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).




This term is very frequently used by scholars, especially as “quasi-Orientalist,” usually in one of two distinct ways, the first having to do with ideological Orientalism in the tradition of Edward W. Said (Saidian Orientalism) and the second having to do with the arts.  First, this term is used by scholars to define the nature of ideological Orientalism at its boundaries, particularly in situations where: (1) full-blown ideological Orientalist stereotypes are used in unusual situations not necessarily associated with Orientalism; and (2) where Orientalist stereotypes are mixed with other elements, usually Western, again in situations that might not ordinarily be considered Orientalist. In the first sense, scholars use this term to describe situations in which “Orientalist-like” stereotypes of an Other are being expressed, but that Other is not “Oriental”. It is sometimes used, for example, with the Balkans, Greece, and even Wales in which other Europeans imagine and construct these peoples as if they are similar to Orientals—i.e. quasi-Orientals. Some scholars consider the terms Celticism and Mediterraneanism to describe quasi-Orientalisms used to imagine and construct Orientalist-like stereotypes of those who are not Orientals. In the second sense, scholars use this term to describe situations in which ideological Orientalism appears in stereotypes that are less than complete and/or intermingle with other elements, normally local or indigenous ones. They particularly use this term to describe Asian (“Oriental”) mixed situations, such as in China among some classes of modernizers who imagine and construct their own society in certain Orientalist-like ways. In the great majority of cases, scholars use this term in passing, leaving the reader to discern which meaning is intended.  Second, long before Said, this term was used in the arts to describe what have been imagined to be exotic “Oriental-like” styles and themes in such Western artistic fields as (especially) music, the opera, poetry, the cinema, and even ceramic art. This usage is not intended to be ideological, although most scholars of Orientalism would argue that in many cases the artists’ usages of these forms still reflect ideological Orientalist stereotypes.  [7/17]

See also: Arcticality, Borealism, Celticism, Covert Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Meriodonism, Musical Orientalism, Parallel Orientalism, Peripheral Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Tropicality.

Sources & Examples: Dudley Costello, “All the World and His Wife, or What brought Everybody to London in 1851.” New Monthly Magazine and Humorist 91 (1851); Lila Leontidou, “The Crisis and It’s Discourses: Quasi-Orientalist Offiensive Against Southern Urban Spontaneity, Informality, and Joie De Vivre.” In Crisis-scapes: Athens and Beyond (Athens:, 2014); Catherine Macmillan, “Orientalising the Orient? Portrayals of the Welsh in ‘The Indian Doctor’.” Romanian Journal of English Studies 10 (2013); Saree Makdisi, “Literature, National Identity, and Empire.” In The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1740-1830 (Cambridge, 2004); Milena Marinkova, “Po­co­co Balkans: Dancing Bears and Lovesick Donkeys, Bouncing Mines and Ethnic Conflict in Two Films from the Region.” At University of Huddersfield (, accessed 7/17; Ben Radley & Christoph Vogel, “Fighting Windmills in Eastern Congo? The Ambiguous Impact of the ‘Conflict Minerals’ Movement.” Extractive Industries and Society 2 (2015); Ted Shen, “Women Composers—Midwest,” 1992. At Reader (, accessed 7/17; Lauren R. Sklaroff, Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era (U. of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Queer Orientalism. See Homoerotic Orientalism.