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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).



Tacit Orientalism. See Implicit Orientalism.



David Morley and Kevin Robins (1992, 1995) coined this frequently used term, which scholars use to describe the ways in which popular literature and media in the West (as well as Asia) focus on Asian technological prowess to imagine and construct future Asian societies and cultures as (Oriental) Others.  Building on Edward W. Said’s, Orientalism (1978), Morley and Robins argue that by the 1980s the West, particularly the United States, had become increasingly anxious about the supposed threat that Japanese technological and commercial growth posed to the West’s long-standing domination of Asia.  In this context, the science fiction sub-genre, cyberpunk, became a key medium for expressing these fears of Japanese domination as numerous authors portrayed them as being unfeeling, cyborg-like purveyors of dehumanizing technologies.  Scholars have since identified two major phases in the development of techno-Orientalism.  The first focused on Japan and lasted from the 1980s to roughly the mid-1990s.  The second and current phase has shifted that focus to encompass the rise of China as a major economic power and has expanded techno-Orientalism to include other Asian nations, such as India and South Korea.  Techno-Orientalism has its roots in classical Orientalism, as described by Said, and is similar to it in that both: (a) are inherently racist and sexist; (b) are dualist and posit an (Oriental) Other that is essentially different from the (Western) Self; (c) deal in stereotypes; and (d) are a-historical in the sense that Asians do not change; what they are now is what they will be in the future.  Techno-Orientalism differs, however, in that it: (a) sees East Asian technologies and technologically-based economies as being superior to the West; (b) does not see Asians as being “exotic”—i.e. haunting, alluring, romantic, distant; (c) is primarily future-oriented; (d) is rooted in modern neoliberalism rather than traditional European colonialism; and (e) is not specifically identified with the Western academic establishment and is expressed primarily through popular cultural mediums, especially science fiction novels and films.  In a sense, then, techno-Orientalism is classical Orientalism reimagined and reconfigured in the postmodern, cybernetic, and technological global context.  Scholars have also found that techno-Orientalism is not simply a Western phenomenon.  Asians in Japan and elsewhere have played their own role in manipulating and promoting techno-Orientalist Western stereotypes to imagine and construct themselves as essentially being superior technologically and economically; and they use these stereotypes in international marketing.  They have thus stereotyped themselves and other Asians in a process of self-Orientalism where, for example, Japanese comic books and graphic novels (manga) promote Orientalist visions of hyper-sexualized Japanese women.  Larissa Hjorth (2006) uses the term “neo-techno-Orientalism” to describe the ways in which the advertising and distribution of Japanese and Korean videogames fits this self-Orientalist profile.  Chris Goto-Jones (2015, 2016) has subsequently coined the term gamic Orientalism to explore the ways in which Japanese martial arts videogames create something of a techno-Orientalist fantasy world that imagines an almost religious martial “Asianness”.  All of these techno-Orientalisms have also provoked literary and cinematic counter-discourses among Asian, Asian American, and Western authors and film makers, which seek to subvert techno-Orientalist stereotypes, images, and world views and to reflect actual Asian realities.  Rarely, this term may be used to describe Western reactions to Asian technological domination in the past and present that are unrelated to scifi futures (Gailderecho, 2007) or in a more positive sense to mean simply an attraction to Japanese popular, technologically based culture (Tokita, 2010).  It should be noted, finally, that Wendy Ui Kyong Chun has coined the term high-tech Orientalism to describe techno-Orientalism. [revised 3/20]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Antinomic Orientalism, Cinematic Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Contemporary Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Cybernetic Orientalism, Economic Orientalism, Electronic Orientalism, High-Tech Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Modernist Orientalism, Neoliberal Orientalism, Orientalist Fiction, Pop Orientalism, Popular Orientalism; Postmodern Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Science Fiction Orientalism, Victorientalism (Second Context), Visual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Techno-Orientalism: John Cheng, ”Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media…” Journal of Asian American Studies 18 (2015);  Christopher T. Fan, “American Techno-Orientalism: Speculative Fiction and the Rise of China” (Ph.D. diss., U. of California, Berkeley, 2016); Gailderecho, “o/1 v. Zion: Techno-Orientalism in ‘The Matrix’,” 2007.  At gailderecho (, accessed 3/20; Chloe Gong, “Techno-Orientalism in Science Fiction,” [2019].  At Chloe Gong (, accessed 3/20; Sheng-mei Ma, East-West Montage: Reflections on Asian Bodies in Diaspora (U. of Hawai’I, 2007); Sheng-mei Ma, Sinophone-Anglophone Cultural Duet (Springer, 2017); David Morley & Kevin Robins, “Techno-Orientalism: Futures, Foreigners and Phobias.” New Formations 16 (1992); David Morley & Kevin Robins, “Techno-Orientalism: Japan Panic.” In Spaces of Identity: Global Media, Electronic Landscapes and Cultural Boundaries (Routledge, 1995); Chikako Nihei, “Thinking Outside the Chinese Box: David Mitchell and Murakami Haruki’s Subversion of Stereotypes about Japan.” New Voices 3 (2009); Greta A. Niu, “Techno-Orientalism, Nanotechnology, Posthumans, and Post-Posthumans in Neal Stephenson’s and Linda Nagata’s Science Fiction.” MELUS 33 (2008); David S. Roh, et. al., “Technologizing Orientalism: An Introduction.”  In Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media (Rutgers U., 2015); Stephen H. Sohn, “Introduction: Alien/Asian: Imagining the Racialized Future.” MELUS 33 (2008); Alison Tokita, “Australia-Japan Relations and Japanese Studies in the Age of Globalization.” In Globalization, Localization, and Japanese Studies in the Asia-Pacific Region, vol. 1 (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 2010); Toshiya Ueno, “Japanimation and Techno-Orientalism,” n.d.  At Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (, accessed 3/20; Toshiya Ueno, “The Shock Projected onto the Other: Notes on Japanimation and Techno-Orientalism.”  In The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2001).  Gamic Orientalism: Chris Goto-Jones, “Playing with Being in Digital Asia: Gamic Orientalism and the Virtual Dōjō.” Asiascape 2 (2015); Chris Goto-Jones, The Virtual Ninja Manifesto: Fighting Games, Martial Arts, and Gamic Orientalism (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016); Florian Schneider & Chris Goto-Jones, “Where is Digital Asia?
 Introduction to the Second Special Issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia.” Asiascape 2 (2015).  Neo-Techno-Orientalism: Mia Consalvo, Atari to Zelda: Japan's Videogames in Global Contexts (MIT Press, 2016); Larissa Hjorth, “FCJ-052 Playing at Being Mobile: Gaming and Cute Culture in South Korea,” 2006.  At The Fibreculture Journal (, accessed 3/20; Dal Yong Jin
 & Florence Chee, “Age of New Media Empires:
A Critical Interpretation of the Korean Online Game Industry.” Games and Culture 3 (2008).

Temporal Orientalism

Scholars use this term and the terms Orientalist temporality and, rarely, “temporally Orientalist” to describe the ways in which Western Orientalists have long imagined and constructed the past as having an essential, uniform, and unchanging reality that is usually inferior (or, less frequently, superior) to the (Western) present.  Thus, the Middle Ages have been imagined as being either essentially and irredeemably barbaric, diseased, and violent or romantic and chivalrous; but in either case essentially different from the civilized or materialistic European present.  Or again, India has been constructed as having a high civilization in ancient times that has degenerated into backwardness in the present.  In the same way, ancient Greece has been seen as the birthplace of Western civilization and, thus, devoid of any “Oriental” influences while modern Greece is supposed to have degenerated and become more Oriental-like.  Republican Turkish post-Ottoman attitudes towards its “uncivilized,” Islamic past are a key example of an Asian version of temporal Orientalism.  In these cases and others, temporal Orientalism focuses its Orientalist gaze on an exotic past and imagines it as being essentially frozen in time.  Modern-day scholars of Orientalism themselves are at risk of practicing their own version of Orientalist temporality in their division of the history of the notion of Orientalism into seemingly simplified, unitary, and fixed “historical” periods such as “modern Orientalism” or “post-modern Orientalism”.  Some scholars particularly criticize Edward W. Said (1978), the founding father of the modern study of Orientalism, for essentializing the history of the notion—for example, in treating the Middle Ages as exemplifying an “adolescent Orientalism”.  Theoretically, these terms should also apply to imagined futures, such as are found in science fiction Orientalisms, however as actually used by scholars and others, their usage is largely confined to the past.  The term “temporal Orientalism” is used more frequently than “Orientalist temporality,” and while certainly not rare neither of them is used as frequently as might be expected. [revised 1/21]

See also: Adolescent Orientalism, Categorical Orientalism, Greek Orientalism (Ancient), Greek Orientalism, (Modern), Ideological Orientalism, Neo-Victorian Orientalism, Orientalist Gaze, Orientalist Nostalgia, Orientalist Tourism, Saidian Orientalism, Science Fiction Orientalism, Turkish Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Temporal Orientalism: Adam Barrows, “Time Without Partitions: Midnight’s Children and Temporal Orientalism.”  ARIEL 42 (2011); Anna Carastathis, “Is Hellenism an Orientalism? Reflections on the Boundaries of ‘Europe’ in an Age of Austerity.” Critical Race and Whiteness Studies 10 (2014); Steve Guthrie, “Time Travel, Pulp Fictions, and Changing Attitudes Toward the Middle Ages: Why You Can’t Get Renaissance on Somebody’s Ass.” In Medieval Afterlives in Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); Andrew Kipnis, “Neoliberalism Reified: Suzhi Discourse and Tropes of Neoliberalism in the People’s Republic of China.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13 (2007); Susan Kray, “Hidden Truth: Theories of Intellectual Work in the Advertising Copy of a Mass Communication Genre: A Multidisciplinary Perspective on the Lost Eden Scenario.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 23 (1999); Marinos Pourgouris, “Topographies of Greek Modernism.” In The Avant-Garde and the Margin (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006); Jan M. Ziolkowski, The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity. Volume 2: Medieval Meets Medievalism (Open Book Publishers, 2018).  Orientalist Temporality: Kathleen Biddick, "Coming out of Exile: Dante on the Orient Express." In The Postcolonial Middle Ages (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000); Conor Moynihan, "Timelessness and Precarity in Orientalist Temporality: Mehdi-Georges Lahlou’s Aesthetics of Disorientation." Contemporaneity 8 (2019); Thabit H. Sheikheldin, "Time and the Hydro-Political History of Sudanese Nationalism in the Nile valley." (M.A. thesis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2020); Vron Ware, The New Literary Front: Public Diplomacy and the Cultural Politics of Reading Arabic Fiction in Translation (Paper, CRESC, Open U., 2010).  Temporally Orientalist: Camie Augustus, “The Corporate Institution of Mixed Race: Indigeneity, Discourse, and Orientalism in Aboriginal Policy.” Critical Race and Whiteness Studies 10, (2014); Anna Carastathis, op. cit.  Other: Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Tertiary Orientalism

This is a rarely used term that extends the notions of primary Orientalism and secondary Orientalism to a third level.  Thus: (1) “primary Orientalism” is Western Orientalist stereotypes of Asians; (2), “secondary Orientalism” is the often unsuspecting appropriation and use of primary Orientalisms by Asians themselves; and (3) “tertiary Orientalism” is the subsequent assumption that only Asian teachers can “really” understand and teach Asian cultures and traditions in spite of the fact that they are actually themselves secondary Orientalists.  That is, tertiary Orientalism occurs when Asian teachers and scholars are assumed to be superior interpreters of things Asian, even in the likely event that they themselves have been influenced by Western Orientalist stereotypes and attitudes. (See “Religious Studies 71”).  [7/20]

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Primary Orientalism, Secondary Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Yoo Seong Cheong, “Multicultural Discourses in Korea.” In Migration und Integration als transnationale Herausforderung: Perspektiven aus Deutschland und Korea (Springer, 2015); Irene Lin, "Journey to the Far West: Chinese Buddhism in America." Amerasia Journal 22 (1996); “Religious Studies 71: Intro to Asian American Religions,” 2012.  At Flashcard Machine (, accessed 7/20.

Textual Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually in one of two ways.  First and much more frequently, they use it to describe Orientalisms that are expressed in written texts as opposed to those expressed through other media such as, for example, paintings, music, or tourist trinkets.  Although these texts may be found in a wide variety of written sources, historical periods, and languages (Asian as well as European), scholars most often use this term to critique Edward W. Said’s study (1978) of the textual Orientalisms contained in 18th to 20th century academic and literary Orientalist texts originating in France and Britain, as well as in the United States later.  Said, famously, argues that this Orientalist textual heritage imagines and constructs “Orientals” as being essentially and irredeemably inferior to the West in virtually every way imaginable.  Said’s critics usually argue that his analysis is limited to a selectively small and narrow sample, is flawed in its highly negative interpretation of the texts themselves, and/or ignores other Orientalist media.  Second, a few scholars use this term more narrowly to describe the 18th and early 19th century work of British scholars and administrators in colonial India, which drew on indigenous texts as a tool for administrative policy.  The most well-known of these textual Orientalists was Sir William Jones (1746-1794).  In the first usage, the texts are Orientalist and in the second the users of the texts are Orientalists.  This term is fairly frequently used.  [9/21]

See also: American Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Constructive Orientalism, European Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Literary Orientalism, Philological Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Visual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: First Usage: Luis H. Aguilar, “Countering Islamophobia through the Development of Best Practice in the Use of Counter-Narratives in EU Member States” (paper, CERS, 2018); Pyeaam Abbasi & Alireza Anushiravani, "The Ancient Mariner: Colonizer or Colonized?." Journal of Gender and Peace Development 1,1 (2011); Clare Bradford, “Muslim–Christian Relations and the Third Crusade: Medievalist Imaginings.” International Research in Children's Literature 2, 2 (2009); Tan Teck Heng, “How to Read Modern Chinese Literature in English? The Women Besides Modernism” (Ph.d. diss., National U. of Singapore & King’s College London, 2021); Ivan Kalmar, Early Orientalism (Routledge, 2011); Geoffrey Nash, “New Orientalisms for Old: New Articulations of the East in Raymond Schwab, Edward Said, and Two Nineteenth-century French Orientalists.”  In Orientalism Revisited (Routledge, 2013); Rumya Sree Putcha, “After Eat, Pray, Love: Tourism, Orientalism, and Cartographies of Salvation.” Tourist Studies 20 , 4 (2020); Lori A. Salem, “Race, Sexuality, and Arabs in American Entertainment, 1850-1900.” In Colors of Enchantment (American U. in Cairo, 2001); Abdool K. Vakil, “Is the Islam in Islamophobia the Same as the Islam in Anti-Islam; or, When Is it Islamophobia Time? Symposium Papers.” CERS e-working papers, 12 (2008).  Second Usage: Neeladri Bhattacharya, “Remaking Custom: The Discourse and Practice of Colonial Codification.”  In Tradition, Dissent and Ideology (Oxford, 1996); Amit Ray, Negotiating the Modern: Orientalism and Indianness in the Anglophone World (Routledge, 2007).  Also See: Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

Theatrical (Theatricalized) Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually to describe the ways in which the Western theater embodies ideological Orientalist discourses of the exotic Other in its scripts and staging of plays. Scholars of theatrical Orientalism generally pay particular attention to the aesthetics of staging and costuming, which imagine and portray the Orient as being mysterious, sensuous, exotic, antiquarian, and colorful. Infrequently, a few scholars use the term dramatic Orientalism in much the same way. [4/16]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Exotic Orientalism, False Orientalism, Musical Orientalism, Operatic Orientalism, Puppet Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Todd A. Borlik, “A Season in Intercultural Limbo: Ninagawa Yukio’s Doctor Faustus, Theatre Cocoon, Tokyo.” Shakespeare Quarterly 62 (2011); Jamil Khoury, “The Trouble with Mary,” 2013. At Silk Road Rising (, accessed 4/16; Jane Moody, Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770-1840 (Cambridge, 2000); Brian Singleton, Oscar Asche, Orientalism, and British Musical Comedy (Praeger, 2004); Edward Ziter, The Orient on the Stage (Cambridge, 2003).

Theological Orientalism

Scholars most frequently use this term to describe the impact that the notion of Orientalism has on theological thinking, usually Christian thought, and how that impact has, in turn, been a factor in Western ideological Orientalism more generally.  They argue that Western theologies, historically, have generally imagined and constructed Asian religions, other than Islam, as being essentially mystical, acetic religions that tend to treat spirituality in an abstract manner.  In Christian theological terms, Asian religions are essentially anti-incarnational and thus are impractical, effeminate, parasitical, and powerless to civilize.  Western Christian theologians, again historically, have constructed Islam in a still more negative way, seeing it as being violent, idolatrous, irrational, licentious, and regressive.  There is, however, a more positive strain in Orientalist theological thinking that sees Asian spirituality as a model for Western Christian spirituality.  Recent commentators argue that these more positive theologies still construct Asian religions as being essentially the same and fail to see them as being grounded in Asian realities, as being very different from each other, and as having their own problems and weakness.  Theological Orientalisms were especially significant in the earlier stages of European Orientalism, and this term is not rare but also not widely used.   [revised 12/20]

See also: Christian Orientalism, Early Modern Orientalism, Evangelical Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Learned Orientalism, Missionary Orientalism, Positive Orientalism, Protestant Orientalism, Religious Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Michel Chambon, “Do Catholic Theologians Neglect Asia’s Lived Realities?” At ucanews (, accessed 12/20; Francis X. Clooney, "Vedânta, Theology, and Modernity: Theology's New Conversation With the World's Religions." Theological Studies 51 (1990); Denise Helly, “Islamophobia in Canada? Women’s Rights, Modernity, Secularism,” 2012.  At Recode (, accessed 11/18; Ivan D. Kalmar, Early Orientalism: Imagined Islam and the Notion of Sublime Power (Routledge, 2012); Yelena V. Muzykina, “Facing the Challenges in Christian-Muslim Dialogue.” Journal of Adventist Mission Studies, 8 (2012); Mika Vähäkangas, “Theological Fallacies of Racism,” 2020. At Lund University (, accessed 12/20; Richard Fox Young, “Enabling Encounters: The Case of Nilakanth-Nehemiah Goreh, Brahmin Convert.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 29 (2005).

Theoretical Orientalism

Scholars use this term usually in one of two ways. First and more frequently, they use it to describe the body of ideas and principles (theory) Western Orientalists have used to imagine and construct “Orientals” as exhibiting an essential, unchanging nature usually considered to be inferior to the West. They widely cite Edward W. Said (1978) as articulating the groundbreaking description of theoretical Orientalism. In particular, scholars frequently use this term in critical discussions of Fredric Jameson’s controversial essay, “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multi-national Capitalism” (1986), which Imre Szeman (2001) notes has been widely read as being “nothing more than a patronizing, theoretical orientalism.” Szeman’s observation has been fairly widely quoted and represents a frequent use of this term.  Second and much less frequently, some scholars use this term to describe Said’s own work as itself a “theoretical Orientalism,” that is a theory concerning Orientalism. While these two uses are similar to the two ways in which scholars use the term Orientalist theory, their usage differs in that: (a) scholars use “Orientalist theory” much more frequently; (b) they use the two meanings at about the same rate when using “Orientalist theory” while in “theoretical Orientalism” the first usage predominates; and (c) scholars use the term “theoretical Orientalism” much more frequently when discussing the debate about Jameson’s essay and discussions of that essay predominate in its usage.   [revised 9/18]

See also: Hard Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Latent Orientalism, Manifest Orientalism, Orientalist Theory, Saidian Orientalism, Traveling Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Aijaz Ahmad, “Jameson’s Rhetoric of Otherness and the ‘National Allegory’.” Social Text 17 (1987); Satoru Hashimoto, “Comparative Hermeneutics and Utopian Desire; ‘Chinese Modernity’ in Modern Chinese Aesthetics,” n.d. At CiteSeerX (, accessed 6/16; Madeline Hsu, “Unwrapping Orientalist Constraints: Restoring Homosocial Normativity to Chinese American History.” Amerasia Journal 29 (2003); Fredric Jameson, “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multi-national Capitalism.” Social Text 15 (1986); Anna Runesson, Exegesis in the Making: Postcolonialism and New Testament Studies (Brill, 2010); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Imre Szeman, “Who's Afraid of National Allegory? Jameson, Literary Criticism, Globalization.” South Atlantic Quarterly 100 (2001).

Theosophical Orientalism. See Occult Orientalism.

Therapeutic Orientalism

Suzanne Marchand (2004, 2007) coined this term to describe the ways in which Germans, beginning in the later 19th century, turned to “Oriental” religious traditions (real and imagined) to cope with the stresses of living in an increasingly secular, seemingly repressed, and even meaningless modern world.  Germans, that is, turned to the East to seek healing.  She bases her use of this term on T. J. Jackson Lears’ (1994) notion of a “therapeutic worldview” that describes a similar movement in the United States where millions accepted that worldview as their way of coping with the “banality” of a capitalist-dominated society, which included turning to what they imagined to be mystical Oriental spiritualties.  Lears does not, however, use the term “therapeutic Orientalism”.  Use of this term is very rare, although scholars frequently cite Lear's book more generally.   [revised 12/20]

See also: Medical Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Spiritual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples:  Therapeutic Orientalism: Marc D. Baer, “Protestant Islam in Weimar Germany: Hugo Marcus and 'the message of the holy prophet Muhammad to Europe.” New German Critique 44 (2017); Ferdinand III, “Dhummytude leads to Dhimmitude,” 12 July 2011. At Western Civilisation (, accessed 12/20. Suzanne Marchand, “Nazism, ‘Orientalism,’ and Humanism.” In Nazi Germany and The Humanities: How German Academics Embraced Nazism (Oneworld, 2007); Suzanne Marchand, “Philhellenism and The Furor Orientalis.” Modern Intellectual History 1 (2004). Background: T.J. Jackson LearsNo Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (U. of Chicago, 1994).

Tourist Orientalism. See Orientalist Tourism.

Traditional Orientalism

This term is closely associated with the terms, ideological Orientalism and Saidian Orientalism, and is generally used by scholars in several closely related ways.  First, they use it to describe a Western field of scholarship dedicated to the study of the “Orient”—including its scholars, academic institutions, international conferences, libraries, associations, and other institutions and actives.  Second, they use this term to describe a Western artistic and cultural movement that included painting, architecture, and fashion design among many other things.  Third, they use this term to describe a Western way of imagining, constructing, and gaining authority and power over “Oriental” Others, particularly in the Arab Middle East and in the Far East. These Others were believed to have an essential, unchanging nature that was exotic, superstitious, culturally stagnant, threatening yet alluring, spiritual, backward, poverty-stricken but also sumptuous, politically authoritarian, lacking in originality or creativity, and supremely unlike the West. As a historical phenomenon, traditional Orientalism had its roots in late Medieval Europe, came into its own during the age of European colonialism, and ended in the 1940s. Its influence, however, continues, particularly in ideological Orientalism. When scholars use the unadorned term, “Orientalism,” they usually mean traditional Orientalism but in association with ideological orientalism and, to a lesser extent, Saidian Orientalism. Most scholars associate this term with European colonialism, Western ideological domination, and a set of accompanying, prejudices; but there are still some who see (traditional) Orientalism to be an honorable field of scholarly endeavour.

See also: Academic Orientalism, Aesthetic Orientalism, Anglo-French Orientalism, Barbaric Orientalism, Binary Orientalism, Canadian Orientalism, Canonical Orientalism, Classical Orientalism, Conventional Orientalism, Eurocentric Orientalism, European Orientalism, Global Orientalism, Historical Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Imperial Orientalism, Indological Orientalism, Institutional Orientalism, Mature Orientalism, Orientalism Proper, Orientalism Theory, Orientalist Dogma, Popular Orientalism, Pre-Orientalism, Professional Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Saidianism, Sinological Orientalism, Tropicality.

Sources & Examples: Anouar Abdel-Malek, "Orientalism in Crisis." Diogenes 11 (1963); David Bukay, “Can There Be an Islamic Democracy?” Middle East Quarterly 14 (2007); Muhammad Ali Khalidi, “Orientalisms in the Interpretation of Islamic Philosophy.” Radical Philosophy 135 (2006); Biray Kolluoglu-Kirli, “From Orientalism to Area Studies.” New Centennial Review 3 (2003); Laetitia Nanquette, “French New Orientalist Narratives from the ‘Natives’: Reading More than Chahdortt Djavann in Paris.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29 (2009); Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978); Wester Wagenaar, “Wacky Japan: A New Face of Orientalism.” Asia in Focus 3 (2016).

Transcendental Orientalism

Scholars generally use this term and the term Transcendentalist Orientalism to describe a positive Orientalism widely shared by 19th century American Transcendentalists, which in the 20th century had an impact on key thinkers of the Beat Generation of the 1950s, notably Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) and Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) among others. Most scholarly work on Transcendental Orientalism, however, focuses on Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and David Henry Thoreau (1817-1862), who were most profoundly influenced by Asian thinking and most influential in communicating that thinking to a wider audience especially in the 1830s and 1840s. For them, Asian texts offered profound insights into a more natural, organic, and intuitive way of thinking that promised American thinkers the chance to break with Britain and Europe in creating a more uniquely American way of understanding reality. Their positive attitudes, as well as those of other leading Transcendentalists, toward Asian religions and thought marked a substantial change in American thinking about “the Orient”. Scholars caution, however, that there was a great deal of variety among 19th century Transcendentalists and many tended to mix attitudes of American/Western superiority with a general appreciation for Asian religious and philosophical ideas. Transcendentalists also tended to pick and choose what appealed to them from their study of Asian texts resulting in the creating of artificial renditions of Asian thought.  [1/19]

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Philosophical Orientalism, Positive Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Edmund R. Goode, “East of New England: Reorienting the Early Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell, 2010); Alan Hodder, “Asian Influences.” In The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism (Oxford, 2010); Victor G. Kiernan, America, the New Imperialism: From White Settlement to World Hegemony (Verso, 2005); Arthur Versluis, American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions (Oxford, 1993).


Adam Geczy coined this term to describe his understanding of the complex, non-dualistic, and dialogical nature of international fashion Orientalism and the Orientalist relationship of Asian fashions to the international fashion industry, particularly in the West. He believes that the ideological notion of Orientalism articulated by Edward W. Said (Saidian Orientalism) is inadequate for understanding the dynamics of Orientalism in the world of fashion and other aesthetic Orientalisms, such as in the visual arts and music. He argues that a dualistic, all-inclusive paradigm, such as Said’s, cannot account for the intricacies of the global fashion industry for two reasons.  First, clothing is unique because people physically wear it, which means that the ideological, stereotypical Orientalist gaze that is usually directed by Westerners toward “Orientals” is redirected to the Western wearer of Eastern fashion. The Western “Self” thus associates itself with the exotic, sensuous, colorful, and alluring Orient, at once embracing and challenging Western cultural stereotypes and even asserting its independence in the face of those stereotypes. Oriental fashion informs Western identity.  Second, the contemporary world of Orientalist clothing fashion is embodied in a massive international commercial enterprise that amounts to a stylistic dialogue by which the West appropriates Asian styles, interprets them, redesigns them, mixes them with other styles, and then re-interprets them, re-redesigns them, and re-mixes them again in an ongoing process that virtually cleanses Orientalist fashions of their stereotypes. The exotic East is no longer essentially and irredeemably inferior or alien; it is instead a powerful spur to the Western imagination. Geczy further observes that this process is not a one-way street. Asians (and other people in the rest of the world) participate in it by incorporating Western fashion into their own fashions and by using their own Asian fashions as signifiers of cultural identity with significant social and commercial implications, including for Asian local tourism. The process described by Geczy is one of mutual exchange, retranslation of styles, and re-envisioning of those styles set in the context of modern globalization. It is a process that has had a massive impact on Western fashion, an impact that Geczy believes began with the French fashion designer, Paul Poiret (1879-1944), in the first decades of the 20th century. Transorientalism, in sum, is a global cultural movement by which East and West carry on an intricate and mutually beneficial dance of fashion and style, one that transcends the debilitating influences of Western ideologies and stereotypes. Scholars rarely use this term other than to discuss Geczy’s views.   [revised 12/18]

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Commercial Orientalism, Cultural Orientalism, Dialectical Orientalism, Economic Orientalism, Fashion Orientalism, Franchised Orientalism, Gendered Orientalism,  Hidden Orientalism, Hybrid Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Meta-Orientalism, Musical Orientalism, Mythic Orientalism, New Orientalism (Third Usage), Oriental Look, Orientalist Gaze, Orientalist Tourism, Popular Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Sexual Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Adam Geczy, “A Chamber of Whispers.” In China Through The Looking Glass (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015); Adam Geczy, Fashion and Orientalism: Dress, Textiles and Culture from the 17th to the 21st Century (Bloomsbury, 2013); Adam Geczy & Jacqueline Millner, Fashionable Art (Bloomsbury, 2015); Cody Ross, “Trans-Orientalism, Surreal Fashion and Sino-Cinema at the Met,” n.d. At the WILD (, accessed 12/18; Justine M. Taylor, “The Third Skin” (M.A. thesis, Sydney, 2013).

Transplanted Orientalism

Other than quoting a 1930 statement by Martha Graham, this term is used only very rarely by scholars. When they do use it, they use it to mean simply the transfer of influential ideological Orientalist attitudes, values, and behaviors from one nation or people to another, such as from the ancient Carthaginians to the Romans. The Graham quotation reads, “We shun the imperialism of the ballet, the sentimentality engulfing the followers of the great Isadora Duncan, the weakling exoticism of a transplanted orientalism" (p. 253).

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Charles N. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture (Oxford, 1980); Deborah Jowitt, Time and the Dancing Image (U. of California Press, 1988); Megan Pugh, America Dancing: From the Cakewalk to the Moonwalk (Yale, 2015).

Traveling Orientalism

Scholarly use of this term draws on two essays by Edward W. Said (1983, 2000) outlining what he calls, “traveling theory.”  According to Said, theories and ideas that originate in one place, time, and context frequently migrate (“travel”) to other places, times, and contexts.  In the process, such theories and ideas themselves undergo change, as they are adapted in response to new contexts and needs.  A few scholars have applied this traveling theory to the notion of Orientalism.  Jamarkani (2010), for example, examines the way in which Orientalism has “traveled” from its original European colonial context to the imperial context of the United States and how this migration has impacted the meaning and uses of the notion of Orientalism.  Joseph Massad (2004, 2010), in particular, applies Said’s traveling theory to Said’s own work, specifically Orientalism (1978), arguing that over the decades the book itself has been transported into many different contexts but that, in fact, it has not yet transcended the boundaries of its original context because the notion of Orientalism remains relatively unchanged and as potent in its influence as ever.  Scholars use this term only infrequently.   [revised 12/20]

See also: Ideological Orientalism, Orientalist Epistemology, Orientalist Theory, Saidian Orientalism, Theoretical Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Traveling Theory: Moya Lloyd, “Travelling Theories”. Redescription 18 (2015); Edward W. Said, Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Harvard U., 2000); Edward W. Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic (Harvard U., 1983).  Traveling Orientalism: Amira Jamarkani, “Travelling Orientalism,” 2010.  At Politics and Culture (, accessed 12/20; Matthias Köbrich, “Representation of Middle Easterners in Contemporary North American TV Series” (M.A. thesis, Friedrimch-Alexander U. Erlangen-Nuremberg, 2017); Pavan K. Malreddy, Orientalism, Terrorism, Indigenism: South Asian Readings in Postcolonialism (SAGE, 2015); Joseph Massad, “Affiliating with Edward Said.”  In Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation (U. of California, 2010); Joseph Massad, “The Intellectual Life of Edward Said.” Journal of Palestine Studies 33 (2004).


David Arnold first used this term in 1996, and it has since become widely accepted by other scholars who use it to describe the ways in which the West has historically constructed tropical regions as being essentially different, dangerous, disease-ridden, and snake-infested natural environments. Tropical peoples, by the same token, are imagined and constructed as being lethargic, backward, ignorant, incapable of making the best use of their natural resources, and thus best served by becoming colonies of the Western nations. As in the case of ideological Orientalism, tropicality represents one way in which Western nations imagine themselves as being civilized, industrious, wise, and capable by comparison. Scholars frequently emphasize the role that Western sciences have played in creating images of and knowledge about “the tropics”—including the complicity of those sciences in promoting colonialism. Western art has also been a medium for imagining the exotic, lush, and dangerous tropics. While Arnold distinguishes tropicality from Edward W. Said’s notion of Orientalism, most scholars see the two as being similar to one degree or another. Tropicality, however, places particular importance on physical, geographical location and on nature in its imaginative construction of the tropical Other. Scholars frequently see Romanticism as being one source of Western tropicality.

See also: Academic Orientalism, Aesthetic Orientalism, Arcticality, Binary Orientalism, Climatic Orientalism, Environmental Orientalism, Geographical Orientalism, Quasi-Orientalism, Romantic Orientalism, Saidian Orientalism, Scientific Orientalism, Traditional Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: David J. Arnold, The Tropics and the Traveling Gaze: India, Landscape, and Science, 1800-1865 (U. of Washington, 2006); Daniel Clayton & Gavin Bowd, “Geography, Tropicality and Postcolonialism: Anglophone and Francophone Readings of the Work of Pierre Gourou.” L’Espace géographique 35 (2006); J. Michael Dash, The Other America: Caribbean Literature in a New World (U. Press of Virginia, 1998); Erica N. Morawski, “Modernism on Vacation: The Politics of Hotel Furniture in the Spanish Caribbean.” In The Politics of Furniture: Diplomacy and Persuasion in Post-War Interiors (Routledge, 2017); Christine Rosenfeld, “Tropicality & the ‘Other’: Origin  & Evolution of US-constructed Cuban Place-identities” (M.Sc. thesis, Pennsylvania State U., 2012); Heidi V. Scott, “Paradise in the New World: An Iberian Vision of Tropicality.” Cultural Geographies 17 (2010).

Turkish Orientalism

This frequently used term originated in the 19th century when European Orientalist scholars and others used it to imagine and construct the Turkish people as being exotic, decadent, mentally deficient, stagnant, and uncivilized.  Modern-day scholars have continued to use it in this sense to describe 19th century European artistic and literary depictions of the Turks.  Today, scholars primarily use this term to describe the second phase of Turkish Orientalist discourses, which emerged in the early 20th century—following on and building on Ottoman Orientalism.  The earlier years of this second stage is sometimes also called Kemalist Orientalism (so named for Turkey’s revolutionary leader, Kemal Attürk [1881-1938]) and is closely associated with “Kemalism” (also know as Atatürkism). As the Ottoman Empire disintegrated and came to an end, the emerging “Kemalist elites” developed a European-style Orientalist ideology aimed at enabling the creation of a homogenous, secular, and internationally well-regard Turkish state.  To this end, they created a dualist framework that rejected the Ottoman past, Islam, and minority ethnic and religious groups as all being “Oriental,” that is primitive, uncivilized, and reactionary.  They re-imagined a mythic Turkish past that aided them in identifying Turkey with the civilized (and “white”) West and in distancing themselves from the Islamic East.  The Turkish government called on this ideology to justify its attempts to forcibly “Turkify” the Kurds and thus promote Turkish racial purity, even as the Turkish elites used both the arts and literature to promote their nationalist agenda.  Scholars point out that Turkish Orientalisms are not only racist but also exhibited the usual European Orientalist views of “Oriental” women, i.e. that they are exotic, sensuous, and primitive. They also note that Turkish Orientalism is a form of internal Orientalism and also self-Orientalism, by which it imagined and constructed its own past and its own minorities as the “Other” and identified its Self as being more European than Asian.  The hey-day of Turkish Orientalism was the 1930s, but some scholars argue that it continues to be a factor in Turkish attitudes and policies down to the present. [1/21].

See also: Aesthetic Orientalism, European Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Implicit Orientalism, Internal Orientalism, Nesting (Nested) Orientalism, Ottoman Orientalism, Political Orientalism, Republican Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, Temporal Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Turkish Orientalism: James H. Bennet, Winter and Spring on the Shores of the Mediterranean (J. & A. Churchill, 1875); Emre C. Daglioglu, “Self-Orientalism and Turkey's Kurds.” Turkish Review 4 (2014); Edhem Eldem, "Ottoman and Turkish Orientalism." Architectural Design 80 (2010); Edhem Eldem, "The Ottoman Empire and Orientalism: An Awkward Relationship.” In After Orientalism: Critical Perspectives on Western Agency and Eastern Re-appropirations (Brill, 2015); Gülşen E. Evgi̇n, “Shifting Wesgtern Orientalism with Myths: See What is Behind Indian and Turkish Thought,” n.d. At Mersin University (, accessed 1/21; Gökçe Gündoğdu, “Orientalism and the Kurdish Question in Turkey: Kemalist Women's Discourses on Kurdish Women in the 1990s” (Ph.D. diss., Sabanci U., 2017); Hakan T. Karateke, “How distant is gurbet? Refik Halid’s Representation of Arabs in Gurbet Hikayeleri—With a Note on Ottoman and Turkish Orientalisms.”  Turkish Historical Review 4 (2013); Nora Lafi, “Early Republican Turkish Orientalism? The Erotic Picture of an Algerian Woman and the Notion of Beauty between the ‘West’ and the ‘Orient’.” In Women and the City, Women in the City: A Gendered Perspective on Ottoman Urban History (Berghahn, 2014); Daniel Mendelsohn, “Introduction: The Poet-Historian.” In C. P. Cavafy: Complete Poems (Harper Press, 2013); W. M. Ramsay, “Impressions of Turkey.” The Critic New Series 29 (1898); Hollis Read, The Hand of God in History (John E. Potter & Co., 1870); Eleonora Sasso, The Pre-Raphaelites and Orientalism: Language and Cognition in Remediations of the East (Edinburgh U., 2018); Nora Seni, “Arabs and Turks: So Close Yet So Far.” Hérodote 160-161 (2016); Welat Zeydanlıoğlu, “The Period of Barbarity: Turkification, State Violence and Torture in Modern Turkey.” In State Power and the Legal Regulation of Evil (Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2010); Welat Zeydanlıoğlu, “‘The White Turkish Man’s Burden’: Orientalism, Kemalism and the Kurds in Turkey.” In Neo-colonial Mentalities in Contemporary Europe? Language and Discourse in the Construction of Identities (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008
).  Kemalist Orientalism: Onur G. Ayas, “Kemalist Orientalism and Ottomon Music” [English Abstract]. In Muhafazar Düşünce Dergisi 40. Sayı: MUHAFAZAKÂRLIK (Kadim Yayın Grubu, 2014); Zümrüt Ekinci, “The Historical and Ideological Foundations of the Rhetoric of Kemalist Women”  (Thesis, Vienna, 2012); Ayşe Kadıoğlu, “Women’s Subordination in Turkey: Is Islam Really the Villain?” The Middle East Journal 48 (1994); Emmanuel Szurek, “’Go West’: Variations on Kemalist Orientalism.” In After Orientalism: Critical Perspectives on Western Agency and Eastern Re-appropriations (Brill, 2015).

Tutamania. See Egyptomania.

Typical OrientalismSee Conventional Orientalism.

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