossary of Orientalisms

Last Updated: March 2023


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 through its individual entries, which are divided into three sections: the main entry itself, a “see also” list of other related entries, and a selective bibliography of “sources and examples” for the term.  The goal of the main entry is to briefly describe and define the historical and current scholarly use of its term including differences in usage and key issues.  Please understand that inclusion does not mean approval.  Indeed, many of terms in this glossary are offensive, which is the whole point of including them.  The related entries section offers users a list of other terms that flesh out the meaning and uses of terms as well as put them into the larger context of the study of Orientalism.  The bibliography, finally, provides both a set of references that were used in the preparation of the entry as well as other related terms.  The entries are developed through online searches, which has the advantage of accessing a vast, organized “library” of sources sufficient to define terms even when some sources cannot be directly accessed online.  Given the huge vocabulary of terms relevant to the study of Orientalism, it is impossible to claim that the glossary will ever be “complete”; and I continue to add new terms, as well as revise older ones, on a fairly regular basis.  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, 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:

  • 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

  • Genuine Orientalism — added August 2021

  • Good & Bad Orientalism(s) — added September 2021

  • Textual Orientalism— added September 2021

  • Bourgeois Orientalism — added February 2022

  • Climatic Orientalism — added February 2022

  • Western Orientalism — added February 2022

  • French Orientalism — added September 2022

  • Anglo-French Orientalism — added September 2022

  • Egyptian Orientalism — added October 2022

  • Egyptomania — added October 2022

  • Orientalist Dogma — added November 2022

  • Chinoiserie — added November 2022

  • Alpine Orientalism — added November 2022

  • Decadent Orientalism — added March 2023

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