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).



Kantian Orientalism

Scholars use this term to describe the ways in which Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), a key figure in the European Enlightenment, and other philosophers influenced by him imagined and constructed the Orient through their philosophical writings. They note important similarities in his views with Hegel (1770-1831), including the notion that history is progressive and European civilization is essentially superior to Asian cultures and societies. Kant reflected the general attitudes of European society about Asian peoples, namely that they were essentially backward, sensuous, lacking in morality, lazy, and superstitious. He believed Orientals to be incapable of rational reflection and that they posed a threat to European rationality; they were trapped in a world of their own fantasies. Scholars disagree, however, as to Kant's views specifically on Islam, some arguing that he felt anxiety concerning it while other scholars argue that he had a more-or-less positive view of Islam for his time. In any event, his writings contain relatively few references to the Orient, which makes it difficult to explicate his views and their relationship to his overall philosophy. Scholars hold that Kant did have an impact on later European Orientalism.  [10/17]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Enlightenment Orientalism, Hegelian Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Orientalist Epistemology, Philosophical Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Syed Mustafa Ali, “Orientalism and/as Information: The Indifference That Makes a Difference,” 2015. At The Open University (, accessed 10/17; Ian AlmondHistory of Islam in German Thought (Routledge, 2011); Christine Battersby, The Sublime, Terror and Human Difference (Routledge, 2007); Nicholas A. GermanaThe Anxiety of Autonomy and the Aesthetics of German Orientalism (Camden House, 2017); John H. ZammitoThe Genesis of Kant's Critique of Judgment (Chicago, 1992).

Kemalist Orientalism. See Turkish Orientalism.