According to Edward Said
The groundbreaking work Orientalism by Edward Said, published in the 1970s, had a profound impact on the subsequent research of the Middle East studies, particularly in relation to the competing Arab and Muslim worlds. Because of his direct participation in the political processes of the 1970s, the author has a thorough awareness of the often contentious problems surrounding Middle East politics. Because of his solid personal foundation, he was able to harshly denounce the ways in which Arabs and Muslims were portrayed in Western media. The most significant affiliations were with “filthy-rich oil sheiks or terrorists,” according to the report (Lockman 183). By revisiting the core concepts of Orientalism, Said attacked the way the United States media reported the Iranian revolution of 1978–79 and the threat posed by Islam in the United States and elsewhere.
If we compare Said’s book to prior works on the subject of Orientalism, we can see that it reached a much larger audience both within and outside academic circles. Ultimately, the work drew a considerable deal of attention for its controversial reception. A quest for knowledge about the Middle East is presented in this work, and it challenges conservative ways of seeing the situation in the region. Indeed, the book’s electric impact on literary studies and the Middle East was hailed by critics as well as readers (Lockman 183). Many people referred to the book as a “bombshell” since it sparked unprecedented controversies and paradigm shifts in the field of Middle East studies. It is worth noting that the substantive critique of Said’s Orientalism took occurred long before the book was actually published. The majority of the criticism was from the perspective of the excluded political-economic perspective.
When it comes to making objective judgments, orientalism is a bit vague. The outcome is subjectively determined by the readership, which includes readers from a wide range of backgrounds. Many people interpret the book as an attempt to destabilize the opposing viewpoint in any way. At that point, the author primarily criticizes Orientalism, which is defined by Edward Said as a worldview that embraces both ontological and epistemological ‘the Orient’ and ‘the Occident.’ Accordingly, Said divides the Orient into two distinct regions, one of which is referred to as “the Islamic world,” the other as “the West.” Clearly, the author distinguishes between these two opposed worldview paradigms. This indicates that the ways of researching Orientalism are multifarious, in contrast to the methods of the Western world, which are more or less unilateral in their approach to the subject. As a result, Said elucidates his own understanding of the concept: “Orientalism as a Western technique for dominating, reforming, and exercising dominance over the Orient” (as cited in Lockman 184). Said sees Orientalism as a mirror that reflects “the Orient” in its reflection. This method differs from any other depiction of Orientalism that has been seen elsewhere in the globe from the outside.
Said’s postmodernism is influenced by Foucault’s postmodernism, which he uses to describe and analyze Orientalism in its entirety. Moreover, the interconnectedness of knowledge and power serves as the foundation for Said’s study. In his quest for objective truth, Foucault stressed the Enlightenment as a unique “style of seeing” that could be achieved. Inspired by Foucault’s discourse, Said views Orientalism as a distinct type of knowledge that prioritizes the Orient as an object of study in search of truth, rather than as a branch of knowledge. According to Said, Orientalism as a type of knowledge is a fusion of the Western world with the Orient’s intellectual traditions. Said emphasizes the significance of self-criticism in order to confront the many concerns that remain unsolved in the context of Orientalism. Said’s book raises uncomfortable concerns regarding the nature of other and distinct cultures, as well as the representatives of these civilizations. In the end, the author comes to the conclusion that the essence of Orientalism transcends the boundaries of Occidentalism: “If the knowledge of Orientalism has any importance, it is in serving as a reminder of the seductive nature of any kind of information, wherever, at any time.” “Now, perhaps more than ever, it is important to be creative” (as cited in Lockman 190).
Lewis, the author of “The Question of Orientalism,” was the most vocal critic, accusing Said of insulting the scholars who studied Islam and the Middle East in his book. Lewis accused Said of making unsubstantiated accusations on respected scholars who were conducting research into the Orient. He ventured to reject key scholarly contributions to the study of Orientalism and put out only a few ridiculously weak arguments, according to Lewis, in his book The Orientalism Reader.