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).



Saidian Orientalism

“Saidian Orientalism” is the description of traditional Orientalism, also often called classical Orientalism, contained in Edward W. Said’s groundbreaking and controversial book, Orientalism (1978), and elaborated upon in further of his works. Orientalism, according to Said, is a centuries-old traditional body of knowledge created by Western scholars and others who are considered experts on the Orient. He argues that this unified, international body of knowledge imagines and constructs Orientals as being uncivilized, unprogressive, immoral, passive, emotional, sensual, and otherwise unsavory. This body of knowledge is embodied in scholarly and other “discourses,” a selection of which he submits to critical scrutiny. He also argues that European policies and actions toward Orientals are a part of these Orientalist discourses. At points, Said contends that there is no real or actual “Orient”; it is merely a "mythical" discourse invented by Europeans on the basis of their hereditary fear of the Arab people and of Islam. At other times, however, Said assumes that there is a real Orient and passionately condemns the ways in which coercive, aggressive, and oppressive Orientalists have misrepresented it. The West has used this Orientalist body of knowledge, he argues, as a tool for establishing and expanding Western power in Asia; Orientalism is thus an ideological tool of Western colonialism and imperialism. Saidian Orientalism differs from ideological Orientalism in that many other scholars have significantly elaborated upon and to a degree modified Said’s foundational description of the notion of Orientalism. Said himself often used the term Islamic Orientalism to refer to what other scholars understand to be, "Said's Orientalism."

See also: Adolescent Orientalism, Aesthetic Orientalism, Affirmative Orientalism, Aggressive Orientalism, American Orientalism, Ancient Orientalism (Contemporary), Anglo-French Orientalism, Anti-Islamic Orientalism, Antinomic Orientalism, Anti-Semitic Orientalism, Archetypal Orientalism, Arcticality, Asian Orientalism, Authentic Orientalism, Baha'i Orientalism, Banal Orientalism, Barbaric Orientalism, Binary Orientalism, Blatant Orientalism, Bloomsbury Orientalism, Borealism, Bourgeois Orientalism, Brown Orientalism, Canadian Orientalism, Canonical Orientalism, Cartographical Orientalism, Categorical Orientalism, Catholic Orientalism, Celticism, Chauvinistic Orientalism, Chinoiserie, Christian Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Comparativist Orientalism, Contemporary Orientalism, Conventional Orientalism, Corporate Orientalism, Cosmopolitan Orientalism, Creeping Orientalism, Critical Orientalism, Crude Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Decadent Orientalism, Deep Orientalism, Dialectical Orientalism, Early Modern Orientalism, Eastern Orientalism, Economic Orientalism, Egyptian Orientalism, Egyptomania, Emergent Orientalism, Ethnocentric Orientalism, Eurocentric Orientalism, European Orientalism, Evangelical Orientalism, Fashion Orientalism, French Orientalism, Genuine Orientalism, Global Orientalism, Good & Bad Orientalism(s), Greek Orientalism, Hard Orientalism, Historical Orientalism, Humanistic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Imperial Orientalism, Implicit Orientalism, Indological Orientalism, Intellectual Orientalism, Islamic Orientalism, Latent Orientalism, Legal Orientalism, Liberal Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Mainstream Orientalism, Male Orientalism, Manifest Orientalism, Mature Orientalism, Medical Orientalism, Medieval Orientalism, Meta-Orientalism, Military Orientalism, Muslim Orientalism, Naïve Orientalism, Neo-Orientalism, New Orientalism, Occidentalism, Official Orientalism, Old Orientalism, Oriental Enthusiasm, Oriental Fad, Oriental Fiction, Oriental Look, Oriental Orientalism, Oriental Poetry, Orientalism Proper, Orientalism Theory, Orientalist Archive, Orientalist Buddhism, Orientalist Education, Orientalist Epistemology, Orientalist Ethnography, Orientalist Fad, Orientalist Fantasy, Orientalist Fiction, Orientalist Imagination, Orientalist Literature, Orientalist Myth, Orientalist Nostalgia, Orientalist Projection, Orientalist Science, Orientalist Theory, Orientalist Tourism, Orientology, Orthodox Orientalism, Overt Orientalism, Paradoxical Orientalism, Patronizing Orientalism, Personal Orientalism, Philological Orientalism, Poetic Orientalism, Pop Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Postcolonial Orientalism, Postmodern Orientalism, Practical Orientalism (Post-Said), Pre-Orientalism, Pre-Saidian Orientalism, Primary Orientalism, Professional Orientalism, Protestant Orientalism, Psychological Orientalism, Reductive Orientalism, Russian Orientalism, Saidianism, Scientific Orientalism, Sociological Orientalism, Soft Orientalism, Soviet Orientalism, Structural Orientalism, Subversive Orientalism, Techno-Orientalism, Temporal Orientalism, Textual Orientalism, Theoretical Orientalism, Traditional Orientalism, Tropicality, Unconscious Orientalism, Victorientalism, Virtual Orientalism, Visual Orientalism, Vulgar Orientalism, Western Orientalism, Women's Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Herbert R. Swanson,“Orientalism as an Ideology: the Utility of Said's Notion of Ideology for the Study of OrientalismIdeologies," 19 June 2020.  At (; Herbert R. Swanson,“Said’s Orientalism and the Study of Christian Missions.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 28 (2004).

Saidian Theory of OrientalismSee Orientalism Theory.


Scholars used this term to describe the argument that Edward W. Said’s understanding of Orientalism as an academic field of study has itself become a scholarly ideology of sorts, one that now dominates such fields as Asian studies and postcolonial studies. The contention is that academics in these and other fields of study influenced by Said have become shallow, superficial, dogmatic, moralistic, and uncritically defensive of their own “Saidian” worldview. They fail to see that the (Asian) Other is an objective reality. Scholars differ concerning the extent to which there is such a thing as academic “Saidianism” and, if there is, the degree to which Said himself is complicit in its emergence. The use of this term is not widespread but also not unusual.  [6/18]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Traditional Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ali Behdad, The Orientalist Photograph (California Institute of the Arts, 2011); Evan R. Goldstein, "‘Osama bin Laden Made Me Famous’: Bernard Lewis Looks Back,” 2012. At The Chronicle of Higher Education (, accessed 6/18; Russell A. Hopkins, “The Simele Massacre as a Cause of Iraqi Nationalism: How an Assyrian Genocide Created Iraqi Martial Nationalism” (M.A. thesis, Akron, 2016); Srdjan Jovanović, “The Birth and Death of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia: Developing Polypeitarchic History” (Ph.D. diss., Palacký U. Olomouc, 2012); G. S. Sahota, “Notes on Identity and Authority in Readings of Iqbal,”n.d. At UC Santa Cruz (, accessed 6/18; Nicolas Vandeviver, “The Authority of Criticism Literature and Agency in the Works of Edward Said, 1966-1978” (Ph.D. diss., Ghent, 2017).

Sapien Orientalism. See Animal Orientalism.

Sarmatian Orientalism

Scholars use this rarely used term generally to describe a non-ideological form of Polish Orientalism found especially among the noble classes from the 16th to the 18th centuries by which those classes emulated various elements of Turkish and Armenian material cultures, especially in dress and personal appearance. This was a distinctive form of Orientalism apparently unrelated to the Western European traditions of ideological Orientalism, and was imagined to be rooted in Poland's hereditary historical connections with the Sarmatians, an Indo-Iranian tribe.

See also: Cosmopolitan Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Sartorial Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ewa Donmanska, “The Orientalization of a European Orient: Turkquerie and Chinoiserie in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Poland.” Taiwan Journal of East Asian Studies 1 (2004); Jan Kieniewicz, “Polish Orientalness.”  Acta Poloniae Historica 49 (1984).

Sartorial Orientalism. See Fashion Orientalism.

Satirical Orientalism. See Orientalist Satire.

Scandinavian Orientalism

Jón Yngvi Jóhannsson is credited with coining this term. Scholars use it in one of three ways to describe the particular ways in which Scandinavian scholars and other Scandinavians have imagined and constructed (Oriental) Others.  First, some focus on the relationship of Iceland to Denmark as a complex relationship in which Danish scholars have historically treated Iceland as an essential Other that represented Denmark's own ideal, imagined past. They note that this is not a form of Saidian Orientalism, although it shares some characteristics with that Orientalism.  Second, others use this term to describe the ways in which Scandinavian nations, especially Denmark, have indirectly framed the exotic Orient as a medium for developing their national identities and for adapting to modernism. They have done this by depending on other European nations, notably France and Britain, to mediate their vision of the exotic—this because of their own position on the periphery of Europe. Scandinavian Orientalism’s imagination of Orientals thus depended on a ternary relationship (Scandinavian Self – French or British medium – Oriental Other) rather than the usual Orientalist binary relationship (European Self – Oriental Other). In all of this, scholars have devoted most of their attention to Denmark and Iceland. Elisabeth Oxfeldt has expanded this focus to include Norway in her use of the closely related term of Nordic OrientalismThird, this term is also used to describe Scandinavian aesthetic/artistic themes and styles considered to be “Oriental” in their origin and thus exotic.

See also: Banal Orientalism, Aesthetic Orientalism, Arctic Orientalism, Arcticality, Borealism, Finnish Orientalism, Folk Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Swedish Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Gunhild Borgreen, “Crazy about Japan: Japonisme in Nordic Art and Design on Display.” Orientaliska Studier 147 (2016); Iris Ellenberger, “Somewhere Between ‘Self’ and ‘Other’: Colonialism in Iceland Historical Research.” In Nordic Perspectives on Encountering Foreignness (U. of Turku, 2009); Jón Y. Jóhannsson, “Scandinavian Orientalism: The Reception of Danish-Icelandic Literature 1905-1950.” In Nordisk Litteratur og Mentalitet (Fróðskaparfélag, 2000); Reina Lewis, “Gender, Orientalism, and Postcolonialism.” In Rethinking Nordic Colonialism: A Postcolonial Exhibition Project in Five (NIFCA, 2006); Elisabeth Oxfeldt, Nordic Orientalism: Paris and the Cosmopolitan imagination, 1800-1900 (Museum Tusculanum Press, 2005); Mark B. Sandberg, Living Pictures, Missing Persons: Mannequins, Museums, and Modernity (Princeton, 2003).

Scholarly Orientalism. See Academic Orientalism.

Scholastic Orientalism. See Academic Orientalism.

Science Fiction Orientalism

This is a rarely used term that a few scholars use to describe the ways in which science fiction literature, films, and other media have long employed Orientalist stereotypes and prejudices to construct imaginary futures.  Other terms, still rarer, that scholars use include “Orientalist science fiction” and “Star Wars Orientalism.”  Scholars using all of these terms argue that evil forces and characters of the future, such as Ming the Merciless and Star Trek’s Khan Noonien Singh, have often been and continue to be represented as Asian-like.  The bad guys of the future, that is, look Asian—slanted eyes, long robes, sallow complexions—and they behave in stereotypically “Oriental” ways.  These scholars argue that science fiction Orientalism, thus, is essentially and even blatantly racist.  Other scholars have noted, however, science fiction stories not infrequently also imagine futures in which Asian-like forces, philosophies, and characters work for the good in ways that suggest the superiority especially of Asian spiritualties and wisdom.  While use of these terms is rare, scholars of Orientalism generally have given more attention to larger issues in the relationship of science fiction as a genre to the notion of Orientalism.  Studies of “techno-Orientalism,” in particular, focus on the science fiction sub-genre, cyberpunk, and frequently note that cyberpunk depictions of Asians, especially the Japanese, reflect Orientalist stereotypes of the relationship of Asians to technology and modernization.  Another example of scholarly reflection on science fiction is the acrimonious debate that raged for several years (beginning in 2009) regarding the relationship of ideological Orientalism to another science fiction sub-genre, steampunk (see Victorientalism, second usage).  [3/20]

See also: Cinematic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Oriental Look, Orientalist Fiction, Popular Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Racist Orientalism, Techno-Orientalism, Victorientalism.

Sources & Examples: Science Fiction Orientalism: Deirdre Flynn, Abstract of “Uncanny Tokyo: The Liminality of Murakami’s Urban Landscape,” 2014.  At Between Places & Spaces; (, accessed 3/20; Adilifu Nama, Race on the QT: Blackness and the Films of Quentin Tarantino (U. of Texas, 2015); “The Truth Snake—Yellowface in Green: Science Fiction Orientalism,” 2017.  At Downtime (, accessed 3/20; Timothy Yu, “Teaching,” n.d. At Timothy Yu (, accessed 3/20.  Orientalist Science Fiction: Betsy Huang, “Premodern Orientalist Science Fictions.” MELUS 33 (200-8). Star Wars Orientalism: Suzette Chan, “Star Trek: The Other Frontier,” 2013.  At Sequential Tart (, accessed 3/20.


Scientific Orientalism

Online searches suggest that scholars have used this term since roughly 1900, and up until the publication of Edward W. Said’s Orientalism (1978) they used it and the term Orientalist science simply to describe academic Orientalism as being a scientific field of study.  Said himself recognized the close connection between Orientalism and Western science, which he states emerged in the early 18th century.  Later scholars have variously seen “scientific Orientalism” as developing as early as the Middle Ages or in the 17th century, the later 18th century, or the 19th century.  They frequently cite the importance of Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798-1801) as well as earlier 19th century British Orientalist scholarship in India in the emergence of scientific Orientalism.  They also generally agree that scientific Orientalism began with philology and from this beginning incorporated other fields including history, the social sciences, and the life sciences—as well as the branches of academic Orientalism itself, such as Indology.  Scholars link the rise of scientific Orientalism to the Enlightenment and its valuation of rationality and the systematic classification of nature (including human cultures).  It superseded Christian Orientalism, but most scholars argue that at heart it continued to imagine and construct “Orientals” as being inferior and that Orientalist scholars continued to construct their studies in ways that confirmed their predetermined stereotypes.  It thus contributed to and provided justifications for European colonialism by shaping the way Europeans and their leaders thought about “Orientals”.  Some also note that scientific Orientalism was fundamentally racist and sexist, seeing Orientals as being feminine-like in their weaknesses and thus inferior racially.  There are other scholars, however, who challenge these negative renderings of scientific Orientalism as being one-sided and argue that the academic Orientalists produced a great amount of reasonably objective knowledge about the East, which represented a new way for Europeans to understand Asia.  It should be noted that this term is also infrequently applied specifically to Russian Orientology, which has long held that unlike Western Orientalism it “really is” scientific.  [revised 2/20]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Arcticality, Classical Orientalism, Cognitive Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, International Congress of Orientalists, Linguistic Orientalism, Modern Orientalism, Orientalist Anthropology, Orientalist Epistemology, Orientalist Ethnography, Orientalist Science, Orientology, Paradoxical Orientalism, Philological Orientalism, Professional Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Secular Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism, Sociological Orientalism, Temporal Orientalism, Tropicality.

Sources & Examples: John C.M. Calvert, “Ibn Khaldun and the Orientalist Historiography of the Maghrib” (M.A. thesis, McGill U., 1984); Brendan Donegan, “Sharing Songs: Decolonising Ethnography, Disrupting Scientific Orientalism,” 2013.  At oecumene (, accessed 2/20;  Claudia Gyss, “The Roots of Etyptomania and Orientalism: From the Renaissance to the Nineteenth Century.”  In French Orientalism: Culture, Politics, and the Imagined Other (Cambridge Scholars, 2010); Sandra G. Harding, Is Science Multicultural?: Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies (Indiana U., 1998); Muzaffar Iqbal, “The Qur’ān and Its Disbelievers.”  Islam & Science 7 (2009); Faima Isralfilova, "Rusya’da Kur’an Çalışmaları," 2013.  At DSpace@Erzincan (, accessed 2/20; Jonas Kauffeldt, “Danes, Orientalism and the Modern Middle East: Perspectives from the Nordic Periphery” (Ph.D. diss., Florida State U., 2006); Sadia Khan, “Orientalism,” n.d.  At docplayer (, accessed 2/20; Patrick Laude, “The Orient Without Orientalism” In WEI International Academic Proceedings ("WEI International Academic Conference Proceedings," 2014); Gavin Murray-Miller, “Bonapartism in Algeria: Empire and Sovereignty Before the Third Republic.” French History 32 (2018); Geoffrey Nash, “New Orientalisms for Old: Articulations of the East in Raymond Schwab, Edward Said, and Two Nineteenth-century French Orientalists.”  In Orientalism Revisited: Art, Land and Voyage (Routledge, 2012); Joan-Pau Rubiés, “From Antiquarianism to Philosophical History:
India, China, and the World History of Religion in European Thought (l600-1770).” At (, accessed 2/20; Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Hashem Saleh, “Orientalism and the Historicization of the Islamic Heritage – 1,” n.d. At (, accessed 2/20; Denis Vidal, “Max Müller and the Theosophists: or the Other Half of Victorian Orientalism.”  In Orientalism and Anthropology; from Max Muller to Louis Dumont (Institut Français de Pondichéry, 1997); Karyn Zieve, “Painting Between the Lines: Eugene Delacroix, Orientalism, and Other Histories” (Ph.D. diss., New York U., 2009).

Scottish Orientalism

Scholars most frequently use this term to refer to the philosophical-historical views of a group of late 18th century and earlier 19th century Scottish Orientalists, which had its origins in the Scottish Enlightenment. Nearly all of these Orientalists served in various capacities in India or were otherwise closely related to colonial India and were influenced by and many of them studied under either Dugald Stewart (1753-1828) or John Millar (1735-1801). Quite a few of them were clergy and their thinking was influential among Scottish missionaries in India and elsewhere. The historian, William Robertson (1721-1793), was a notable exponent of Scottish Orientalism. That Orientalism initially emphasized the importance of research, especially historical research as well as philology. Most of these Orientalists believed that societies progress through four stages of development from primitive to civilized. While Western Europe marked the highest stage of development, they generally believed that India, especially ancient India, had achieved a high level civilization in many ways the equal of Europe. They, as a consequence, often supported colonial policies that encouraged Indians to participate in their own development and relied on indigenous social and political structures to that end. While generally holding to a relatively positive Orientalism, the Scottish Orientalist still treated India—and other Oriental nations—as being made up of essentially exotic peoples, and they tended to see modern-day India as having devolved from its past glories. Most of them believed that they could imagine and reconstruct India’s ancient civilization both from their research in India and their assumed knowledge of the stages of human social development, which they held to be the same for all civilizations. They also tended to take a paternalistic attitude toward India, justifying British imperialism as being necessary to India’s reclaiming its past. Many Scottish colonialists, including missionaries, continued to share these views to the end of the 19th century in India and in other colonial settings. While scholars have directed the bulk of their attention to this 19th century form of Scottish Orientalism, others argue that Scottish attitudes about the Orient more generally differed little if at all from the ideological Orientalism typical of Western Europe and Britain. James Mill (1773-1836), notably, shared much of the Scottish Orientalists' understanding of history but unlike most of them saw India in a more negative, less glorious light. Nor does the earlier 19th century philosophical-historical Orientalism represent the whole of Scottish Orientalism. Edward W. Said (1978), thus cites the 20th century Scottish Orientalist, H. A. R. Gibb (1895-1971), as an example of an Orientalist scholar exhibiting what for Said are egregious Orientalist prejudices. This term is also used, if far less frequently, to describe Scottish literary authors and artists, mostly painters, who take their themes from the Orient—again primarily in the 19th century. Among the painters, David Roberts (1796-1864) was particularly well known.

See also: Academic Orientalism, Aesthetic Orientalism, Enlightenment Orientalism, Humanistic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Philological Orientalism, Philosophical Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Sympathetic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Martin J. Bayly, Taming the Imperial Imagination: Colonial Knowledge, International Relations, and the Anglo-Afghan Encounter, 1808-1878 (Cambridge, 2016); Jeng-Guo Chen, “James Mill’s History of British India in its Intellectual Context” (Ph.D. diss., Edinburgh, 2000); Philip Constable, "Scottish Missionaries, 'Protestant Hinduism' and the Scottish Sense of Empire in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century India." Scottish Historical Review 86 (2007); Theodore Koditschek, Liberalism, Imperialism, and the Historical Imagination: Nineteenth-Century Visions of a Greater Britain (Cambridge, 2011); John M. MacKenzie, “Scottish Orientalists, Administrators, and Missions: A Distinctive Scots Approach to Asia?” In The Scottish Experience in Asia, c.1700 to the Present: Settlers and Sojourners (Palgrave Macmillian, 2017); Angela McCarthy & T. M. Devine, Tea and Empire: James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon (Manchester U., 2017); Jane Rendall, “Scottish Orientalism: From Robertson to James Mill.” Historical Journal 25 (1982); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); James Watt, “Scott, the Scottish Enlightenment, and Romantic Orientalism.”  In Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism (Cambridge, 2004).

Screen Orientalism. See Cinematic Orientalism.

Seaside Orientalism

Although not rare, scholars use this term only to a limited degree; and nearly all of those who use it cite Fred Gray’s, Designing the Seaside (2006), as their primary source. According to Gray, “seaside Orientalism” is a form of architectural Orientalism that originated in England beginning in 1815 when John Nash designed Brighton’s Royal Pavilion for King George IV (then the Prince Regent). In his design, Nash employed supposedly Oriental-like ornamental themes including turban domes, decorative cast iron work, and tall pinnacles to create a sense of splendor, grandeur, and exoticness. By the 1870s, other resorts in Britain and elsewhere began copying the seaside Orientalism of the Royal Pavilion, which included not only pavilions but also bandstands, shelters, gardens, and other structures. Gray notes that where enjoyment of seaside Orientalism was previously limited mostly to the wealthy, after the 1870s it become more widely popular and remained so into the early 20th century. He also observes that while the designers and builders of British seaside Orientalism did not intend to make ideological statements with their Orientalist architecture, in fact, it still symbolized to a degree imperial Britain’s might and global sway. Gray and a very few other scholars also use the term pleasure-pier Orientalism to refer to this exotic seaside entertainment phenomenon.

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Architectural Orientalism, Commercial Orientalism, Demotic Orientalism, Eclectic Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Popular Orientalism, Victorian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Daniel Burdsey, Race, Place and the Seaside: Postcards from the Edge (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); Paul Dobraszczyk, Iron, Ornament and Architecture in Victorian Britain: Myth and Modernity, Excess and Enchantment (Routledge, 2014); Fred Gray, Designing the Seaside (Reaktion Books, 2006).

Secondary Orientalism

Scholars use this term generally in one of two contradictory ways to describe "secondary" forms or orders of Orientalism that are reactions to a "primary" form of ideological Orientalism.  First, this term is most often identified with Bernard Faure (1948- ) and describes a form of Orientalism that imagines the (Oriental) Other secondarily in generally positive terms where Western Orientalists primarily treat "Orientals" as inferior and backward among many other negative categories. This first usage is often found in the discourses of Asian scholars who invert the values and attitudes of Western Orientalism. In this usage, this term is synonymous with inverse Orientalism and reverse Orientalism.  Second, this term is infrequently used to describe the adaptation of ideological Orientalism to the strategic ideological needs of a particular nation or culture considered "Oriental" by others. Thus Russia, for example, historically used its own forms of Orientalism to imagine its ethnic minorities as backward and inferior at the same time that Western European Orientalist discourses portrayed Russia itself as backward and inferior. This form of secondary Orientalism is more commonly called double Orientalism, and some other scholars use the term nesting (nested) Orientalism to describe the same phenomenon.

See also: Double Orientalism, Inverse Orientalism, Nesting Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Primary Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Second-degree Orientalism, Second Order Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Tertiary Orientalism, Zen Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: : Syed F. Alatas, “Alternative Discourses in Southeast Asia.” Sari 19 (2001); Eric Bain-Selbo,“Double Exposure.” Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory 6 (2005); Bernard Faure, "The Buddhist Icon and the Modern Gaze." Critical Inquiry 24 (1998); Bernard Faure, Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition (Princeton, 1993); Bernard Faure, Double Exposure: Cutting Across Buddhist and Western Discourses (Stanford, 2004); Madina Tlostaova, “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).

Second-degree Orientalism

Scholars use this term only infrequently and in one of at least four different ways.  First, Bernard Faure (1948- ) has used it to describe situations in which “Orientals” overtly reject Orientalist prejudices, which prejudices still exercise a covert influence on them. In this sense, second-degree Orientalism is a form of hidden Orientalism similar to banal Orientalism. This is the most common usage of this term.  Second, Otavio Velho (2009) uses this term to describe the situation in which Portuguese Orientalizers were themselves seen as “Oriental” Others by other European nations. In this usage, second-degree Orientalism is similar to secondary Orientalism (second usage).  Third, Terrol R. Williams (2007) uses this term to describe situations in which non-Asians are treated as Orientals. Fourth, Pedro S. Pereira (2013)uses this term in situations where Orientalist discourses are mimicked as a form of parody.  [7/16]

See also: Banal Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Secondary Orientalism, Second Order Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Avram Alpert, “Buddhism and the Postmodern Novel: Severo Sarduy’s Cobra.” Twentieth-Century Literature 62 (2016); Pedro S. Pereira, “’An East, east of the East’
Eça de Queirós’ A Relíquia, Álvaro de Campos’ ‘Opiary’ and the Postimperial Scope of Portuguese Literary Orientalism,” 2013. At APSA (, accessed 7/16; Otavio Velho, “The Pictographics of Tristesse”: An Anthropology of Nation-building in the Tropics and its Aftermath,” 2009. At Anthropology-Bangladesh (, accessed 7/16. Terrol R. Williams, “Taking Mormons Seriously: Ethics of Representing Latter-Day Saints in American Fiction” (M.A. thesis, Brigham Young, 2007).

Second-hand (Second Hand) Orientalism

An early use of this term is found in the 1875 Encyclopedia Britannica article, “American Literature,” written by John Nichol, who described 19th century American Transcendentalism as, among other things, “raking among the tangled roots and dead leaves of a second-hand Orientalism.” It is not frequently used by scholars today. When they do use it, they usually use it in one of two ways.  First and somewhat in the tradition of the Britannica article, a few scholars use this term to describe what amounts to a form of hidden Orientalism by which somewhat innocuous Orientalist influences seep into the ways in which Western Orientalists imagine and construct “the Orient.” Moisés Park (2010), thus, sees a second-hand Orientalism being expressed in Chilean martial arts films. A few other scholars have used the most common meaning of the term indirect Orientalism in the same way.  Second and more often, some scholars use this term to describe what is more commonly called second order Orientalism, which is a form of self-Orientalism. In this usage, “Orientals” embrace and employ as their own Western Orientalist images and constructions of themselves.  [6/17]

See also: Hidden Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Indirect Orientalism, Second Order Orientalism, Self Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Angie Jo, “Second-Hand Culture: Orientalist Architecture in Ottoman Istanbul,” 2013. At (, accessed 6/17; Paul Kurtz, The Making of Theatre History (Prentice-Hall, 1988); [John Nichol], “American Literature.” In The Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th ed., vol. 1 (Adam & Charles Black, 1875); Moisés Park, “South Reads Western and Eastern East: Second-hand Orientalism in Kiltro, A Chilean Marial Arts Film.”  In One World Periphery Reads the Other: Knowing the “Oriental” in the Americas and the Iberian Peninsula (Cambridge Scholars, 2010).

Second Order (Second-order) Orientalism

Scholars using this term frequently attribute it to Edward W. Said (1978), although he does not use the term as such. Said, however, does describe ways in which Arabs have accepted Orientalist thinking and attitudes about themselves, which he terms as a “second-order analyses by Arabs” of myths about themselves (p. 322). Other scholars thus use this term to describe the ways in which the attitudes, values, and ways of thinking of colonial Orientalism, mediated by colonial institutions, deeply influenced peoples living under Western colonialism so that they came to think of themselves as having an unchanging essence defined vis-à-vis the West itself. Second order Orientalism is thus a form of covert Orientalism and self-Orientalism. Some scholars also note that nationalist movements in colonies such as India were among those most likely to accept Orientalist thinking, which they reshaped to their own purposes. On occasion, scholars use this term in reference to nations that were never formally colonized, such as Japan, but still have been influenced by Western Orientalist attitudes about them.

See also: Colonial Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Secondary Orientalism, Second-degree Orientalism, Second-hand Orientalism, Self-Orientalism. 

Sources & Examples: Vinay Lal, “The Politics and Consequences of Eurocentrism in University Disciplines.” In European Higher Education at the Crossroads: Between the Bologna Process and National Reforms, Part 1 (Springer, 2012); Sunaina Maira, “Indo-Chic: Late Capitalist Orientalism and Imperial Culture.”  In Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America (Duke, 2007); Moisés Park, “The Latin Dragon: The Remasculinization of the ‘Oriental’ Male in Marko Zaror’s Films.” In Transnational Orientalisms
in Contemporary Spanish and Latin American Cinema (Cambridge Scholars, 2016); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Secular Orientalism

Scholars most often use this term to describe the form of European Orientalism that began to emerge in the later 18th century, which is more frequently known as classical Orientalism or modern Orientalism. This notion is particularly useful in charting the transition from the preceding era of religious Orientalism to that of classical Orientalism, and scholars particularly use it in the context of Edward W. Said’s (1978) argument that modern secular Orientalism “retained, as an undislodged current in its discourse, a reconstructed religious impulse, a naturalized supernaturalism.” (Orientalism, 121). Like its predecessor, secular Orientalism imagines “Orientals” to have a shared essential identity that is usually seen to be inferior to the West. Secular Orientalism, however, replaced the Medieval distinction between Christian Europe and heathen Asia with a sharply drawn racial and cultural distinction between West and East, and where religious Orientalism concerned itself with the conversion of the heathens secular Orientalism was linked to the European colonial domination and exploitation of a supposedly backward, immoral, effeminate, and violent Orient. One of the key developments in the transition from religious to secular Orientalisms was the gradual decline of the domination by Protestant clergymen of Orientalism as an academic field and the emergence of a supposedly non-religious scientific Orientalism, which Said critiques as actually creating a false, monolithic, and fanciful representation of Asian realities.  Although not rare, scholars use this term to only a limited extent and frequently cite Said when they use it.  [revised 11/21]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Biblical Orientalism, Binary Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, European Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Medieval Orientalism, Modern Orientalism, Religious Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Urs App, “William Jones’s Ancient Theology” Sino-Platonic Papers 191 (July 2009); Maha Baddar, “From Athens (via Alexandria) to Baghdad: Hybridity as Epistemology in the Work of al-Kindi, al-Farabi, and in the Rhetorical Legacy of the Medieval Arabic Translation Movement.” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Arizona, 2010); Nile Green, Terrains of Exchange (Oxford, 2015); Antonio R. Gualtieri, “Hermeneutics of the Old and New Orientalism.” In The Contemporary Study of the Arab World (U. of Alberta, 1991); Wang Hui, Translating Chinese Classics in a Colonial Context (Peter Lang, 2008); Elizabeth E. Johnston, “Semitic Philology and the Wissenschaft des Judentums. Revisiting Leopold Zunz’s Etwas über die rabbinische Litteratur (1818)” Philological Encounters (2017); Abbas Mirhakor & Hossein Askari, Political Economy of Islam (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); Mohammad H. Mohsen, The British Press Construction of Iran (1979-1989)” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Leicester, 1991); Aamir R. Mufti, Enlightenment in the Colony (Princeton, 2007); Leila A. Ouji, “Aspects of Orientalism in Dante” (Ph.D. diss., U. of Toronto, 2015); Pascale Rabault-Feurerhahn, Archives of Origins (Harrassowtiz Verlag, 2014).

Self-imposed Orientalism. See Self-Orientalism.


Scholars usually use this term to describe situations in which Asians self-identity themselves as "Oriental". They, that is, imagine and construct for themselves an essential, unchanging, and stereotypical identity. Asians have employed self-Orientalism to market products globally by playing to Orientalist images and themes; or, again, they sell themselves as having a "traditional" culture in order to develop local and national tourism. Self-orientalism is often termed auto-Orientalism and occasionally called re-Orientalism or ReOrientalism. James G. Carrier has labeled it as ethno-Orientalism, and David Neil Geraghty terms it divergent Orientalism. The most extreme form of self-Orientalism is self-imposed Orientalism, which takes place when the targets of negative Orientalist prejudices affirm those prejudices as being accurate descriptions of their (inferior) nation and/or culture. Self-Orientalism is closely related to the generally positive meaning of reverse Orientalism, but scholars often use "self-Orientalism" in a more negative and ambivalent sense by which “Orientals” embrace the prejudices directed against their nation or culture as being to some degree deserved and true. In this sense, self-Orientalism is sometimes termed complicit Orientalism. The distinction between reverse Orientalism and self-Orientalism is, however, a fine one, and it is often difficult to see much difference between them.

See also: Affirmative Orientalism, Asian Orientalism, Brown Orientalism, Cooperative Orientalism, Creeping Orientalism, Euro-Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, External Orientalism, Franchised Orientalism, Global Orientalism, Good & Bad Orientalism(s), Hidden Orientalism, Indigenous Orientalism, Implicit Orientalism, Internalized Orientalism, Legal Orientalism, Musical Orientalism, Mythic Orientalism, Neoliberal Orientalism, Neo-Orientalism, Nesting Orientalism, Native Orientalism (Contemporary Usage), Oriental Orientalism, Orientalism in Reverse, Orientalist Buddhism, Orientalist Exotica, Orientalist Exoticism, Orientalist Tourism, Paradoxical Orientalism, Poetic Orientalism, Postcolonial Orientalism, Psychological Orientalism, Oriental's Orientalism, Ottoman Orientalism, Reflexive Orientalism, Relational Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Second-hand Orientalism, Second Order Orientalism, Systemic Orientalism, Transorientalism, Turkish Orientalism, Western Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: James G. Carrier, "Occidentalism: the World Turned Upside Down." American Ethnologist 19 (1992); David N. Geraghty, “Old Stories, New Authors: Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism and India” (Ph.D. diss., Monash, 2014); Sean Golden, "Orientalisms in East Asia: A Theoretical Model." Inter Asia Papers 12 (2009); Mirt Komel, “Orientalism in Assassin’s Creed: Self-Orientalizing the Assassins from Forerunners to Modern Terrorism into Occidentalized Heroes.” Teorija in Praksa 51 (2014); Lisa Lau, “Re-Orientalism: The Perpetration and Development of Orientalism by Orientals.” Modern Asian Studies 43 (2009); Laura U. Marks, “What Is That and between Arab Women and Video? The Case of Beirut.” Camera Obscura 18 (2003); William Mazzarella, Shoveling Smoke: Advertising and Globalization in Contemporary India (Duke, 2003); Grace Yan & Carla A. Santos, “’China, Forever’: Tourism Discourse and Self-Orientalism.” Annals of Tourism Research 30 (2009); Mayfair M. Yang, “Postcoloniality and Religiosity in Modern China: The Disenchantments of Sovereignty.” Theory, Culture & Society 28 (2011).

Self-reflexive Orientalism. See Reflexive Orientalism.

Semitic Orientalism

Scholars used this term in the 19th century and well into the 20th century to refer to that branch of Orientalism (i.e. the scholarly study of Asia) that studied “Semitic” languages, cultures, religions, and races. Modern-day scholars continue to use this term, also known as Islamic Orientalism and classical Orientalism, usually to describe that field of study. While it was and is generally recognized that “Semitic” means both Arabs and Jews, some scholars use this term specifically to refer to one or the other. It was this branch of Orientalism that Edward W. Said analyzed in his book, Orientalism (1978), making it the model for his description of Saidian Orientalism and, thus, the starting point for the wider-ranging modern-day study of ideological Orientalisms in all their many and various forms.

See also: Academic Orientalism, Anti-Islamic Orientalism, Anti-Semitic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Islamic OrientalismJewish Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Modern Usage: David G. Brigham, “The Discursive Construction of Muslim Identity as an Enemy ‘Other’ in America” (M.A. thesis, Colorado, 2013); Amy Feinstein, “Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, and Albert Barnes: Looking Like a Jew in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.” Shofar 25 (2007); Gil Z. Hochberg, “’ Remembering Semitism’ or ‘On the Prospect of Re-Membering the Semites.’” ReOrient 1 (2016); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Bryan Turner, “Edward W. Said: Overcoming Orientalism.” Theory, Culture & Society 21 (2004).  Traditional Usage: Edward Montet, “The Study of Semitic Orientalism During the War (1914-1915) and French Islam.” Asiatic Review NS 8 (1916).

Sentimental Orientalism

Scholars use this term normally to describe condescending discourses that imagine and construct an (Oriental) Other affectionately, defining the Other as being essentially inferior, usually attractive, and at times as needing care. Scholars sometimes link sentimental Orientalism to romantic Orientalism or homoerotic Orientalism; and Cold War Orientalism may be considered a related, parallel form of sentimental Orientalist discourse.

See also: Cold War Orientalism, Homoerotic Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Joseph S. Alter, Knowing Dil Das: Stories of a Himalayan Hunter (U. of Pennsylvania, 2000); Robert R. Ellis, “A Passage to the Self: Homoerotic Orientalism and Hispanic Life-Writing.” Revista Candadiense de Estudios Hispánicos 30 (2005); Danielle Glassmeyer, “’A Beautiful Idea’: The King and I and the Maternal Promise of Sentimental Orientalism.” Journal of American Culture 35 (2012); Danielle Glassmeyer, “Tom Dooley and the Cold War American Revision of ‘Indochina’.” In Sinographies: Writing China (U. of Minnesota, 20080; Claudia Liebelt, “On Sentimental Orientalists, Christian Zionist, and Working Class Cosmpolitans: Filipina Domestic Workers’ Journeys to Israel and Beyond.” Critical Asian Studies 40 (2008); Eric Zakim, To Build and Be Built: Landscape, Literature, and the Construction of Zionist Identity (U. of Pennsylvania, 2006).

Sexist Orientalism

Scholars use this term generally to describe the ways in which “Oriental” women, primarily Middle Eastern women, are constructed as being essentially exotic, mysterious, and sensual—often accompanied by images that recall the harem and the veil as symbols of their sensuality. Scholars use it most often with reference to the arts, especially the performance arts including ballet, dancing, and films; and this usage in the context of the arts distinguishes it from the otherwise very similar term, sexual Orientalism. Frequently, scholars will pair this term with the term racist as “racist/sexist Orientalism”; and at other times they refer to “sexist/orientalist” characteristics, suggesting that sexism and Orientalism are members of the same “family” of stereotypical prejudices.  [5/17]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Blatant Orientalism, Consumer Orientalism, Feminist Orientalism, Gendered Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Neoliberal Orientalism, Orientalist Imagination, Sexual Orientalism, Vulgar Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Casey O’Donnell, “A Case for Indian Insourcing: Open Source Interest in IT Job Expansion.” First Monday 9 (2004); Joseph Shahadi, “Traps of the Visible.”  Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 23 (2008); Karen E. H. Skinazi, “’As to her race, its secret is loudly revealed’: Winnifred Eaton’s Revision of North American Identity.” MELUS 32 (2007); Thomas Solomon, “The Oriental Body on the European Stage: Producing Turkish Cultural Identity on the Margins of Europe.” In Empire of Song: Europe and Nation in the Eurovision Song Contest (Scarecrow, 2013).

Sexual Orientalism

Scholars use this term generally to describe the use of sexuality and eroticism as media for expressing Orientalist prejudices. For sexual Orientalists, the Other is usually Asian women who are represented as “typical” examples of Oriental societies and cultures. The harem is a favorite metaphor of sexual Orientalism. It speaks to the assumed mysterious, exotic, male-dominated, enslaved, hierarchical essence of the East. This is in contrast to the West, which is taken to be modern, sexually liberated, and democratic. At times, scholars of sexual Orientalism focus on sexual relations directly, such as relationships between Asian women and Caucasian men. More generally, however, they focus on the assumed superiority of the West to the Orient, as seen in matters of gender, sex, and the erotic. Generally, scholars do not use this term to include homosexuality and homoeroticism; some use the term erotic Orientalism as a synonym for sexual Orientalism, and this term is similar in usage to sexist Orientalism.

See also: Caribbean Orientalism, Comic Orientalism, Conventional Orientalism, Cooperative Orientalism, Egyptian Orientalism, Egyptomania, Ethnographic Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, Fashion Orientalism, Feminist Orientalism; Homoerotic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Medieval Orientalism, Military Orientalism, Musical Orientalism, Neo-Orientalism, Neo-Victorian Orientalism, Orientalist Exotica, Orientalist Exoticism, Orientalist Fantasy, Orientalist Gaze, Pictorial Orientalism, Political Orientalism, Practical Orientalism (Post-Said), Psychological Orientalism, Sexist Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism, Transorientalism, Visual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: James Farrer, "Good Stories: Chinese Women's International Love Stories as Cosmopolitan Sexual Politics." Sexualities 16 (2013); Paul Mepschen, et al., "Sexual Politics, Orientalism and Multicultural Citizenship in the Netherlands." Sociology 44 (2010); Grace Rexroth, “’Pirates on the Sea of Literature”: Uncovering the Erotic Imagination of the American Female Guardian Society” (M.A. thesis, Colorado, 2014); 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).

Sham Orientalism. See False Orientalism.

Silver Screen Orientalism. See Cinematic Orientalism.

Simian Orientalism

Donna Haraway coined this term, and it has been used relatively frequently by other scholars, especially in citing her work. Borrowing from Edward W. Said, she argues that Western primatologists imagine and construct apes and monkeys to be primitive species that are radically unlike humanity, are trapped in the natural world, and exist without culture, which is a distinguishing mark of humanity. They are, that is, the mirror image, polar opposite of the white, patriarchal, and empowered West from which most primatologists come. At the same time, however, apes and monkeys are also looked upon as revealing human origins, which makes them useful to humanity and invites exploitation of them. Science, particularly primatology, participates in that exploitation by exerting power over other primates. Other scholars have also observed that Western societies frequently compare despised racial and ethnic minorities to apes and monkeys, thus imagining them as being equivalent to the lowest and worst in human beings. It has been noted that Tom Palmore’s 1976 painting, Reclining Nude, depicts the complex interplay between the human Orientalist “gaze” directed at other primates and the reality of their return gaze, which is very different from what humans imagine it to be.

See also: Academic Orientalism, Animal Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Orientalist Gaze, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism, Tropicality.

Sources & Examples: Thyrza N. Goodeve, How Like a Leaf: An Interview with Donna Haraway (Routledge, 1999); Donna Haraway, Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science (Routledge, 1989); Baukje Prins, “The Ethics of Hybrid Subjects: Feminist Constructivism According to Donna Haraway.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 20 (1995); Sara Salih, “Filling Up the Space Between Mankind and Ape: Racism, Speciesism, and the Androphilic Ape.” Ariel 38 (2007); Joseph Schneider, Donna Haraway: Live Theory (Continuum, 2005); Sherryl Vint, Animal Alterity: Science Fiction and the Question of the Animal (Liverpool U., 2010).

Simulated Orientalism. See False Orientalism.

Sinological Orientalism


Sinology was traditionally a scholarly discipline devoted to the study of China and, as such, a branch of Orientalism, the study of the East. Scholars note, however, that it was a somewhat peripheral and idiosyncratic branch especially in comparison to Indology; and there has been a debate among scholars whether Edward W. Said’s arguments in his book, Orientalism (1978), are even relevant to China and its study. Some scholars, particularly Norman J. Girardot (2001), have noted that 19th century and earlier 20th century Sinological Orientalism was based on certain universalizing traditions, including Protestant missionary thinking, which emphasized the essential sameness of the Chinese and Europeans—unlike traditional Orientalism and ideological Orientalism (that is Saidian Orientalism) which are premised on essential dissimilarities. Similar to those Orientalisms, however, China was still seen as being backward and heathen, just not irredeemably so.  Scholars, particularly Daniel Vukovich (2012), argue that after the rise of Communism in 1949, Sinological orientalism retained this emphasis on essential sameness by imagining and constructing a China that is on the same path of modernization and economic development as the West, but lagging behind in attaining liberal Western values and goals, such as individual freedom. Scholars argue that these Orientalist prejudices are widely shared in China today, making Sinological Orientalism a form of self-Orientalism [5/17]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Chinese Orientalism, Economic Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Indological Orientalism, Internalized Orientalism, Missionary Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Traditional Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Pablo A. Blitsen, “Sinology: Chinese Intellectual History and Transcultural Studies” Transcultural Studies 2 (2016); Li Chen, Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics (Columbia, 2016); Norman J. Girardot, “The Victorian Text of Chinese Religion: With Special Reference to the Protestant Paradigm of James Legge's Religions of China.” Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 12 (2001); Daniel Leese, “Sympathetic Representations - German Sinologists and the Question of ‘Orientalism’ at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.” Berliner China-Hefte 26 (2004); Derick Varn, “The New Orientalism: An Interview with Dan Vukovich, Part II,” 2013. At The North Star (, accessed 5/17; Daniel F. Vukovich, China and Orientalism: Western Knowledge Production and the P. R. C. (Routledge, 2012).

Sino-Orientalism. See Chinese Orientalism.

Social Orientalism

Scholars normally use this term, broadly, to describe aspects of ideological Orientalism expressed socially, often in distinction to other elements of human life. Edward W. Said, thus, distinguishes between political, economic, and social Orientalisms.  More precisely, scholars use this term to describe the belief that East Asian, specifically Japanese, societies have distinct, essential social and cultural qualities that make them unique among industrialized societies, which has led some East Asian scholars and others to argue that this uniqueness makes their societies superior to the West. These beliefs thus may function in given cases as both internal Orientalisms and reverse Orientalisms.

See also: Cultural Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Welfare Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Christopher Isherwood, “Beyond Boundaries: Centre/Perisphery Discourse in Oe Kenzaburo’s Dojidai Gemu & Witi Ihimaer’s The Matriarch.” New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 5 (2003); Brian Moeran, Folk Art Potters of Japan: Beyond an Anthropology of Aesthetics (Routledge, 1997); Elisabeth Oxfeldt, Nordic Orientalism: Paris and the Cosmopolitan Imagination 1800-1900 (Museum Tusculanum, 2005); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Hatla Thelle, Better to Rely on Ourselves: Changing Social Rights in Urban China Since 1979 (NIAS, 2004); Yulian Wong, Contemporary Directions in Asian American Dance (U. of Wisconsin, 2016).

Socialist Orientalism

Scholars use this term generally to refer to ideological Orientalist discourses, institutions, and practices originating in the Soviet Union and its satellite nations, such as Poland and East Germany. They note that socialist Orientalisms were influenced by earlier Orientalist prejudices in those nations before they became communist. At the same time, however, they were similar to Marxist Orientalism in that they sought to critique and counter ideological Orientalism. Scholars sometimes use the term red Orientalism to refer to socialist Orientalism.

See also: Counter-Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Leftist Orientalism, Materialist Orientalism, Marxist Orientalism, Orientology, Red Orientalism, Russian Orientalism, Soviet Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Alfrid K. Bustanov, Soviet Orientalism and the Creation of Central Asian Nations (Routledge, 2015); Young-sun Hong, Cold War Germany, the Third World, and the Global Humanitarian Regime (Cambridge, 2015); Michael Kemper, “Propaganda for the East, Scholarship for the West: Soviet Strategies at the 1960 International Congress of Orientalists in Moscow.” In Reassessing Orientalism: Interlocking Orientologies during the Cold War (Routledge, 2015); Michael Kemper, "Red Orientalism: Mikhail Pavlovich and Marxist Oriental Studies In Early Soviet Russia." Die Welt des Islams 50 (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 (Berghan Books, 2008); Agneiszka Sadecka, “A Socialist Orientalism? Polish Travel Writing on India in the 1960s.” In Postcolonial Europe? Essays on Post-Communist Literatures and Cultures (Brill Rodopi, 2015).

Sociological Orientalism

Scholars use this term and the term Orientalist sociology to describe the relationship between the academic field of sociology and the notion of Orientalism.  They have especially emphasized the work of Max Weber (1864-1902).  Beginning with Edward W. Said (1978)—who does not use this term as such—various scholars have argued that Weber was, in effect, an Orientalist.  He used dualistic notions of an essential East and an essential West to compare the two and saw fundamental cultural and religious differences between them.  Some scholars, however, disagree especially with the idea that he posited an essential difference between the two.  There has been less attention given to sociology post-Weber, and what work has been done has fixed largely on the era of European colonialism in which sociology was used as tool to generate data for the use of colonial governments.  As such colonial-era sociologists imagined and constructed “Orientals” as having essential, unchanging natures and contrasted a stagnant, declining, and despotic East with a dynamic and progressive West.  They, thus, created an ideologically skewed body of biased “knowledge” that ignored Asian local knowledge and understandings.  The use of “Sociological Orientalism” is not rare but not all that frequently used either, while “Orientalist sociology” appears much less often.  [revised 2/20]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Colonial Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Orientalist Epistemology, Orientalist Science, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism, Weberian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sociological Orientalism: Andreas E. Buss, The Economic Ethics
of World Religions and their Laws: An Introduction to Max Weber‘s Comparative Sociology (Nomos, 2015); Engin F. Isin, “Historical Sociology of the City.”  In Handbook of Historical Sociology (SAGE, 2003); Riina Isotalo, “Edward Westermarck and Hilma Granqvist in the Feld of Orientalist Discourse in Finland,” 1995.  At Centre for Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, University of Bergen (, accessed 2/20; Mohammad R. Nafissi, “Reframing Orientalism: Weber and Islam.” Economy and Society, 27 (1998); Amani Rahman, “Middle Class and Sufism: The
Case Study of the Sammaniyya Order Branch of Shaikh Al Bur’ai” (Ph.D. diss, U. of Khartoum, 2008); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Armando Salvatore, “New Media and Collective Action in the Middle East Can Sociological Research Help Avoiding Orientalist Traps?” Sociologica 3 (2011).  Orientalist Sociology: Philippa Levine, "Orientalist Sociology and the Creation of Colonial Sexualities." Feminist Review 65  (2000); Bryan S. Turner, “Orientalism, Islam and Capitalism.” Social Compass, 25 (1978); Frederic Vlopi, Political Islam Observed (Hurst, 2010).

Soft Orientalism

Scholars use this term to describe ideological Orientalisms that ostensibly reject, at least in part, notions of “hard Orientalism,” which imagine an essential, timeless, and absolutely alien Orient that is inferior to the West.   Beginning in the late 18th century, there have been numerous advocates and movements of soft Orientalism, which hold the East in esteem especially for its supposed spirituality and philosophical wisdom.  Although Edward W. Said (1978) does not use this term as such, he does introduce the twin notions of “hard school” and “soft school” Orientalisms and argues that while soft school Orientalists reject the negative stereotypes of the hard school they still imagine the East as having an essential, static nature that is best defined by Western knowledge of it.  Mustapha Kamal Pasha (2005, 2012) was one of the first, if not the first, to use this term, and he also emphasizes the ideological similarities between hard and soft Orientalisms. Ivan Kalmar (2012) sees soft Orientalism in a more positive light.  He acknowledges that soft Orientalists share many of the stereotypes of hard Orientalism, but he insists that they also see the positive value of the East and have at times demonstrated a more self-critical attitude toward it, which has even contributed to Asian “discourses of liberation.”  Kalmar identifies soft Orientalism with early modern Orientalism and especially with Romantic Orientalism, and he argues that soft Orientalism has largely disappeared today.  When using this term, scholars frequently cite either Pasha or Kalmar, and there seems to be no clear consensus on the relationship of soft to hard Orientalism or the degree of actual separation between the two.  “Soft Orientalism” has received less attention than it perhaps deserves; and it should be noted, finally, that at least one 19th century source (Barranger, 1867) used this term to denote a pliant acceptance of the charms of the East.  [revised 12/20]

See also: Byronic Orientalism, Early Modern Orientalism, Hard Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Liberal Orientalism, Philo-Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Sympathetic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: V. C. Barringer, “Twelve Months in Spain.” The Land We Love: A Monthly Magazine 3 (August 1867); Nicolas Gobes and Sean Blumthal, “The Lens of the Other: Soft Orientalism in Sana’a,” 2015.  At Through an Arabic Lens (, accessed 12/20; Elaaf R. Hadi, “The Impact of US Neo-Orientalism
On the
Future of Nation-State in Iraq in the Light of IS Crisis” (Ph.D. diss., LUISS U. of Rome, 2016); Robert Irwin, “Early Orientalism: Imagined Islam and the Notion of Sublime Power, by Ivan Kalmar.” English Historical Review, 128 (December. 2013); Ivan Kalmar, Early Orientalism: Imagined Islam and the Notion of Sublime Power (Routledge, 2011); Mustapha Kamal Pasha, “Global Leadership and the Islamic World: Crisis, Contention, and Challenge.” In Global Crises and the Crisis of Global Leadership (Cambridge U., 2012); Mustapha Kamal Pasha, “Islam, ‘Soft’ Orientalism and Hegemony: A Gramscian Rereading.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 8 (2005); Charles D. Sabatos, Frontier Orientalism and the Turkish Image in Central European Literature (Lexington Books, 2020); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Giorgio Shani, “Toward a Post-Western IR: The Umma, Khalsa Panth, and Critical International Relations Theory.” International Studies Review 10 (2008); Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh, “International Relations Theory and the Islamic Worldview.” In Non-Western International Relations Theory:
Perspectives on and beyond Asia (Routledge, 2010).

Soviet Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually in one of two ways.  First, they use it and the term Soviet Orientology to describe the Soviet academic study of Asian nations and peoples both inside and outside of Russia in the era of the Soviet Union (1917-1991). Of these two terms, scholars more frequently use this term, although the term “Soviet Orientology” is also frequently used, sometimes interchangeably. Much of the scholarship on Soviet Orientalism focuses on two eras: the decade-plus immediately after the Russian Revolution and then on the era when Stalin achieved his domination of the Soviet state in the 1930s and afterward (also known as the era of Stalinist Orientalism). And they focus especially on a set of interrelated issues including: (1) the relationship of early Soviet Orientology to its Russian imperial predecessors; (2) the relationship of Soviet academic Orientalism to the state; and (3) the ways in which Soviet academic Orientalism/Orientology may be characterized as “Orientalist” in the sense described by Edward W. Said (Orientalism, 1978) and the ways in which it differed from Saidian Orientalism. Scholars differ, sometimes markedly, in the answers they give to these issues. Most acknowledge, however, that early Soviet Orientalism did differ from that of the Stalinist era to one degree or another, and some scholars argue that the majority of early Soviet Orientalist academics were somewhat less rigid in their Marxism, more open to the findings of Imperial era Orientalism, and took a more neutral, “scientific” view of Asian peoples, especially those living in the Soviet Union. Most scholars agree that under Stalin a rigid Marxist ideology and a clear political agenda dominated the academic study of Asian peoples and nations. The state co-opted Soviet Orientalism for its own purpose, which was to integrate the Soviet Union's supposedly backward Asian peoples into the state. Modern-day scholars also take differing views on how “Orientalist” Soviet Orientalism was. Soviet Orientologists themselves were often aware of Western European Orientalism’s links to colonialism and imperialism and considered European academic Orientalism to be more ideological than scientific. They believed that the Soviet Union’s location “between” West and East, the presence of Asian peoples within it, and a Marxist commitment to a more objective and scientific approach meant that Soviet Orientalism was superior to Western Orientalism. Modern-day scholars note, however, that Soviet Orientalists generally imagined and constructed Asian peoples to be backward and trapped in feudal social and economic structures from which they needed to be freed. Especially in the Stalinist era, Soviet Orientalism was used as one tool to achieve that end and to integrate Soviet Asians into the nation so that, in effect, it embodied colonialist and imperialist agendas. Some scholars argue that early Soviet Orientology was not Orientalist in the Saidian sense but Stalinist era Orientalism was. Post-Stalinist Orientologists in general continued to be highly ideological, closely tied to state interests, and also to labor largely in isolation from developments in international Asian studies. And they remained convinced of the superiority of Soviet Orientalism as less biased and more realistic. Some modern-day scholars contend that the Soviet approach to Asian studies had an influence on Said through the agency of the Egyptian-French scholar Anouar Abdel-Malek (1924-2012). One further characteristic of Soviet Orientology was the fact that ethnic Central Asian scholars played an important role in its development. A very few scholars use the rarely used term Bolshevik Orientalism in passing to describe Soviet Orientalism, usually referring specifically to the immediate post-Revolutionary era.  Second, scholars also use this term to describe the ways in which Soviet era art imagined and constructed Asian peoples, again both within and outside of the Soviet Union. In general, Soviet art produced visual images—such as paintings, posters, and films—not so much for pleasure or entertainment but for practical social ends (propaganda ends) aimed at communicating the values of Marxism and Soviet unity to Asian peoples themselves to the end that they would accept the goal of raising them out of their backward state and become integrated into the Soviet Union. Scholars describe much of this art as being “Socialist realist art.”  [11/18]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Aesthetic Orientalism, Bourgeois Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Marxist Orientalism, Orientology, Red Orientalism, Russian Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Soviet Orientalism: Aliya Abykayeva-Tiesenhausen, Central Asia in Art: From Soviet Orientalism to the New Republics (Tauris. 2016); Matthias Battis, "Soviet Orientalism and Nationalism in Central Asia: Aleksandr Semenov's Vision of Tajik National Identity." Iranian Studies 48 (2015); C. Brandist, “Marxism, Early Soviet Oriental Studies and the Problem of ‘Power/Knowledge’,” 2017. At White Rose Research Online (, accessed 11/18; Craig Brandist, “Varieties of Ideology Critique
in Early Soviet Literary and Oriental Scholarship.” Przegląd Filozoficzno-Literacki  47 (2017); Alfrid K. Bustanov, Soviet Orientalism and the Creation of Central Asian Nations (Routledge, 2014); Greg Castillo, "Soviet Orientalism: Socialist Realism and Built Tradition." Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review 8 (1997); Stephanie Cronin, “Introduction: Edward Said, Russian Orientalism and Soviet Iranology.” Iran Studies 48 (2015); Michael Kemperer, “Studying Islam in the Soviet Union” (Lecture, Vossiuspers UvA, 2008); Michael G. Smith, “Cinema for the ‘Soviet East’: National Fact and Revolutionary Fiction in Early Azerbaijani Film.” Slavic Review 56 (1997).  Soviet Orientology: Türkkaya Ataöv, "Some Notes On Soviet Orientology." Sisyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Dergisi 27 (1972); Stephanie Cronin, op. cit.  Stalinist Orientalism: David Brandenberger, National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian Identity, 1931-1956 (Harvard, 2002); Matthew J. Payne, “Viktor Turin's Turksib (1929) and Soviet Orientalism.” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 21 (2001).

Spiritual Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually to describe the ways in which ideological Orientalists imagine and treat Asian religious traditions (esp.  Buddhism or Hinduism) as having an essential, permanent, and transcendent nature, which most often is seen as either being superior to Western traditions or, at least, having something essentially “spiritual” to offer the West. Scholars also use this term to describe the ways in which Protestants, especially English-language speaking Protestants, imagine Catholicism as having an essential, usually negative, “Popish” nature.

See also: Dialogic Orientalism, Orientalist Projection, Religious Orientalism, Techno-Orientalism, Therapeutic Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ian Duncan, Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, Dickens (Cambridge, 1992); Jean-Claude Guillebaud, Re-Founding The World: A Western Testament (Algora, 2001); Malcolm Haddon, “Contested Genealogies and Cross-Cultural Dynamics in the Hare Krishna Movement.” In Controversial New Religions (Oxford, 2014); Ama Samy, “Zen and Christians.” The Way 46 (2007); Elana Shapira, Style and Seduction: Jewish Patrons, Architecture, and Design in Fin de Siécle Vienna (Brandeis, 2016).

Split Orientalism

This term originated with Ali Behdad, and he and other scholars use it to describe a dynamic that introduces ambivalence and uncertainty into ideological Orientalist discourses. Certain Orientalists, thus, come to recognize a discrepancy between the Other they imagine and the actual Other, which encourages them to modify their discourses. Even though these modifications may temporarily question Orientalist prejudices, they can also reinforce Orientalist discourses of domination by making them more flexible.

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Soft Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Ali Behdad, Belated Travellers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (Cork U., 1994); Ali Behdad, "Split Orientalism: The Micropolitics of Modern Representations of Europe's Other" (Ph.D. diss., Michigan, 1990); Indra N. Mukhopadhyay, “Imperial Ellipses: France, India, and the Critical Imagination” (Ph.D. diss, U. of California Los Angeles, 2008); Geoffrey Nash, “Introduction.” In Comte de Gobineau and Orientalism: Selected Eastern Writings (Routledge, 2009).

Sporting (Sports) Orientalism

This term is used by a very few scholars both to describe, first, the ways in which Western nations have used international sport, such as the Olympic Games, to imagine, construct, and demonstrate their superiority over Asia and second, the ways in which Asian nations have sought to counteract Western Orientalist prejudices, by employing a reverse Orientalism that seeks to demonstrate their athletic abilities in such venues as the Asian Games and thereby reframe the image of Asian sports. This term may also be employed to describe situations where sporting success is used to frame and project images of national, social, or cultural superiority. [revised 6/17]

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Simon Creak, “Representing True Laos in Post-Colonial Southeast Asia: Regional Dynamics in the Globalization of Sport.” In Sport Across Asia: Politics, Cultures, and Identities (Routledge, 2013); Hong Fan, “Epilogue: Epilogue: Nationalism, Orientalism and Globalization: The Future of the Asian Games.” Sport in Society 8 (2005); Hong Fan, “Prologue: The Origin of the Asian Games: Power Politics.” In Sports, Nationalism and Orientalism: The Asian Games (Routledge, 2007).

Spurious Orientalism. See False Orientalism.

Standard OrientalismSee Conventional Orientalism


Strategic Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually in one of two ways.  First, the majority use it to describe the various ways in which socially marginalized “Oriental” ethnic and racial minorities transform, often by inverting, the majority Western Orientalist prejudices that frame them as being essentially, irredeemably inferior. Their strategy is to use forms of self-Orientalism to reframe Orientalist ideological Orientalisms; and the goal, most often, is political and/or economic gain. Chinese Americans, for example, have transformed San Francisco’s Chinatown into a lucrative tourist attraction by (“strategically”) imagining and constructing it as an exotic Oriental place. Some scholars have observed that this strategic use of Orientalist categories can backfire by actually intensifying rather than mitigating the prejudices the “Oriental” Other experiences. Second, a few scholars use this term to describe ways in which a powerful Orientalist nation or group uses various means (“strategies”) to deal with, limit, and exercise power over an Oriental Other. [revised 5/17]

See also: Economic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Self-Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Wendy Cheng, “Strategic Orientalism: Racial Capitalism and the Problem of ‘Asianness’.” African Identities 11 (2013); Catrin Gersdorf, The Poetics and Politics of the Desert: Landscape and the Construction of America (Rodopi, 2009); Tay Wei Leong, “Saving the Chinese Nation and The World: Religion and Confucian Reformation, 1880s-1937” (M.A. thesis, National U. of Singapore, 2012); Sheshalatha Reddy, “The Cosmopolitan Nationalism of Sarojini Naidu, Nightingale of India.” Victorian Literature and Culture 38 (2010); Frank F. Scherer, "Sanfancón: Orientalism, Confucianism and the Construction of Chineseness in Cuba, 1847–1997" (Paper, York University, 1998); Silke Schmidt, (Re-)Framing the Arab/Muslim: Mediating Orientalism in Contemporary Arab American Life Writing (transcript Verlag, 2014); Ruojie Wang, “Hey, ‘Red China’ is Brand New: A Case Study of China’s Self-depicted National Identity on Its Promotional Video ‘Experience China’.” Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies 2 (2013); Chiou-ling Yeh, Making an American Festival: Chinese New Year in San Francisco’s Chinatown (U. of California, 2008).

Structural Orientalism

Scholars use this term and the terms, Orientalist structure, Orientalist framework, and “the structure of Orientalism,” both to describe the basic arrangements and patterns of organization (i.e. the structure) of the notion of Orientalism itself and to describe the ways in which the notion of Orientalism reflects the structure of Western thinking more generally.  As described by Edward W. Said (2002), Orientalist structures are complex and yet based on a few underlying elements, which can be multiplied and manipulated in many different ways.  These key elements include: (a) representing the Orient as if it has an essential, single, unchanging, and knowable identity; (b) imagining and constructing the Orient as an exotic fantasy world that is best embodied in a large set of cultural and social stereotypes; and (c) seeing Orientalism as being about power, which aims at containing and marginalizing “Orientals” in ways that sexualize the relationship between the supposedly effeminate, submissive East and a virile, dominant West in order to exercise control over the East.  Scholars variously describe Orientalism as being comprised of structures of thinking, of knowledge, of domination, and of a body of theory and practice, all of which are deeply embedded in Western thinking about “the Orient”—so deeply embedded as usually to be all but hidden.  For Said, as well as for the scholars who continue to use these terms, the underlying premise on which Orientalist structures are founded is the dualistic separation between West (“us”) and East (“them”), which fosters a process of treating Asians as Oriental “others”. And while these fundamental structures show considerable consistency globally and historically they can also vary according to their sociocultural and historical settings.  The structures of the nested Orientalisms of the Balkans, for example, differ from those of Scandinavian Orientalisms.  The structures of classical Orientalism differ from the frameworks of post –modern Orientalism.  Structural Orientalisms, in sum, are the fundamental network of ways by which ideological Orientalists gaze on the East, stigmatizing and stereotyping Asians as if they are a single “thing”.  Most scholars who use these terms draw on Said’s Orientalism (1978) either directly or indirectly and, thus, largely treat Orientalism pejoratively as an ideology that imagines Asia and Asians to be essentially inferior.  Also like Said, they often focus on the 19th and earlier 20th century academic field of study traditionally known as “Orientalism,” and the ways in which that field has been used to promote the image of an inferior, backward, a-moral, threatening, and utterly alien Orient.  These terms are all used relatively frequently, and they constitute an important set of synonyms for the notion of Orientalism itself.  [revised 12/20]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Antinomic Orientalism, Binary Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Haunted Orientalism, Hidden Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Institutional Orientalism, Latent Orientalism, Orientalist Common Sense, Orientalist Gaze, Paradoxical Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Unconscious Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Structural Orientalism: Khaled A. Beydoun, "American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear" (U. of California, 2018); Cathlene E. Dollar, “Identity Formation in the Novel: Orientalism, Modernity, and Orhan Pamuk” (M.A. minor diss., U. of Cape Town, 2015); Shannon K. Farley, “Versions of Homer: Translation, Fan Fiction, and Other Transformative Rewriting.”  Transformative Works and Cultures 21 (2016); Arndt Graf, “Electronic Orientalism? The Afterlife of Syed Hussein Alatas’ The Myth of the Lazy Native in Online Databases.” new media & society 12 (2010); Arndt Graf, “Structural Orientalism, Contested Orientalism, Post-Orientalism: A Case Study of Western Framing of ‘Violence in Indonesia’.”  In Orientalism and Conspiracy: Politics and Conspiracy Theory in the Islamic World (I. B. Tauris, 2011); [Kosmogrrrl] “Lord of the Rings and Structural Orientalism,” 2012. At There Is No Alternative (, accessed 12/20; Janan Shouhayib, “Narratives of Biculturalism: Arab-American Identity Negotiation Post-9/11” (B.A. thesis, Connecticut College, 2016); Robert Tesoriero, “Ousting Orientalism,” 2016.  At Painting Bohemia (, accessed 12/20; Taeyun Yu, “Eastern Gunslingers: Andrew Cunanan and Seung-Hui Cho in the Western Media Imaginary.” Plaridel 7 (August 2010).  Orientalist Structure:  Anna Carastathis, “Is Hellenism an Orientalism? Reflections on the Boundaries of 'Europe' in an Age of Austerity.” Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Journal 1 (2014); Trent Cunningham, “Psychedelic Orientalism: Representations of India in the Music of India in the Music of the Beatles” (B.A. thesis, U. of Pittsburgh, 2011);  Cynthia G. Franklin, Academic Lives: Memoir, Cultural Theory, and the University Today (U. of Georgia, 2009); Andreas Glaeser, “Unimaginable Communities:
Mass-Mediated Political Epistemologies of the Foreign in Contemporary Germany” (paper, Workshop on the Cultural Politics of Globalization & Community in East Central Europe, 2005); Lisa Lowe, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Cornell U., 1991); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Meyda Yeğenoğlu, Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism (Cambridge, 1998). Structure of Orientalism: Derek Bryce, “Repackaging Orientalism: Discourses on Egypt and Turkey in British Outbound Tourism.” Tourist Studies 7 (2007); Joanne P. Sharp, “Writing Travel/Travelling Writing: Roland Barthes Detours the Orient.”  Environment & Planning D: Society & Space 20 (2002); Edward W. Said, “In Conversation with Neeldari Bhattacharya, Suvir Kaul, and Ania Loomba.” In Relocating Postcolonialism (Blackwell, 2002); Hande Tekdemir, “Critical Approaches to Edward Said’s Orientalism.” Uludağ University Faculty of Arts and Sciences Journal of Social Sciences 18 (2017).  Orientalist Framework: Robert M. Hayden, “Muslims as ‘Others’ in Serbian and Croatian Politics.” In Neighbors at War (Pennsylvania State U., 2000); Michelle Pauken, “White Power, White Desire:
Racialized Consumption in Nineteenth-Century Spanish Orientalist Painting
.” In Intersections 7 (2009); Ummi N. M. Rosli & Noritah Omar, “References of Sexuality in Relation to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in 17th -19th Century Selected French and English Orientalist Travelogues.” Arab World English Journal 4 (2017); Esra Sandikcioglu, “More Metaphorical Warfare in the Gulf: Orientalist Frames in News Coverage.” In Metaphor and Metonymy at the Cross Roads (Mouton de Gruyer, 2003); Keith Stanski, “‘So These Folks are Aggressive’: An Orientalist Reading of ‘Afghan Warlords’.” Security Dialogue 40 ( 2009); Chenjun Wang, “The Western Gaze in Animation: A Case Study of Kung Fu Panda.” Journal of Content, Community & Communication 6 (2017); Karin Wilkins, “Considering ‘Traditional Society’ in the Middle East: 
Learning Lerner All Over Again.” Journal of Middle East Media 6 (2010); Judy T. Wu, “Hypervisibility and Invisibility: Asian/American women, Radical Orientalism, and the Revisioning of Global Feminism.”  In The Rising Tide of Color (U. of Washington, 2014).  Background: Herbert R. Swanson, “Orientalism as an Ideology: The Utility of Said’s Notion of Ideology for the Study of Orientalism,” 19 June 2020.  At Orientalism Studies (

Subaltern Orientalism

This is a rarely used and relatively recent term, which a few scholars use to describe the ways by which marginal peoples, who themselves have been treated as being inferior Others, imagine and construct their own essentially inferior Others. Examples of subaltern Orientalism include the Hugo Chavez Venezuelan government’s demonization of the United States and the ways in which Portugal’s political system has empowered some regions at the expense of other, more “Oriental”-like and less “developed” regions.  [revised 7/17]

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

Sources & Examples: María C. da Silva, "Southern insights into Orient and Western Orientalisms." Revista de Estudios Internacionales Mediterráneos 21 (2016); Rasha Maqableh, “James Joyce and the Orient” (Ph.D. diss., Leicester, 2013); James Rochlin, “Sub Altern Orientalism and Counter-Hegemonic Struggles: The Construction of Arab, Chinese and Russian Communities in Chavista Venezuela.” Estudios Políticos 45 (2014).

Subconscious Orientalism. See Unconscious Orientalism.


This term is largely used by scholars studying East Asian Orientalisms to describe academic discourses by which the scholars of one East Asian nation, such as Japan, imagine and treat other East Asian peoples and cultures as being inferior to their own nation and culture. These Others may be the people of another East Asian nation or of an internal minority group. The goal of sub-Orientalist academic discourses, institutions, and practices is to compensate for the attention ("gaze") of Western academic Orientalism on one’s own nation and culture by diverting it to an Other that is "really" inferior.

See also: Academic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Oriental Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Fred Y. L. Chiu, “Nationalist Anthropology in Taiwan, 1945-1996: A Reflexive Survey.” In Anthropology and Colonialism in Asia and Oceania (RoutledgeCurzon, 1999); Michael Kim, “Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Transnationalism in Korean History.” Journal of Contemporary Korean Studies 1 (2014); Jie-Hyun Lim, “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, 2008).

Subversive Orientalism

Scholars generally use this term to describe Western, particularly American, literary uses of Orientalist thinking that call into question traditional Western values, attitudes, and conventions. Historically, authors who engaged in subversive Orientalist writing were often influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Romantic impulse for the exotic, spiritual, imaginative, sensuous, and emotional, which was fueled by the introduction of information and insights gained from the study of the Orient. Such authors could affirm both the superiority of the West overseas and the utility of knowledge of the East at home for questioning traditional thinking and conventions. In the latter half of the 20th century, some authors used Asian religious and spiritual values to challenge Western, again especially American, materialistic, utilitarian attitudes and values. In sum, subversive Orientalism is a form of positive Orientalism or affirmative Orientalism used to subvert inherited Western values and mores often including traditional Orientalism itself. This term is also occasionally applied to other artistic fields, such as music and painting.  [11/17]

See also: Affirmative Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Thomas Harmsworth, "Gary Snyder's Green Dharma" (Ph.D. diss., Oxford, 2015); Travis Montgomery, “Turning East: Edgar Allan Poe’s Poems (1831), the Orient, and the Renewal of American Verse,” 2006. At The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore (, accessed 11/17; Jerome Rothenberg, “Jeffrey C. Robinson: 'Poems for the Millennium, Volume Four,' as 'Subversive Orientalism',” 2013.  At Jacket2 (, accessed 11/17; Cynthia Stamy, Marianne Moore and China: Orientalism and a Writing of America (Oxford, 1999); Huei-ju Wang, “Foreclosing Others in Cultural Representation” (Ph.d. diss., Florida, 2006); Timothy Yu, “’The Hand of a Chinese Master’: Jose Garcia Villa and Modernist Orientalism.” MELUS 29 (Spring).

Swedish Orientalism

Relatively little work has been done on Swedish Orientalism; that which has been done falls into two broad categories. First, some Swedish scholars argue that the notion of Saidian Orientalism does not apply to traditional and contemporary Swedish orientalist scholarship because Sweden has not been a colonial power and its Orientalists have not exercised power over the East.  Second, other scholars argue that in the past Swedish Orientalists did frame “Orientals” as having an essential identity inferior to the West; and more recently Swedes have treated Asian immigrants and others in the same way. These scholars believe that Swedes do participate in Western ideological Orientalism.  [5/17]

See also: Borealism, Ideological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scandinavian Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Alexander Cavalieratos, “Encountering Palestine: Swedish Pilgrim-Tourists between Colonialism and the Bible.”  In Encounters: Representations of the Others in Modern European History (Södertörns högskola 2003); Klara Folkesson, “Invisible Activity: The Case of Muslim Women Migrants in Fittja, Sweden.” In The Ethnically Diverse City (BWV Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2011); Mohamed Omar, “The Orient Reclaimed,” 2010.  At The Information Underground (, accessed 5/17.

Sympathetic Orientalism

Scholars use this term and the terms, benevolent Orientalism and benign Orientalism, to describe Orientalisms that are thought to display a positive, sincere interest in the (Oriental) Other. These Orientalists tend to be more humane, compassionate, and accepting of the Other; and at their best show little interest in exercising power over the Other for personal benefit while seeking the genuine good of the Other. Most scholars, however, point out that these Orientalisms are seldom truly disinterested and still imagine and construct Orientals as having essential, exotic natures. They most often cherish the ancient, traditional Orient as over against modern Asia, and they frequently construct the Orient as being essentially mystical and spiritual in contrast to the materialistic, industrial West. Scholars argue that at their worst these Orientalisms are naïve, simplistic, paternalistic, self-serving, and in the era of European colonialism usually were complicit with that colonialism. Of these terms, “sympathetic Orientalism” is the most frequently used and “benign Orientalism” is much the less often used. Geoffrey P. Nash uses the otherwise extremely rare term, empathetic Orientalism, in the same sense as sympathetic, benevolent, and benign Orientalisms to describe what he sees as the unusually positive Orientalism of the British (Scottish) diplomat, David Urquhart (1805-1877).  [12/17]

See also: Affirmative Orientalism, Constructive Orientalism, Humanistic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Liberal Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Scottish Orientalism, Soft Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Christopher L. Connery, “The China Difference.” Postmodern Culture 2 (1992); Tahrir K. Hamdi, “Edward Said and Recent Orientalist Critiques.” Arab Studies Quarterly 35 (2013); Mahmut Mutman, “Writing Culture: Postmodernism and Ethnography.” Anthropological Theory 6 (2006); Geoffrey P. Nash, From Empire to Orient: Travellers to the Middle East, 1830-1926 (I. B. Taurus, 2005); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Hui Wang, Translating Chinese Classics in a Colonial Context: James Legge and His Two Versions of the Zhongyong (Peter Lang, 2008).

Systemic Orientalism

Scholars use this rarely used term to describe the ways in which the values, attitudes, and prejudices of ideological Orientalism have been and are deeply embedded in Western-dominated historical/colonial and contemporary global cultural systems. According to Thomas M. McKenna, Richard J. Fox uses the term, “world-systemic orientalism,” in this same way to describe the ways in which Orientalist prejudices have become so much a part of world culture that they actually shape the ways in which non-Western peoples understand their own cultures. Systemic Orientalism is thus a context within which self-Orientalisms are created.  [3/18]

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

Sources & ExamplesPaul F. Lai, “Comics as Asian Am Literature: The Shadow Hero (Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew) review Part 1,” 2014.  At Paul F. Lai (, accessed 3/18; Thomas M. McKenna, Muslim Rulers and Rebels: Everyday Politics and Armed Separatism in the Southern Philippines (U. of California, 1998).

bottom of page