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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).



Racial Orientalism

Scholars generally use this seldom-used term and its synonym, racialized Orientalism, to describe ideological Orientalist discourses, institutions, and practices that imagine and define an alien Other of any race or ethnicity (not just Asians) on the basis of race, usually seeing that Other as being essentially and irredeemably inferior. 

See also: Black Orientalism, Blatant Orientalism, Brown Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Oriental Renaissance, Puppet Orientalism, Racist Orientalism, Renaissance Orientalism, White Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sylvia Chan-Malik, “Chadors, Feminists, Terror: The Racial Politics of U.S. Media Representations of the 1979 Iranian Women’s Movement.” In Race, Religion, and Late Democracy (SAGE, 2011); Shawn Kelley, Racializing Jesus: Race, Ideology and the Formation of Modern Biblical Scholarship (Routledge, 2002); Seungsook Moon, “Sexual Labor and the U.S. Military Empire: Comparative Analysis of Europe and East Asia.” In Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism (New York U., 2015).

Racialized Orientalism. See Racial Orientalism.

Racist Orientalism

This term and the closely related term Orientalist racism are frequently used by scholars. Unlike the term, “Orientalism,” which can be used to describe the ways in which a (non-racial) Self imagines and constructs a (non-racial) Other, these terms are generally used to describe Western oppressive, discriminatory, and stereotypical prejudices that fix on Muslims, Arabs, and Asians more generally. They are often applied against Asian Americans. Scholars, at times, see racist Orientalism as being part of a larger complex of Western ideologies that have included colonialism, imperialism, Christian exclusivism, and Eurocentrism. Some scholars argue that racist Orientalism in its most blatant forms was a phenomenon of the Western colonial era of the 19th and earlier 20th centuries thus identifying it with what other scholars term hard Orientalism, that is the more extreme forms of ideological Orientalism. In this form, the Oriental Other is imagined and constructed to be essentially different from and irredeemably inferior to Caucasians so that an absolute racial boundary exists between them. Other scholars point to the subconscious, often subtle nature of racist Orientalism making it difficult to discern especially for those who are themselves racists. Rarely, this term is applied to Asian attitudes towards other Asians, such as Chinese attitudes towards Tibetans, which Y. Y. R. Hung terms, “Sino-orientalism.” Scholars also point to its presence, often not subtle, in mass media culture as, for example, in Disney children’s movies such as the ill intentioned, slant-eyed “Siamese twins” cats in Lady & the Tramp (1955). More generally, Orientalist racists deploy a wide range of images that see the “Oriental” races as being violent, terroristic, intolerant, culturally conservative, greedy and shady, and uncompromising—and thus entirely incompatible with the democratic West. This term is distinguished from the much less frequently used term racial Orientalism, which is employed more broadly to Orientalist-like cases of racial profiling and stereotyping of any race or ethnicity (not just Asians). [8/17]


See also: Chinoiserie, Classical Orientalism, Hard Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Inner City Orientalism, Nazi Orientalism, Neoliberal Orientalism, Oriental Look, Racial Orientalism, Science Fiction Orientalism, Victorientalism, White Orientalism, Xenophobic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Racist Orientalism: Nahla Abdo, “Feminism and Difference: The Struggle of Palestinian Women.” Canadian Woman Studies 15 (1995); Arif Dirlik, “Asian on the Rim: Transnational Capital and Local Community in the Making of Contemporary Asian America.” In Across the Pacific: Asian Americans and Globalization (Temple, 1999); Ron Eglash, “African Influences in Cybernetics,” 1995. At (, accessed 8/17; Ho-Fung Hung, “Orientalist Knowledge and Social Theories: China and the European Conceptions of East-West Differences from 1600 to 1900.” Sociological Theory 2 (2003); Yu Yui Ruth Hung, "What Melts in the “Melting Pot” of Hong Kong?" IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature 8 (2014); Lamiya Khandaker, “Politicizing Muslims: Constructing a ‘Moderate’ Islam”  (Thesis, Connecticut College, 2017); Attila Melegh, On the East-west Slope: Globalization, Nationalism, Racism and Discourses on Central and Eastern Europe (Central European U., 2006); Alex Shams, “Trump's 'Honour Crimes' Order is a Racist Distraction,” 2017. At Aljazeera (, accessed 8/17; Yiman Wang, “The Art of Screen Passing: Anna May Wong’s Yellow Yellowface Performance in the Art Deco Era.” Camera Obscura 20 (2005).  Orientalist Racism: Ron Eglash, op. cit.Benjamin Nugent, American Nerd: The Story of My People (Scribner, 2008).

Radical Orientalism

Scholars use this term in at least two different ways. First Usage: Saree Makdisi (2003) is credited with being the first scholar to use this term, which he uses in his study of William Blake (1757-1827) to describe an alternative and more positive use of the negative ideological Orientalism described by Edward W. Said (Orientalism, 1978). Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud (2015) expands Makdisi’s use of the term to include radical British thought during the 19th century Romantic movement more generally. He argues that the radicals used the Orientalist worldview in a satirical, non-colonialist way to promote British reform at home and a sense of unity with the supposedly oppressed people of the Orient overseas. Second Usage: Judy Tzu-Chun Wu (2013) uses the term “radical Orientalism” in a very different way to describe a form of reverse Orientalism by which American leftist radicals in the Vietnam War era of the 1960s and early 1970s (including Asian American, African American, and women’s anti-war groups) “idealized the East and denigrated the West” (p. 5). They collaborated with Asian anti-imperialist movements to resist American militarism, materialism, racism, and imperialism. They generally held a positive, romanticized view of Asian anti-imperialists’ resistance to American Cold War polices in Asia—especially by the North Koreans, North Vietnamese, and Chinese. The various American radical groups tended to ignore internal injustices or other issues in these anti-imperialist Asian nations. Scholars who use this term in this second way frequently cite Wu.  It should be noted that Wu’s book and Makdisi’s are far more frequently cited by other scholars than is Cohen-Vrignaud’s.   [2/22]

See also: American Orientalism, Beat Orientalism, Counter-Orientalism (1st Usage), Dissident Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Orientalist Satire, Positive Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: First Usage: Valentina Aparicio, Book Review. “Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud, Radical Orientalism…” University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture and the Arts 22 (2016); Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud, Radical Orientalism (Cambridge, 2015); Nigel Leask, Book Review. “Radical Orientalism…” Keats-Shelley Journal 66 (2017); Saree Makdisi, William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s (U. of Chicago, 2003). Second Usage: Michele Hardesty, Book Review. “Vietnam War Era Journeys: Recovering Histories of Internationalism.” Monthly Review 66 (2014); Karen J. Leong, "The Many Labors of the Gendered Trans-Pacific World." In Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (Brill, 2017); Daryl J. Meada, “The Asian American Movement.” In The Oxford Handbook of Asian American History (Oxford, 2016); Kazushi Minami, “’How Could I Not Love You?’: Transnational Feminism and US-Chinese Relations during the Cold War.” Journal of Women's History 31 (2019); Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, “Asian/American Women, Radical Orientalism, and the Revisioning of Global Feminism.” In The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties (Routledge, 2018); Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Radical on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism During the Vietnam Era (Cornell U., 2013); Benjamin R. Young, “Imagining Revolutionary Feminism: Communist Asia and the Women of the Black Panther Party.” Souls 21 (2019).

Reactionary Orientalism

Scholars generally use this rarely used term one of two ways.  First, a very few scholars have used it to refer to Orientalists or others who harken back to an older pre-existing form of ideological Orientalism. They are “reacting” against later, perhaps less ideological trends in Orientalist thinking.  Second, in 2003 Peter Heehs used this term to describe a group of “reactionary Orientalists” in India who want to recapture an imagined, glorious Indian/Hindu past and are "reacting" against those who contradict their nationalistic vision of the past. In this case, reactionary Orientalism is a form of reverse Orientalism, which imagines a past that did not actually happen. A few other scholars have taken up this usage, and it has also still more rarely been termed reactive Orientalism.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: A. D. Fraser, “The Future in Archaeology.” Dalhousie Review 22 (1942); Sobhanlal D. Gupta, “Imperialism and Colonialism: Towards a Postcolonial Understanding.” In Science, Technology, Imperialism, and War (Pearson Longman, 2007); Peter Heehs, “Shades of Orientalism: Paradoxes and Problems in Indian Historiography.” History and Theory 42 (2003); Geoffrey Nash, “Friends Across the Water: British Orientalists and Middle Easter Nationalisms.” In Empire and After: Englishness in Postcolonial Perspective (Bergham Books, 2007).

Reactive Orientalism. See Reactionary Orientalism.

Red Orientalism. See Socialist Orientalism.

Realist Orientalism

Scholars use this term most generally to describe a particular genre or style in the arts and literature, most particularly painting, that purports to represent the (Oriental) Other truly and fairly while most often actually misrepresenting the Orient as exotic, sensational, or otherwise obscuring and even concealing life as it actually is. Realist Orientalist painters, however, can be divided between two “camps,” those who strive to reveal the actual world of the Arab Middle East and North Africa and those who impose their own ideological "realistic-like" images and constructions on their own imagined Orient, which is not the actual Asia.  [5/17]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Ethnographic Orientalism, Literary Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: June Hee Chung, “Asian Object Lessons: Orientalist Decoration in Realist Aesthetics from William Dean Howells to Sui Sin Far.” Studies in American Fiction 36 (2008): Daniel Monterescu, “The Bridled Bride of Palestine: Orientalism, Zionism, and the Troubled Urban Imagination.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 16 (2009); Alex von Tunzelmann, Reel History: The World According to the Movies (Atlantic Books, 2015); Sarah Warren, Mikhail Larionov and the Cultural Politics of Late Imperial Russia (Ashgate, 2013); Agata Wójcik, “Adolf Sandoz, an Orientalist Painter in Algeria,” 2017. At RIHA Journal (, accessed 5/17.

Red Orientalism

Scholars use this term, most broadly to refer to Marxist Orientalism and, more specifically, to refer to Soviet Orientalism as a form of Marxist Orientalism. Although not frequently used, this term is also not rare.  [11/18]

See also: Marxist Orientalism, Russian Orientalism, Socialist Orientalism, Soviet Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Stéphane A. Dudoignon, “Some Side Effects of a Progressive Orientology: Academic Visions of Islam in the Soviet South after Stalin.” In After Orientalism: Critical Perspectives on Western Agency and Eastern Re-appropriations (Brill, 2015); Michael Kemper, “Red Orientalism: Mikhail Pavlovich and Marxist Oriental Studies in Early Soviet Russia.” Die Welt des Islams 50 (2010); Changnam Lee & Youngjun Ha, "Reflections on National “Sonderwege” in the Era of Transnational History." Comparativ: Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung 20 (2010); Jie-Hyun Lim, "The Configuration of Orient and Occident in the Global Chain of National Histories: Writing National Histories in Northeast Asia." In Narrating the Nation: Representations in History, Media and the Arts (Berghahn Books, 2011).


Reductive Orientalism

Scholars use this term normally to describe the ways in which Western commentators on the “Orient” —academics, commentators, and the general public included—reduce it to a set of superficial stereotypes in a process of thought-less, uncritical simplification. Hees uses this term more specifically to describe the ways in which “Saidian interpretations” of Orientalism are themselves examples of Orientalism.  [4/17]


See also: Hard Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Peter Heehs, “Shades of Orientalism: Paradoxes and Problems in Indian Historiography.” History and Theory 42 (2003); Adrian Holliday, et al., Intercultural Communication: An Advanced Resource Book for Students (Routledge, 2010); Tamara S. Wagner, “Englishwomen and Chinamen: Domestic Chores in the American West,” 2003. At The Victorian Web (, accessed 4/17.

Reflexive Orientalism

Scholars generally use this term, also called self-reflexive Orientalism, in one of two very different ways.  First, most scholars who this term use it to name the insight that, historically, ideological Orientalism is a like a mirror that reveals more about the nature of the Orientalist than the Oriental, for example when Orientalists fixate on the supposed sexual practices of Arab “potentates” or the supposedly violent nature of “the Arab.”  Second, some scholars use reflexive Orientalism as another term for self-Orientalism, that is the acceptance by Asians of ideological Orientalist descriptions of themselves. In this sense, reflexive Orientalism can also fall under the category of reverse Orientalism, by which Asians transform ideological Orientalist prejudices against them into positive categories. What Orientalists consider to be “backward,” for example, is embraced as being the true national identity of the “Oriental”.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Occidentalism (for first meaning above), Reverse Orientalism, Self-Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Chih-yu Shih, Navigating Sovereignty: World Politics Lost in China (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Jonathan Walsh, Abbé Prévost’s Histoire d’une Grecque moderne: Figure of Authority on Trial (Summa Publications, 2001); David F. Waterman, “Byron’s Reflexive Orientalism in Cantos V and VI of Don Juan.” Études Anglaises 49 (1996).

Regional Orientalism

This term is very rarely used. When scholars do use it, they do so usually in passing to refer to the notion of Orientalism as it applies to a particular geographical area of the world, a continent, or a nation. When used with nations or other smaller political units, a regional Orientalism may be a form of internal Orientalism and/or of local Orientalism

See also: Internal Orientalism, Local Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: 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); Tanja Vahtikari, “’Washing Away the Dirt of the War Years’: History, Politics, and the Reconstruction of Urban Communities in Post-World War II Helsinki.” In (Re)Constructing Communities in Europe, 1918-1968: Senses of Belonging Below, Beyond and Within the Nation-State (Routledge, 2017).

Regular Orientalism. See Conventional Orientalism.


Relational Orientalism

Scholars very rarely use this term, but those few who do use it do so on the premise that the experience of being treated as an Other involves a relationship between those who construct the Other and the Others who are so constructed. In this relationship, Orientalist habits of mind (for example, stereotyping and essentializing the Other) are passed on so that those subjected to Orientalist stereotyping in turn stereotype their own Others. Such relationships usually occur at the margins (or on the periphery) of Orientalism. For example, having been the objects of Orientalist stereotyping themselves, black and brown minorities in the United States engage in the stereotyping of their own set of Others. Relational Orientalism is thus an element of self-Orientalism or reverse Orientalism and is closely related to peripheral Orientalism.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Peripheral Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Self-Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sunaina Maira, “Belly Dancing: Arab-Face, Orientalist Feminism, and U.S. Empire.” American Quarterly 60 (2008); Afif S. Nasreddine, “Contmporary Discourses of Latinidad: The Marketing and Representaton of Other Latinas/os in the U.S. Imagination” (M.A. thesis, Florida, 2011); Chia-Yi Seetoo, “The Political Kinesthetics of Contemporary Dance: Taiwan in Transnational Perspective” (Ph.D. diss., U. of California, Berkeley, 2013).

Religious Orientalism

Scholarly use of this term focuses largely on Western Christian attitudes and behaviors toward Asian peoples of other faiths to the extent that it is synonymous with Christian Orientalism.  It, thus, encompasses the ways in Western Christians usually imagine and construct Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other Asian religions (including Judaism and indigenous Asian Christian faiths and sects) as adhering to inferior, false belief systems that fail to produce a true, redemptive religious faith.  Historically, modern Western religious Orientalism has its roots in the Medieval European encounter with Islam, which was perceived as a powerful, insurgent threat to the Christian faith: it was, that is, a false religion that had false beliefs, scriptures, and a false prophet.  As Europe increasingly encountered the Asia beyond Islam, Western Christian scholars, clergy, political leaders, and the public at large continued to measure the religions they encountered in Asia by the standards of their Christian model and invariably found those religions wanting.  They imagined that Asian religions had a single essentially heretical nature that consigned their adherents to eternal damnation as well as a backward, immoral, and uncivilized existence in this world.  While Western secular Orientalisms increasingly overshadowed European religious Orientalism beginning in the 18th century, those Orientalisms still drew on the earlier attitudes and behaviors of religious Orientalism and carried forward its fundamental antipathy to the East.  Scholars argue that after 9/11 a more blatantly religious Orientalism has reemerged especially regarding Islam, which is again seen as the threatening religious Other that is essentially alien, false, anti-democratic, sexist, and violent.  Scholars much less frequently use this term to describe Western religious Orientalisms that are more positive and not Christian; these those who imagine that given Asian religions are essentially spiritually superior and offer a source of hope for the renewal of the West.  It should be noted, in sum, that while this term is theoretically very broad scholars generally use it in a much more restrictive way to describe (and critique) Western Christian Orientalisms, as indicated above.  [revised 11/21]

See also: Adolescent Orientalism, Baha'i Orientalism, Beat Orientalism, Biblical Orientalism, Catholic Orientalism, Christian Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Early Modern Orientalism, European Orientalism, Evangelical Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Medieval Orientalism, Missionary Orientalism, Muslim Orientalism, Mythic Orientalism, Old Testament Orientalism, Orientalist Buddhism, Positive Orientalism, Protestant Orientalism, Renaissance Orientalism, Secular Orientalism, Spiritual Orientalism, Theological Orientalism, Vernacular, Orientalism, Virtual Orientalism, Weberian Orientalism, Zen Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Jamal Al-Asmar, “Victorian Images of the Arabs and Their Sources” Bethlehem University Journal 13 (1994); Erling S. Brunskow, “Cosmic Landscapes: Daoism and Environmentalism in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Utopian Fictions” (MA thesis, U. of Oslo, 2017); Adrian Chan, Orientalism in Sinology (Academica Press, 2009); Ramsey A. Harris, “Orientalism in the Media: A Case Study of European News Coverage of Turkish Accession to the European Union” (M.A. thesis, U. of Georgia, 2006); Sahira O. Hussein & Hanaa J. A. A. Kadhim, “Orientalism and Arabic Literature (Nöldeke as a Model)" Palarch’s Journal Of Archaeology Of Egypt/Egyptology 17, 7 (2020); Ivan Kalmar, “Jesus Did Not Wear a Turban: Orientalism, the Jews, and Christian Art." In Orientalism and the Jews (Brandeis U. Press, 2005); Arie Molendijk, The Emergence of the Science of Religion in the Netherlands (Brill, 2005); Alec Muklewicz, “A Medieval Religious Orientalism: The Perspectives and Environments of Mendicant Travel Writers in the Far East (1245-1368)” (Honors thesis, U. of Florida, 2019); Zainab B. Naqvi, "A Contextualised Historical Account of Changing Judicial Attitudes to Polygamous Marriage in the English Courts." International Journal of Law in Context 13, 3 (2017); Lucy K. Pick, “Orientalism and Religion,” 2012.  At Middle East Institute (, accessed 10/21; Elizabeth Poole, Reporting Islam: Media Representations of British Muslims (I. B. Tauris, 2002); David Webster, “Buddhism and Fetish: How the Western Academic World Must Be More of a Bystander to the 21st Century’s Emerging Buddhisms” (Paper Abstract, Colloquium on Asian Religions, 2014). At CSRCA Newsletter (, accessed 10/21.

Renaissance Orientalism

Scholars use this term to describe the ways European writers, artists, travellers, academics, and others imagined and constructed Asian peoples in the period of early Orientalism. They seldom, however, give concrete dates for the European Renaissance, which is widely understood to fall in the period from 1300 to 1700, give or take. By and large, scholars of Renaissance Orientalism tend to focus on the later Renaissance, particularly when the Ottoman Empire posed a serious threat to Europe. Even for that period, not a few scholars question the relevance of Edward W. Said’s (1978) notion of Orientalism arguing that there is little evidence during the Renaissance of ideological, dualistic stereotypes of “the Turk” or other Asian peoples. The consensus among those scholars who apply this term to the Renaissance, however, is that it is applicable within limits, especially understanding that the notion of Orientalism itself changes over time. During the Renaissance, then, there was a mixed attitude about the East by which scholars, artists, and others imagined and constructed it to be both threatening and alluring, heathen (infidel) and a source of learning and scholarship—at once, evil and exotic. Christian categories including images and attitudes from the Crusades were still dominant, but ancient Greek and Roman prejudices were also influential. Scholars note that in the Renaissance era the fundamental political-power relationship between the East (Ottoman Empire) and Europe was more balanced and reciprocal than it was later in the era of European colonialism. They also note that although the image of the Turk dominated those relationships, Europeans tended to see “dark-skinned” Eastern peoples generally in much the same light as they did the Ottoman Turks. In the arts, especially painting, scholars find this same mixed picture of negative and more balanced representations of Eastern, again especially Turkish, peoples.  [revised 7/17]

See also: Ancient Orientalism, Early Orientalism, Early Modern Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Racial Orientalism, Religious Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Hussein A. Alhawamdeh, “The Different Western Perception of the Oriental Moor in the Renaissance and the Twentieth Century: Shakespeare’s Othello and Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North: A Post Colonial Critique.” 
Transnational Literature 5 (2013); Srinivas Aravamudan, Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (U. of Chicago, 2012); Marianna Birnbaum, "Renaissance Orientalism." Harvard Ukrainian Studies, 28 (2006); Nizar F. Hermes, “’Consorting With the Base Arabian’; The Tragedie of Mariam, Faire Queene of Jewry (1613): From Discursive Ambivalence to Orientalist Benevolence.” Journal of East-West Thought 4 (2014); Desmond Hosford & Chong J. Wojtkowski, “Part II: Imagining the Orient.” In French Orientalism: Culture, Politics, and the Imagined Other (Cambridge Scholars, 2010); Ivan D. Kalmar, Early Orientalism: Imagined Islam and the Notion of Sublime Power (Routledge, 2012); Walter S. H. Lim, “The English Renaissance, Orientalism, and the Idea of Asia—Framing the Issues.”  In The English Renaissance, Orientalism, and the Idea of Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Ömer F. Parlak, “Antagonist Images of 
the Turk in
Early Modern European Games.” Middle East-Topics & Arguments 8 (2017); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978).

Re-Orientalism (ReOrientalism). See Self-Orientalism.

Republican Orientalism

Scholars use this rarely used term to describe the ways in which political elites in times of transition from authoritarian to republican forms of government in three nations (the United States, France, and especially Turkey) imagine and construct “Orientals”.  In Turkey in particular, this transition led the Turkish ruling elites to reject their Ottoman past, reject Islam, and reframe themselves as being more European-like, progressive, and civilized than both internal and external Orientals, who were seen as being uncivilized.  Republican Orientalist ideologies are closely identified with the notion of “republicanism”. [1/21]

See also: American Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Political Orientalism, Turkish Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sandra Buckley, “Sexing the Kitchen: Okoge and Other Tales of Contemporary Japan.” In Queer Diaspora (Duke, 2000); Young Gil Chae, ”Immigrant Media and Communication Processes for Social Change in Korea: A Case Study of Migrants Workers Television” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Texas at Austin, 2008); Sean Golden, “Orientalisms in East Asia: A Theoretical Model.” Inter Asia Papers 12 (2009).

Resurgent Orientalism

Scholars normally use this term in one of two closely related ways, neither of which are intended to be a technical usage.  First and most broadly, they use it to describe periods during the era of classical Orientalism when in various times and places ideological Orientalism became again prominent after a period when it had been less evident.  Second and more narrowly, scholars use this term to describe their sense that ideological Orientalism has recently re-emerged in the West with renewed force. They assign various dates and events, notably 9/11, to this phenomenon. Although a few scholars explicitly relate this usage to the term new Orientalism, the widespread use of the term resurgent Orientalism raises the question of whether or not "new Orientalism" is actually new or simply the reemergence ("resurgence") of older Orientalisms.

See also: Classical Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, New Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Elora H. Chowdhury, “’Transnational Reversed’: Engaging Religion, Development and Women’s Organizing in Bangladesh.” Women’s Studies International Forum 32 (2009); Edhem Eldem, French Trade in Istanbul in the Eighteenth Century (Brill, 1999); Lasse Koefoed & Kirsten Simonsen, “The Price of Goodness: Everyday Nationalist Narratives in Denmark.” Antipode 39 (2007); Tania M. Li, “Asian Futures, Old and New.” Asia Colloquia Papers 4 (1) (York Centre for Asian Research, 2014); Lisa Taylor, “Developing Critical Affective Imagination: Building Feminist Anti-colonial Embodied Reading Practices through Reader Response.” Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices 1 (2007).


Scholars have used this rarely used term in one of three different ways.  First, some use it to describe the uses of supposedly old-fashioned “Oriental” themes or images in art and literature. Second, other scholars use this term to describe Asian ideological self-Orientalist discourses and practices that imagine other Asians as inferior in ways that mimic or parallel Western Orientalist prejudices.  Third, Sean Golden uses this term to describe Asian discourses that employ ideological Orientalist discourses ironically or parody them as a strategy for undermining Orientalist prejudice itself.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Self-Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sandra Buckley, “Sexing the Kitchen: Okoge and Other Tales of Contemporary Japan.” In Queer Diaspora (Duke, 2000); Young Gil Chae, ”Immigrant Media and Communication Processes for Social Change in Korea: A Case Study of Migrants Workers Television” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Texas at Austin, 2008); Sean Golden, “Orientalisms in East Asia: A Theoretical Model.” Inter Asia Papers 12 (2009).

Reverse Orientalism

The scholarly use of this term starts with Sadik Jalal Al-Azm (1980) who originally coined it as “Orientalism in Reverse”.  Writing not long after Edward W. Said’s ground breaking book, Orientalism (1978), al-Azm embraced Said’s description of Western ideological Orientalism and proposed that “Orientalism in Reverse” constituted a distinct second form of Orientalism, one used by Asians as well as Westerners.  In due time, scholars have shortened the term to “reverse Orientalism” and now only occasionally acknowledge that it originated with Al-Azm.  In its most basic form, reverse Orientalists simply flip the places of “the East” and “West” in the ideological Orientalist equation.  They, that is, imagine and construct the West as having an essential, timeless nature that is usually (but not always) seen as being inferior to the East.  They describe the West, for example, as being strange, irrational, imperialist, secularized, stagnant, socially disorganized, corrupted, and over-sexualized.  The West becomes thus the exotic Other.  In this sense, reverse Orientalism and Occidentalism are two names for the same thing.  Reverse Orientalists are Occidentalists and vice-versa.  To a degree, reverse Orientalism when held by Asians is also a form of self-Orientalism, but where self-Orientalisms tend to be somewhat covert and not self-conscious reverse Orientalisms tend to be used more intentionally and with a greater degree of self-awareness as a form of ideological Orientalism.  The distinction between these two terms, however, is a fine one at best, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

A key issue concerning the notion of reverse Orientalism is its relationship to classical Orientalism.  Whether used by Asians themselves or by Western scholars and others, at times reverse Orientalism seems to be the mirror image of Western Orientalism—that is, it imagines and constructs the West as having an essential, unchanging, and inferior identity.  Al-Azm (1981) sees Iranian thinkers, political leaders and others as expressing this kind of reverse Orientalism after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  Some other scholars argue that in some contexts, such as Singapore, reverse Orientalism is even used to distinguish and give privilege to those who are deemed more authentically Asian.  Yet, other scholars see important differences between Western Orientalism and Asian reverse Orientalism.  Perhaps most importantly, where Western Orientalisms are generally seen as being oppressive stereotypes of “Orientals” and useful to seeking power over them, Asian reverse Orientalisms are primarily used as strategies for resisting Western domination and for valuing and providing a new identity for those who suffer from that domination.  Reverse Orientalists, thus, for the most part do not seek to exercise power over the (Western) Other so much as to resist the power of that Other.

Two further aspects of reverse Orientalisms should be mentioned here.  First, they have commercial implications especially as they can be used and frequently are used to imagine and create a “traditional culture” that is then sold to tourists and marketed internationally.  Second, Tony Mitchell (2004) notes that in the context of Aesthetic Orientalism, such as in some local music in Singapore, reverse Orientalism can be used in a playful, entertaining way to bypass or rethink rigid cultural stereotypes in search of a unique Asian identity that challenges both Western thinking about Asia and the thinking of Asians about themselves. [revised 6/19]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Affirmative Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Colonial Orientalism, Constructive Orientalism, Eastern Orientalism (First Usage), Good & Bad Orientalism(s), Hybrid Orientalism, Inverse Orientalism, Indigenous Orientalism, Indological Orientalism, Irish Orientalism, Kemalist Orientalism, Nationalist Orientalism, Native Orientalism (Contemporary Usage), Nesting Orientalism, Occidentalism, Ontological Orientalism, Oriental Renaissance, Orientalism in Reverse, Orientalist Buddhism, Orientalist Epistemology, Orientalist Ethnography, Orientalist Tourism, Political Orientalism, Pop Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Pragmatic Orientalism (3rd Scholar), Radical Orientalism (2nd Usage), Reactionary Orientalism, Reflexive Orientalism, Secondary Orientalism, Second Order Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Social Orientalism, Sporting Orientalism, Strategic Orientalism, Transorientalism, Western Orientalism, Xenophobic Orientalism, Zen Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sadik Jalal Al-Azm, "Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse." Khamsin 8 (1981); Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism (Syracuse U., 1996); Steve Heine, Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up? (Oxford, 2008); Michael Hill, “’Asian Values’ as Reverse Orientalism: Singapore.” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 41 (2000); Deepa Kumar, “Marxism and Orientalism.” International Socialist Review 94 (2014); Hanif KureishiThe Word and the Bomb (Faber & Faber, 2014); Tony Mitchell, “Self-Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism and Pan-Asian Pop Cultural Flows in Dick Lee’s Transit Lounge.” In Rogue Flows: Trans-Asian Cultural Traffic (Hong Kong U., 2004); Can-Seng Ooi, “Histories, Tourism and Museums: Re-making Singapore.” In Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia (NIAS, 2010); Alison Scott-Baumann, “Unveiling Orientalism in Reverse.” In Islam and the Veil: Theoretical and Regional Contexts (Bloomsbury, 2012); Rebecca Suter, “Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, and Occidentalism in the Visual-Verbal Medium of Japanese Girls’ Comics.” Literature & Aesthetics 22 (2012); Dave Vliegenthart, The Secular Religion of Franklin Merrell-Wolff: An Intellectual History of Anti-intellectualism in Modern America (Brill, 2018).

Revisionist Orientalism

Scholars generally use this term in one of two ways.  First, some scholars use it in passing to describe attempts to revise or undermine Edward W. Said’s critique of Orientalism.  Second and more rarely, a few scholars use this term to refer to Said’s own revision of the meaning of Orientalism. In the first usage, Said is the object of revision; in the second, he is the revisionist.  [3/16]

See also: Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Joseph A. Boone, The Homoerotics of Orientalism (Columbia, 2014); Audrey Farber, “New Orientalist Times.” 2011. At Mondoweiss (, accessed 3/16; Jane Marcus, “Britannia Rules The Waves.” In Decolonizing Tradition: New Views of Twentieth-century "British" Literary Canons (U. of Illinois, 1992); Lloyd Steffen, “Review: Bauer, Joanne R., and Bell, Daniel A., eds. The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights.” Ethic 111 (2001).

Roman Orientalism

Scholars use this term to describe the complex mixture of attitudes that ancient Rome held regarding the East. Not all scholars, however, agree that the notion of Orientalism can be legitimately applied to those attitudes, and most of those who feel that it can also recognize it limitations. Scholars today reject the simplistic, ideological descriptions of “Roman Orientalism” of 19th and early 20th century Orientalists, who imagined that the Romans thought that Orientals had a uniform, essential, and unchanging nature that had a profound influence on the Empire and contributed to its decline. Modern scholars generally acknowledge the Romans had a mixed view of the East, one that changed over the centuries as it mixed elements of admiration and disdain. “The East” was primarily Egypt and Parthia. Roman literature and iconography indicate that at times Egypt, in particular, was admired as an important source of spiritual and religious influence; but it was also seen as being effeminate, licentious, and disorderly as opposed to Roman masculinity, sense of order, and practicality. More largely, Romans saw the East as containing both friends and foes, and eventually it comprised an important part of the Empire and had significant influence on it. While the Romans were influenced to a degree by Greek attitudes towards the “barbarians” who lived to the East and were a constant threat to Greece, Rome also acknowledged Troy as part of its foundational heritage—which brings scholars full circle back to the mixed, non-ideological, and shifting ways the Romans viewed the East and underscores the limitations of the notion of "Roman Orientalism" itself.  [11/17]


See also: Ancient Orientalism, Greek Orientalism (Ancient), Hellenistic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Richard H. Armstrong, “Last Words: Said, Freud, and Travelling Theory.” In Edward Said and Critical Decolonization (American U. in Cairo, 2007); Aziz Al-Azmeh, “The Orient’s Obtuse Antiquity.” In Multiple Antiquities - Multiple Modernities: Ancient Histories in Nineteenth Century European Cultures (Campus Verlag, 2011); Garth Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind (Cambridge, 1986); Bryn Harris, “Edward Said and Vergiil’s Orientalism,” n.d. At (, accessed 11/17. Maggie Jackson, “Hybridity and Femininity in Northern Africa and France: How Orientalism and Revolutions Shaped the Perception of Gender in Eastern and Western Fashion,” 2014.  At Muirin Project (, accessed 11/17; Walter S. H. Lim, John Milton, Radical Politics, and Biblical Republicanism (U. of Delaware, 2006); J. G. A. Pocock, "Edward Gibbon in History: Aspects of the Text in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," 1989. At The Tanner Lectures on Human Values (, accessed 11/17; Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Rolf M. Schneider, “Friend and Foe: the Orient in Rome.” In The Age of the Parthians (I.B. Tauris, 2010); Rolf M. Schneider, “The Making of Oriental Rome.” In Universal Empire: A Comparative Approach to Imperial Culture and Representation in Eurasian History (Cambridge, 2012); Maria Wyke, “Meretrix Regina: Augustan Cleopatra.  In Augustus (Edinburgh, 2009).

Romantic Orientalism

Scholars use this term and the term Orientalist Romanticism to describe one of the most important manifestations of Orientalism as well as one of the central aspects of European Romanticism. Early Orientalist scholars, notably William Jones (1746-1794), are held to have played a key role in the emergence of Romanticism in the 18th century, which in turn inspired a deepened literary, artistic, and academic interest in the “Orient” that led, among other things, to the full development of 19th century European academic Orientalism. Antoine Galland’s (1646-1715) translation of One Thousand and One Nights into French (publication beginning in 1794) and the subsequent publication of many other “Oriental Tales” contributed to the rise of European Romantic Orientalism. The European Romantic movement and its whole-hearted embracing of Orientalism also grew out of reactions against the rise of industrialism, urbanization, the Enlightenment, and the spread of European colonialism. In that historical context, long developing stereotypes of the Orient and Orientals, both popular and academic, fed into the Romantic emphasis on such things as feelings, inspiration, subjectivity, individuality, spontaneity, spirituality, transcendence, and the search for a mythic past that could give new life and meaning to the present. It was to Asia that Romantic authors and artists turned for a key source of that new life—not the actual Asia of their day so much as a mythic, ancient Orient that existed largely in their own imaginations. The image of the East that emerged from all of this is complex, mixed, and marked by an ambivalence that often displayed an attraction to the imagined ancient Orient and disdain for the actual contemporary Asia. It is difficult thus to generalize because writers, academics, and artists differed, sometimes significantly in their attitudes so that they fell on a continuum from a Romantic loathing of the Orient to a positive embracing of it. What united them was the way in which they used Romantic attitudes and values to imagine and create a mythic, extravagant, fabulous, exotic Orient that had an essential, changeless identity—one that they themselves could know and shape for their own purposes. Most of them also believed in the superiority of the West, which represented the future of the human race just as the Orient represented its past. Scholars have also noted that European Romanticism generally included a sexual component that imagined Oriental women as being sensuous, alluring, mysterious, and the object of male fantasies and desires. Most scholars consider that roughly the first half of the 19th century was the hey-day of Romantic Orientalism and point to such figures as Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), Lord Byron (1788-1824), Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829), and Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) as important Romantic Orientalists. While scholars generally see Romantic Orientalism as achieving its apex in the mid-1800s, they also acknowledge that “small-r” romantic Orientalism continues to exhibit influence down to the present. The American hippie movement of the 1960s is one example of that ongoing influence. Scholars also point out that Romantic Orientalist values, attitudes, and categories have also influenced the ways in which Asian understand themselves, thus Indian thinkers have at times accepted as their own the belief in a superlative, mystical, and spiritual Indian past superior to Europe.

Although scholars began to use this term very occasionally in the later 19th century, it did not become significant until after the publication of Edward W. Said’s, Orientalism (1978), and the intense investigation of the notion of Orientalism that he inspired. As Said understood it, European Romantic Orientalists imagined and constructed an Orient that was the original source of European civilization but in later times remained trapped in its own past. Europeans thus had the dual task of rediscovering ancient Oriental wisdom for the sake of the West and at the same time redeeming the modern East for its own sake. The academic study of Orientalism undertook the task of reclamation, foreshadowing and laying the groundwork for European colonialism to assume the mission of regenerating a supposedly stagnate Asia. For Said, in sum, Romantic Orientalism was but another phase, albeit an important and complex one, in the history of classical Orientalism, and it is in this context that scholars have conducted their study of Orientalist Romanticism since Said. Those studies frequently begin with a consideration of his perspective and often come to a “yes, but” conclusion that argues that Said is only partially correct at best in his treatment of Romantic Orientalism. Critics argue that he does not take sufficient account of national differences, does not take into consideration the fact that Romanticism was much more about aesthetics than it was politics, and does not sufficiently note that many individual writers and artists did not demonstrate the stereotypically racist fear/fascination complex supposed to exemplify Romantic Orientalism. Defenders of Said argue that he did indeed understand the complexities of Orientalism Romanticism but could not explore them within the limits of his groundbreaking work.  [revised 4/19]

See also: Abstract Orientalism, Affirmative Orientalism, Byronic Orientalism, Celticism, Classical Orientalism, Consumer Orientalism, Desert Orientalism, European Orientalism, Evangelical Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, False Orientalism, Hegelian Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Jewish Orientalism, Levantine Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Magical Orientalism, Neo-Victorian Orientalism, Oriental Enthusiasm, Oriental Fad, Oriental Fiction, Oriental Poetry, Oriental Renaissance, Orientalist Anthropology, Orientalist Exotica, Orientalist Exoticism, Orientalist Fad, Orientalist Fiction, Orientalist Imagination, Orientalist Nostalgia, Poetic Orientalism, Radical Orientalism (2nd Usage), Soft Orientalism, Subversive Orientalism, Sympathetic Orientalism, Zionist Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Gautam Chakravarty, The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination (Cambridge, 2005); Abdulla Al-Dabbagh, Literary Orientalism, Postcolonialism, and Universalism (Peter Lang, 2010); Fabrizio De Donno, “Routes to Modernity: Orientalism and Mediterraneanism in Italian Culture, 1810-1910.” California Italian Studies 1 (2010); Nicholas A. Germana, “Self-Othering in German Orientalism: The Case of Friedrich Schlegel.” The Comparatist 34 (2010); Ho-Fung Hung, “Orientalist Knowledge and Social Theories: China and the European Conceptions of East-West Differences from 1600 to 1900.” Sociological Theory 21 (2003); Ezad A. Jamsari & Nurliyana M. Talib, “Eurocentrism in Reinhart Dozy’s Spanish Islam: A History of The Muslims in Spain.”  Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 5 (2014); Jukka Jouhki, “Imagining the Other: Orientalism and Occidentalism in Tamil-European Relations in South India” (Academic dissertation, U. of Jyväskylä, 2006); Ivan D. Kalmar, "Benjamin Disraeli, Romantic Orientalist." Comparative Studies in Society and History 47 (2005); Ivan D. Kalmar & Derek J. Penslar, Orientalism and the Jews (Brandeis, 2005); Jalal U. Khan, “Shelley’s Orientalia: Indian Elements in his Poetry.”  Atlantis 30 (2008); Richard King, "Orientalism and the Modern Myth of 'Hinduism'." Numen 46 (1999); Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire (Cambridge, 1992); Ma Lin, "The Representation of the Orient in Western Women Perfume Advertisements: A Semiotic Analysis." Intercultural Communication Studies 17 (2008); Eric Meyer, "’I Know Thee not, I Loathe Thy Race’: Romantic Orientalism in the Eye of the Other." ELH 58 (1991); Elisabeth Oxfeldt, Nordic Orientalism: Paris and the Cosmopolitan Imagination 1800-1900 (Museum Tusculanum Press, 2005); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Mohammed A. Sharafuddin, Islam and Romantic Orientalism: Literary Encounters with the Orient (I.B. Tauris, 1996); Algis  Uždavinys, "Sufism in the Light of Orientalism." Acta Orientalia Vilnensia 6 (2005).

Russian Orientalism

This term is used in both a general and a specific sense. In the general sense, scholars use it to refer to all the historical aspects of the notion of Orientalism as they relate to Russia down to the present including specifically: (a) the Soviet era (ca. 1920-1990), which is more often referred to as the period of Soviet Orientalism; and (b) the Russian academic study of the Orient, usually called Orientology. In the more specific sense, scholars use this term in at least two ways.  First, they use it to describe the ways in which Russians collectively and culturally have imagined and constructed Asians, most notably those who inhabit Russia’s Asian territories. That being said, scholars wrestle with the applicability of Edward W. Said’s notion of ideological Orientalism to Russian attitudes towards “Orientals,” including especially “their own” Asians within Russia’s boundaries. Most scholars argue to one degree or another that Russian Orientalism is distinctive because of its geographical and cultural location on the boundaries of Europe and Asia, which is supposed to leave Russia in an ambivalent situation. It is thought to be aware of and value its Asian heritage and have an intimate relationship with Asia unlike the nations of Western Europe. It is also resents the prejudices other Europeans have against Russia because it seems to be so "Oriental”.  Russian scholars, artists, writers, political writers, and the social and cultural elites generally thus show a distinctive appreciation for the Orient that moderates Orientalist prejudices—so this argument goes. At the same time, however, scholars point out that Euro-Russian cultural attitudes about Asians have historically been deeply influenced by Western Europe, particularly France. The Russian government at various times has also dealt very harshly with its Asian subjects, and Russian racist prejudices towards them and other Asians are often indistinguishable from Western ideological Orientalism. Different scholars express different positions, in sum, on how “Saidian” Russian Orientalism is depending on which Russian Orientalism they focus on and the weight they give to the supposed distinctiveness of Russia’s situation vis-à-vis Western Europe. Russian arts and literature reflect both an appreciation of Russia’s supposed “Asian-ness” and Orientalist prejudices concerning Asia.  Second, scholars also use this term to describe the ways in which Western Europeans and others imagine and construct Russia as being only marginally European and therefore inferior to the “real” Europe. It is, thus, seen as being essentially and irredeemably backward, Oriental-like, despotic and expansionist, militaristic, bizarre and exotic, and lacking in rationality. Russians are supposedly immoral, given to sensuality, drunken, and lazy. Some scholars note that Western scholars often make untested, negative assumptions about Russia and treat it with an unscholarly bias.  [6/18]

See also: Bourgeois Orientalism, Euro-Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Orientology, Marxist Orientalism, Red Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Soviet Orientalism, Socialist Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Chelsea Bracci, “Orientalism,” 2012. At Russia’s Periphery (, accessed 6/18; James D. J. Brown, “A Stereotype, Wrapped in a Cliché, Inside a Caricature: Russian Foreign Policy and Orientalism.” Politics 30 (2010); Ruger Helmers, Not Russian Enough? Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century Russian Opera (U. of Rochester, 2014); John P. Hope, “Manifestations of Russian literary Orientalism” (Ph.D. diss., Michigan, 2003); Adalyat Issiyeva, “Dialogues of Cultures: French Musical Orientalism in Russia, ‘Artistic Truth,’ and Russian Musical Identity.” Revue musicale OICRM 3 (2016); Nathaniel Knight, “Grigor’ev in Orenburg, 1851-1862: Russian Orientalism in the Service of Empire?”  Slavic Review 59 (2000); Nathaniel Knight, “Was Russia its own Orient? Reflections on the Contributions of Etkind and Schimmelpenninck to the Debate on Orientalism.” Ab Imperio 1  (2002); Edward J. Lazzerini, “Defining the Orient: A Nineteenth-Century Russo-Tartar Polemic over Identity and Cultural Representation.” In Muslim Communities Reemerge: Historical Perspectives on Nationality, Politics, and Opposition in the Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia (Duke, 1994); Yelena Osipova, “Russian ‘Orientalism’?” At Global Chaos (, accessed 6/18; Nik Pavlov, “Not That Different: Orientalism Hinders Relations Between West and Russia.” At Sputnick (, accessed 6/18; Alexander Morrison, “'Applied Orientalism' in British India and Tsarist Turkestan’.” Comparative Studies in Society & History 51 (2009); David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Russian Orientalism: Asia in the Russian Mind from Peter the Great to the Emigration (Yale, 2010); Victor Taki, “Orientalism on the Margins: The Ottoman Empire under Russian Eyes.”  Kritika 12 (2011); Madina Tlostanova, "The Janus-faced Empire Distorting Orientalist Discourses: Gender, Race and Religion in the Russian/(post) Soviet Constructions of the” Orient”." Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise 2 (2008).

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