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UCI EUROST 10 - Orientalism

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Professor Smith European Studies Department Europe Studies 10 European History Course Code: 24000 ● What is “orientalism” ○ Edward Said, published 1978 ○ “The Orient was… a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences” ○ Examples of Orientalism ■ Discourses of “the east” as sexually lascivious or repressed, constructions of Arab and Muslim men as “terrorists” in the “war on terror”, “China doll/Dragon Lady” stereotypes, western obsessions with the veiling practices of south asian and middle eastern bodies, terrorism studies ● Orientalism as “discourse” ○ A discourse functions as kind of “filter” or, according to a prominent theorist, Michel Foucault, a “grid of intelligibility” ■ It allows for certain things to be recognized, others suppressed ○ For example: ■ The discourse of modern rationality medicalized the opposition between sane and insane ○ In a sense, it functions like an “ideology”, “naturalizing” historical relationships ○ Orientalism is a way of viewing the world that casts the “orient” as a negative “other” of the west ○ Or, to speak with Kuhn ■ Orientalism is like a “paradigm” in which east and west are represented and thus literally seen in a particular way ○ Significantly, orientalism was not just a part of “popular” discourse but also was produced by academics (that is the target of Said’s critique) ○ Developed esp. in 19th and early 20th century to legitimate British and French colonialism in the Middle East as the Ottoman Empire declined ○ How does it work? Let’s look at an “academic painting” ● Orientalism… ○ ...takes our (the West’s) potential decadence and transfers it to the other/east ○ ...displaces and projects the West’s desires and insecurities onto the Other/East ○ ...depicts a once proud culture in a state of decline ○ ...implies that they are in need of us to be the guarantors of their own culture ○ In the 19th century, orientalism functioned as an “academic legitimation of colonialism” ■ It studied and depicted the orient as in a state of decline ● But what about the Early Modern Period? ○ What does Lee say?○ European writers and thinkers developed a discourse about Middle Eastern religions, cultures, and persons, both Muslims and Christian, which Edward Said would later come to characterize and condemn as orientalism, the intellectual counterpoint to modern European colonialism ○ Early modern orientalism, though initially born from European insecurity and weakness, would support later incursions into Muslim-majority societies, when the balane of powers like France and England in the late 18th and 19th centuries ■ In the early modern period, however, european orientalism was an attempt to come to terms with a dynamic and flourishing empire expanding rapidly through Central Europe ● An empire that could not be ignored, excused, or dominated ○ So it’s important to stress that WE will only be talking about the relationship between Europe and the Ottoman Empire (Turks) in the Early Modern Period ○ The situation looks different as the Ottoman Empire enters a period of decline in the 19th century and areas of the middle east become colonized by European powers ● The need to turn to history ○ We see that there relationship between “east” and “west” was not always the same as it is now ○ The Ottoman Empire ○ Some primary texts on the relations and encounters between the Europeans and the Turks ● Who were the Ottomans ○ In the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries the entire region saw major migrations of peoples ■ Tensions between nomadic and sedentary social orders, and versions of Islam ○ But in 1281 a member of the Saljuq people (turks) named Osman, came to power in western Anatolia (turkey) ○ This one family ruled for nearly 650 years (the empire was dissolved in 1923 with the founding of modern turkey) ■ Decline after WW1 when region was occupied by British and French ○ For the next century they expanded dramatically both in Asia and into Europe, conquering the Balkans in 1389 ○ The pope occasionally attempted to mount late crusades against the advancing “infidels”, but they resulted in failures ○ The Eastern Orthodox church was not itself strong enough to resist ■ Its social structures fell and were replaced by those of the Ottomans ● Many christians converted/were force to convert to Islam and its laws and institutions took hold ○ In the Balkans there remained a mixture of Christian and Muslim populations and often belief system were mixed ○ “Syncretism” ■ “Growing together”● The melding of religions, so that, for example, Easter was celebrated by the Muslims ○ The greatest expansion comes under Mehmet the second, who ruled from 1451-1481, Selim the first (1512-1520), and Suleiman (the Law-Giver or the Magnificent), 1520-1566 ○ Pretty much the years of the Renaissance and rise of the Reformation ○ Under Mehmet the second there is the fall of Constantinople in 1453 ■ “Istanbul” ● The city of silam ○ Becomes a major intellectual, cultural, political, and economic center ○ Recall machiavelli in chapter 3 ■ “But difficulties arise when you acquire states in a land with differing languages, customs, and laws. To keep these states, you need good fortune and much diligence. One of the best and quickest solutions is for the new prince to go and live in his new state. This makes the possession more durable and secure. The Turk did this in Greece” ○ The ottomans dominate the Middle East and Northern Africa ○ A peace is settled with the Safavids of Persia, who become the major dynasty in what is now Iran ■ This is still a major religious faultline between Sunni and Shi’a traditions ○ The Ottomans push through the Eastern section of the Hapsburg Empire (what is now Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania) and in 1529 besiege (unsuccessfully) Vienna ● Compare ○ What is going on within Europe during this period when the Ottomans were expanding? ■ 1500-1650 ● The Franco-Ottoman Alliance between King Francis the first and Suleiman (1526) painted separately by Titian ○ Letter from Suleiman to Francis ○ Why would this first “non-ideological” alliance have taken place? ○ France vs. HRE/Habsburgs


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