top of page

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).




Although the academic use of this term goes back into the 19th century, it was only in the 1990s that scholars began to use it to describe an ideological phenomenon modeled on Saidian Orientalism. In simplest terms, Occidentalists are those who imagine and construct the “Occident” (however defined) as having an essential, largely unchanging nature, which scholars can determine. Originally, Occidentalists, who were themselves usually Westerners, used this term to imagine and construct the West as more civilized and industrious than the Orient and as having greater vitality and wisdom (among other things). Today, scholars use this term in two broad ways.  First, some use it in the tradition of the original meaning of the term to describe Western ideological Occidentalisms, which assert the superiority of the West. Scholars note that Western Orientalists are also necessarily “Occidentalists” in that the ways they imagine and construct the East as inferior inherently reflect and shape their own Occidental self-understanding as being essentially superior to the Orient.  Second, many other scholars use this term to describe the ways in which Asians (and other non-Westerners) imagine and construct the West as being essentially inferior to them. Westerners are thus imagined and constructed to be, for example, greedy materialists, imperialists, superficial intellectually, violent, arrogant, and so forth. Although there is evidence of Asian Occidentalisms in ancient times, modern-day ones have often emerged as reactions against Western colonialism and imperialism. In this sense, Occidentalism is taken to be the ideological and even Western-like Asian counterpart to Western Orientalism and an inversion of it; and scholars frequently link the use of this term to the influence of Edward W. Said and his groundbreaking work, Orientalism (1978). At other times, however, Asian Occidentalists imagine the West as being more modern than Asia and, in fact, agree that in various ways the West is superior. Some scholars also observe that Asian Occidentalisms do differ ideologically from the scholarly understanding of Orientalism in that they tend to be more defensive and less aimed at domination of an Other; and they tend to be focused internally on domestic national concerns, such as responding to the global economic system. And just as Western Orientalisms reflect and influence Western self-understanding, so do Asian Occidentalisms reflect and influence the ways Asians see themselves. The scholarly study of Occidentalisms can, in sum, be understood as a spin-off from the study of Orientalism and, in that sense, another way to understand the impact of Western ideologies on Asia and the role of Asians in modernization. Some scholars see the study of Occidentalism as a corrective to the over-emphasis on the role of the West in the study of Orientalism. This term is quite frequently used in some scholarly circles today and, like the notion of Orientalism, has spawned its own vocabulary of sub-terms, such as, for example, academic Occidentalism, political Occidentalism, and self-Occidentalism.  [9/18]

See also: Asian Orientalism, Binary Orientalism, Cooperative Orientalism, Dissident OrientalismIdeological Orientalism, Nationalist Orientalism, Negative Orientalism, Orientalism in Reverse, Positive Orientalism, Reflexive Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Meltem Ahiska, “Occidentalism: The Historical Fantasy of the Modern.” South Atlantic Quarterly 102 (2003); Ian Buruma & Avishai Margalit, Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (Penguin Books, 2006); James G. Carrier, "Occidentalism: the World Turned Upside Down." American Ethnologist 19 (1992); Xiaomei Chen, Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China (Oxford, 1995); Jukka Jouhki & Henna-Riikka Pennanen, “The Imagined West: Exploring Occidentalism.” Suomen Antroplogi 41 (2016); Diana Lary, “Edward Said: Orientalism and Occidentalism.” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association NS 17 (2006); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Couze Venn, Occidentalism: Modernity and Subjectivity (SAGE, 2000); Eric Fisher WoodThe Note Book of an Attaché: Seven Months in the War Zone (A. L. Burt Co., 1915).

Occult Orientalism

Scholars generally use this term and the closely related terms, esoteric Orientalism and Theosophical Orientalism, to describe the ways in which those involved in Western spiritualist-religious movements that originated in the 19th century imagine and construct the Orient (esp. India, Tibet, and Egypt) and Oriental religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) as being the source of mystical, spiritual, and timeless supernatural Truth. These Orientalisms are for the most part positive Orientalisms that both affirm at least some aspects of the Orient, usually religious and spiritual, but still treat the Orient stereotypically as having an essential nature absolutely distinct from the West. They are frequently identified with The Theosophical Society, founded in 1875, including especially one of its co-founders, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891); and they are also closely associated with 19th century Romanticism. Within Western esoteric, occult movements, however, some individuals and groups have rejected Oriental mysticism as being irrelevant to the West and, thus, to a degree hold more common ideological Orientalist views of the East as in some degree inferior.  [5/17]

See also: Desert Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Magical Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Zen Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Occult Orientalism: Mark Bevir, “The West Turns Eastward: Madame Blavatsy and the Transformation of the Occult Tradition.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 62 (1994); Rita Felski, The Gender of Modernity (Harvard, 2005); W. J. Hanegraaff, “The Globalization of Esotericism.” Correspondences 3 (2015); Tace Hedrick, “Neoliberalism and Orientalism in Puerto Rico: Walter Mercado’s A Queer Spiritual Capital.” Centro Journal 25 (2013); Nicolas Laos, Methexiology: Philosophical Theology and Theological Philosophy for the Deification of Humanity (Pickwick Publications, 2016); Suzanne Marchand, “German Orientalism and the Decline of the West.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 145 (2001);  C. Partridge, “Orientalism and the Occult.” In The Occult World (Routledge, 2016). Esoteric Orientalism: William Grandi, “Children’s Stories in the Educational Theories of Ellen Key, Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori.” Ricerche di Pedagogia e Didattica 11 (2016); Jim Haritaworn, et al., “Poly/logue: A Critical Introduction to Polyamory.” Sexualities 9 (2006). Theosophical Orientalism: Karl Baier, “Theosophical Orientalism and the Structures of Intercultural Transfer: Annotations on the Appropriation of the Cakrasin Early Theosophy.” In Theosophical Appropriations: Esotericism, Kabbalah, and the Transformation of Traditions (Ben Sheva Ben-Gurion U. of the Negev, 2016); Mark Corrado, “Orientalism in Reverse: Henry Corbin, Iranian Philosophy, and the Critique of the West” (M.A. thesis, Simon Fraser U., 1999); Christopher Partridge, “Lost Horizon: H. P. Blavatsky and Theosophical Orientalism.” In Handbook of the Theosophical Current (Brill, 2013); Anita Stašulāne, “New Religious Movements in Latvia.” SOTER 32 (2009).

Official Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually in at least one of two ways.  First and more often, they use it in reference to the distinction Edward W. Said makes in his book, Orientalism (1978), between “official” as opposed to individual or personal Orientalisms where official Orientalism refers to the established, generally accepted, and influential body of scholarly institutions and scholarship deemed acceptable in the field of Oriental studies. Said contrasts this official Orientalism with personal Orientalisms, which are more idiosyncratic and not widely accepted in that community of scholars.  Second and less frequently, a few scholars use this term to connote government policies based on ideological Orientalist principles and ideas, such as the policies of a European colonial power in its administration of a colony. Use of this term does go back into the 19th and earlier 20th centuries—for example, in Marco Pallis’ translation of René Guénon's 1922 book, Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrine (2001, originally published in French). Rarely, a scholar will use the term establishment Orientalism to refer to official Orientalism. Even more rarely, a scholar (e.g. Kirtsoglou, 2007) will use the term, unofficial Orientalism, to describe Orientalist stereotypes that are nation-wide or culture-wide but not acknowledged as being authoritatively established.  [7/18]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Personal Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ali BehdadBelated Travellers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (Cork U., 1994); René GuénonIntroduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines (Sophia Perennis, 2001); Josephine ParkApparitions of Asia: Modernist Form and Asian American Poetics (Oxford, 2008); Philippe M.F. Peycam, “Sketching an Institutional History of Academic Knowledge Production in Cambodia (1863-2009)--Part 2.” SOJOURN 26 (2011); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Percy E. F. W. Smythe & Emily A. SmytheOriginal Letters and Papers of the Late Viscount Strangford upon Philological and Kindred Subjects (Trübner 1878).

Old Orientalism

Scholars use this term usally and almost always in passing to refer to traditional Orientalism, especially in its ideological Orientalism guise, in contrast to later developments in Orientalist thinking, most often termed new Orientalism or post-Orientalism. This term is also used to differentiate between the time when traditional Orientalism was a dominant school of thought and practice over against later eras when other intellectual currents other than Orientalism have become more dominant. Scholars also use the terms Old-fashioned Orientalism and Old School (Old-SchoolOrientalism to refer to the older versions of ideological Orientalism of the 19th and roughly first half of the 20th centuries.  Occasionally, “old Orientalism" is used more precisely to mean the Orientalism described by Edward W. Said in his book, Orientalism (1978)—i.e. Saidian Orientalism.

See also: Classical Orientalism, Historical Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, New Orientalism, Post-Orientalism, Traditional Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Old Orientalism: Douglas Little, “Three Arab Critiques of Orientalism.” In Orientalism: A Reader (New York U., 2000); Pavan K. MalreddyOrientalism, Terrorism, Indigenism: South Asian Readings in Postcolonialism (SAGE, 2015); Masanori Oda, “Welcoming the Libido of the Technoids Who Haunt the Junkyard of the Techno-Orient, or the Uncanny Experience of the Post-Techno-Orientalism Moment.” In The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture (Turnaround, 2002).  Old Fashioned Orientalism: Elizabeth D. Carney, “Olympias and Oliver: Sex, Sexual Stereotyping, and Women in Oliver Stone’s Alexander.” In Respones to Oliver Stone’s Alexander: Film, History, and Cultural Studies (Wisconsin, 2010); Robert S. NelsonHagia Sophia, 1850-1950: Holy Wisdom Modern Monument (Chicago, 2004); Hugh  WilfordAmerica’s Great Game: the CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (Basic Books, 2013).  Old School Orientalism: Adam Geczy, Fashion and Orientalism: Dress, Textiles and Culture from the 17th to the 21st Century (Bloomsbury, 2013); Andrew Wilcox, Orientalism and Imperialism: From Nineteenth-Century Missionary Imaginings to the Contemporary Middle East (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018).

Old-Fashioned OrientalismSee Old Orientalism.

Old School (Old-School) Orientalism. See Old Orientalism.

Old Testament Orientalism

A few scholars use this very rarely used term to describe Milton and other English authors’ appropriation of biblical themes, ideas, and images found in the Old Testament to imagine and construct (describe) non-Christian, "heathen" peoples as the alien Other.

See also: Ancient Orientalism, Biblical Orientalism, Christian Orientalism, Early Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Religious Orientalism, Renaissance Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Walter S. H. Lim, "John Milton, Orientalism, and the Empires of the East in Paradise Lost." In The English Renaissance, Orientalism, and the Idea of Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

Ontological Orientalism

Sadik Jalal al-Azm first introduced this term in 1980, although Edward W. Said (1978) set the stage for its use particularly with his observation that “Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between 'the Orient' and (most of the time) 'the Occident'.” (p. 2).  Al-Azm agrees and observes that Western Orientalist thinking is based on a fundamental, radical, ideological, and essential distinction between the East and West.  Conceptually, they are by their very natures absolutely different categories of being.  They differ, that is, ontologically.  Knowledge of the one does not lead to knowledge of the other, and the East can’t be known simply through a study of its history and other contingent factors because these factors do not reveal the essential, metaphysical nature of “Oriental” peoples and cultures.  Al-Azm, in fact, criticizes Said himself for seeming to treat the West as a single monolithic ontological reality that is essentially racist and irredeemably Orientalist.  He is also critical of an ideological current in the Arab World, which sees the West as being essentially different from Asia, which al-Azm considers to be a form of reverse Orientalism (i.e. Asians think and behave like Western Orientalists).  Kipling’s poetic assertion, in sum, that “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” (“The Ballad of East and West,” 1889) captures the sense of ontological Orientalism in its conceptual treatment of Asia and the West as absolutely different categories of being.  This term is fairly frequently used, usually in reference to al-Azm’s arguments.   [revised 6/19]

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Nationalist Orientalism, Orientalism in Reverse, Orientalist Epistemology, Reverse Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Syed Farid Alatas, "Indigenization: features and problems." In Asian Anthropology (Routledge, 2004); Hazim Ali, "Mythrophrenia: Constructions of Modernity in Contemporary Arab Discourse" (Honors thesis, Georgetown, 2016); Sadik Jalal al-Azm, "Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse." In Orientalism: A Reader (Edinburgh, 2000); Elhadj Ould Brahim, “Arab Revolutions: Orientalism Reconsidered!” At Al Jazeera Centre for Studies (, accessed 6/19; Daurius FigueiraExiting a Racist Worldview: A Journey Through Foucault, Said and Marx to Liberation (iUniverse, 2004); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Hsu-Ming Teo, ‘Orientalism: An Overview.’ Australian Humanities Review 54 (2013); Renee Worringer, Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Operatic Orientalism

Scholars use this term normally to describe the ways in which Western operas function as ideological Orientalist discourses that represent the Oriental Other as exotic and mysterious. At times the Other is imagined and presented as dangerous and male while, at other times, Orientals are constructed as feminine and highly sexualized.

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, False Orientalism, Fashion Orientalism, Musical Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism, Theatrical Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Lale B. Balkiş, “Defining the Turk: Construction of Meaning in Operatic Orientalism.” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 41 (2010); Herbert Lindenberger, Opera in History: From Monteverdi to Cage (Stanford, 1998); W. Anthony Sheppard, “Puccini and the Music Boxes.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 140 (2015).

Ordinary OrientalismSee Conventional Orientalism.


Oriental CrazeSee Oriental Fad.

Oriental Enthusiasm


This term and the term Orientalist Enthusiasm are very closely associated and differ primarily as to the period in which they are used.  “Oriental enthusiasm” is the traditional usage dating from at least the early 19th century and is still occasionally used down to the present.  “Orientalist Enthusiasm” is the term that is far more frequently used today.  Scholars continue to use both to describe the emotional state of people of European descent who show an intense, excited interest in the “the Orient”.  Both of these terms appear fairly frequently in the scholarly literature on Orientalism. In the 19th century and earlier 20th century, scholars and others most often used “Oriental enthusiasm” in their studies of ancient philosophy and religion, usually of the Roman era.  Platonists and Neo-Platonists, for example, were said to exhibit this enthusiasm for the East, as was the Christian theologian, Jerome.  Some scholars and other writers wrote approvingly of these Oriental enthusiasts and articulated a deep appreciation for the East, while other scholars, including Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and Georg Hegel (1770-1831), disapproved of Orientalist enthusiasm as being irrational, ignorant, and an impediment to critical thinking.  Christian theologians particularly used the notion of Oriental enthusiasm to describe a constitutive element in or a danger to early Christianity. By the 1920s, however, scholars began to use Oriental enthusiasm to describe the motivating factor behind the Oriental fads of their own day when “things Oriental” were frequently the rage.  These fads and crazes usually had an important commercial impact through the sale of supposedly Oriental goods as well as through entertainment, popular literature, fashions, and the arts.  In light of the work of Edward W. Said, scholars today prefer the term, “Orientalist enthusiasm,” which reflects their sense that previous generations of scholars and others used the older notion of Oriental enthusiasm to express their own sets of ideological stereotypes, by which they imagined Orientals to have an essential, largely uniform, and unchanging identity.  Modern-day scholars, thus, use "Orientalist enthusiasm" to describe an element in the ideological Orientalism and academic Orientalism of those earlier generations.  They also continue to use it to describe the commercial and popular significance of Oriental fads and crazes, and they often see a link between Oriental enthusiasm and Romanticism.  Very rarely scholars have used the term “Oriental enthusiasm” to describe an enthusiasm Orientals themselves had for something.  It should be noted that scholars also use phrases such as “enthusiasm for the Orient,” “passion for the Orient,” or “love of the Orient” to refer to the notion of Orientalist enthusiasm—Edward Said (1978) himself being a notable example. [9/20]

See also: Aesthetic Academic Orientalism, Aesthetic Orientalism, Amateur Orientalism, Architectural Orientalism, Cinematic Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Commercial Orientalism, Egyptomania, Fashion Orientalism, French Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Oriental Fad, Oriental Look, Orientalist Fad, Popular Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Oriental Enthusiasm: Traditional Usage: James Emerson, “Letters from the Aegean.” Oriental Herald and Colonial Review 20 (1829); C. W. Humphries, “Marriage Between Near of Kin.” Southern Presbyterian Review 35 (1884); “Neo-Platonists.” Chamber’s Encyclopaedia, rev. ed., v. 5 (Collier, 1887); Donald W. Riddle, “Environment as a Factor in the Achievement of Self-consciousness in Early Christianity.” Journal of Religion 7 (1927); Mark Van Doren, Henry David Thoreau: A Critical Study (Houghton MIfflin, 1916); Klaus Vieweg, “The Taint of Determinateness: The East and Buddhism from the Perspective of Hegel.” In West-Eastern Mirror: Virtue and Morality in the Chinese-German Dialogue (Schoeningh Ferdinand, 2019); Henry Weber, Tales of the East, v. 1 (Edinburgh, 1812).  Modern-day Usage: J. J. Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought (Routledge, 1997); Humberto Garcia, "In the Name of the 'Incestuous Mother': Islam and Excremental Protestantism in De Quincey’s Infidel Book." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 7 (2007); James Laver, Taste and Fashion - From the French Revolution to the Present Day (Read Books, 2013); John W. Oliver, The Life of William Beckford (Norwood Editions, 1977).  Orientalist Enthusiasm: J. J. Clarke, The Tao of the West: Western Transformation of Taoist Thought (Routledge, 2000); Vasudha Dalmia, Poetics, Plays, and Performances: The Politics of Modern Indian Theatre (Oxford, 2010); Richard V. Francaviglia, Go East, Young Man: Imagining the American West as the Orient  (Utah State U.,
2011); Rubén Gallo, New Tendencies in Mexican Art (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004); Nicholas A. Germana, “The Colossal and Grotesque: The Aesthetics of German Orientalism in Kant and Hegel.” In Gendered Encounters between Germany and Asia: Transnational Perspectives Since 1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); Barbara D. Metcalf, “Toward Islamic English? A Note on Transliteration.” In Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe (U. of California, 1996); M. V. Nadkarni, The Bhagavad-Gita for the Modern Reader: History, Interpretations and Philosophy (Routledge, 2017); Edward W. Said, “Raymond Schwab and the Romance of Ideas.” In The World, the Text, and the Critic (Harvard, 1983); Tanya Sermer, “The Battle for the Soul of Jerusalem: Musical Language, Public Performance, and Competing Discourses of the Israeli Nation-State” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Rochester, 2015).  “Enthusiasm for the Orient”: Rosit Chaudhuri, “Orientalist Themes and English Verse in Nineteenth-Century India” (D.Phil. diss., Trinity, 1995); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Hsu-Ming Teo, “American Popular Culture Through the Lens of Saidian and Post-Saidian Orientalist Critiques.” Critical Race & Whiteness Studies 10 (2014).

Oriental Fad


This term is used here as an umbrella term for a larger family of terms that includes: Oriental Craze, Oriental Fad, Oriental Mania, Oriental Rage (2nd Usage), and Oriental Vogue.  This family is distinct from but closely related to another family, Orientalist Fad.  Online searches suggest that the terms “Oriental mania” and “Oriental rage” were in use as early as the 1830s, “Oriental craze” by the 1870s, “Oriental fad” by the 1890s, and “Oriental vogue” by World War I.  Scholars have continued to use them down to the present although the scholarly context has changed since the publication of Edward W. Said’s book, Orientalism, in 1978.  Previously, these terms were part of the larger scholarly and popular vocabulary of classical Orientalism, which imagined and stereotyped “Orientals” as having an essential, largely unchanging, and continent-wide single identity.  Since Said’s groundbreaking critique of that Orientalism, scholars today use these terms in the contexts of their own critical study of classical Orientalism.  Users should also consult the entry for “Orientalist Fad”.  In all cases, these terms are used to describe periods when various Western populations display an intense enthusiasm for “things Oriental,” usually for a relatively brief period of time, although particularly “Oriental vogues” may be last for fairly long periods of time.  These fads, crazes, mania, rages, or vogues are complex historical phenomena rooted in the much longer history of Western attraction to the exotic East that is also frequently accompanied by a contradictory sense of fear and revulsion.  In the 19th century, scholars used these terms to describe sudden increases in enthusiasm for Eastern religions and philosophies in the Roman Empire and were also seen to be present in early Christianity.  The terms themselves are largely synonymous and usually used pejoratively, suggesting that the periods of enthusiastic Western attraction to the Orient are superficial, unreasonable, unpredictable, obsessive, tawdry, and based on excessive emotion and herd behavior.  They are often associated with Romanticism and with other fads, such as for the Gothic or for Asian religions. Oriental fads, crazes, and the like are powered by Oriental enthusiasm, which is often styled by scholars as an “enthusiasm for the Orient” (see Said, 1978) or, alternatively a love or a passion for the Orient.

Oriental fads, crazes, mania, rages, and vogues include nearly every aspect of Western cultural and social life: the arts, literature, religion, music, fashion, and especially consumer goods of all kinds from cigarettes to silk screens, scarves, furniture, wall hangings, and collectible knick-knacks.  Commercial goods (often produced in the West), in fact, comprise a major component of these Oriental crazes.  Going as far back as the 15th century, so frequent had they become by the 19th century that it seems that somewhere in Europe or North America there was a fad sweeping one population or another almost continuously, and such faddish periods continue to be a part of Western consumer society and culture down to the present.  Scholars describe ancient Oriental fads, for example the Roman era fad of Mithraism (see G. K. Chesterton, 1925).  The recurring Western male sexual fascination with the Orient has also repeatedly welled up as fads and crazes.   Almost any particular historical event can trigger a faddish outbreak, such as the publication of 1001 Nights (1717), Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and Syria (1798-1801), the World’s Congress of Religions (1893), or even President Richard Nixon’s visit to China (1972).  Modern print and visual media (from the printing press, to the cinema, to YouTube) have been and remain important engines that drive these outbreaks of enthusiasm for the Orient. [9/20]


See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Chinoiserie, Christian Orientalism, Cinematic Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Consumer Orientalism, Egyptomania, False Orientalism, Fashion Orientalism, French Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Oriental Enthusiasm, Oriental Rage, Oriental Renassiance, Orientalist Fad, Orientalist Gaze, Pop Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Oriental Fad: G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man (Hodder & Stoughton, 1925); W. F. Gallaway, Jr., “The Sentimentalism of Goldsmith.” PMLA 48 (1933); Olive F. Gunby, “Jade, the Lucky.” Current Literature: A Magazine of Contemporary Record 22 (1897); Lucile P. Harper, “Corresponding Methods and Ideas in Goldsmith’ The Traveller and The Citizen of the World" (M.A. thesis, Rice U., 1965); Charles C. Knipp, “Types of Orientalism in Eighteenth-century England” (Ph.D. diss., U. of California, Berkeley, 1974); John K. Mumford, Oriental Rugs, 3rd ed. (Scribner, 1905); John L. Myers, The Influence of Anthropology on the Course of Political Science (U. of California, 1916); Margaret A. Toth, “The Fad for the Orient: Early Twentieth-Century Trade Catalogues and U.S. Fiction,” 2017. At Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (, accessed 8/20; Chiaki Yokoyama, “William Morris and the ‘Rustinian’ Crafts Revival.” The Geibun-Kenkyu 73 (1997). Oriental Craze: Ernest A. Baker, The Novel of Sentiment and the Gothic Romance (Barnes & Noble, 1929); Kerryn Goldsworthy, “Austen and Authenticity,” n,d, At Australian Humanities Review (, accessed 8/20; Amanda Huffer, “Female Immigration as a Catalyst for Ritual Practice: A Social History of Hinduism
in the United States.” Journal of Hindu Studies 3 (2010); Rajender Kaur & Anupama Arora, “India in the American Imaginary, 1780s–1880s.” Journal of Transnational American Studies 9 (2018); "The Oriental Craze.” Carpentry and Building: A Monthly Journal 3, 9 (Sept. 1881): 168. Oriental Mania: Maryam Farahani, “A Lady’s Transnational Journey Beyond the Veil…”, 2020. At Anthem Press Blog (, accessed 8/20; [Xaver Landerer], “Upon a Peculiar Oriental Locality for Honey.” Psyche 4 (January-March 1885); George Landow, "William Holman Hunt's 'Oriental Mania' and his Uffizi Self-Portrait." Art Bulletin 64 (1982); Anne R. Richards, “The World Parliament of Religions, the Swami, and the Evangelist: Contextualizing Late 19th- Century American Responses to Hinduism.” Journal of Global Initiatives 13 (2018); William B. Scott, Autobiographical Notes of the Life of William Bell Scott, v. 2 (Harper & Brothers, 1892); Charles E. Trevelyn, et. al., The Application of the Roman Alphabet to All the Oriental Languages (Serampore Press, 1834). Oriental Rage: Ferial J. Ghazoul, “Flaubert: From Dervish to Saint.” Féeries 2 (2005); Suzanne Marchand, “Philhellenism and the Furor Orientalis.” Modern Intellectual History 1 (2004); Review of “Fothergill, Brian. Beckford of Foothill. Fiber and Faber, 1979.” Choice 16 (1979); C. E. Trevalyn, “The Application of the Roman Alphabet to All the Oriental Languages: Contained in a Series of Papers.” In Select Papers on the Subject of Expressing the Languages of the East in the English Character (Serampore Press, 1834); Virginia L. Lee, “Feminine Modes and Mores of the Nineteenth Century” (M.A. thesis, U. of California, Berkeley, 1955).  Oriental Vogue: Stephen Gundle & Clino T. Castelli, The Glamour System (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); Aykut Gürçağlar, “
Landscapes of Istanbul as An Imaginary Oriental City Through The Eyes of English Painters.” Ars & Humanitas 5.2 (2011); Klaus Martens, “Two Glimpses of the Baroness.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 29 (2002); Mark Singleton, “Suggestive Therapeutics: New Thought's Relationship to Modern Yoga.” Asian Medicine 3 (2007); Leona Wood, “Dance du Ventre: a Fresh Appraisal (Part I).” At Aisha Ali (; accessed 8/20. “Enthusiasm for the Orient”: Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).  And See: Herbert R. Swanson, "Faddish Orientalisms: A Study of Hidden Assumptions in the Study of Orientalism," 25 January 2021." At Orientalism Studies (

Oriental Fiction

The scholarly use of this very frequently and widely used term falls into two historical periods, divided by the publication of Edward W. Said’s Orientalism (1978).  First, from the early 19th century to the post-World War II era scholars of Oriental fiction used this term in the context of their descriptions of the literary genre also frequently termed Oriental tales and less frequently Oriental novels. Scholars in this era focused primarily on France and Britain and especially on the 18th century and on those works that either originated in Asia or were known to be “pseudo-Oriental,” that is works that presented themselves as Asian but were actually written by European authors. “Oriental fiction” in this sense meant tales supposed to have been written by Asians. Although these tales had been known to Europeans since roughly the 11th century, scholars marked the French translation of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights in Britain) by Antoine Galland (1646-1715), published beginning in 1704, as sparking the French and British infatuation with Oriental stories and giving rise to a large literature of translated tales, pseudo-Oriental imitations, novels, narrative poems, and stories published as books and in magazines. This genre collectively described an opulent, fabulous, mythical, fascinating, magical, glamorous, sensuous, and sometimes violent and dangerous Orient very much in keeping with the romantic spirit that permeated Oriental fiction. William Beckford’s novel, Vathek (1786), was considered to have been an important contribution to the genre and thought to be a more realistic portrayal of the Orient. In Britain, Richard Burton’s translation of the Arabian Nights (1884) is seen by scholars as being an influential example of Victorian Oriental fiction. Most scholars of Oriental fiction also argue that it had a large impact on the other arts, such as painting, especially in France and Britain. The term fictional Orientalism is a rarely used synonym for Oriental fiction.  Second, while scholars have continued to use this term since 1978, they do so largely in the context of Said’s notion of Orientalism, generally, and the concept of Orientalist fiction more particularly. Said himself treated the Oriental fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries as being stereotypical, ideological discourses that imagined and constructed Orientals, especially Muslims and Arabs, as having essential, unchanging natures that rendered them inferior to the West and justified and empowered European colonization and imperialism. Scholars do not agree on the degree to which this Saidian Orientalism can be applied to the Oriental fiction especially of the 18th and 19th centuries, but it remains true that Said fundamentally changed the direction, scope, and perspective with which they approach that issue. See the entry for “Orientalist Fiction,” below.  [11/18]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Byronic Orientalism, Fictional Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Oriental Literature, Oriental Poetry, Orientalist Fiction, Popular Orientalism, Pulp Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Graham AndersonAncient Fiction: The Novel in the Graeco-Roman World (Routledge, 2014); Ros  Ballaster, “Narrative Transmigrations: The Oriental Tale and the Novel in Eighteenth-Century Britain.” In A Companion to the Eighteenth-Century English Novel and Culture (Blackwell, 2005); Martha P. Conant, The Oriental Tale in England in the Eighteenth Century (Columbia, 1908); John C. DunlopHistory of Prose Fiction, v. 2 (George Bell & Sons, 1888); Goran GocićNotes from the Underground: The Cinema of Emir Kusturica (Wallflower Press, 2001); Marion H. Howe, “Oriental Influence upon Eighteenth Century English Literature as Shown in Four Representative Works” (M.A. thesis, Boston, 1949); Ashok Malhotra, “Book-History Approaches to India: Representations of the Subcontinent in the Novel and Verse, 1780–1823.” History Compass 8 (2010); Behbood Mohammadzadeh, “Incorporating Multicultural Literature in English Language Teaching Curriculum.” Procedia 1 (2009); Geoffrey P. Nash, ed., Marmaduke Pickthall: Islam and the Modern World (Brill, 2017); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Shahzad A. Siddiquee, “The Oriental Content and Context in Byron’s Don Juan” (Ph.D. diss., Aligarh Muslim U., 2008); Bayard TuckermanA History of English Prose Fiction (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1891).

Oriental Formalism

Nineteenth and earlier 20th century academic Orientalists and others used this term to describe their belief that "Orientals" are essentially bound to an aesthetic and literary style that lacks creativity, namely “formalism”.  These scholars used it especially to analyze what they imagined to be the differences between ancient Greek learning and art and that of the Persians and other nearby Asian peoples.  Where classical Greek learning and art was lucid and enlightened, that of the Persians was imagined to be hidebound, stiff, crudely ornate, backward, and done by rote.  It was marked by an adherence to form over content.  Some argued that this ancient “Asiatic school” of formalism was dominated by architecture, and others saw it as being still dominant in the Asia of their own time.  They equated it with what they supposed to be oppressive Asian despotism.  Some biblical scholars claimed that it was this Oriental formalism in the literary style of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, that made it difficult for latter-day readers to understand the Bible. Scholars of Orientalism today, with rare exceptions, do not use this term.  [6/19]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Biblical Orientalism, Greek Orientalism (Ancient).

Sources & Examples: William C. Bagley, Craftsmanship in Teaching (Macmillan Co., 1911); Ross Burns, Damascus: A History, 2,d ed. (Routledge, 2019); Reginald S. Poole, “On Greek Coins as Illustrating Greek Art.”  The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Numismatic Society NS 4 (1864); James J. Walsh, The Thirteenth Greatest of Centuries (Catholic Summer School Press, 1907).

Oriental Gaze. See Orientalist Gaze.

Oriental Literature

Until well into the 20th century, scholars widely and commonly used this term to describe a wide range of translated writings originating in the “Orient” as well as pseudo-Orientalist writings actually written by Europeans but generally supposed to have originated in Asia. This literature includes such things as fictional tales and stories, literary texts, wisdom literature, coins, religious texts, compilations of traditional learning, and inscriptions. William Jones (1746-1794) and the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which he founded in 1784, are widely credited with playing a key role in fostering the European discovery and study of Oriental literature. Since World War II, however, this term has largely fallen into disuse among scholars although occasionally and usually in passing a modern-day scholar does still use it. Scholarly attention has shifted instead to the representations of “the Orient” in Western Orientalist literature, also termed literary Orientalism. One exception to the decline in the use of this term is in certain quarters of medical science where researchers, Asian as well as Western, still refer to the body of ancient and “traditional” Asian medical works as “the Oriental literature” on a given medical subject.  [1/19]

See also: Literary Orientalism, Medical Orientalism, Oriental Fiction, Oriental Poetry, Oriental Renaissance, Orientalist Literature, Philological Orientalism, Poetic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Traditional Usage: Martha P. ConantThe Oriental Tale in England in the Eighteenth Century (Columbia, 1908); John McClintock & James Strong, “Oriental Literature and Language,” [1880]. At McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia (, accessed 1/19; H. H. WilsonThe Present State of the Cultivation of Oriental Literature: A Lecture Delivered at a Meeting of The Royal Asiatic Society….  (John W. Parker & Son, 1852).  Modern Usage: Ivan D. Kalmar, Early Orientalism: Imagined Islam and the Notion of Sublime Power (Routledge, 2012); Joseph LennonIrish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History (Syracuse, 2004).  Medical Research Usage: Z. H. Cho, et al., “New Findings of the Correlation between Acupoints and Corresponding Brain Cortices Using Functional MRI.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 95 (1998); Manish F. Varshney, et al., “Kimura Disease of Extremity: Unusual Manifestation in a Long Bone.” Joint Bone Spine 75 (2008).

Oriental Look

Scholars use this term to describe the ways in which Orientalists imagine and construct the physical appearance of Asians and things Asian to have an “Oriental” appearance— that is, to “look Oriental”. The definition of what precisely constitutes such a look depends on the context in which the term is used, but most broadly it almost always implies at least an appearance that is “exotic” and eye catching. In many instances, it can imply a sense of beauty. Beyond these characteristics, an Oriental look can be variously seen as strange, weird, intricate, colorful, opulent, or violent and threatening. When applied specifically to women’s appearances, it is usually sensuous, alluring, and most often sexual. Virtually anything can be said to have an Oriental look including, ceramics, decorative interiors, Russian peasants, a garden, apparel and accessories, buildings, fictional characters, movie stars, lighting, makeup, movies, ballets, Japan’s rising sun flag, and business cards—to name just a few things. The Oriental look is very often associated with personal physical appearance especially of the face. In cosmetics, it is recognized as one of a number of distinctive facial types, one characterized by a “pale, yellow” complexion, black hair color, and a “shallow” set of the eyes. Plastic surgeons can alter facial features so that they “look more Oriental.” In popular literature and elsewhere, the set of the eyes is frequently cited as giving “a bit” or a “slight” Oriental look even to individuals (more often women) who are not Asian. The term “Oriental look” is also very much associated with women’s fashions. In all of this, the commercial aspects of the Oriental look are particularly important. Whether in interior design, architectural design, the visual arts, fashion, tourism, or the marketing of a wide variety of commodities, the Oriental look sells. Finally, some authors in the medical research literature refer to patients suffering certain facial diseases or disfigurements as having an “Oriental look.” (See the entry Oriental literature for this same medical use of the term, “Oriental”).

Orientalism, since Edward W. Said (1978), is understood to be an ideological notion by which Orientalists imagine and construct (Oriental) Others to be essentially exotic and usually irredeemably inferior. In this context, scholars wrestle with the ideological nature of this term. Some argue that when someone or something is said to “look Oriental” that person or thing is inescapably placed in an ideological and racial box. Use of this term, that is, stereotypes Asians as all being essentially alike and exotic, even strange to the point of being “weird” in ways that can be either alluring or off-putting—or both at once. Some scholars of fashion Orientalism, however, argue that the wearing of “Oriental-style” clothing is not necessarily ideological because of an ongoing repetitive process by which fashion designs and styles are transformed in a sort of a dialogue with other fashion styles. Adam Geczy coined the term Transorientalism to name this process. Some scholars who study aesthetic Orientalisms, which by their very nature are about things that look Oriental, contend that there is a gray area in which it is not clear that a given artist or designer is perpetuating ideological stereotypes. Scholars use the term Orientalist look in ways that usually either assert or at least imply that whoever or whatever “looks Oriental” is the object of a stereotypical and invasive Orientalist gaze. It can be more difficult, however, to discern the precise ideological content of the term “Oriental look,” especially because commodities that have an Oriental look are often widely popular in the West in what appears to be a non-ideological way. Scholars, in sum, use the term “Oriental look” sometimes in a more neutral way and at other times in ways that clearly link it to negative, stereotypical ideologies.


The terms “Oriental look” and “Orientalist look” are part of a larger family of terms that scholars and others use to describe the ways in which Orientalists look (“gaze”) at Asians. This family includes such terms as Oriental(ist) DesignOriental(ist) ImageOriental(ist) KitschOriental(ist) RepresentationOriental(ist) Style, and Oriental(ist) Taste. The term, “Oriental look,” however, is something more than merely representative of this larger family; it seems to be the most frequently used in popular as well as scholarly literature and broadly encompasses the rest of these terms. [2/19]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Architectural Orientalism, Chinoiserie, Commercial Orientalism, Fashion Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Oriental Enthusiasm, Orientalist Gaze, Orientalist Tourism, Popular Orientalism, Racist Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Science Fiction Orientalism, Transorientalism, Virtual Orientalism, Visual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Oriental Look: Rosallen BrownHalf a Heart (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013); Davina Caddy, “Variations on the Dance of the Seven Veils.” Cambridge Opera Journal 17 (2005); Pradip Das, “Henry Irown and the Indo-Saracenic Movement Reconsidered: Exuberance, Imitation and Compromise,” n.d. At The Victorian Web (http://victorianweb), accessed 2/19; C. S. Friedman, “Is it Derogatory to Refer to Someone as “Oriental looking” or “Oriental?,” 2017. At Quora (, accessed 2/19; Yoo Jin Kwon & Min-Ja Kim, “Orientalism in Fashion.” Paideusis 5 (2011); Mica Nava, “The Cosmopolitanism of Commerce and the Allure of Difference: Selfridges, the Russian Ballet and the Tango 1911-14,” 2012. At ROAR (, accessed 2/19; Stan Place & Bobbi Ray MadryThe Art and Science of Professional Makeup (Milady Publishing Co., 1989); Carla Rice, Becoming Women: The Embodied Self in Image Culture (U. of Toronto, 2014); J. L Watt, et al., “A Familial Pericentric Inversion of Chromosome 22 with a Recombinant Subject Illustrating a 'Pure' Partial Monosomy Syndrome.” Journal of Medical Genetics 22 (1985).  Orientalist Look: Zeynep Çiğdem & Uysal Ürey, “The Use of Orientalist Stereotypes and the Production of Kitsch: Tourism Architecture in Turkey in the Face of Social Change.” International Journal of Science, Culture and Sport 1 (2013); Jane NicholasThe Modern Girl: Feminine Modernities, the Body, and Commodities in the 1920s (U. of Toronto, 2015); Sandra Ponzanesi, “Beyond the Black Venus: Colonial Sexual Politics and Contemporary Visual Practices,” n.d. At (, accessed 2/19; Firuzan M. Sümertas, “Women and Power: Female Patrons of Architecture in 16th and 17th Century Istanbul.” Edinburgh Architecture Research 31 (2008).

Oriental ManiaSee Oriental Fad.


Oriental Novel. See Oriental Fiction.

Oriental Orientalism

Scholars use this term to describe the ways in which Asians themselves utilize both Western and indigenous sources to imagine and construct their own versions of ideological Orientalism.  Dru C. Gladney (1994) and Allen Chun (1995) first used this term to study Chinese ideological constructions of minority peoples.  They and other scholars who followed often begin with the observation that Edward W. Said’s notion of Orientalism (i.e. Saidian Orientalism) focuses exclusively on Western Orientalisms and thus overlooks Asian ways of framing others and fails to see the fuller complexity and diversity of the notion of Orientalism and overlooks the fact that it is more than a merely Western construct.  Thus, while this term is not particularly widely used, a number of scholars have employed it to expand the idea of Orientalism by exploring Asian versions of Orientalism.  They see Oriental Orientalisms as being forms of a positive self-Orientalism and have identified three distinct versions based on the degree to which they draw on Asian ways of thinking both about themselves and about peoples and cultures other than their own.  First, in some cases Asians appropriate Western Orientalist constructions almost whole cloth to imagine and construct themselves and/or an Other.  Julia P. Cohen (2014) notes that, for example, by the 1920s Sikh reformers were applying to themselves British stereotypes that imagined the Sikhs as warriors while Indian nationalists were reshaping British Orientalist stereotypes to create an Indian nationalist ideology aimed at the British themselves as “the Other”.  A few scholars use the term Inter-Asian Orientalism (and still more rarely the term "Intra-Asian Orientalism") in this way.  Second, in other cases scholars argue that Oriental Orientalists drew almost entirely on indigenous ways of looking at others to develop their ideological Orientalist stereotypes of those Others.  Allen Chun (1995), for example, describes the way in which the Kuomintang government of Taiwan drew on Chinese ideas of timelessness, “Chinese-ness,” a single, universal Chinese identity, and myths of sacred origins to invent a national identity in which the Communist mainland functioned as an evil, threatening Other.  Third, still other scholars describe yet another scenario in which Oriental Orientalists mix and match a combination of Western and Asian ideas to craft their own Orientalist ideologies.  Yuko Kikuchi (1997, 2004), for example, argues that the 20th century Japanese mingei (folk craft) movement founded by Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961) adapted Western ideas, including Orientalist ideologies, and blended them with indigenous Japanese notions to create a complex, hybrid, nationalistic theory concerning Japanese folk art and crafts, which hybrid blend she calls “Oriental Orientalism”.  In all of this, the key point is that these various Orientalisms are truly Orientalist, if in varying degrees.  They generally treat an Other and/or themselves as having essential, authentic identities that are virtually timeless (i.e. “traditional”).  They concern themselves, usually, with the exercise of power and often treat minority or peripheral peoples as being strange (exotic), intriguing, and inferior.  They also often identify an Other as being dangerous to the well-being of their own culture and nation.  These ideologies, in fact, are Asian responses to many of the same issues facing the West in a shrinking, modernizing, and contentious world.  [revised 9/19]

See also: Asian Orientalism, Chinese Orientalism, Cooperative Orientalism, Eastern Orientalism, Egyptian Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Internalized Orientalism, Nationalist Orientalism, Occidentalism, Oriental’s Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Sub-Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Oriental Orientalism: Mohamed F. B. Ahmad, “Orientalism and Integrative History: A Study of an Early 20th Century Islamic Periodical in Singapore” (M.Soc.Sci thesis, National U. of Singapore, 2010); Raees B. Baig & Paul O'Connor, “Hong Kong Muslim Representations in Cantonese Media: an Oriental Orientalism?” Asian Anthropology, 14 (2015); Allen Chun, "An Oriental Orientalism: the Paradox of Tradition and Modernity in Nationalist Taiwan." History and Anthropology 9 (1995); Julia P. Cohen, "Oriental by Design: Ottoman Jews, Imperial Style, and the Performance of Heritage."  American Historical Review 119 (2014); Dru C. Gladney, "Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities." Journal of Asian Studies 53 (1994); David R. Jansson, "Internal Orientalism in America: WJ Cash’s The Mind of the South and the Spatial Construction of American National Identity." Political Geography 22 (2003); Muhammad Ali Khalidi, “Orientalism in the Interpretation of Islamic Philosophy.” Radical Philosophy 135 (2006); Yuko Kikuchi, “Hybridity and the Oriental Orientalism of Mingei Theory." Journal of Design History 10 (1997); Yuko Kikuchi, Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism (Routledge, 2004); Lee Kim-ming and Law Kam-yee, "'Hong Kong Chinese" Orientalism': Discourse Reflections on Studying Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong." In Ethnic Minorities: Perceptions, Cultural Barriers and Health Inequalities (Nova Science Publishers, 2016); Michiel Leezenberg, “Soviet Kurdology and Kurdish Orientalism.” In The Heritage of Soviet Oriental Studies (Routledge, 2011); Rachel MagShamhráin, “Displacing Orientalism: Ottoman Jihad, German Imperialism, and the Armenian Genocide.” In Encounters with Islam in German Literature and Culture (Camden House, 2009); Tadashi Sanaka, “A Socioeconomic Essay on Mingei Movement with Some Reference to the Arts and Crafts Movement in UK.” [Bulletin of Contemporary Culture, Hijiyama University], 17 (2010); Artemis Yagou, “Beyond National Design Histories: Some Reflections,” 2014. At Research Gate (, accessed 8/19; Liang-Ping Yen, “Oriental Orientalism: Japanese Formulations of East Asian and Taiwanese Architectural History” (Ph.D. diss., Edinburgh, 2012).  Intra-Asian Orientalism: Pei-Yin Lin, “Translating the Other: On the Re-circulations of the Tale Sayon’s Bell.  In China and Its Others: Knowledge Transfer through Translation, 1829-2010 (Rodopi, 2012); Danny Chan Weng-kit, "Spectralizing Southeast Asia: Hong Kong Cinema of Black Magic."  Hong Kong Studies 2 (2019).

Oriental Poetry


Scholars have used this term since the 19th century to describe poetry that either originated or was incorrectly believed to originate in the more-or-less distant past in “the Orient,” including especially Arab and Persian poetry. They have often classified this Oriental poetry as a form of Oriental fiction and/or Oriental tales, which is closely linked to Romantic Orientalism. The late 18th century discovery of this Oriental poetry in Britain and France is, in fact, considered to be a key manifestation of and influence on the Romantic movement and, more broadly, to be an important expression of a romantic spirit that is imaginative, sensuous, decorative, and focused on the exotic. This term was not rare in the past, but it is seldom used today. Scholars prefer the terms poetic Orientalism, Orientalist poetry, and Orientalist poetics, which terms are more often used in light of Edward W. Said’s (1978) understanding of the notion of ideological Orientalism and very often used in the context of the debate concerning ideological Orientalism's relevance to Oriental poetry.  [3/19]

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Oriental Fiction, Oriental Literature, Poetic Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Cedric C. Barfoot, "English Romantic Poets and the ‘Free-Floating Orient.’" In Oriental Prospects: Western Literature and the Lure of the East (Rodopi, 1998); W. A. Clouston, Arabian Poetry for English Readers (Glasgow: Privately Printed, 1881); Nigel Leask, “Colonialism and the Exotic.” In Romantic Writings (Routledge, 1996); Edna Osborne, “Oriental Diction and Theme in English Verse, 1740-1840.” Bulletin of the University of Kansas Humanistic Series 2 (1916); Ebenezer Pocock, Flowers of the East: With an Introductory Sketch of Oriental Poetry and Music (Hamilton, Adams, & Co. 1833); Burton Raffel, The Development of Modern Indonesian Poetry (State U. of New York, 1967); Andrew Rudd, "‘Oriental’ and ‘Orientalist ’Poetry: The Debate in Literary Criticism in the Romantic Period." Romanticism 13 (2007): 53-62.

Oriental Rage

Scholars and other writers have used this term and the term Orientalist Rage in one of two ways.  First and apparently more often, they used “Oriental rage” (and, very rarely, “Orientalist Rage”) from at least the 1850s and well into the twentieth century to describe a level of anger supposedly typical of “Orientals”.  It is an anger that is uncontrollable, hideous, lethal, and physically manifests itself in a scowling face, thrashing limbs, and even fangs exposed to view.  Although in no sense a technical term, this usage historically is part of the vocabulary of classical Orientalism, which imagined and constructed Asians as having an essential, unchanging, and continent-wide single exotic nature or “being” that was usually seen as being uncivilized, sensuous, and irrational and, thus, inferior to the West.  The term “Oriental rage” is used in this way only very rarely.  Second, scholars and others have also used this term and the term "Orientalist Rage" as members of a family of terms that describe periodic Western enthusiasms for “things Oriental”.  See the entry Oriental Fad for this usage and its citations.  [9/20]

See also: Classical Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Oriental Fad, Orientalist Fad.

Sources & Examples: Oriental Rage: Theodore CanotAdventures of an African Slaver: Or, Twenty Years of an African Slaver (Cambridge, 2015 [1854]); Tomislav Z. LonginovićVampire Nation: Violence as Cultural Imaginary (Duke U., 2011); L. Marche-Phillipps, “Form and Color.” The Living Age 251 (1906); John P. SmythA People’s Life of Christ (Musson, 1920).  Orientalist Rage: Liza D. Minno, “Whose ‘Shared Humanity’?: The Tribal Law and Order Act (2010), Barack Obama, and the Politics of Multiculturalism in Settler Colonial States” (M.A. thesis, U. of New Mexico, 2011).

Oriental Renaissance


This is a frequently used term introduced by Raymond Schwab in his book, La Renaissance Orientale (1950), to describe a major intellectual and cultural European movement that began in the middle-late 18th century and continued well into the 19th century and which scholars have labeled, “the second Renaissance” after the Italian Renaissance. This movement saw an almost explosive expansion of knowledge about Asia, beginning with Persia and most importantly India; and it had a major impact on European scholarship, the arts, and cultural and social life generally. And while its influence was felt widely in much of Europe, no nation was more affected than Germany. Following Schwab, this movement is most generally known as the “Oriental Renaissance.” It particularly had a large impact on the development of a range of academic and scholarly fields including philology, religious studies, and anthropology among others; this impact was channeled through a large institutional establishment of scholars, university faculties, societies, international fairs and conferences, and a massive outpouring of literature about the Orient. While this movement had several sources and any number of key figures, Sir William Jones (1746-1794) and the “Bengal Renaissance” in which he played the leading role are widely credited as playing a crucial role in initiating the European Oriental Renaissance. This cultural and intellectual movement was premised on the idea that Asian (Oriental) civilizations, such as India, were different from Europe (“exotic”) yet also highly civilized especially in the distant past; as such, Oriental civilizations could be a source of new inspiration for Europeans in a time when institutional religion and “old-fashioned” social values were being questioned. Scholars often link the Oriental Renaissance with Romanticism, seeing them reinforcing each other. They observe that it also had an important impact in colonial India where Indian scholars accepted European Orientalist images and constructions of the Indic past and built their own “Hindu Renaissance” in Indian learning as a form of  reverse Orientalism. Thus, some scholars distinguish between the Oriental-ist Renaissance in Europe and the Oriental Renaissance in India itself while noting that the two movements were deeply intertwined. Students of the Oriental Renaissance have also noted that it had a darker side in its being embedded in the European colonial domination of Asia and in being a source of European anti-Semitism, an outgrowth of the idea that Aryan civilization was the true source of European spirituality to which Judaism was a danger.

See also: Academic Orientalism, Oriental Fad, Oriental Literature, Philosophical Orientalism, Racial Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism.

Oriental Tales. See Oriental Fiction.

Sources & Examples: Yehonathan Brodski, “The Sheikh of Princeton: Philip Hitti and the Tides of History” (Ph.D. diss., Texas, 2015); H.  DabashiPersophilia: Persian Culture on the Global Scene (Harvard, 2015); J. J. ClarkeOriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought (Routledge, 1997); Arif  Dirlik, “Chinese History and the Question of Orientalism.” History and Theory 35 (1996); David  Moshfegh, “Ignaz Goldziher and the Rise of Islamwissenschaft as a ‘Science of Religion’” (Ph.D. diss., U. of California at Berkeley, 2012); Daniel S. Roberts, “’The fanciful traditions of early nations’: History, Myth, and Orientalist Poetry in India Prior to James Mill.” In Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770-1845 (Oxford, 2014); John ThiemePostcolonial Literary Geographies: Out of Place (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Bryan S. Turner, “Edward W. Said: Overcoming Orientalism.” Theory, Culture & Society 21 (2004).

Oriental Tales. See Oriental Fiction.

Oriental Vogue. See Oriental Fad.

Oriental's Orientalism


Rey Chow (1995) first used this term to describe her understanding of the relationship of Fifth Generation Chinese filmmakers, such as Zhang Yimou (1950- ), to the notion of Orientalism.  She disagrees with those who criticize them for supposedly producing films that pander to Western tastes, arguing that Zhang and other Chinese filmmakers, instead, have engaged in a subtler, ironical tactic of resistance to ideological Orientalism by employing the cinematic images of a sensuous, opulent, and excessive Orient as a parody and critique of Western Orientalist notions.  She terms this tactic, “Oriental’s Orientalism.”   These filmmakers, who themselves have been the objects of the Western Orientalist “gaze” and Western ethnographic stereotypes, now return that gaze and become their own self-ethnographers by embracing their supposed Oriental exoticness and reconstructing it as commentary on Western perceptions of the East.  It is debatable whether or not Chow’s notion of Oriental’s Orientalism is a form of self-Orientalism because it is not clear that these Chinese filmmakers actually self-identify as “Orientals”.  They use Orientalism as more of a tactic than an identity.  As described by Chow, furthermore, Oriental’s Orientalism is more self-conscious than is usually the case with self-Orientalisms.  Oriental’s Orientalism is also not a form of Oriental Orientalism, because it does not intend to stereotype other Asians or the West.  Finally, scholars largely use this term in the study of Chinese films and they usually cite Chow when using it. [8/19]

See also: Orientalist Buddhism, Chinese Orientalism, Cinematic Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Orientalist Buddhism, Orientalist Ethnography, Orientalist Gaze, Self-Orientalism.


Sources & Examples: Rey ChowPrimitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography, and Contemporary Chinese Cinema (Columbia, 1995); Yiu-wai ChuLost in Transition: Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China (State U. of New York, 2013); Hye Seung Chung & David S. DiffrientMovie Migrations: Transnational Genre Flows and South Korean Cinema (Rutgers, 2015); Shuqin CuiWomen Through the Lens: Gender and Nation in a Century of Chinese Cinema (U. of Hawaii, 2003); Lawrence D. Deakins, “Auto Orientalism and Farewell, My Concubine,” 2013. At Philms Phrom Philly (, accessed 8/19; Andrew Gossman, “Better Beauty Through Technology: Chinese Transnational Feminism and the Cinema of Suffering,” 2002. At Bright Lights Film Journal (, accessed 8/19; Olivia KhooThe Chinese Exotic Modern Diasporic Femininity (Hong Kong U. Press, 2007); Belinda KongTiananmen Fictions Outside the Square: The Chinese Literary Diaspora and the Politics of Global Culture (Temple, 2012).


A few scholars and other writers use this term to describe the ways in which “Orientals” are imagined to speak and behave by those who are ignorant of Asian languages and cultures. Thus, Orientals are thought to make frequent and exaggerated use of certain words and phrases such as, “ah so” and “most honorable one.” They supposedly use overly ornate, affected, and obscure language and behave in mysterious ways. “They” don’t say, “no,” to a person’s face but use misdirection and politeness instead. Don Lee (2012) argues that Asian American writers themselves at times write in Orientalese especially in their frequent use of words like “moon” or “silk” in the titles of their works. The use of Orientalese, thus, is a way to emphasize the strange, alien, and somewhat ridiculous ways that Orientals are supposed to speak and act. This term is not frequently used.  [4/19]

See also: Comic Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Linguistic Orientalism, Popular Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: James D. Griffith, “On Target,” 1988. At Chicago Tribune (, accessed 4/19; Don Lee, The Collective: A Novel (Norton, 2012); Juan I. Oliva, “Problematic Constructions of Exile in Indo-Canadian Women Writing.” In The Grove: Working Papers on English Studies 15 (2008).


"Orientalism refers to the way that the Western world has traditionally represented and studied the Eastern world, particularly the Middle East. It is characterized by a number of biases and prejudices, and is rooted in a long tradition of European imperialism. According to Edward W. Said, who wrote extensively about the concept, Orientalism often portrays the East as exotic, backward, and inferior to the West. It is a way of thinking about the East that is based on a set of stereotypes and assumptions, rather than on a nuanced and accurate understanding of the region and its cultures. Orientalism has had a significant impact on the way that the East is perceived and understood in the West, and continues to influence attitudes and policies towards the region to this day." [This entry was generated by OpenAI's application programming interface (API ) which can be accessed at ChatGPT ( This is what the future looks like. [1/23]

Also see the entry, "Orientalism" in the online edition of the New World Encyclopedia.

Also see the entry, "Orientalism" at Wikipedia: the Online Encyclopedia.

Orientalism in Reverse

Sadik Jalal al-`Azm first coined this term, which in full he calls “Ontological Orientalism in Reverse,” in a 1981 response to Edward W. Said’s book, Orientalism (1978).  He affirms Said’s insights into the notion of Orientalism as an ideology the West uses to imagine and construct Asian peoples (especially Muslims and Arabs) and thereby exercise power over them.  He suggests, however, that Said failed to observe that by implication the West also imagines and constructs itself in the same way as itself having a monolithic, timeless, and essential identity that is the opposite of the identity of Muslims and Arabs.  As the West “gazes” on the Orient ideologically, that is, it at the same time necessarily reverses that gaze, directing it on itself—hence, “Orientalism in reverse.”  Al-Azm further observes that Orientalism in reverse is not confined to Western Orientalists, and he focuses on the case of Iranian scholars, political leaders, and others after the 1979 Iranian Revolution who, he argues, engaged in their own Orientalist-like program of imagining and constructing the West as having an essential, unchanging nature and culture that is essentially different from those of Iran. The Iranian reverse Orientalists believed that only Muslims could understand themselves, solve their own problems, and chart their own future; and they could do this only by relying on Islam, which is the changeless heart and soul of all Muslims.  There is one Muslim people.  They share on identity.  They are knowable only to themselves.  Al-Azm notes that for a time a group of French thinkers shared this viewpoint, and he is critical of Orientalism in reverse, feeling that it leaves Muslims trapped in a false way of Western thinking.  Most scholars who use this term cite al-Azm and to one degree or another engage his arguments.  Some of them, for example, contend that “Orientalism in reverse” is virtually the same thing as Occidentalism, which is an ideology that imagines and constructs the West as having an essential, timeless identity.  Others disagree with him concerning the degree to which Orientalism in reverse is the same as Western ideological Orientalism.  They argue that in contrast to Western Orientalism it focuses more on disposed and oppressed peoples, does not seek power over others, and gives Muslims a tool to resist Western domination.  More generally, scholars and others use the shortened form of this term, Reverse Orientalism, and only occasionally acknowledge al-Azm as its originator.  In sum, the debate over Orientalism in reverse is an important early example of the way in which scholars and others began to elaborate on Said’s notion of Orientalism and an example of their penchant for coining new terms in the process.  [6/19]

See also: Arab Orientalism, French Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Occidentalism, Ontological Orientalism, Orientalism Proper, Positive Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Self-Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Gilbert Achcar, “Orientalism in Reverse.” Radical Philosophy 151 (2008); Sadik Jalal Al-Azm, "Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse." Khamsin 8 (1981); Mehrzad BoroujerdiIranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism (Syracuse U., 1996); Mark Corrado, “Orientalism in Reverse: Henry Corbin, Iranian Philosophy, and the Critique of the West” (M.A. thesis, Simon Fraser U., 2004); Daurius FigueiraExiting a Racist Worldview: A Journey Through Foucault, Said and Marx to Liberation (iUniverse, 2004); Christopher Howarth, “’Orientalism in Reverse’: Islam and the West in the Writings of Sayyid Qutb,” 2016. At (, accessed 6/19; Alison Scott-Baumann, “Unveiling Orientalism in Reverse.” In Islam and the Veil: Theoretical and Regional Contexts (Bloomsbury, 2012); Hsu-Ming Teo, “Orientalism: An Overview.” Australian Humanities Review 54 (2013); Ignacio Tofiño-Quesada, "Spanish Orientalism: Uses of the Past in Spain's Colonization in Africa." Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 23 (2003).

Orientalism Proper

Scholars use this fairly frequently used term to describe forms of Orientalism considered to be most representative of what Orientalism truly is—as in the phrase, “the Orientalism proper of the 19th century.”  Its use originates with Sadik Jalal al-Azm (1981) who contrasts his own conception of “Ontological Orientalism in Reverse” with Edward W. Said’s (Orientalism, 1978) understanding of what al-Azm terms, “Ontological Orientalism proper”.  This form of Orientalism, as Said describes it, dates from the later 18th century and is more often known as classical or traditional Orientalism and also Saidian Orientalism.  Focusing primarily on British and French (and to a lesser extent American) academic and literary figures, Said argues that they share a set of Orientalist stereotypes that imagine and construct “Orientals” collectively as having an essential, timeless, exotic, and inferior identity.  It is the West itself that defines this identity, and this whole process of “Orientalizing” the East has been complicit with European colonialism and Western imperialism.  Most scholars use “Orientalism proper” in this largely pejorative way, then, to mean Orientalism as described by Said.  A smaller number, such as Naji B. Oueijan (1998), have a positive view of “Orientalism proper” as being an appreciation for the knowledge, wisdom, spirituality, and value of the Orient.  For them, the Saidian paradigm is not “Orientalism proper”.  While it is not intended to be a technical term as such, scholarly use of this term is frequent enough to make it a somewhat common (and unrecognized) synonym for classical, traditional, or Saidian Orientalism.  [4/21]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, European Orientalism, Genuine Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Orientalism in Reverse, Saidian Orientalism, Traditional Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sadik Jalal al-Azm, "Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse." Khamsin 8 (1981); Omaar Hena, Review of “Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History by Joseph Lennon.” Foilsiú 5 (2006); Hossein Peernajmodn, “Orientalist Representations of Persia in the Works of Spenser, Marlowe, Milton, Moore, and Morier” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Birmingham, 2002); John M. MacKenzieOrientalism. History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester U., 1995); David Morley & Kevin Robins, "Techno-orientalism: Japan panic." In Spaces of Identity: Global Media, Electronic Landscapes and Cultural Boundaries (1995); Hossein Nazari, “Orientalist Fiction in Two Non-fictions of Naipaul: Representations of Iran in Among the Believers and Beyond Belief” (M.A. thesis, U. of Tehran, 2009); 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); A. K. Ramakrishnan, “Chapter 1: Orientalism,” n.d. At pdfcoffee (; Frank F. SchererThe Freudian Orient: Early Psychoanalysis, Anti-Semitic Challenge, and the Vicissitudes of Orientalist Discourse (Karnac Books, 2015); Frank F. Scherer, "Sanfancón: Orientalism, Confucianism and the Construction of Chineseness in Cuba, 1847-1997” (Working paper, CERLAC/CRP, 1998); Philip Zachernuk, “’Orientalism’ and West African Intellectuals in the Nineteenth Century.” Passages: A Chronicle of the African Humanities 6 (1993).

Orientalism Theory

Scholars use this term usually to describe the system of ideas and general principles underlying the notion of “Orientalism” as explicated most particularly by Edward W. Said who described Orientalism as being a body of theory and practice used by the West to reduce “the Orient” to a simple, essential, and timeless stereotype of itself in order to exercise power over “Orientals,” most especially Arabs and Muslims. This term is thus also called the Saidian theory of Orientalism. Scholars and others sometimes use this term to argue that the conceptual framework, body of knowledge, and principles of Orientalism theory should be applied to contexts and situations involving non-Asian peoples and cultures. Less frequently, some scholars use this term without specific reference to Said.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Orientalist Theory, Saidian Orientalism, Traditional Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Chris AllenIslamophobia (Ashgate, 2010); Hahm ChaiBong, “How the East was Won: Orientalism and the New Confucian Discourse in East Asia.” Development and Society 29 (2000); Fithor Fauzi, “The Portrayal of Islam in Four Lions Movies: An Orientalism Study” (B.A. thesis, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic U., 2016); Laura M. Goddall, “The ‘Otherized’ Latino: Edward Said’s Orientalism Theory and Reforming Suspect Class Analysis.” Journal of Constitutional Law 16, (2014); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Regina Varin-MignanoOrientalism and American Immigration - A Social Work View (CreateSpace, 2008); Maxie Wolf, “Orientalism and Islamophobia as Continuous Sources of Discrimination?” (B.A. thesis, U. of Twente, 2015).

Orientalist Administration. See Admistrative Orientalism.

Orientalist Aesthetic(s). See Aesthetic Orientalism.

Orientalist Anthropology

Scholars use this term and, somewhat less frequently, the term anthropological Orientalism to describe 19th century and earlier 20th century anthropology as a type of academic Orientalism. Some scholars, moreover, see evidence of Orientalist anthropology still present in the later 20th century. According to the large majority of scholars, Orientalist anthropologists imagine and construct the peoples they study as having essential and essentially unchanging primitive, superstitious, and even child-like natures that stand in an absolute contrast to Western nations. Based on their research into these "primitive" peoples, Orientalist anthropologists have created a self-reinforcing, closed body of academic knowledge, which they use both to validate their research and as the foundation for further study. Some scholars link Orientalist anthropology’s earlier stages to Romanticism and others consider it to be inherently racist. A very few scholars argue that, whatever their limitations, Orientalist anthropologists have produced important work that has contributed to the understanding of Asian peoples. Scholars generally recognize the close connection between Orientalist anthropology and Orientalist ethnography, which is a methodology employed by Orientalist anthropologists. James G. Carrier uses the term Maussian Orientalism to describe the ways in which early Orientalist anthropologists abstracted particular characteristic of an alien society into essential absolutes—seen again through the lens of Western social practices.  [revised 8/18]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Orientalist Ethnography, Orientalist Science, Romantic Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Orientalist Anthropology: Michal Frenkel & Yehouda Shenhav, “Decolonizing Organization Theory: Between Orientalism And Occidentalism,” [2003]. At Waikato Management School (, accessed 8/18; Hannah McGregor, “‘Not Quite Ethiopian, But Not At All English’: Ethnography, Hybridity, and Diaspora in Camilla Gibb’s Sweetness in the Belly.” ESC: English Studies in Canada 35 (2009); Simon Philpott, “A Controversy of Faces: Images from Bali and Abu Ghraib.” Journal for Cultural Research 9 (2005); Zahia S.  Salhi, “The Maghreb and the Occident: Towards the Construction of an Occidentalist Discourse.” In Orientalism Revisited: Art, Land and Voyage (Routledge, 2013); yaviric, “Iraq, Orientalism and Archaeology in the 20th Century.” At Booksie (, accessed 8/18.  Anthropological Orientalism: James G. Carrier, "Occidentalism: the World Turned Upside Down." American Ethnologist 19 (1992); Sally EverettFood and Drink Tourism: Principles and Practice (SAGE, 2016); Bruce Kapferrer & Dimitrios TheodossopoulosAgainst Exoticism: Toward the Transcendence of Relativism and Universalism in Anthropology (Berghahn Books, 2016).

Orientalist Archaeology.  See Archaeological Orientalism.

Orientalist Architecture.  See Architectural Orientalism.

Orientalist Archive

Edward W. Said introduced this term in his seminal text, Orientalism (1978), where he writes that Orientalism can be imagined to be an authoritative, widely respected and used “library or archive of information” (p. 41).  This archive contains the vast body of discursive works created by the West over the centuries and functions as a lens through which it has long understood and experienced the Orient.  He quotes Sacy’s description of it as being a “museum” that is a “vast depot” for materials useful to the study of the Orient (p. 165).  The Orientalist archive, in sum, shapes Europe’s understanding, experience, and domination of the East.  There is a general sense held by most scholars that Said draws on Michel Foucault’s (1926-1984) notion of “archive,” and most modern-day scholars of Orientalism continue to use it more-or-less as Said does.  Because it encompasses the entire body of Western knowledge of the Orient, it is, in fact, difficult to distinguish functionally this term as he and his successors use it from the general notion of Orientalism itself (i.e. Saidian Orientalism).  Elgamri, for example, defines Orientalism as “an archive of knowledge, which reinforces the superiority of Western European culture and the uniqueness of Western civilisation, that gives it is fervor and might against the Orient.” (p. 40)  The Orientalist archive is thus an organized, self-reinforcing repository that “houses” the ideas, fears, fancies, myths, images, ideologies, prejudices, and stereotypes with which the West imagines and constructs the East.  This archive functions in two distinct ways: first, it is, figuratively speaking, an academic “tool” created and used by generations of scholars to discover, portray, and exercise scholarly authority over the Orient; second, it is also a colonialist tool used by European governments and other agencies to understand their Oriental territories in order to more effectively exercise power over them.  It is not just a Western phenomenon.  Asians themselves have long played a role in the formation and use of the Orientalist archive and often accept its collective “wisdom” concerning themselves and their peoples.  At other times they use the archive to assert an essential Asian superiority to the West in place of its generally assumed inferiority.  In the decades since 1978, scholars have elaborated on this notion in a number of ways.  Where Said emphasized esp. British and French written discourses, other scholars have broadened the Orientalist archive to encompass such things as music, art, the cinema, and photographs.  They have also studied the “Orientalist archive” of nations other than France and Britain, such as Mexico and Germany, as well as of particular individuals or agencies (e.g. the Catholic Church) who are said to have assembled their own personal or institutional Oriental archive.  Scholars are also critical of Said’s failure to credit the contribution Western popular culture makes to the formation of the archive.  It should be noted, however, that they have not employed this term in broader critiques of Said, such as his supposedly “one-sided” understanding of the notion of Orientalism itself.  In a very real sense, then, this is a “Saidian term” used today largely as Said himself originally used it.  [12/19]

See also: : Academic Orientalism, Administrative Orientalism, Catholic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Intellectual Orientalism, Musical Orientalism, Orientalist Epistemology, Orientalist Literature, Pictorial Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ali BehdadCamera Orientalis: Reflections on Photography of the Middle East (U. of Chicago, 2016); Robert K. Beshara, “A Critical Discourse Analysis of George W. Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ Speech: The Rhetoric of (Counter)Terrorism and the Logic of Islamophobia.” Journal of Language & Discrimination 2 (2018);  Derek Bryce, et al., “Historicising Hospitality and Tourism Consumption: Orientalist Expectations of the Middle East.”  At (, acesssed 12/19; Georges Dreyfus, “Are We Prisoners of Shangrila? Orientalism, Nationalism, and the Study of Tibet.” Journal of the international Association of Tibetan Studies 1 (2005); Lars EcksteinMonk Lewis’s Timour the Tartar, Grand Romantic Orientalism and Imperial Melancholy (Universität Potsdam, 2016); Elzain Elgamri, “Islam in the British Broadsheets: How Historically-conditioned Orientalist Discourses Inform Representations of Islam as a Militant Monolithic Entity” (Ph.d. diss., U. of Westminster, 2005); Kamal Gasimov, “Alexander Knysh’s Sufism: A New History of Islamic Mysticism is the Result of More Than Thirty Years of Study of Sufism and Sufis,” n.d.  At Voices on Central Asia (, accessed 12/19; Gil Hochberg, “Archival Afterlives in a Conflict Zone: Animating the Past in Jumana Manna’s Cinematic Fables of Pre-1948 Palestine.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 38 ( 2018); Tobias Hübinette, “Asia as a Topos of Fear and Desire for Nazis and Extreme Rightists: The Case of Asian Studies in Sweden.” positions 15 (2007); Adam J. Pitts, “Occidentalism and Orientalism in the Late Writings of Antonio Caso.” In Comparative Studies in Asian and Latin American Philosophies (Bloomsbury, 2018); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Orientalist Art Deco.  See Art Deco Orientalism.

Orientalist Buddhism

Scholars use this term and the less frequently used term Buddhist Orientalism to describe the ways in which Western and Asian Orientalist scholars, religious and social reformers, and others have historically imagined, constructed, and continue to imagine and construct an a-historical, textually-based, and contemplative “authentic” Buddhism.  These Orientalists fantasize that sets of ancient texts contain the truths of this authentic Buddhism and that subsequent historical changes as well as contemporary institutional and popular Buddhisms are corruptions of it.  They particularly ignore the role played by of the ordained Buddhist clergy (the Sangha) and of laywomen in institutional and local Buddhism.  Orientalist Buddhism emerged in Western universities in the 19th century and was imported by Asian students studying in the West and other Asian scholars into nations such as Japan or India, where it has become the dominant scholarly way of thinking about Asian Buddhism.  In the United States, Beat Generation figures such as Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg promoted their own versions of a “genuine,” essentially timeless, and meditative Buddhism as an alternative spirituality.  [revised from "Buddhist Orientalism," 8/21]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Beat Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Oriental’s Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Religious Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Self-Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Buddhist Orientalism: Garrett Field, Modernizing Composition: Sinhala Song, Poetry, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Sri Lanka (U. of California, 2017); Melvin J. Friedman, “Flannery O’Connor: Another Legend in Southern Fiction.” The English Journal 51 (1962); Hermann Rebel, When Women Held The Dragon s Tongue: and Other Essays in Historical Anthropology (Berghahn Books, 2010); Hyangsoon Yi, “Yi on Suh, 'Silver Screen Buddha: Buddhism in Asian and Western Film',” 2017. At H-Buddhism (, accessed 8/21;.  Orientalist Buddhism: Galen Amstut, “Missing Hongan-ji in Japanese Studies.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 23 (1996); Joseph Cheah, Race and Religion in American Buddhism: White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation (Oxford, 2011): Hephzibah Grace, “Jack Kerouc’s the Dharma Bums: Orientalism, Consumerism and Meditation,” 2020. At Hephzibah Grace (, accessed 8/21; Ngar-sze Lau, “Recent Emergence of Theravada Meditation Communities in Contemporary China.” In Buddhism in the Global Eye (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020); sujato, “Comment,” 2021. At First Free Woman (, accessed 8/21. Also see: Richard King, Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and ‘the Mystic East’ (Routledge, 1999)


Orientalist Burlesque.  See Architectural Satire.

Orientalist Comedy.  See Comic Orientalism.

Orientalist Common Sense

Scholars use this term and, much less frequently, the term common sense Orientalism to describe sets of widely held beliefs about and attitudes toward “Orientals,” which are thought to be obviously true and appropriate at first glance without necessity of further study or reflection based on “what everybody knows.”  Common sense Orientalisms are thus popular, practical expressions of that which Edward W. Said (1978) termed latent Orientalism.  Although common sense Orientalisms may occasionally frame Orientals in a positive light, for the most part scholars consider them to be expressions of demeaning ideological stereotypes that imagine and construct Orientals to be, among other things, savage, deviant, immoral, dangerous, essentially alien, decadent, fanatical (esp. Muslims), prideful, and ignorant.  These terms are thus synonyms for Saidian Orientalism, which reflect Said’s negative characterization of the notion of Orientalism.  [revised from Common Sense Orientalism, 2/21]

See also: Blatant Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Implicit Orientalism, Latent Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Practical Orientalism (Post-Said), Saidian Orientalism, Structural Orientalism, Unconscious Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Orientalist Common Sense: Sadiq Al-Ali, “American Orientalism in Popular Culture Post 9/11: A Gramscian (re)Reading,” 2012. At SSRN(, accessed 2/21; Shampa Diswas, “To Be Modern, but in the ‘Indian’ Way: Hindu Nationalism.” In Gods, Guns, and Globalization: Religious Radicalism and International Political Economy (Lynne Rienner, 2004); David FieniDecadent Orientalisms: The Decay of Colonial Modernity (Fordham U., 2020); Surinder S. Jodhka, “Ascriptive Hierarchies: Caste and Its Reproduction in Contemporary India.” Current Sociology  64 (2016); Aditya Nigam, “Marxism and the Postcolonial World: Footnotes to a Long March,” 2007. At Critical Encounters (, accessed 2/21; Daniel VukovichChina and Orientalism: Western Knowledge Production and the PRC (Routledge, 2012).  Common Sense Orientalism: Ahorbinski, “Book Review: The Imperial Security State,” 2014. At Cognitive Resonance (, accessed 2/21; Scott Poynting, et. al.Bin Laden in the Suburbs: Criminalising the Arab Other. (Sydney Institute of Criminology, 2004).  Other: Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Orientalist Comparativism. See Comparativist Orientalism.

Orientalist Composer(s). See Musical Orientalism.

Orientalist Cosmopolitanism. See Cosmopolitan Orientalism.


Orientalist Costume. See Fashion Orientalism.

Orientalist Decadence. See Decadent Orientalism.


Oriental(ist) Design. See Oriental Look.

Orientalist Dialectic. See Dialectical Orientalism.

Orientalist Dogma

Scholars This term originates with Edward W. Said (1978) who uses it to describe classical Orientalism especially as embodied in the Western academic study of the Middle East and Islam. In his preface to the 2003 edition of Orientalism, Said observes of the Iraq War that, “Without a well-organized sense that these people over there were not like ‘us’ and didn't appreciate ‘our’ values—the very core of traditional Orientalist dogma as I describe its creation and circulation in this book—there would have been no war.” (p. xv) In the original 1978 edition of Orientalism, he refers several times to the dogmas of Orientalism purveyed by Western academics, often disguised in modern sounding social science rhetoric, and argues that such reworking of traditional Orientalism “…still served the traditional Orientalist dogmas.” (p. 284) He summarizes these dogmas in four scholarly principles: (1) the West is absolutely superior to the Orient; (2) ancient Oriental texts offer a better understanding of the Orient than modern evidence; (3) the Orient is “eternal, uniform, and incapable of defining itself”; and (4) the Orient is something to be feared or controlled. (p. 300) Said insists that traditional Western Orientalist dogma is, at its core, monolithic, unchanging, and profoundly scornful of the Orient, particularly the Middle East. Scholars of Orientalism since Said frequently draw on his notion of Orientalist dogma, often cite him in doing so, and his observation regarding the Iraq War is very widely quoted by others studying quite a variety of research topics dealing with the notion of Orientalism. Even those using this term without reference to Said still reflect his understanding of it. A few scholars use the term dogmatic Orientalism with the same meaning as Orientalist dogma.  [revised from Dogmatic Orientalism, 11/22]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Anti-Islamic Orientalism, Blatant Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Hard Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Islamic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Traditional Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Raad Kareem Abd Aun, “The Presentation of Victimization in Selected 2003 War Plays,” Journal of Human Sciences 35 ([2020]); Lily P. Ayau, “Tourism and Representation: Digital Expressions and Implications of Orientalism,” 2017. At SIT Digital Collections (, accessed 11/22; Sunil Bhatia, “Orientalism in Euro-American and Indian Psychology:Historical Representations of “Natives” in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts.” History of Psychology 5 (2002); James D.J. Brown, “A Stereotype, Wrapped in a Cliché, Inside a Caricature: Russian Foreign Policy and Orientalism.” Politics 30 (2010); Karin Christiaens, “Fazal Sheikh, Artist-Activist: Subverting the Cliché Documentary Photography.” TCNJ Journal of Student Scholarship 12 (2011); Fred R. Dallmayr, Small Wonder (Rowan & Littlefield, 2005); Mahault Donzé-Magnier, “Edward Said: Orientalism,” 2017. At Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (, accessed 11/22; Hester du Plessis, “Oriental Africa.” Tydskrif vir Letterkunde 45 (2008); Tahrir Khalil Hamdi, "Edward Said and Recent Orientalist Critiques." Arab Studies Quarterly 35 (2013); Hasan Tariq Al Hasan, “’Arabs are not ready for democracy,” 2012. At openDemocracy (, accessed 10/22; Efraim Karsh, “Review Article: Elie Kedourie: Forgotten Iconoclast.” The International History Review 21 (1999); Valerie Kennedy, Edward Said: A Critical Introduction (Polity Press, 2013); Ussama Makdisi, Faith Misplaced (PublicAffairs, 2010); Nergis Mazid, “Western Mimicry or Cultural Hybridity: Deconstructing Qasim Amin’s ‘Colonized Voice’.” American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 19 (2002); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Penguin Books, 2003); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Mohammed Saissi, “The Mysteriousness of The Cultural Space in Peter Mayne’s A Year in Marrakesh.” Arab World English Journal 6 (2022); Zahira Sarwar, “Exploring Muslim Feminisms: A Response to Orientalist Discourses About Muslim Women” (M.A. thesis, Carleton University, 2014); Dror Ze’evi, “Back to Napoleon? Thoughts on the Beginning of the Modern Era in the Middle East.” Mediterranean Historical Review 19 (2004). Dogmatic Orientalism: Kerim Balci, “S-type Dogmatic Orientalism.” World Bulletin 7 (2008); Deborah Jean Lisle, “The Politics of Contemporary Travelogues” (M.A. thesis, McGill, 1992).

Orientalist Dualism. See Binary Orientalism.

Orientalist Eclecticism. See Eclectic Orientalism.

Orientalist Education

Scholars generally use this term in one of at least three different ways.  First and most frequently, they use it to describe a movement in British educational policy in earlier 19th century India, which promoted the use of indigenous languages and learning in the colonial education system. (For details, see the entry for Constructive Orientalism.)  Those who advocated for an “Orientalist education” were opposed by the Anglicist party, which argued for the exclusive use of the English language and Western learning in colonial Indian education.  Second, scholars also use this term to describe the type of education and training provided by what historically was known as “Orientalism,” that is the study of the Orient, which scholars today often term academic Orientalism.  In this second usage, this term is usually used specifically to describe the education given to trained Orientalists, such as Bernard Lewis.  Less often, scholars use it to describe how a general educational system, a college or university, or even a popular film functions as a conduit for the teaching of Orientalist ideas and stereotypes.  Scholars using this term in this way usually do so in the context of Edward W. Said’s (1978) critique of the notion of Orientalism (i.e. Saidian Orientalism) as an ideological construct associated with Western colonialism and imperialism.  “Orientalist education,” thus is seen as teaching and promoting ideological Orientalism. Third, this term is sometimes used to describe the education provided by Russian Asian studies programs and institutions, is usually used by those involved in these programs, and is intended to be purely descriptive and not ideological.  It reflects the Russian tradition of Orientology and its self-understanding of not being subject to Said’s critiques of Western Orientalism.  [1/20]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Constructive Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Orientology, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: First Usage: Tim Allender, “William Arnold and Experimental Education in North India, 1855-1859:
 An Innovative Model of State Schooling.” Historical Studies in Education 16 (2004); Mahmut Cihat İzgi, “A Cultural Project of Control: The Foundation of Calcutta Madrassa and the Benares Sanskrit College in India.” Sosyal ve Kültürel Araştırmalar Dergisi 1 (2015); Srivastava Mukesh, “A Critique of the History of Higher Education in India,” 1994. At Ideas (, accessed 1/20; Avril Powell, “Editorial: Knowledge, Pedagogy and Muslims in Colonial North-West India.” South Asia Research 31 (2011); Benjamin D. Williams, “Education, Knowledge, and Reality: British East India Company Attempts to Frame Education Policy” (M.S. thesis, Texas A. & M., 2014). Second Usage: Anna Campbell-Hall, “Entertaining Indians. The Introduction of Indo-Persian Travel Literature to Britain, 1792-1827” (M.A. thesis, Leiden, 2019); Joe Hayns & Nadi Selim, “Maxime Rodinson: Rationality, Islam, and Decolonisation,” 2018.  At Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (, accessed 1/20; Michiel Leezenberg, “Soviet Kurdology and Kurdish Orientalism,” 2011. At researchgate (, accessed 1/20; Elizabeth Poole, Book review of Interpreting Islam by Hastings Donnan.  The Sociological Review 50 (2002); Ihab Shalbak, "The Roots of Bernard Lewis’ Rage." Postcolonial Studies 21 (2018); Bahman Zarrinjooee
, “Dissemination of English Culture in Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease.” Advances in Language and Literary Studies 7 (2016).  Third Usage:Department of History & Philology of South & Central Asia,” n.d. At Higher School of Economics National Research University (, accessed 1/20; Indira Gzieva, “Introduction.” In Oriental Languages and Cultures (Cambridge Scholars, 2008).


Orientalist (Oriental) Enlightenment

Scholars generally use this term, either less frequently as the “Oriental Enlightenment” or more frequently as the “Orientalist Enlightenment,” in one of at least four ways.  First some scholars use it to describe the ways in which the European Enlightenment imagined and constructed the Orient. Scholars more often use the term Enlightenment Orientalism to describe this form of Orientalism.  Second, other scholars, notably J. J. Clarke, use it to describe the ways in which Asian (Oriental) intellectual and religious thinking has influenced the West, enlightening it in a way similar to the European Enlightenment. This term is most often used in references to Clarke’s book, Oriental Enlightenment: the Encounter between Asia and Western Thought (1997).  Third, a few other scholars use this term to describe movements in Asian nations drawing on indigenous “Oriental” resources to “enlighten” the public generally or a segment of it. Fourth and still less often, a few scholars use this term to describe efforts by European colonial governments to lift colonials out of their supposed state of Oriental ignorance.

See also: Enlightened Orientalism, Enlightenment Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: John D. Blanco, “Oriental Enlightenment and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse?” In Filipino Studies: Palimpsests of Nation and Diaspora (New York U., 2016); J. J. ClarkeOriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought (Routledge, 1997); Kfir Cohen, “Subjects of the Global:
 An Aesthetic and Historical Inquiry into Neoliberal Change in Palestine, Israel and France 1945- 2010” (Ph.D. diss.,
U. of California, Berkeley, 2014); Ajay Kumar, “Colonial Narrative on India Counter Narrative and Colonial Experience in Gandhian Era” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Calicut, 2003); Miriam van Reijen, "Might Spinoza be Considered more as an Exponent of the Oriental Enlightenment, than as an Exponent of the Western Enlightenment?" Araucaria 20 (2018); Tony Watling, Ecological Imaginations in the World Religions: An Ethnographic Analysis (Bloomsbury, 2009).

Orientalist Enthusiasm. See Oriental Enthusiasm.


Orientalist Epistemology

Scholars generally use this term and the much less often used term epistemological Orientalism to describe the ways in which Orientalists produce and use knowledge about “the Orient”.  Anouar Abdel-Malik (1963) followed by Edward W. Said (1978) first considered the issues involved in epistemological Orientalism, and Said’s treatment is often considered to be the definitive statement of those issues.  Although he does not use these terms as such, Said observes that Western knowledge of the Orient rests on a hard and fast binary distinction between East and West, which distinction represents the Orient as being essentially backward, despotic, sensuous, depraved, irrational, and childlike among other things.  The West, by way of contrast, is seen to be rational, mature, and virtuous.  According to Said, Western Orientalists historically believed that they could and did know the supposedly unchanging, uniformly similar Orient as it actually is, and European Orientalism used this “knowledge” to exercise intellectual as well as political/colonial power over Asian peoples.  In fact, this Orientalist knowledge was created almost whole cloth out of Western prejudices and stereotypes and had little to do with the actual Asia.  Scholars since Said agree that Western knowledge and understanding in the colonial era of classical Orientalism amounted to domination of and control over the East.  This racial stereotyping of Asians made it virtually impossible for Western Orientalists to understand the actual Asia.  They, instead, produced sets of fanciful, myth-like stereotypes that perpetuated a fundamental ignorance of Asia.  Modern-day scholars also observe that Orientalist epistemologies generally marginalize Asian women still more than men and that Asian themselves have sometimes embraced these epistemologies by standing them on their head.  They, that is, frame the West as being inferior (e.g. as being materialistic, immoral) and Asians as superior (e.g. as being wiser, more spiritual).  In sum, scholars use this term almost always in the tradition of Said and seldom question the fundamental premise that Orientalist epistemologies are dualistic and imagine and construct Orientals as having an essential, unchanging, and inferior identity.  More recent scholarship also finds that this epistemological profile has remained a significant marker of Western Orientalism down to the present. [revised from Epistemological Orientalism 3/20]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Binary Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Hegelian Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Intellectual Orientalism, Kantian Orientalism, Learned Orientalism, Methodological Orientalism, Mythic Orientalism, Ontological Orientalism, Orientalist Archive, Orientalist Fantasy, Orientology, Philosophical Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism, Sociological Orientalism, Western Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Orientalist Epistemology: Anouar Abdel-Malek, "Orientalism in Crisis." Diogenes 11 (1963); Cemil Aydin, “Islam and the European Empires in Japanese Imperial Thought.”  In Islam and the European Empires (Oxford, 2014); Therese I. Bjoernass, “Saving Muslim Women: A Feminist-postcolonial Critique of Veiling Legislation in Norway.” Islamophobia Studies Journal 3 (2015); Isa Blumi, “Nothing New: Islamophobia by Default in Postwar Europe.” Ircica Journal 3 (2015); Arif Dirlik, “Chinese History and the Question of Orientalism.” History & Theory 35 (1996); Abdelmajid Hannoum, "‘Faut-Il Brûler L’Orientalisme?’ On French Scholarship of North Africa." Cultural Dynamics 16 (2004); Thomas B. Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India (Princeton, 1999); Jennifer Kerhanghan, “Lord Cromer as Orientalist and Social Engineer in Egypt, 1882-1907 (M.A. thesis, U. of British Columbia, 1993); Jedediah H. McKee, “Young Jordanian University Students’ Perceptions of the U.S. Geopolitical Presence in the Middle East” (M.A. thesis, U. of Missouri, 2012); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Herbert R. Swanson,“Orientalism as an Ideology: the Utility of Said's Notion of Ideology for the Study of Orientalist Ideologies," 19 June 2020.  At (; Pak Nung Wong, “Articulating the Inarticulate from the Margins of the State: A Post-Orientalist Alternative.” Philippine Political Science Journal 30 (2009).  Epistemological Orientalism: Pinar Bilgin, “Thinking Past ‘Western’ IR?” Third World Quarterly 29 (2008); Lyam Ortmeier, “Translating Orientalism: Modes of Producing the Oriental Other in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra” (Paper, Free U. of Berlin, 2007).

Orientalist Ethnography

Scholars generally use this term and the term ethnographic Orientalism (first usage) to describe the use of ethnology as a key research methodology used by 19th century and earlier 20th century Orientalist scholars, particularly anthropologists, in their studies of Oriental peoples. In several parts of Asia, the first proto-ethnologists were Christian missionaries who studied native peoples as part of their drive to convert them; travel writers also contributed to the 19th century ethnographic literature. Most scholars now frame their studies of Orientalist ethnography from the perspective of Edward W. Said’s (1978) critique of Orientalist anthropology although Said does not address ethnography directly. In any event, scholars argue that Orientalist ethnologists imagined and constructed Orientals as being essentially primitive and inferior to the civilized West. They focused on studying “premodern”, “traditional” peoples, finding in their research subjects precisely what they thought they would find: backward natives. As such, scholars today see a close link between the practice of ethnography and Western colonialism in its construction of “backward Orientals” as a justification for colonial occupation. Some scholars, however, question the degree to which Orientalist ethnologists wittingly imposed a set of Orientalist stereotypes and prejudices on their research subjects. They argue that much depends on the individual ethnologist in question. Other scholars also note that Asians themsleves have sometimes reframed Orientalist ethnography to imagine their own Asian identity, to construct themselves as fully civilized, and often to attract Western tourists by commodifying their supposedly “exotic” Oriental identity. The term “Orientalist ethnography” is the more prevalent of these two terms and is fairly frequently used.

See also: Academic Orientalism, Authentic Orientalism, Ethnographic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Oriental's Orientalism, Orientalist Anthropology, Orientalist Science, Orientalist Tourism, Reverse Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism, Traveling Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Orientalist Ethnography: Adrienne L. Childs, “The Black Exotic: Tradition and Ethnography in Nineteenth-century Orientalist Art” (Ph.D. diss., Maryland, 2005); Marko Juntunen, “Between Morocco and Spain: Men, Migrant Smuggling and a Dispersed Moroccan Community” (Academic diss., Helsinki, 2002); Yan  Lu, “Minor Transethnicity: Chinese, First Nations, and Blacks in Multilingual Chinese Canadian Fiction” (Ph.D. diss., Toronto, 2015); Lorraine Nencel & Peter Pels, Constructing Knowledge: Authority and Critique in Social Science (Sage, 1991); Gísli PálssonThe Textual Life of Savants: Ethnography, Iceland, and the Linguistic Turn (Routledge, 1995); David L. Sweet, “Orientalist Divagations: Four French Authors in Egypt." Studies in Travel Writing 14 (2010); Leong YewAsianism and the Politics of Regional Consciousness in Singapore (Routledge, 2014).  Ethnographic Orientalism: Adrienne L. Childs, “The Black Exotic: Tradition and Ethnography in Nineteenth-century Orientalist Art” (Ph.D. diss., Maryland, 2005); Omnia El ShakryThe Great Social Laboratory: Subjects of Knowledge in Colonial and Postcolonial Egypt (Stanford, 2007); Hadley Renkin, “Modern Lovers and Premodern Haters: Géza Róheim and the Sexual Science of Eastern European Otherness” (Paper, European Association of Social Anthropologists Meeting, July 2012).

Orientalist Exotica

Scholars and others generally use this term to describe the wide variety of ways in which supposedly Asian artifacts are used to imagine and construct that which is distant, strange, alien, sensuous  intriguing, romantic, and mysterious (i.e. exotic). These artifacts include arts and crafts, literature, communication and entertainment media, elements of nature (e.g. indigenous animals, landscapes), cityscapes (as “exotic” places), social and cultural roles and institutions, and human sexuality including the images of women—that is, virtually anything that may be construed to be either traditionally or essentially Asian. Things from the Arab-Muslim Middle East are among the most frequently imagined, including camels, desert scenes, covered markets, mosques, and harems. The painting, El vendedor de tapices (1870), by the Spanish painter, Mariano Fortuny (1838-1874) is itself an example of Oriental exotica and depicts particular items of exotica as well. Scholars argue that Orientalist exotica fulfill a number of different functions primarily having to do with communicating an ethos of distant lands, strangeness, and mystery. They are thus used: (1) for entertainment purposes in such things as plays, movies, and the ballet; (2) as important elements in advertising and marketing strategies; (3) by national, regional, or local governments, again as strategies for reinventing their identities in ways that will encourage tourism and/or trade; (4) to reframe one’s own cultural or national identity, for example, in defense against the incursions of modernization; and (5) to reinvent one’s own personal Asian identity by using Oriental exotica as exaggerations of certain images and symbols associated with “Asian-ness”. It should also be noted that by-and-large scholars do not link this term with ideological Orientalism or Saidian Orientalism although several of these uses might be considered to be acts of self-Orientalism. In particular, this term and the terms exotic Orientalism and Orientalist exoticism are distinct yet related notions that scholars sometimes use almost interchangeably. The latter two, however, tend to be more closely identified with ideological Orientalism.

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Economic Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Local Orientalism, Orientalist Exoticism, Popular Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: William C.  Bissell, “Engaging Colonial Nostalgia.” Cultural Anthropology 20 (2005); Donna A. BuchananPerforming Democracy: Bulgarian Music and Musicians in Transition (U. of Chicago, 2006); Kara L.  Miller, “Re-imagining Modern Dance as Transnational Phenomenon Through the Lens of Yoga” (Ph.D. diss., U. of California, Davis, 2015); André  Redwood, “Collage, Creativity, and Copyright: Sublime Frequencies and the Ethics of Intellectual Property.” In Punk Ethnography: Artists & Scholars Listen to Sublime Frequencies (Wesleyan U., 2016); Joel Robinson, “Introducing Pavilions: Big Worlds Under Little Tents.” Open Arts Journal 2 (Winter 2013-2014.

Orientalist Exoticism

Scholars and others use this not infrequently used term in at least two ways: first, they use it more often as another term for the first usage of Exotic Orientalism to describe an aesthetic style that is taken to be haunting, mysterious, strange, sensuous, romantic, and alien (among other things). Second and less frequently, they use it as another term for Orientalist exotica to describe all of the paraphernalia and images that are used to promote an ethos of the Orient as distant, strange, mystical, sensuous, and alien (exotic).  Scholars note that in both instances Asians sometimes themselves draw on Orientalist exoticisms to construct their own essential identities as acts of self-Orientalism. [2/18; edited 9/20]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Economic Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Local Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Orientalist Exotica, Romantic Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Gaar Adams, “Inside Abu Dhabi's Most Rollicking Karaoke Joint,” 2017. At CityLab (, accessed 2/18; Fawzia-Khan Afzal, “Re-orienting Orientalism: From Shafik Gabr’s What Orientalist Painters Can Teach Us About The Art Of East–West Dialogue to Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced.”Arab Stages 1 (2014); Leon Botstein, “Orientalism in France,” 2012. At ASO (, accessed 2/18; Binbin Fu, “Re-Imagined Homes: Transnational Asian American Writing in Annie Wang’s The People’s Republic of Desire.” Asiatic 9 (2015); Gabriela Jauregui, “Apuntes on Orientalism in/and Latin American Literature: Darío, Tablada, Borges, Paz and Sarduy.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 35 (2008
); Valerie  Kennedy, “Orientalism in the Victorian Era,” n.d. At Oxford Index (, accessed 5/17; Atef Laouyene, “The Postexotic Arab:
Orientalist Dystopias in Contemporary Postcolonial Fiction” (Ph.D. diss., Ottawa, 2008); Nancy M. Mason, "The Ideology of American Home Economists in China between the 1920s and the 1940s: Interactions between Orientalism and Ideals of Domestic Science." In Proceedings of the National Conference of Undergraduate Research 2015 (Eastern Washington U., 2015).

Orientalist Fad

This term is used here as an umbrella term for a larger family of terms that includes: Faddish Orientalism, Orientalist CrazeOrientalist Mania, Orientalist Rage, and Orientalist Vogue, which is distinct from but closely related to another family of terms, Oriental Fad.  The distinction between the two families is that the “Oriental Fad” family is the older, traditional set of terms that goes back to the 19th century and generally reflected the stereotypes and attitudes of classical Orientalism.  Modern-day scholars generally prefer the “Orientalist fad” family, which reflects the critical scholarly approach that has developed since the publication of Edward W. Said’s book, Orientalism (1978).  Some scholars still occasionally use terms from the “Oriental fad” family but do so in a way that reflects modern usage.  Users should also consult the entry for “Oriental Fad”.

Scholars of Orientalism use the terms for Orientalist fads almost always in passing to describe periods when peoples of European descent display an unusually intense enthusiasm for “things Oriental,” usually for relatively brief periods of time but always reflective of a deeper, centuries long Western interest in the East.  These faddish events usually arise at random, capture the popular imagination, and then disappear as quickly as they came.  They have little, if anything, to do with the actual Asia and are, rather, fanciful episodes driven by stereotypes of the Orient, positive as well as negative.  These episodes occur in almost every aspect of Western life including the arts, religion, intellectual life, entertainment, literature, clothing fashions, and especially in commerce and business.  They are significant because they are concrete historical manifestations of the stereotypes and habits of mind that both express and spread Western stereotypical prejudices, which imagine and construct “the Orient” as having a single, essential, and timeless identity that is utterly alien to that of the West and deemed to be absolutely inferior (or, at times, superior) to the West. They especially inspire commercially lucrative enthusiasms for the East using mass communications to spread images and representations of the Orient that arise out of and reinforce Western Orientalist stereotypes. [revised from "Faddish Orientalism," 9/20]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Chinoiserie, Christian Orientalism, Cinematic Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Consumer Orientalism, Desert Orientalism, Fashion Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Oriental Enthusiasm, Oriental Rage, Oriental Fad, Orientalist Gaze, Pop Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Faddish Orientalism: Joan DelPlato, Multiple Wives, Multiple Pleasures: Representing the Harem, 1800-1875 (Farleigh Dickinson U., 2002); Bryan A. Giemza, Irish Catholic Writers and the Invention of the American South (Louisiana State U, 2013); Tom Holland, Persian Fire: The First World Empire, Battle for the West (Hachette Digital, 2005). Orientalist Craze: Richard Anderson, “Orientalism as Banality: Interpreting the 1930 Shriner Convention in Toronto,” n.d. At York University (, accessed 8/20; M. Keith Booker & Isra Daraiseh, Consumerist Orientalism: The Convergence of Arab and American Popular Culture in the Age of Global Capitalism (I. B. Tauris, 2019); Kristin Hoganson, “Cosmopolitan Domesticity: Importing the American Dream, 1865-1920.” American Historical Review 107 (2002); Mahala Ruddell, “Strangers in Their Own Native Land: Joseph Smith, Mormons, and the Orientalizating of an American People” (M.A. thesis, U. of New Hampshire, 2013); Sarah A. Seekatz, “America's Arabia: The Date Industry and the Cultivation of Middle Eastern Fantasies in the Deserts of Southern California” (Ph.D. diss., U. of California, Riverside, 2014); Youssef Youssef, “Thing Through Images: Odalisque,” n.d. At Youssef Youssef (, accessed 8/20. Orientalist Fad: Roger Benjamin, Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880-1930 (U. of California, 2003); Sarah Hankins, "So Contagious: Hybridity and Subcultural Exchange in Hip-Hop's Use of Indian Samples." Black Music Research Journal 31 (2011); Leon Hunt, “Han's Island Revisited: Enter the Dragon as Transnational Cult Film.” In Unruly Pleasures: the Cult Film and Its Critics (FAB Press, 2000); Linda Jacobs, “Palestine at the Centennial Fair of 1876,” 2020. At WSHS (, accessed 8/20; Judith Malafronte, “Unraveling the Enigma of Carmen,” n.d. At San Francisco Opera (, accessed 8/20.  Orientalist Mania: Al Carruthers & John Mateer, “Correspondence,” 2016. At Overland (, accessed 8/20; Lamia Gharbi, “Arab Culture in Translation: From Exoticism to Terrorism” (M.A. thesis, American U. of Sharjah, 2016); William F. Hansen, Ariadne's Thread: A Guide to International Tales Found in Classical Literature (Cornell U., 2002).  Orientalist Rage: Giorgio Armani, Giorgio Armani (Guggenheim Museum, 2003); David Mesher, “Metamorphosis of a Butterfly.” San Jose Studies 17 (1991); Clarice Stasz, Jack London’s Women (U. of Massachusetts, 2001).  Orientalist Vogue: Rachid Agliz, “Morocco as an Exotic and Oriental space in European and American Writings.” Arab World English Journal 3 (2015); Robert Aldrich, Vestiges of the Colonial Empre in France (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Jean Andrews, “Meyerbeer's "L'Africaine": French Grand Opera and the Iberian Exotic” Modern Language Review 102 (2007); Isabel de Sena, “Moors or Indians? Stereotype and the Crisis of (National) Identity in Ignacio Altamirano and Manuel de Jesús Galván.” In National Identities and Sociopolitical Changes in Latin America (Routledge, 2001); “Antoine Galland,” n.d. At Encounters with the Orient (, accessed 9/20; Karla Mallette, European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean: Toward a New Philology and a Counter-Orientalism (U. of Pennsylvania, 2020); Rahiah Z. Siddiqui & Shuchi Srivastava, “The Early European Translations of the Arabian Nights.”  Background: Stephen Brown & Anthony Patterson, “’You’re a Wizard, Harry!’ Consumer Response to the Harry Potter Phenomenon.” Advances in Consumer Research 33 (2006); Nancy Hendricks, Popular Fads and Crazes Through American History, v. 1 (Greenwood, 2018); Frank W. Hoffman & William G. Bailey, “Introduction.” In Arts and Entertainment Fads (Haworth Press, 1990). And See: Herbert R. Swanson, "Faddish Orientalisms: A Study of Hidden Assumptions in the Study of Orientalism," 25 January 2021." At Orientalism Studies (

Orientalist Fashion

Scholars use this term usually in one of two ways.  First, they use it infrequently as a synonym for the terms fashion Orientalism and sartorial Orientalism to describe the relationship between clothing fashion and the notion of Orientalism. Second, scholars far more often use this term in a non-technical sense to mean “in the manner of” Orientalist fashion—such as, for example, “in typical Orientalist fashion,” or “in true Orientalist fashion” so that one might write, “This author believed, in true Orientalist fashion, that 'Orientals' across Asia have one essential and unchanging nature.”  [12/18]

See also: Fashion Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: First Usage: See Fashion OrientalismSecond Usage: Monica Juneja, “Global Art History and the ‘Burden of Representation,” n.d. At (, accessed 12/1; Maria  Koundoura, “The Limits of Civility: Culture, Nation, and Modernity in Mary Shelley's The Last Man.” Colby Quarterly 37 (2001); John M. MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester U., 1995).

Orientalist Feminism. See Feminist Orientalism.

Orientalist Fantasy

This term is frequently used by scholars as a synonym for Saidian Orientalism although sometimes with a softening of the hard edges of Edward W. Said’s ideological rendering of Orientalism (1978). The related term fantasy Orientalism is used in the same way but not as often. And the term fantastic Orientalism is also used in the same way but much less often. This last term is, however, the oldest of the three, its usage by Orientalist writers going back into the 19th century and continuing up to and after World War II. Scholars at times cite Said as a key source for their understanding of the fantastical nature of Orientalism, and some argue that fantasy has been an important element in Western Orientalism since ancient Greece. The point is that ideological Orientalisms are by their very nature fantasies created by the human imagination, only loosely related to the real world, fanciful, strange (exotic), and often associated with the magical. These terms are particularly used by scholars to describe the widespread presence of the fantastical in the ways in which Orientalists have long imagined and created Orients that are essentially submissive or violent, outlandish, and very frequently intensely sensuous and sexual—including the homoerotic. This realm of secluded harems, voluptuous slave girls, evil masters, minarets, and caravans in the desert is especially communicated in the popular arts and literature. Hollywood is often cited as a chief purveyor of these Orientalist fantasies, an early example being the movie The Thief of Bagdad (1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.  Such fantasies are also imagined and constructed for other parts of Asia, especially India and China, and they are expressed through virtually all of the arts besides the popular ones (e.g. ballet, the opera, painting, clothing design, and architecture). Less often, Orientalist fantasies imagine and construct the Orient as being the font of spirituality and mystical wisdom. A few scholars point out that while these fantastical Orients are generally the imaginative constructions of Westerners, Asians can also view other Asians through the lens of fantasy, such as, for example, male Japanese views of Chinese women. In all of this, the scholarly use of these terms emphasizes the role of imagination in the construction of ideological Orientalisms.  [7/18]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Cinematic Orientalism, Haunted Orientalism, Homoerotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Medieval Orientalism, Orientalist Fiction, Orientalist Imagination, Orientalist Tourism, Popular Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Orientalist Fantasy: Joseph A. BooneThe Homoerotics of Orientalism (Columbia, 2014); Jenn Fang, “What is Orientalism, and How it is Also Racism?,“ 2014. At Reappropriate: Asian American Feminism, Politics, and Pop Culture! (, accessed 7/18; Brigitte GauthierViva Pinter: Harold Pinter's Spirit of Resistance (Peter Lang, 2009,); Reina Lewis, Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem (I. B. Tauris, 2004); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Robert J. C. YoungColonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race (Routledge, 1995); Su-lin  Yu, “Orientalist Fantasy and Desire in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior." In Transnational, National, and Personal Voices: New Perspectives on Asian American and Asian Diasporic Women Writers (Lit Verlag, 2004).  Fantastic Orientalism: Max A. Cohen, “Fantastic Orientalism” (Thesis, Wooster, 2018); James A. HarrisonGreek Vignettes: A Sail in the Greek Seas, Summer of 1877 (Houghton, Osgood, & Co., 1878); George T. StokesIreland and the Celtic Church: History of Ireland from St. Patrick to the English Conquest in 1172 (Hodder & Stoughton, 1886).

Orientalist Fiction

Scholars of Orientalism since the publication of Edward W. Said’s book, Orientalism (1978), have used this very frequently and widely used term to study the supposed ideological nature of Oriental fiction, and in the course of that study they have expanded the meaning and scope of that term. (See the entry for “Oriental Fiction,” above). It is important, thus, to distinguish between the scholarly study of “Oriental fiction” and “Orientalist fiction" because both concern the same genre and a single work can be considered as “Oriental fiction” in one approach or “Orientalist fiction” in the other. The scholarly study of “Oriental fiction,” historically and down to the present, has largely focused on print media and given especial attention to French and British Oriental tales in the 18th and 19th centuries. Scholars of “Orientalist fiction” since Said study a broader range of international fictional “discourses” ranging across Europe as well as the United States and into Asian nations, including looking at Asian fictional works that are apparently Orientalist in their treatment of Asian themes and subjects. They also give much more attention to other media including the cinema, television, and electronic media. They include a wider range of authors, and the role of women as producers of Orientalist fiction receives greater attention. And scholars do not limit the periods of their study, finding examples of Orientalist fiction both, for example, in the ancient world and 21st century romance novels. Most interestingly, these scholars sometimes include even paintings, architecture, sculptures, and other artistic media as being “fictional” in their representations of Asians. Contemporary scholars using the term “Oriental fiction,” however, do not entirely neglect larger themes and ideological concerns, and the distinction between Oriental fiction and Orientalist fiction can be a fine one. It should be noted that scholars also use the term Orientalist novel generally in the same way as "Orientalist fiction."

It is clear from the scholarly literature, that a large portion of Orientalist fiction is indeed ideological and stereotypical in the full sense of Said’s notion of Orientalism (Saidian Orientalism). Scholars regularly describe this literature as being suffused with a “romantic spirit” that imagines and constructs Orientals as being essentially and irredeemably inferior—mysterious, exotic, backward, mystical, fabulous, sensuous, ignorant, tyrannical, and given to violence (among a host of other qualities). Their stories are also frequently both racist and sexist, and in all cases they portray Orientals as being the Eastern Other who is different from and the opposite of the Western Self. Such fiction trades in harems, voluptuous but downtrodden dusky maidens, minarets, camels, potentates, and desert scenes (again, among many other images). The imperial fiction of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) and the Fu-Manchu novels of Sax Rohmer (1883-1959) epitomize the genre. More recently, however, some scholars have argued that there are other classes of fiction about Asia that cannot be classified as Orientalist in the Saidian sense. Srinivas Aravamudan, for example, argues that Enlightenment era European fiction about the Orient is not ideological, not colonialist, and not about domination of an inferior Other. Robert Lemon makes similar arguments for the Oriental fiction of Austria-Hungary. Robert Irwin argues more broadly that in the case of 19th century British Orientalist fiction Said misrepresents several of the writers that he claims were ideological Orientalists and overstates the extent of the influence of Orientalist fiction. Be that as it may, Said fundamentally changed the way in which scholars study and describe Western fiction about Asia.  [11/18]

See also: Cinematic Orientalism, Fictional Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Oriental Fiction, Orientalist Fantasy, Orientalist Imagination, Orientalist Literature, Pulp Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Science Fiction Orientalism, Techno-Orientalism, Victorientalism. 

Sources & Examples: Srinivas AravamudanEnlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (Chicago, 2012); Binhammer, et al., “Srinivas Aravamudan’s Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel: A Roundtable Discussion.” Lumen 33 (2014); Thomas R. Franz, “Valera’s Morsamor as Anti-Orientalist Fiction.” Decimonónica 8 (2011); William A. Gleason, Sites Unseen: Architecture, Race, and American Literature (New York U., 2011); Donna K. HeizerJewish-German Identity in the Orientalist Literature of Else Lasker-Schüler, Friedrich Wolf, and Franz Werfel (Camden House, 1996); Robert  LemonImperial Messages: Orientalism as Self-Critique in the Habsburg Fin de Siecle (Cambridge, 2013); Jonathan D. Noble, “The Ideological Complexity of Kipling”  (M.A. thesis, Florida Atlantic, 2004); Ilayda  Orankoy, “Living the Fantasy: East Asian Women in Popular Media” (B.A. thesis, Pennsylvania State, 2018); Sharifah A.  Osman, “Eastern Sisters: Images of Domesticity in Romantic Orientalist Fiction by Women, 1830-1850” (Paper, Transnational Identities/Reimagining Communities Conference, University of Bologna, 2008); Padma Rangarajan, Imperial Babel: Translation, Exoticism, and the Long Nineteenth Century (Fordham, 2014); Anjali Gera Roy, “Globalization and Culture: Lecture 29, Orientalising India,” n.d.  At National Mission on Education Through Information and Communication Technology (, accessed 11/18; Francesca C. Sautman, “Les Bijoux Indiscrets,” 2007. At (, accessed 11/18; Herbert R. Swanson,“Orientalism as an Ideology: the Utility of Said's Notion of Ideology for the Study of Orientalist Ideologies," 19 June 2020.  At (; Hsu-Ming Teo, Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels (Texas, 2012); Tiina Tuominen, “Down into the Valley of Death”: The Portrayal of the Orient in the Interwar Fiction of Agatha Christie”(Thesis,U. of Tampere, 2013).

Orientalist Framework. See Structural Orientalism.


Orientalist Gaze

This term is frequently used in the field of Orientalism studies and draws on the scholarly notion of “gaze,” especially as used by Michel Foucault. Scholars use it as a metaphor that employs terms for sight to describe the ways in which ideological Orientalist discourses and narratives envision and focus on an Other in an interested, imaginative, intense, powerful, and invasive way that sees the Other according to one’s own prejudices, seeing only that which was imagined would be seen. This term is often used to describe the ways in which paintings, films, and other visual media are employed to imagine the Other as being, for example, essentially and irredeemably uncivilized, uncouth, immoral, and dangerous—or, at the very least, exotic and inferior. Scholars often associate the Orientalist gaze with the “male gaze,” which looks on the (Oriental) Other as being sensual, feminine, an object of both desire and revulsion, and again exotic and inferior. Scholars also sometimes note that those who are subjected to an Orientalist gaze have it within their power to return that gaze, focusing it on the original gazer. Some scholars also use this term to describe situations in which Asians themselves focus their own Orientalist gaze on an Other, often but not necessarily another Asian nation or ethnic group. This term and the term Oriental gaze are used in the same way, although the notion of “Oriental gaze” is more often used to refer to the “gaze” that Asians (“Orientals”) cast on an Other, again often but not necessarily an Asian Other.  [10/17]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Cooperative Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Ethnographic Orientalism, Homoerotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Mainstream Orientalism, Oriental Look, Oriental's Orientalism, Orientalist Imagination, Orientalist Nostalgia, Orientalist Tourism, Practical Orientalism (Post-Said), Sexual Orientalism, Simian Orientalism, Structural Orientalism, Temporal Orientalism, Transorientalism, Visual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Alexander Cartron, “Deconstructing the Orientalist Gaze?,” 2013. At JYAN Blog (, accessed 10/17; Thisaranie Herath, "Women and Orientalism: 19th Century Representations of the Harem by European Female Travellers and Ottoman Women." Constellations 7 (2015); Ayako Mizumura, “Reflecting [on] the Orientalist Gaze: A Feminist Analysis of Japanese Women- U.S. GIs Intimacy in Postwar Japan and Contemporary Okinawa” (Ph.D. diss., Kansas, 2009); Ayami Nakatani, “Exoticism and Nostalgia: Consuming Southeast Asian Handicrafts in Japan.” IIAS Newsletter 30 (2003); William V. SpanosThe Legacy of Edward W. Said (U. of Illinois, 2009); Ilija T. Trivundž, “Delo’s Orientalist Gaze: Framing the Images of the Iraq War.” Medijska istraživanja 10 (2004); Jane Park & Karin Wilkins, “Re-Orienting the Orientalist Gaze.” Global Media Journal 4 (2005).

Orientalist Geography. See Geographical Orientalism.

Orientalist Historicism. See Historicist Orientalism.

Orientalist Humanism. See Humanistic Orientalism.

Orientalist Humor. See Comic Orientalism.

Orientalist Idealism

Scholars use this term only very rarely, in passing, and not in philosophical contexts apparently to describe stereotypical ideas about the nature of the Orient and “Orientals,” which ideas are untested by Asian realities.  [1/19]

See also: Ideological Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sreepriya Balakrishnan, “Europa and Mahabharata: Mythscapes that Build and Un-Build Nations.” The Criterion: An International Journal in English 8 (2017); Christina Parker-Flynn, "Miss Representation: The Femme Fatale and the Villainy of Performance in Neo-Victorian Hollywood." In Neo-Victorian Villains: Adaptations and Transformations in Popular Culture (Brill, 2017).

Oriental(ist) Image. See Oriental Look.

Orientalist Imagination

This term and the term imaginative Orientalism are frequently used by modern-day scholars, beginning most notably with Edward W. Said (1978), to describe one of the most significant characteristic of all Orientalisms, namely that they are works of the human imagination. Their connections to a reality beyond the imagination are held to be tenuous at best. Scholars thus argue that all Orientalists imagine (Oriental) Others to have essential, largely unchanging natures, which they think they understand better than the Others themselves. That nature is the opposite of the Orientalists so that the notion of Orientalism involves both the imagining of one’s own nature as well as that of the Other. Some scholars note the connection between “Orientalist imagination” and Orientalist fantasy, in that what the Orientalist imagines the Other to be is largely (or entirely) fanciful.  Notwithstanding the fact that Orientalist ideologies have had profound real world consequences—such as promoting sexism, racism, and justification for colonialism—they remain mostly “unreal”.  Orientalists most often imagine and construct the Other as being inferior to themselves; thus, as a most important example, they imagine and construct Arabs and Muslims to be exotic, sensuous, dark and mysterious, deeply religious but superstitious, haughty (men), seductive (women), and so forth through an almost endless repertoire of demeaning characteristics. They are symbolized by camel caravans, voluptuous women caged in harems, minarets, vast deserts, and again so forth. Less often “Orientals” are imagined to be superior to the West, for example, in their spirituality and wisdom. The arts and literature in all of their variety are significant vehicles for the Orientalist imagination, but it is equally true that the learned scholarship of academic Orientalisms have been just as constructed out of the imaginings of Orientalist scholars. This is also true of “Orientalisms” concerning non-Asian peoples and subjects (e.g. Arctic Orientalism and simian Orientalism) and also true for that set of Orientalisms that Asians themselves employ against the West and against each other (e.g. reverse Orientalism). In sum, most scholars today use these two terms as synonyms for the notion of “Orientalism,” particularly the umbrella concepts of ideological Orientalism and Saidian Orientalism. Since Said published Orientalism in 1978, however, a number of scholars have argued that he overstates the strength of the link between imagination and Orientalism.  They observe especially that earlier generations of Orientalist scholars studied and better understood Asia as it actually was than Said allows. Finally, it should be noted that use of the term "imaginative Orientalism" goes back into the 19th century when Orientalist scholars used it to describe their belief that Oriental thought was fanciful, symbolical, mystical, and figurative rather than logical and scientific.  [revised 6/19]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Aesthetic Orientalism, Chinoiserie, Exotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism. Latent Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Orientalist Fantasy, Orientalist Fiction, Orientalist Gaze, Popular Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Sexist Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Orientalist Imagination: Zainab BahraniWomen of Babylon: Gender and Representation in Mesopotamia (Routledge, 2001); Asef  Bayat, “Neo-Orientalism,” 2015. At ISA: The Future We Want (, accessed 8/18; Syed Haider, “’Shooting Muslims’: Looking at Muslims in Bollywood Through a Postcolonial Lens.” In Postcolonialism and Islam: Theory, Literature, Culture, Society and Film (Routledge, 2014); Haiyan Lee, “Charlie Chan and the Orientalist Exception.” Asia-Pacific Journal 15 (2017); Can-Seng OoiOrientalist Imaginations and Touristification of Museums: Experiences from Singapore (Copenhagen Business School, 2005); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Hugh B. Urban, “The Extreme Orient: The Construction of ‘Tantrism’ as a Category in the Orientalist Imagination.” Religion 29 (1999).  Imaginative Orientalism: Srinivas AravamudanEnlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (U. of Chicago, 2012); S. R. BosanquetThe Successive Visions of the Cherubim Distinguished, and Newly Interpreted… (Hatchards, 1871); Carl R. Follmer, “Finding the Familiar in the Foreign: Saracens, Monsters, and Medieval German Literature” (M.A. thesis, Iowa, 2011); Krzysztof Lalik, “Orientalizing Motifs According to Justin Perkins’ Accounts on the Urmia Plain’s Reality.” Fritillaria Kurdica: Bulletin of Kurdish Studies1 (2013); Horace M. MouleChristian Oratory: An Inquiry into Its History During the First Five Centuries (Macmillan & Co., 1859); Lucy K. Pick, “Orientalism and Religion,” 2009. At Middle East Institute (, accessed 8/18; Katherine J. Zavitz, “International Volunteers at a Costa Rican Organic Farm:  Sheepish Volunteers, Proud Tourists and Unwitting Developers.” (M.A. thesis, Brock U., 2004).

Orientalist ImperialismSee Imperial Orientalism.

Orientalist Institutions. See Institutional Orientalism.

Orientalist Journalism. See Journalistc Orientalism.

Oriental(ist) Kitsch. See Oriental Look.

Orientalist Liberal(ism). See Liberal Orientalism.

Orientalist Linguistics. See Linguistic Orientalism.

Orientalist Literature

Scholars use this term in at least two ways.  First, they use it and the term literary Orientalism to describe a genre of Western literature that draws on “Oriental” themes, images, and stories to represent the Orient as being essentially exotic, unchanging, and frequently represents it as being inferior to the West. Although the origins of this genre can be traced back to Medieval Europe, scholars largely focus on the body of European and American literature that originated in the late 18th century, reached its zenith in the 19th century, and that was greatly influenced by Romanticism. Since roughly the mid-1990s, scholars of Orientalism have focused increased attention on this literature in light of Edward W. Said’s critique of it as participating in a negative, power-driven ideological Orientalism that was embodied in European colonialism and imperialism. While scholars frequently and widely use both "Orientalist literature" and "literary Orientalism," they tend to use "Orientalist literature"in ways more in line with Said, that is to treat the genre as ideological discourses. By the same token, they tend to use the term “literary Orientalism” more often in ways and contexts that treat the genre of Oriental literature in and of itself, irrespective of ideological concerns. Users are directed to the entry for “literary Orientalism” for a fuller description of this first meaning.  Second, scholars also use this term more narrowly to describe the academic literature produced by 19th and earlier 20th century Orientalist scholars, which academic "Orientalist literature" is the particular “target” of Said’s own critique of literary Orientalism.  [1/19]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Institutional Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Oriental Literature, Orientalist Fiction, Orientalist Archive, Philological Orientalism, Pre-Orientalism, Neo-Victorian Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Victorian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Nezar Alsayyad, "The Study of Islamic Urbanism: an Historiographic Essay." Built Environment 22 (1996); Chiara Bottici & Benoît Challand, “Rethinking Political Myth: The Clash of Civilizations as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.” European Journal of Social Theory 9 (2006); Ahmad Dallal, “The Study of Islam in American Scholarship: the Persistence of Orientalist Paradigms,” n.d. At Semantic Scholar (, accessed 12/18; Donna K. Heizer, Jewish-German Identity in the Orientalist Literature of Else Lasker-Schüler (Camden House, 1996); Nur Masalha, The Zionist Bible: Biblical Precedent, Colonialism and the Erasure of Memory (Routledge, 2013); Melissa Murdock, "'A Thousand and One Photographs': A Discussion of Abu Ghraib and the Orientalist Homoerotic." On Politics 1 (2005); Laurel Plapp, Zionism and Revolution in European-Jewish Literature (Routledge, 2008); Nicole Pohl, Women, Space and Utopia, 1600-1800 (Ashgate, 2006); Naomi Sakr, “Placing Political Economy in Relation to Cultural Studies: Reflections on the Case of Cinema in Saudi Arabia.” In Arab Cultural Studies: Mapping the Field (I. B. Tauris, 2012).

Orientalist Look. See Oriental Look.

Orientalist Mainstream. See Mainstream Orientalism.

Orientalist Marxism. See Marxist Orientalism.

Orientalist Masculinity. See Male Orientalism.

Orientalist Masquerade. See Fashion Orientalism.

Orientalist Music. See Musical Orientalism.

Orientalist Musicology. See Musical Orientalism.

Orientalist Myth

Scholars use this frequently used term to describe the notion of Orientalism as having mythic qualities.  Edward W. Said (1978) set the tone for this usage in his claim that “the language of Orientalism” is “mythic language,” a form of ideological “discourse” that is systematic and manifests itself in a variety of social and cultural forms and institutions.  He argues that Orientalist myths are used by “advanced” societies to deal with “less advanced” ones.  In particular, Western Orientalist myths imagine Arabs as persistently fitting Western stereotypes of them (Said, p. 321).  Myth, in this sense, includes long-held stories, memories, and attitudes about Asians that imagine them to be by their very nature exotic, mysterious, sensual, backward, a-moral, corrupt, and so forth through a long list of negative traits.  Scholars since Said most usually use this term in passing and without definition, the result being that almost any negative stereotype of or attitude about Asians can be called a “myth”.  According to various scholars, for example, it is an Orientalist myth: that the East is backward and the West advanced—or simply that the Orient is inferior to the West; that Caucasians are the “white savior race” of Asia; that there exists such a thing as a pure Aryan race; that the East is a land that is fabulous, exotic, strange, weird, and unlike “Us”; or, that Asians have ultimately depended on the West for whatever modern progress they have achieved.  Orientalist myths are often directed at Arabs and Muslims.  Thus, it is an Orientalist myth that the Muslim world is dominated by Islam; that Islam is uniquely sexist, a ‘fact” best depicted by the harem; that Islam is a barrier to modernization; that Arab men are both effeminate and aggressive; that Arab women are oppressed, sensual, and in need of Western aid; or, that Islam promotes jihad and by extension terrorism.  Scholars also use this term to focus on more narrow notions.  It is, thus, an Orientalist myth that the Chinese are a “yellow peril”; or, that Tibet is a land of exotic mystery isolated from the outside world.  Scholars describe Mata Hari as embodying Orientalist myths about women.  They consider the opera, “Madame Butterfly” (1904), to be an Orientalism myth.  More broadly, they see motion pictures and the mass media as significant ways for communicating such myths.

In one sense, then, scholars use the term “Orientalist myth” as simply another term for negative ideological Orientalism.  In another sense, however, those who use this term add a vaguely religious dimension to their descriptions of Orientalism.  Myths have to do with legends, ancient stories, gods and heroes, images of the mystical and/or fantastical, and with beliefs and faith in things unseen.  They are not based on what scholars take to be critical, rational thinking and thus give a false picture of reality.  Scholars who use this term thus imply by its use that Orientalist myths are by their very nature false, and in the “real world” they function as ideologies.  Other terms that scholars use in this same sense include mythic Orientalism and mythical Orientalism, but these two terms are also used (less ideologically) to describe the artistic use of mythic themes in aesthetic Orientalisms. [7/19]


See also: False Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Mythic Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism


Sources & Examples: Soumyajyoti Banerjee & Amrita Basu, “Understanding the Nation: Mystifying, De-Mystifying India in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Queen of Dreams.” International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies 2 (2014); Claire Bénit-Gbaffou & Stéphanie T. Lama-Rewal, “Local Democracy in Indian and South African Cities: A Comparative Literature Review.” In South Africa and India: Shaping the Global South (Wits U., 2011); Patricia Crone, “Quraysh and the Roman Army:
Making Sense of the Meccan Leather Trade.” Bulletin of SOAS 70 (2007); Théry Béord & Achim A. Merlo, "Orientalism in Celluloid: the Production of the ‘Cazy Year’." Social and Management Research Journal 14 (2017); Maria Degabriele, “From Madame Butterfly to Miss Saigon: One Hundred Years of Popular Orientalism.” Critical Arts 10 (1996); Arndt Graf, "Electronic Orientalism? The Afterlife of Syed Hussein Alatas’ The Myth of the Lazy Native in Online Databases." New Media & Society 12 (2010); Benjamin Jones, "Women on the Oil Frontier: Gender and Power in Aramco's Arabia." Rice Historical Review 2 (2017); Matthew A. Killmeier & Gloria Kwok, "A People’s History of Empire, or the Imperial Recuperation of Vietnam? Countermyths and Myths in Heaven and Earth." Journal of Communication Inquiry 29 (2005); Lydia He LiuTranslingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity—China, 1900-1937 (Stanford, 1995); A. L. Macfie, Orientalism (Longman, 2002); Karen Nylund, “Deconstructing Orientalism: Contemporary Representations of the Middle East on the Western Stage” (M.A. thesis, California State U., Sacramento, 2009); Tom Reiss, The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life (Random House, 2005); Edward W. SaidOrientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Orientalist Nostalgia

This term and the term nostalgic Orientalism are very frequently used by scholars to mean the same thing although "nostalgic Orientalism" seems to have a slightly more positive connotation at times. Scholars use the term "Orientalist nostalgia" somewhat more frequently. They use both terms to describe a form of Orientalist gaze that imagines and constructs Asian pasts in ways that appear to be sentimental and to recall a supposedly pastoral, exotic, feminine-like, and/or spiritual Orient that existed in the past and which the Orientalist longs for and misses. This idealized memory recalls a past that did not actually exist, and most scholars treat this nostalgic fantasy-past as being a cover for exploitative, stereotypical ideological Orientalisms similar to that described by Edward W. Said (1978). Orientalists thus employ nostalgic re-creations of the past to cling to a time when the West was superior, and scholars often equate these terms with the notion of “imperial nostalgia”. This nostalgia for the Orient can also be a form of escapism longing for the “good old days” of Western imperial domination; some scholars, for example, point to the post-Vietnam War era as a time when Americans longed for a “happier” time. Several scholars point to modern-day Japanese as feeling a longing for a time when the rest of Asia was supposedly simple, pastoral, and under Japan's imperial influence. In academic Orientalism as a field of study, Orientalist scholars nostalgically long for the time when Asian studies were not encumbered with complex modern theories and research methods—when things were supposedly simple and straight-forward (Bilgin, 2006). Scholars also point to the ways in which the tourism industry and other commercial interests commodify Orientalist nostalgia for financial gain. Some scholars, however, argue that especially nostalgic Orientalism is a more complex emotion especially in the arts, such as music, where it is sometimes linked with Romanticism and can be seen as more of an unencumbered longing for positive elements or traditions of the past. Whatever forms these nostalgias take, scholars point out that they are as much an imaginative recreation of an essential, better (Western) Self supposed to have existed in the past as they are of the (Oriental) Other.  [8/18]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Belated Orientalism, Commercial Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Late Orientalism, Neo-Victorian Orientalism, Orientalist Gaze, Orientalist Tourism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Temporal Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Orientalist Nostalgia: Susana Aguirre, “Fashionable Roots: Textile Heritage in Contemporary Fashion Design in Peru.” In Textiles as National Heritage: Identities, Politics and Material Culture (Waxmann, 2017); Pinar Bilgin, “What Future for Middle Eastern Studies?” Futures 38 (2006); Joshua T. Chambers-LetsonA Race So Different: Performance and Law in Asian America (New York U., 2013); P. Kerim Friedman, “Savage Minds is Dead! Long Live Anthro{dendum}!,” 2017. At Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology (, accessed 7/18; Koichi  Iwabuchi, “Nostalgia for a (Different) Asian Modernity: Media Consumption of ‘Asia’ in Japan,” n.d. At Genius (, accessed 7/18; Sandra Lyne, “Madame Butterfly and Men of Empire: Stereotyping and Trauma in 20th Century Novels” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Adelaide, 2017); Pavithra Prasad, Paradiso Lost: Writing Memory and Nostalgia in the Post-Ethnographic Present
.” Text and Performance Quarterly 35 (2015).  Nostalgic Orientalism: Lauren M.  O’Connell, “Viollet-le-Duc in Context: French Readings of Russian Architecture in the Nineteenth Century.” In Center 19: 
Record of Activities and Research Reports June I998-May I999 (National Gallery of Art, 1999); Elisabeth OxfeldtNordic Orientalism: Paris and the Cosmopolitan Imagination 1800-1900 (Museum Tusculanum Press, 2005); Margrit Pernau, “Nostalgia: Tears of Blood for a Lost World.” South Asia Graduate Research Journal (SAGAR) 23 (2015).

Orientalist Novel. See Orientalist Fiction.


Orientalist Paradox. See Paradoxical Orientalism.

Orientalist Paranoia. See Paranoid Orientalism.

Orientalist Parasite

This term was coined by Ali Behdad and otherwise is very rarely used. According to Behdad, an Orientalist parasite is an ideological Orientalist who in some way benefits from living with or close to Orientals without benefitting their lives in return. He uses this term to describe the 19th century Swiss transvestite woman, Isabella Eberhardt, who lived for some years in French colonial North Africa. He argues that as a transvestite/Orientalist parasite, Eberhard both idealized and romanticized Oriental life and lived off of it without contributing to its benefit; her writings actually provided French colonial officials with knowledge that strengthened the colonial system even though she was critical of it herself.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ali Behdad, Belated Travellers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (Cork U., 1994); Sabrina D. Misirhiralall, “De-Orientalized Pedagogy: Educating Non- Hindus About Hinduism with Postcolonial Realities In Mind” (Ph.D. diss., Montclair State, 2015).

Orientalist Philology. See Philological Orientalism.

Orientalist Philosophy. See Philosophical Orientalism.

Orientalist Poetics. See Poetic Orientalism.

Orientalist Poetry. See Poetic Orientalism.

Orientalist Politics. See Political Orientalism.

Orientalist Positivism. See Positivist Orientalism.

Orientalist Profession. See Professional Orientalism.

Orientalist Projection

Scholars, beginning with Edward W. Said (1978), have drawn this frequently used term and the less frequently used term projective Orientalism from the psychological concept of “projection,” and those who use them most rigorously argue that Western Orientalists attribute (“project”) the negative traits they fear in themselves unto an Other as being the essential nature of the Other. Most scholars, however, use these terms more loosely to describe the ways in which Western Orientalists attribute certain characteristics to (Oriental) Others. Following Said, those characteristics are usually negative and amount to a description of the Other as uncivilized, weak, immoral, incapable of logic, and so forth. The goal of these attributions is often to exercise power and control over the Other supposedly “for their own good” or, at the very least, to exhibit the superiority and goodness of one’s Self over against the Other. In this sense, Orientalist projections are used to justify exploitation of the Other in one way or another. Scholars point out that Orientalist projection is a one-way process that leaves the Other powerless to respond or to defend oneself. A smaller number of scholars argue that Said has overstated the consequences of projection, failed to show that those consequences are broadly relevant to Orientalist discourse generally, and overlooked the fact that projection is a part of the normal learning process for understanding another culture. A few other scholars have observed that at times some Westerners imagine and construct the West itself as being spiritually defective and have, in a sense "reverse projected" that defect onto the East by seeing it as being spiritually superior.  [10/17]

See also: Counter Orientalism (Second Usage), Ideological Orientalism, Psychological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Spiritual Orientalism, Utilitarian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Bernadette Andrea, Women and Islam in Early Modern English Literature (Cambridge, 2007); Mitch Goldsmith, “From the River to the Sea: Israel, Palestine, and Queer/Feminist Ecologies.” Undercurrents 19 (2015); Ulrich Haarmann, “Mamlu Studies—A Western Perspective.” Arab Journal for the Humanities 13 (1995); Christopher Ives, Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen's Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics (U. of Hawai’i, 2009); Bruce M. Knauft, “From Self-Decoration to Self-Fashioning: Orientalism as Backward Progress Among the Gebusi of Papua New Guinea.” In Body Arts and Modernity (Sean Kingston, 2007); Gerald J. Larson, India's Agony Over Religion (State U. of New York, 1995); Mohammad Magout, “Oriental(ist) Metal Music,” 2014. At Religion, Culture, Society (, accessed 7/17; Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism (Oxford, 1983); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Orientalist Psychology. See Psychological Orientalism.

Orientalist Racism. See Racist Orientalism.

Orientalist Renaissance. See Oriental Renaissance.

Oriental(ist) Representation. See Oriental Look.

Orientalist Satire

Scholars use this term and the term satirical Orientalism to describe the ways in which Western satirists have used “Oriental” images, themes, and content in their works. This is not a frequently used term, and scholars have used it mostly with reference to British and, still less frequently, French literature. Although satire is technically a genre of comedy, practitioners of satirical Orientalism have used it in ways very different from comedy. Where comic Orientalism for the most part draws on and reinforces popular stereotypes concerning Orientals and is used mostly to entertain and amuse audiences, the satirists pursue more serious social and political ends, primarily in two ways. First, some have used and thus reinforced Oriental stereotypes as a vehicle for attacking Western social and political attitudes and ways including leading social and political figures. They ridicule their targets for being “like Orientals” (immoral, corrupt. rapacious, sensuous, irrational, etc.). Second, others, however, use their satire to undermine Orientalist stereotypes themselves by ridiculing popular Western perceptions of Asians. Matthew Reilly (2012) points to the 18th century British literary circle, the Scriblerus Club and especially Alexander Pope (1688-1744), as engaging in satire of British stereotypes of Orientals. Infrequently, a scholar will use the term Orientalist burlesque to describe Orientalist satire as being exaggerated parody. [4/19]

See also: Comic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Radical Orientalism (1st Usage).

Sources & Examples: Orientalist Satire: Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud, Radical Orientalism: Rights, Reform, and Romanticism (Cambridge, 2015); Phyllis Lassner, “The Mysterious New Empire: Agatha Christie’s Colonial Murders.” In At Home and Abroad in the Empire: British Women Write the 1930s (Delaware, 2009); Brigitte Le Juez, "An Exploration of the Ideologically Progressive Potential of the Fantasy Genre: The Subversion of Orientalism in Terry Pratchett’s ‘City Watch’ Novels" (Ph.D. Diss., Dublin City, 2012); Matthew F. Reilly, “Pope’s Double Mistress:
 Oriental Philosophy and the Scriblerian Dialectic.” (Ph.D. Diss., U. of Texas at Austin, 2012). Satirical Orientalism: Nida Darongsuwan, “Class and Gender Identity in ‘Male Gothic,’ from Walpole to Byron” (Ph.D. diss., York, 2008).  Orientalist Burlesque: Frank J. Korom, “Click Here for Enlightenment: On Tibet, Hollywood, Virtual Communities, Cyberspace Discourse, and Other Matters of Representational Practice.” In Tibetan Subjectivities on the Global Stage: Negotiating Dispossession (Lexington, 2018).

Orientalist Science

Online searches suggest that scholarly use of this term goes back to at least the 1870s; and prior to the publication of Edward W. Said’s Orientalism (1978) it simply meant scientific Orientalism, i.e. the academic field of study of the Orient (today's Asian studies), which was understood to be scientific. Said, however, uses this term in a new way and seems to have been the first to do so.  He argues that beginning in the late 18th century, European science generally began to be influenced by Orientalist dualistic, ideological thinking.  It came to imagine and construct Orientals as having an essential, unchanging nature that is inferior to the West.  He observed, that is, that it was not only that the particular scholarly field of academic Orientalism was Orientalist but also that Western science in its totality was Orientalist in the ways that it imagined and constructed Orientals.  He further argued that this association with science gave the pronouncements of Orientalist scholars a new authority and an influence, which came to dominate Western knowledge of the Orient.  It built up a powerful, self-reinforcing body of “knowledge” about the Orient, which Europeans could use to justify their colonial conquests in Asia.  Scholars of Orientalism since Said have largely used this term as he does and frequently cite him, relying on his analysis for their own understanding of the relationship of science, Orientalism, and European colonialism.  It is, then, something of a “Saidian” term usually based on the assumption that his analysis is correct.  These later scholars point out that Orientalist science—beginning with philology and including such fields as anthropology and even botany—constructed an eternal, unchanging, and essentially primitive Orient that threatened to entangle Europe in its primitive state.  Thus, one of Orientalist science’s key roles was to provide information both to justify European colonialism and to aid in the actual administration of colonial territories.  It treated Asians themselves as stereotypical, patently primitive specimens and largely discounted local Asian knowledge as being inferior and unreliable.  These stereotypes, furthermore, were taken to be accurate (“true”), definitive, and authoritative.  They were powerful.  Orientalist scientists, in sum, wore a set of ideological blinders that shut out the possibility of contradictory knowledge and understanding, and in the process they created a body of self-replicating, self-reinforcing “knowledge” of the Orient that, as Said argued, had little or nothing to do with the actual Asia. It should be noted, finally, that a few scholars apply this term specifically to Russian Orientology, which has long held that unlike Western Orientalism it “really is” scientific. [2/20]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Linguistic Orientalism, Modern Orientalism, Orientalist Anthropology, Orientalist Ethnography, Orientology, Philological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism, Sociological Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ina Baghdiantz-MacCab, Orientalism in Early Modern France: Eurasian Trade, Exoticism, and the Ancien Régime (Berg, 2008); Nolwenn Corriou, “'A Woman is a Woman, if She had been Dead Five Thousand Centuries!': Mummy Fiction, Imperialism and the Politics of Gender.”  At Miranda (, accessed 2/20; Gregory L. Cuéllar, Empire, the British Museum, and the Making of the Biblical Scholar in the Nineteenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019); David Fleni, “French Decadence, Arab Awakenings: Figures of Decay in the Arab Nahda.”  boundary 2 39 (2012); Egbert Fleuren, “From Pragmatic Colonialism to Scholarly Theory: 
J. J. M. de Groot’s Location in the History of Dutch Sinology” (M.A. [Leiden U.], 2018); Jamil Hasanli, Khrushchev’s Thaw and National Identity in Soviet Azerbaijan, 1954-1959 (Lexington Books, 2015); Karim H. Karim, “Re-viewing the ‘National’ in ‘International Communication’." Journal of International Communication 10 (204); Brett Nicholls, “Edward W. Said: Cultural Critic, Activist, Public Intellectual.”  Critical Race and Whiteness Studies 10 (2014); Ilhan C. Ozen & Sean M. Zeigler, “Translating Khan on Singer: Global Solvent Versus Local Interpretation.” Pakistan Development Review 45 (2006); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Fadzlullah Bin Shuib, “The Discourse on Science, Islam and Modernity in 19th Century Thought: Sayid Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani’s Exchange with Ernest Renan as a Case Study” (Ph.D. diss, U. of Malaya, 2012); Sujit Sivasundaram, “‘A Christian Benares’: Orientalism, Science and the Serampore Mission of Bengal.” Indian Economic and Social History Review 44 (2007).

Orientalist Sociology. See Sociological Orientalism.

Orientalist Structure(s)

Scholars use this term in two very different ways.  First, most use it as a synonym for structural Orientalism, and readers are directed to that entry.  Second, other scholars use it as a synonym for architectural Orientalism, and readers are directed to that entry.


Oriental(ist) Style. See Oriental Look.

Oriental(ist) Taste. See Oriental Look.

Orientalist Teleology

Scholars use this infrequently used term to describe the Orientalist notion that the Orient must be understood through the lens of its final purposes rather than historical, real-world contingencies.  Going as far back as Hegel (1770-1831), European Orientalisms usually have held that the ultimate purpose of the Orient was to function as a springboard for the rise of European civilization as the successor to the ancient “Oriental” civilizations where human progress began.  The notion of Orientalist teleology thus reflects classical Orientalism’s ideological use of a set of stereotypes to describe the essential “being” of the Orient, which is that it is in decline and inferior in all (or most) ways to the West.  [8/20]

See also: Classical Orientalism, European Orientalism, Hegelian Orientalism, Historicist Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Marxist Orientalism, Philosophical Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sergiu Delcea, “Is Transitology a Useful Tool for the Post-Arab Spring Countries? Possible Lessons from a Fading-Out-of-Interest Eastern Europe,” n.d. At IAPSS (, accessed 8/20; Erik Grimmer-Solem, "German Social Science, Meiji Conservatism, and the Peculiarities of Japanese History." Journal of World History 16 (2005); Micah A. Hughes, "Representations of Identity In Three Modern Arabic Novels," Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Journal 2
 ((2011); Lori Khatchadourian, Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires (U. of California, 2016); Anand Venkatkrishnan, "Periodization and Historiography of Indian Philosophy ed. by Eli Franco." Philosophy East and West 65 (2015); Youssef Yacoubi, “Suspended Crisis In Arab-American and Arabic Literatures: Modernity, Violence, and Afflicted Textuality.” Comparative Literature Studies 55 (2018).

Orientalist Temporality. See Temporal Orientalism.


Orientalist Theory

Scholars use this frequently used term in two ways.  First, Edward W. Said (1978) himself describes the modern study of Orientalism as comprising two facets, “Orientalist theory and praxis.” (p. 122). In terms of Orientalist theory, scholars argue that Western Orientalists over the centuries developed a body of ideas and principles (a theory), which they applied to “Orientals” irrespective of the realities of Asia itself. They used this theory to imagine and construct Orientals as having an essential, continent wide, and unchanging nature, which they usually (but not always) considered to be inferior to the West.  Scholars constantly debate the details of this theory and some have even denied that it exists. In any event, they frequently use this term as Said does: to describe Orientalism as involving a theory that defines and explains the nature of Orientals. Less frequently, they use it to describe theories concerning a particular aspect or branch of Orientalism, such as Orientalist theories concerning the origins of Sufism, or the Orientalist theory of a particular person or school of thought, such as Marxist Orientalist theory.  Second, other scholars, however, use this term to describe Said’s work as itself comprising a body of theory about Orientalism—that is Said’s "Orientalist theory,” which is also widely referred to as “Said’s theory of Orientalism.” In practice, the boundary between these two usages can be unclear so that Said’s description of the theory of Orientalism and the general Western theory are assumed to be virtually the same thing. In the first usage, Orientalist theory is Western theories about “Orientals”. In the second usage, Orientalist theory is Said’s theory about Western Orientalism. And while these two uses are similar to the two ways in which scholars use the term theoretical Orientalism, their usages differs in that: (a) scholars use “Orientalist theory” much more frequently; (b) when using “Orientalist theory,” they use the two usages (above) at about the same rate while in “theoretical Orientalism” the first usage predominates; and (c) scholars use the term “theoretical Orientalism” much more often when discussing the debate about Fredric Jameson’s essay, “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multi-national Capitalism” (1986).  [9/18]

See also: Latent Orientalism, Manifest Orientalism, Orientalism Theory, Saidian Orientalism, Theoretical Orientalism, Traveling Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Carol A. Breckenridge & Peter van der Veer, “Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament.” In Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia (U. of Pennsylvania, 1993); Jennifer A. Gosetti-Ferencei, Exotic Spaces in German Modernism (Oxford, 2011); Peter Gran, “Political Economy as a Paradigm for the Study of Islamic History.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 11 (1980); Alexandria M. Nanneman, "Unfolding Orientalism in Art: How John Frederick Lewis Broke the Mold," 2013. At CommonKnowledge (, accessed 9/18; Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Eashwar Swamy, “Redefining Orientalism in the Modern World: An Analysis of Classical Examples of Orientalism in Greek Antiquity and its Evolution in the Modern-day Period” (Thesis, Ohio State, 2013); Bryan S. Turner, Marx and the End of Orientalism (George Allen & Unwin, 1978).

Orientalist Tourism

Scholars use this term and the less frequently used term tourist Orientalism to describe the ways in which the international tourist industry imagines, constructs, packages, and markets Asian and other cultures and peoples as being essentially exotic, fascinating, desirable, and timeless—often in close cooperation with and even at the behest of Asian governments, agencies, and businesses seeking economic benefit. Most of the scholars using these terms draw on Edward W. Said (Orientalism, 1978) for their understanding of the notion of Orientalism, seeing the tourist industry and tourists themselves as the embodiment of an ideological Orientalism, which frequently imposes its stereotypes on local peoples and cultures to exploit them by virtually ignoring the realities of their modern world and embalming them in the timeless, exotic fantasy world of their supposed “traditional” cultures—including “traditional” dancing, clothing, cuisine, quaint customs, decorative arts, commodities, architecture, and so forth. In one sense, then, Orientalist tourism is a form of positive Orientalism that fixes its admiring gaze on the supposed positive, captivating qualities of the Oriental Other; but in another sense it is simply another form of Saidian Orientalism that exploits actual people by imagining and creating them and their cultures as commodities to be purchased and often disdains their real-world culture. Orientalist tourism is thus a significant and complex form of Orientalism, which assumes many guises, coopts many participants, and includes a wide variety of “discourses” from travel brochures to museum displays to travel films to the patter of tour guides.  [Revised 10/18 from Tourist Orientalism]

See also: Alpine Orientalism, Architectural Orientalism, Belated Orientalism, Caribbean Orientalism, Commercial Orientalism, Cosmopolitan Orientalism, Consumer Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Economic Orientalism, Greek Orientalism (Modern), Homoerotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Linguistic Orientalism, Micro-Orientalism, Oriental Look, Orientalist Fantasy, Orientalist Gaze, Orientalist Nostalgia, Positive Orientalism, Practical Orientalism (Post-Said), Pragmatic Orientalism (3rd Scholar), Reverse Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Temporal Orientalism, Transorientalism, Wacky Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ali Behdad, Belated Travellers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (Cork U., 1994); Matthew Bernstein, “Introduction.” In Visions of the East: Orientalism in Film (Rutgers, 1997); Linda J. de Wit, “Andalusia’s Ambivalence: Between Convivencia and Islamophobia,” 2017. At Center for Intercultural Dialogue (, accessed 10/18; Thomas Elsaesser, “European Cinema into the Twenty-First Century: Enlarging the Context?” In The Europeanness of European Cinema: Identity, Meaning, Globalisation (I. B. Tauris, 2015); Vrushali Patil, "Reproducing-Resisting Race and Gender Difference: Examining India’s Online Tourism Campaign from a Transnational Feminist Perspective." Signs 37 (2011); Mimi B. Sheller, “Demobilizing and Remobilizing Caribbean Paradise.” In Tourism Mobilities: Places to Play, Places in Play (Routledge, 2004); Grace Yan & Carla A. Santos, “’CHINA, FOREVER’: Tourism Discourse and Self-Orientalism.” Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009); Chen Xiaoxiao, “Orientalism and Tourism,” 2010. At Language on the Move (, accessed 10/18.

Orientalist Transcendental(ism). See Transcendental Orientalism.

Orientalist Warfare. See Military Orientalism.

Orientalist Xenophobia. See Xenophobic Orientalism.


A limited circle of scholars use this term (Russian: vostokovedenie ) to mean the academic field of study devoted to Eastern (“Oriental”) peoples, cultures, and nations from Northern Africa to the Pacific rim—the field of study more commonly known as Orientalism. This term and its usage are associated with and largely limited to Russian Orientalist scholarship, including scholars in nations, such as Kazakhstan, that have been influenced by it as well as Western students of Russian Orientologies. Russian Orientology originated in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and Kazan Imperial University (founded in 1804) became the first center of the Russian academic study of the East. It was not until the 1890s, however, that Orientology became a significant field of Russian scholarship modeled to degree on Western European Orientalism. One of the most prominent and influential Russian Orientologists was Baron Viktor Romanovich Rozen (1864-1908), who established a school of Orientology at St. Petersburg University in the 1890s. His students played key roles in Orientological studies well into the Soviet era. Even prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917, however, Russian Orientologists felt increasingly alienated from European Orientalists who were held to be too Euro-centric, self-serving, nationalistic, and distant from Asia to be able to truly understand the East. Russia was seen to have the advantage because of its unique proximity to Asia. These criticisms carried over into and were intensified in the Soviet era at which time Russian Orientologists appropriated anti-colonial, anti-imperialist Marxism to emphasize the “scientific” nature of their study. Russian Orientology, as a consequence, has remained relatively isolated from international Asian studies down to the present. Thus, while Orientologists agree with Edward W. Said’s critique (1978) of Western Orientalism, they also feel that his criticisms do not apply to them. Some Western scholars, however, hold that in its early development Orientology was influenced to a large degree by Western European Orientalism and that it too has at various times been enmeshed in Russian political needs, Russian colonialism, and has been a tool for those in power. One distinctive characteristic of Russian Orientology has been its dual focus on Asian peoples within Russia’s own borders as well as on other Asian nations outside their borders, such as India.  [revised 6/18]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Bourgeois Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Marxist Orientalism, Orientalist Education, Orientalist Epistemology, Orientalist Science, Russian Orientalism, Soviet Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism, Socialist Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Orientology: Türkkaya Ataöv, "Some Notes On Soviet Orientology." Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Dergisi 27 (1972); N. I. Borozdin, “Inter-Racial Study in Asia: The Progress of Orientology in the USSR.” Pacific Affairs 2 (1929); Alfrid K. Bustanov, Soviet Orientalism and the Creation of Central Asian Nations (Routledge, 2015); Esad Duraković, Orientology: the Universe of the Sacred Text (U. of Sarajevo, 2004); Oxana Karnaukhova, “Tracing the Roots of Colonial History and Orientology in Russia.” Cultura 12 (2015); Masha Kirasirova, “Orientologies Compared: US and Soviet Imaginaries of the Modern Middle East.” In Reassessing Orientalism: Interlocking Orientologies during the Cold War (Routledge, 2015); Timothy Nunan, Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan (Cambridge, 2016); Vera Tolz, Russia’s Own Orient: The Politics of Identity and Oriental Studies in the Late Imperial and Early Soviet Periods (Oxford, 2011).  Other: Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Orthodox Orientalism

Scholars generally use this rarely used term as a synonym for ideological Orientalism and sometimes more specifically for Saidian Orientalism. This term is not to be confused with Orientalisms associated with the various Christian Orthodox churches.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Theo D’haen, “Mapping World Literature.” In The Routledge Companion to World Literature (Routledge, 2012); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Steve Tamari, “The Venture of Marshall Hodgson: Visionary Historian of Islam and the World.” New Global Studies 9 (2015).

Ottoman Orientalism

Scholars use this frequently used term to describe the ways in which the later 19th century Ottoman Empire’s ruling elites imagined and constructed their relationship both to Europe and to the diverse peoples of their empire—drawing on inherited, long-standing attitudes as well as on those of European Orientalism.  Ussama Makdisi (2002), who is credited with having first used this term, argues that historical Ottoman Orientalists acknowledged the superiority of the West and backwardness of the East in terms of modernization.  The Ottoman elites thus embraced a program of modernization that both sought to unify the empire and establish their own Turkish ethnic superiority over its “backward minorities,” including the Bedouin, Arabs more generally, and the Kurds.  Ottoman Orientalisms were similar to European Orientalisms in that they were based on a dualistic ideology that defined Others as being inferior (e.g. uncivilized, willful, and a-moral). Ass such, they were forms of internal Orientalism (i.e. imagining and constructing other ethnicities within the empire) and of self-Orientalism (as much intended to define the Turkish Self as minority Others).  They were also part of a strategy for defending the deteriorating Ottoman state against its disintegration by justifying its modernizing rule over its minority groups.  There was an aesthetic and literary component to Ottoman Orientalism by which Turkish artists used their art to express these Orientalist attitudes and values.  The Turkish elite also embraced Islam as an important element in its essential identity, which distinguished it from and was believed to make it superior to Europe.  Makdisi argues that the Ottoman elite thus articulated a “Westernized Islamic Ottoman nationalism,” which scholars closely identify with the notion of "Ottomanism".  And while they generally limit use of this term to the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, a few scholars continue to use it to describe what is now more usually termed Turkish Orientalism, which superseded Ottoman Orientalism in the wake of the disintegration of the empire and the end of the sultanate in the first decades of the 20th century. [1/21]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, European Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Nesting (Nested) Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Turkish Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Jun Akiba, “Preliminaries to a Comparative History of the Russian and Ottoman Empires: Perspectives from Ottoman Studies.” In Imperiology: From Empirical Knowledge to Discussing the Russian Empire (Hokkaido U., 2007); Joanna de Groot, “How Much is Enough Said? Some Gendered Response to Orientalism.” In Debating Orientalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Edhem Eldem, "The Ottoman Empire and Orientalism: An Awkward Relationship.” In After Orientalism: Critical Perspectives on Western Agency and Eastern Re-appropirations (Brill, 2015); Hakan T. Karateke, “How Distant is gurbet? Refik Halid’s Representation of Arabs in Gurbet Hikayeleri—With a Note on Ottoman and Turkish Orientalisms.” Turkish Historical Review 4 (2013); Petr Kučera & Jitka Malečková, “Explore and Reform: Two Travllers from Istanbul to Late Ottoman Syria.” Annals of the Náprstek Museum 36 (2015); Ussama Makdisi, “Ottoman Orientalism.” American Historical Review 107 (2002); Phoebe Moore & Charles Dannreuther, “Turkey in the World System and the New Orientalism.” In Globalization and the ‘New’Semi-Peripheries (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Özgür Türesay. “The Ottoman Empire Seen through the Lens of Postcolonial Studies: A Recent Historiographical Turn.”
Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 60-2 (2013); Herb Swanson, “Said’s Orientalism and the Study of Christian Missions.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 28 (2004).

Overt Orientalism

Scholars use this term in two ways.  First, they use it, usually in passing, to mean stereotypical constructions of Asians that are plainly obvious and easily recognizable as such.  In this usage, it is not a technical term although it does seem normally to be distinguished from the term blatant Orientalism, which is more pejorative.  “Overt Orientalism” is also the opposite of hidden OrientalismSecond, scholars also use this term as a synonym for manifest Orientalism, which Edward W. Said introduced in his distinction between manifest Orientalisms and latent Orientalism.  If there is a distinction between the way scholars use these two synonyms, it seems that they more clearly link overt Orientalisms to popular culture—although, by implication, popular Orientalisms are certainly manifestations of Orientalism as well.  A second distinction is that Said’s “manifest Orientalism” seems to treat all of the myriad of real world Orientalisms as a single phenomenon by which latent Orientalism is made manifest.  The scholarly use of “overt Orientalism,” on the other hand, seems to focus more on each overt expression of Orientalism as something discrete and particular.  In any event, whether scholars use this term in passing or as a synonym, they use it to describe a long, impressive list of overt Orientalisms that includes such things as Rudyard Kipling’s writings, Kung Fu, Fu Manchu, yellow face, belly dancing, anti-Islamic racism, all manner of American television programming, works by Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov, Protestant missionary attitudes towards the “heathen,” Western news media treatment of the Gulf States, Japan bashing, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, 19th century British boys’ adventure books, comic books, countless movies, and much else.  [12/19]

See also: Blatant Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Latent Orientalism, Manifest Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Vulgar Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Amir H. Ameri, “The Architecture of the Illusive Distance,” n.d.  At (, accessed 12/19; Angelina, “Oriental Europe and Slavic Monsters,” 2018.  At The Fandomentals (, accessed 12/19; Crystal A. Ennis, “Reading Entrepreneurial Power in Small Gulf States: Qatar and 
the UAE.” International Journal 73 (2018); Rudolf Klein, "Secession: Un Goût Juif?− Art Nouveau Buildings and the Jews in some Habsburg Lands." Jewish Studies at the Central European University 5 (2009); John Kleinen, “Framing ‘the Other’. A Critical Review of Vietnam War Movies and Their Representation of Asians and Vietnamese.” Leidschrift 19 (2004); Solomiya Ostapyk, “Representing Romani and Travellers: Sexualized “Gypsy” Women and (Self-) Orientalism in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and Gadjo Dilo,” n.d.  At uOttawa (, accessed 12/19; Devon R. Polynone, “An American Belly Dancer” (M.A. thesis, U. of Oregon, 2012); Leonard P. Sanders, “Postmodern Orientalism: William Gibson, Cyberpunk and Japan (Ph.D. thesis, Massey U., 2008).

bottom of page