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POLSC321: Mideast Politics

Unit 3: Orientalism and the Problem of Methodology   Historically, journalistic and scholarly attempts to understand the Middle East have been frustrated by a variety of stereotypes and a colonial or neocolonial political agenda.  The result has been a series of (mis)representations and the production of a dominant discourse, often referred to as “Orientalism.”  Within the discourse of Orientalism, the Middle Easterner or “Oriental” is defined by the Westerner or “Occidental” in a context of imperial domination.  The Oriental plays the role of an “other” to the Occidental, in contrast to which he defines himself.  The function of Orientalist discourse is to order identity and to justify domination.  In this unit, you will identify the components of Orientalism, summarize its deficiencies, recognize instances of Orientalism in popular media and scholarship, and identify how the problems associated with Orientalism might be overcome.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 6 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 1.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Identify the most common stereotypes applied to Muslims and Arabs. - Define Orientalism, and identify the role that the concepts of the Orient and the Occident play in Orientalism.  - Summarize the historical relationship between the Orient and the Occident. - Summarize how Orientalism does/does not affect scholarship on the Middle East. - Summarize the ways in which Arabs have been represented in the Western media, and identify the political agendas that are served by these representations. - Identify examples of how one might study the Middle East without succumbing to Orientalism.

3.1 Identification of stereotypes   - Web Media: Free Documentaries: Jeremy Earp’s “Reel Bad Arabs” Link: Free Documentaries: Jeremy Earp’s “Reel Bad Arabs” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, select “WATCH NOW,” and view this entire documentary.  As you are watching, try to identify Arab stereotypes in film.  Consider the political implications of these stereotypes.
 
You should spend approximately 1 hour on this resource.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

3.2 Definition of Orientalism   - Reading: Emory University: Danielle Sered’s “Orientalism” Link: Emory University: Danielle Sered’s “Orientalism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the information on this webpage for a critique of Edward Said’s theory on Orientalism.  Review the meaning of the central ideas and terms within Orientalism.  This resource also covers the topics outlined for sub-subunits 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.
 
Studying this resource should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Web Media: Media Education Foundation’s “Edward Said on Orientalism” Link: Media Education Foundation’s “Edward Said on Orientalism” (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and view the brief video clip.  You may also download the transcript of the video by clicking on the “Transcript” link.  Focus on identifying what Orientalism is and the motives animating it.  This resource also covers the topics outlined in sub-subunits 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.
     
    You should spend approximately 15 minutes on this resource.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Reading: Boston Review: Lawrence Rosen’s “Orientalism Revisited: Edward Said’s Unfinished Critique” Link: Boston Review: Lawrence Rosen’s “Orientalism Revisited: Edward Said’s Unfinished Critique” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire article to deepen your understanding of what Orientalism is, of the problems it poses for scholarship on the Middle East, and of the debates sparked by Said’s theory.  This resource also covers the topics outlined for sub-subunits 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.
     
    Studying this resource should take approximately 45 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Reading: The Reading Group: Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib’s “On Orientalism and Orientalism-in-Reverse among Muslims” Link: The Reading Group: Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib’s “On Orientalism and Orientalism-in-Reverse among Muslims” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and then scroll down the website under “Articles/Essays” to Taib’s article.  Click on the link for “On Orientalism and Orientalism-in-Reverse among Muslims” to download the resource, and read the entire text (17 pages).  Focus on the impact of Orientalism on academic discourse in the Middle East.  This reading also covers the topics outlined in sub-subunits 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.
     
    Reading and note-taking should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

3.2.1 Definition of the Orient and the Occident   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.2.  Focus on how the distinction between the Orient and the Occident is ordinarily drawn.  Focus on which characteristics and geographical boundaries are associated with the Orient and which with the Occident. 

3.2.2 Definition of the Relationship between the Two   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.2.  Focus on the nature of the relationship between the Orient and the Occident.

3.3 The Influence of Orientalism on Scholarship of the Middle East   - Reading: The Orange Grove: Stephen Sheehi’s Foundations of Modern Arab Identity Link: The Orange Grove: Stephen Sheehi’s Foundations of Modern Arab Identity (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and then select the “Foundations of Modern Arab Identity” link to download the PDF version of the text.  Please read the “Introduction” on pages 1-14.  This resource covers the topic outlined in subunit 3.4.
 
You should spend approximately 1 hour on this resource.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Reading: The Orange Grove: John Bunzl’s Islam, Judaism, and the Political Role of Religions in the Middle East Link: The Orange Grove: John Bunzl’s Islam, Judaism, and the Political Role of Religions in the Middle East (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and then select the “Islam, Judaism, and the Political Role of Religions in the Middle East” link to download the PDF version of the text.  Read the “Foreword” on pp. vii-xii.  This resource covers the topic outlined in subunit 3.4.
     
    You should spend approximately 30 minutes on this resource.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

3.4 The Influence of Orientalism on Colonial Policy in the Middle East   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 3.3.  Focus on how Orientalism has been used to justify colonial policy.