Tag Archives: Orientalism

Doctors vs prophets

by Blake Backlash

Photographers take pictures of a protestor praying in Tahrir Square.
Photographers take pictures of a protestor praying in Tahrir Square (Belfast Telegraph)

I failed to make it past the introduction to Edward Said’s Orientalism when I first encountered it at University. Since then I have fingered and then abandoned more than one copy in second-hand bookshops, telling myself that I would need to make time for it one day.

A couple of months ago I came across it again on the ‘Cult’ shelf of my local library and, since Egypt was in the news, I decided it was time to stop flirting with the book and make a commitment. I had a half-formed idea that this was the right time to read Orientalism.

It is just as well that this notion of reading the book for insights into the Arab Spring was only half-formed, because Said repeatedly states that it is not his intention to describe, or speak for, the Orient. In fact the text is marked by scepticism about the motivations and methodologies of such descriptive projects, and calls into question the conceptual category of ‘the Orient’ itself. What Said is interested in is the way the East is represented in the West. Continue reading Doctors vs prophets