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).



Jewish Orientalism

Scholars use this term in at least three ways.  First, some scholars use it to describe a form of ideological Orientalism that is also known as anti-Jewish Orientalism, that is the Western orientalization of all Jews, including European Jews, as being an alien, inferior Oriental Other.  Second, the great majority of scholars use this term to describe the complex relationship of European Jewish Orientalist scholars and Jewish Europeans generally to European Orientalism from the 18th century to the 1930s—during which time European Jews of various nations wrestled with their identity as being "Oriental Europeans". Under the influence of Romantic Orientalism as well as ideological Orientalism, Jewish Orientalists both embraced and felt ambivalent about their assumed Oriental identity in a complex process that was both a form self-Orientalism and of counter-Orientalism directed against European anti-Semitic Orientalism. Jewish Orientalists in Europe often embraced Eastern Jews and Arabs as role models.  Third, however, other scholars use this term to describe a form of Jewish internal Orientalism by which (often secular) Jews in Western Europe came to imagine the supposedly "mystical" and traditional Jews of Eastern Europe and the Middle East as being a backward, inferior Oriental-like Other. Jewish Orientalism, more generally, is understood to be the predecessor to and a source of Zionist Orientalism. Some scholars use the term Hebraic Orientalism and others the term Hebrew Orientalism to account for the same general phenomenon of the Jewish European encounter with both Romantic and ideological Orientalism. In all of this, scholars also sometimes use the notion of Jewish Orientalism to point to the complexities of the notion of Orientalism itself.

See also: Anti-Semitic Orientalism, Architectural Orientalism, Counter-Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Medieval Orientalism, Nazi Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Semitic Orientalism, Zionist Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: David Baile, “Shabbtai Zvi and the Seductions of Jewish Orientalism.” Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 17 (2001); Philip BohlmanJewish Music and Modernity (Oxford, 2008); Michal Friedman, “Reconstructing ‘Jewish Spain’: The Politics and Institutionalization of Jewish History in Spain, 1845-1940.” Hamsa 1 (2014); Susannah Heschel, “German Jewish Scholarship on Islam as a Tool for De-Orientalizing Judaism.” New German Critique 39 (2012); Ivan Kalmar, “Jewish Orientalism.” In Judaism From the Renaissance to Modern Times (Brill, 1999); Ivan Kalmar & Derek J. Penslar, “Introduction.” In Orientalism and the Jews (Brandeis, 2005); Aziza Khazzoom, “The Great Chain of Orientalism: Jewish Identity, Stigma Management, and Ethnic Exclusion in Israel.” American Sociological Review 68 (2003); Yaron Peleg, Orientalism and the Hebrew Imagination (Cornell, 2005).

Journalistic Orientalism

Scholars have devoted surprisingly little attention to the ways in which Western journalism reports events concerning Asians (including those living overseas) and how those reports comprise an important Orientalist “discourse”.  Edward W. Said, in his groundbreaking work Orientalism (1978), sets the tone, however, for its use in his description of a series of 1924 lectures given by a leading European journalist, Valentine Chirol, that imagine the Orient as being dangerous, divisive, and alien to the West (Said, p. 308).  Those who use this term similarly use it to describe specifically the ways in which Western journalists have portrayed Arab Muslims as being irrational, primitive, and prone to violence.  These journalists focus especially on stories of violence, conflate all Arabs as being the same, and they generally rely on Western sources and experts in their reporting rather than on local sources and knowledgeable persons. Helen J. Jun (2006), meanwhile, describes how 19th century black newspapers in the United States engaged in a “black press Orientalism,” which negatively stereotyped immigrant Chinese even as it also attacked Chinese exclusion on racial grounds.   [revised 6/19]

See also: Black Orientalism, Broadcast Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Shelton A. Gunaratne, “Sri Lanka: Victory for Mindful Journalism,” 2015. At Columbo Telegraph (, accessed 3/17;  “Incomprehensible,” At the revealer (, accessed 5/17; Helen H. Jun, “Black Orientalism: Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Race and U.S. Citizenship.” American Quarterly 58 (2006); Erik C. Nisbet, et al., “ Public Opinion toward Muslim Americans: Civil Liberties and the Role of Religiosity, Ideology, and Media Use.” In Muslims in Western Politics (Indiana, 2009); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).