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).



Unintentional Orientalism. See Accidental Orientalism.

Unofficial Orientalism. See Official Orientalism.

Unself-Critical Orientalism. See Critical Orientalism.

Urban Orientalism

Scholars generally use this term to describe the ways in which powerful elites impose ideological Orientalist attitudes, values, understandings, and development and planning policies on cities and their communities. The urban Other in these cases is usually imagined and constructed as being people living in slums, the poor, those with limited education, minorities, and/or other similar urban dwellers.  This term is an example of the ways in which scholars apply the notion of "Orientalism" to situations that have nothing to do with Asia (i.e. "the Orient").

See also: Cultural Orientalism, Governmental Orientalism, Ideological Orientalism, Racial Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Thomas Angotti, The New Century of the Metropolis: Urban Enclaves and Orientalism (Routledge, 2012); Daniel Monterescu, Jaffa Shared and Shattered: Contrived Coexistence in Israel/Palestine (Indiana U., 2015); Loïc J. D. Wacquant, “Three Pernicious Premises in the Study of the American Ghetto.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 21 (1997).

Utilitarian Orientalism

Scholars use this term and the term Orientalist Utilitarian(ism) specifically to describe the impact of Utilitarianism, a British philosophical and political movement that emerged in the late 18th century under the influence of the English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), on British attitudes towards and policies in colonial India.  James Mill (1773-1836), a follower of Bentham’s and author of the highly influential work, The History of British India (1817), was a key Utilitarian Orientalist figure who published his book in order to promote certain colonial policies in India.  The Utilitarians generally imagined and constructed India as having an essential, unchanging nature that was backward and uncivilized, passive, stagnant, ignorant, poverty-stricken, despotic, and in desperate need of British-led social and cultural reform.  They held that “the greatest good” for the majority of Indians meant conforming them to Western democratic ways.  Utilitarians, such as Mill, opposed a faction in India and Britain (called the "Orientalists" because they advocated a more open policy towards India), which wanted to promote change in India through indigenous means, including native-language education.  “Utilitarian Orientalism,” thus, came to mean all of the ways and means European colonial governments and other agencies used to Europeanize Asians “for their own good.”  One key element in this strategy was the scholarly production of knowledge, such as Mill’s history, aimed at promoting their utilitarian program.  As is usual with this type of Orientalism, Utilitarian beliefs about India had very little, if anything, to do with the realities of India itself.  Scholars do occasionally use these terms, especially “Utilitarian Orientalism,” in other contexts usually in ways that suggest the use of Western ideas, policies, power, and influence to promote changes in Asian societies and cultures—changes that would be, supposedly, useful to the people.  [revised 7/19]

See also: Academic Orientalism, Colonial Orientalism, Constructive Orientalism, Early Orientalism, Liberal Orientalism, Orientalist Projection, Philosophical Orientalism.

Sources & Examples: Sudeshna Banerjee, “Reading ‘the Poverty of India’: A Critical Engagement with the Saidian Interpretation of Orientalism.” In Reorienting Orientalism (SAGE, 2006); Jamie Bodine, “Institutionalizing Colonial Identity: A Case Study On The Indian Partition (M.A. thesis, City University of New York, 2015); Rachel Dwyer, Key Concepts in Modern Indian Studies (New York U., 2015); Suzanne Marchand, “German Orientalism and the Decline of the West.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 145 (2001); Douglas T. McGetchin, Indology, Indomania, and Orientalism: Ancient India's Rebirth in Modern Germany (Fairleigh Dickinson U., 2009); Colette Zytnicki, “The ‘Oriental Jews’ of the Maghreb: Reinventing the North African Jewish Past in the Colonial Era.” In Colonialism and the Jews (Indiana U., 2017).