Literary Theory Unit 4 Postcolonial Studies

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Literary Theory Unit 4 Postcolonial Studies

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(A) Passive Resistance and Education



1. The passive resistance Association was first formed by Mahatma Gandhi is south Africa in 1906 to organize a campaign against the introduction of____.

Ans: Certificate of Registration.

2. What are the issues mentioned in Hind Swaraj?

Ans: Hind Swaraj deals with two issues: (a) a critique of modern civilization, (b) the nature and structure of Indian Swaraj and the means and methods to achieve it.

3. What is Hind Swaraj?

Ans: Hind Swaraj or Indian Home rule is a book written by Mohandas K. Gandhi in 1909. In it he expresses his views on Swaraj, modern civilization, mechanisation etc. The book was banned in 1910 by the British government in India as a seditious text.

4. What was the main aim of Hind Swaraj?

Ans: The goal of Swaraj had to be the welfare of the whole people to be attained through the principle of Swadeshi. This signified that each person should serve his immediate neighbours rather than pretend to serve every individual in the universe. This was the only way to attain Home Rule.

5. What was the main theme of this book?

Ans: The theme of this book was he wanted to declare that British rule was established in India with the cooperation of Indians and had survived only because of this cooperation.

6. What is the form of Hind Swaraj?

Ans: Less than 100 pages long, and comprised of twenty short chapters, Hind Swaraj is cast in the form of a dialogue between Gandhi, who is called “The Editor”, and his interlocutor, known as “The Reader”.

7. What was the condition of India as described in Hind Swaraj?

Ans: When the reader ask about India’s condition, the editor admits that it saddens and exhausts him. India is suffering from all the vices of modern civilization. Worst of all, Indians are rejecting religion-not any particular religion, but the common beliefs that underlie all indian religion.

8. What was Gandhi’s idea of passive resistance?

Ans: Mahatma Gandhi disliked the term “passive resistance” as it suggested passivity for what was in fact an active form of civil protest. He believed that they were fighting for truth and devised the term “satyagraha”. There is nothing new about resisting power without the use of physical force.

9. What is an example of passive resistance?

Ans: Passive resistance typically involves such activities as mass demonstrations, refusal to obey or carry out a law or to pay taxes, the occupation of buildings or the blockade of roads, labour strikes, economic boycotts, and similar activities.

10. What are the principle of passive resistance?

Ans: The idea of adopting passive resistance was to jam the administration machinery without doing any harm to it, so that the conditions may be created that the Government accepts the demand. Thus, the core principle of passive resistance was to put pressure on government.

11. How does Gandhiji explain passive resistance in Hind Swaraj?

Ans: Hind Swaraj was written in the midst of passive resistance, as satyagraha was then to secure the basic human rights of the people of India origin living in South Africa. He named passive resistance i.e. to fight against something evil but never hurting the opponent.

12. Why did Gandhi begin a companion of passive resistance in south Africa?

Ans: Gandhi’s first passive resistance campaign began as a protest against the Asiatic Registration Bill of 1906. The bill was part of the attempt to limit the presence of Indians in the transvaal by confining them to segregated areas and limiting their trading activities.

13. What is the difference between Gandhi’s ideas of non violence and the idea of passive resistance?

Ans: Passive resistance is a form of nonviolent coercive: it seeks always to convert the opponent, to persuade him voluntarily and willingly to do what is right.

14. What does it mean by passive resistance?

Ans: A way of opposing the government without using violence especially by refusing to obey laws.

15. What is the difference between active and passive resistance?

Ans: Active resistance is the use of violence to fight against perceived injustices. The Boston Tea Party was an early example of active resistance. Passive is a way of protesting in which an authority, such as the government, is challenged nonviolently.

16. Who is the father of passive resistance?

Ans: Doctrine of passive Resistance propounded by Aurobindo Ghosh, it was based on a series of articles published by Aurobindo Ghosh.


1. Describe the concept of soul force in Hind Swaraj?

Ans: Fortunately we are celebrating the 100th years of Hind-Swaraj. Gandhi’s philosophy of Hind-Swaraj deserves to be studied because it embodies the lifelong researches of the greatest exponent of non-violence. It is the most original contribution of India and the entire world to political thought and political practice. While Gandhiji had a very kind and compassionate heart, he did not hesitate to carry on tireless crusade against injustice, both in South Africa and in India. According to him, it was a sin to suffer unjust behaviour at the hands of another person or organization. Thought the concept of soul-force is based solely on his conviction. Gandhiji invented the concept of soul-force in the pretext of world wars and exploitation by British imperialism Now, we have to use it against growing terrorism, armaments, nuclear exploision, international sale of arms and ammunitions, corruption, deforestation and capitalistic planning at the cost of mass-welfare The culture of violence and brute force must be replaced by the culture of non-violence and soul-force in every in every walk of life. Let us hope for a new world community where people make love the guiding principle of life. Morality, character, sacrifice, truth fearlessness must prevail in the life of individuals and nations. If the soul-force prevails, no doubt heaven will be on the earth.

2. Explain why education become a significant issue in independence movement?

Ans: Education is a significant issue for the independence movement because it speaks to the kinds of values that Indians want to pass down to future generations. It’s also significant to Gandhi’s audience, who were generally well-off professionals who could attribute their success to their education. Therefore, Gandhi takes a bold step by calling English education valueless: he wants these readers to see that morality and spiritual awareness are the rightful measures of their success in life, not wealth and status. However, Gandhi does not reject the principle of having a school system: rather, he thinks that it’s far more important to teach children morality than maths.

3. Is passive resistance an instrument of the week?

Ans: It is not conceived as a weapon of the weak. Passive resistance is used in the orthodox English sense and covers the suffragette movement as well as the resistance of the non-conformists. Passive resistance has been conceived and is regarded as a weapon of the weak.

4. What did Mahatma Gandhi mean when he said satyagraha is active resistance?

Ans: What Gandhiji meant about satyagraha being active resistance was that it requires a lot of soul force activity. It involves very great sacrifices to be made, which can be done only by strong-willed persons. It requires resistance to oppression without using any force. It emphasises the power of truth and the need to search for it. If the cause is true, physical force is not necessary to fight the oppressor. The satyagraha could win the battle against the oppressor by appealing to his conscience, by persuading him to see the truth. From the significance of image of Bharat Mata became a symbol of one’s nationalism.

5. Write about superiority of satyagraha to passive Resistance.

Ans: Satyagraha and passive resistance are methods for meeting aggression and settling conflicts. Passive Resistance as practised by non-Conformist in England and the Germans in Ruhr against the French was a political weapon of expediency whereas satyagraha is a moral weapon based on the superiority of soul-force or love-force over physical force. Passive Resistance is the weapon of the weak, while satyagraha can be practised only by the bravest who have the courage to die without killing. Passive Resistance aims at embarrassing the opponent into submission, while satyagraha intends to wean the opponent from error by love and patient suffering. In passive Resistance there is no place for love for the opponent; in satyagraha there is no room for ill-will and hatred, since the satyagraha is supposed to act against the evil and not the evil-doer. Passive Resistance static, while Satyagraha is dynamic. 

Passive Resistance is a negative approach, while Satyagraha is positive in contend and conduct. Passive Resistance does not exclude the possibility of violent methods. Satyagraha does not permit violence in any form or shape and on any eventualities. There is nothing passive about Satyagraha and on the other hand, it is active, pure and simple. It emphasizes internal strength of character, while passive resistance does not lay emphasis on the moral stature of the resistance.

6. What was Gandhi’s philosophy and aim of education?

Ans: Gandhi was a form believer in the essential unity of man and all lives. His faith in God, truth and non-violence enabled him to lead a much disciplined life and attain a spirit of moral superiority in all his actions. He envisioned a society free of exploitation and injustice and a social structure based on moral and equitable principles. His steadfast reliance on his principle all through his life, even under adverse circumstances made  it possible for him to translate his ideals into practice. In his work on the Educational Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, M.S.Patel aptly summarises Gandhi’s philosophy of education in these words: ‘with the object of realizing his ideal of a spiritual society as a stepping- stone to the realisation on God or truth, Gandhiji evolved an educational system as a dynamic side of his philosophy. 

There is a unity running through his concrete schemes and plans, making them a complete system of philosophy’. Before we begin to understand Gandhi’s views on education, it is necessary to know the background of the educational system which was introduced during the British rule. By the end of 19th century, the modern education system totally replaced the old and indigenous system of India. The system in the villages that ran public institutions like temples, monasteries, hospitals and schools were replaced with the advent of British and gave way to the adoption of English language, destroying the indigenous culture and found an immediate acceptance from the younger generation. ‘The system divorced the child from his social surroundings, created new castes, laid emphasis on literary education, and there was a neglect of mass education’. Gandhi’s theory of education evolved against these glaring discrepancies. 

What did Gandhi mean by true education if we were to understand his philosophy of education? Writing in Harijan, 1937, Gandhi explained as to what he understood by education: ‘by education, I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man body, mind and spirit. Literacy is not the end of education nor even the beginning. It is one of the means whereby man and woman can be educated’. Gandhi was more concerned with what the education has to offer to the individual in terms of development and not its tools and subject. To him, education is also an ‘awakening of the soul’, and ‘strengthening the inner voices’. True education, as he opined, brings about a harmonious functioning of the body, heart, mind and soul and stimulates the spiritual, intellectual and physical faculties. He felt that an undue emphasis on any one of these factors not only negates the basic principles of education but also retards the development of the self. 

Gandhi highly disapproved of the education system in India as being harmful, wasteful, unethical and artificial. ‘Most of the boys’, he said, ‘are lost to the parents and to the occupation to which they born. They pick up evil habits, affect urban ways and get a smattering of something which may be anything but education’. He prescribed vocational and manual training for such individuals for they constituted the best method of educating a child or individuals. Since it involved productive work and proficiency in the method of learning, it would in turn help them in concentrating on their curriculum. He thus sought to make manual training means of literary and intellectual training and also a self supporting system, having a economic value. 

To quote Patel again, Gandhi proposes to ‘accord dignity to labour, ensure modest and honest livelihood and after the characters and language through which education is imparted’. True education needs to be imparted through non-violence, without which exploitation and acquisition may take the lead. The above views of Gandhi coincide with ‘bread and butter’ scheme and aim of education, wherein education is our to use to acquire basic necessities of life. The fulfilment of basic needs obviously translates into aiming for higher ideals in life devoid of materialism. This scheme would act as an insurance against unemployment, wherein the individuals lead a self-supporting life, or turn to hereditary occupations. Learning while earning or vice versa is one of the basic component of the self-supporting system. 

Gandhi attached much importance to the cultural aspect of education, wherein the inner culture must be reflected in one’s speech and conduct towards others. Thus it is not an intellectual work but the quality of the soul. There is no room for pride, prejudice, vanity or falsehood in this culture. Gandhi successfully experimented with this scheme during his stay at Phoenix and Tolstoy Farms in South Africa. He himself directly supervised the education of children in the farms, and their all-round development. He laid greater emphasis on hand, heart and head than on reading, writing and arithmetic. Further, ‘modulation of voice is as necessary as the training of the hand. Physical drill, handicrafts, drawing and music should go hand in hand in order to draw the best out of boys and girls and create in them a real interest in their tuition’.

He played a great role in imparting such education and training to the young inmates of the farms and shouldered the responsibility of training them via compulsory physical training through medical drill. True education, as Gandhi envisioned, also focuses on social welfare. He never diverted the goal of education from rural reconstruction. He was in favour of the youth serving the villages and attaining ‘sarvodaya’ (upliftment of all). Social service is an inherent component of education, which has to be taken by especially during the vacation period. Gandhi was also in favour of the young people teaching the villagers the importance of hygiene and health; this in itself is a key ingredient of social service that includes his holistic perspective of the well-being. Gandhi viewed social service as an inherent part of education. 

Some of his words deserve to be quoted in this context: ‘The end of all education should surely be service, and if a student gets an opportunity of rendering service even whilst he is studying, he should consider it as a rare opportunity and treat it not really as suspension of his education but rather its complement’. Joseph Mukalel propounds that the entire spectrum of Gandhi’s social, spiritual and educational outlook was primarily founded on the basic principle of Hinduism as practised in Ancient India and other virtues that were imbibed in the cultural spectrum of India from time to time. In sum, some of the key features of this include self-realisation, God-realisation, truth, non-violence, conduct of human life, righteousness, discipline, physical training, craft learning and most importantly, to treat all living beings with respect, compassion, humility and love. To Gandhi, these features were the most essential in attaining Swaraj whereby he integrated the individual virtues with that of the welfare of society and nation.

7. Discuss the summary of the chapter Education from Hind Swaraj.

Ans: The reader asks the editor about education, which has become a major political issue. The editor replies that modern English education is useless-its just knowledge, which can be used for either good or evil. A farmer doesn’t need literacy and arithmetic, just morality. While Englishmen like professor Thomas Huxley say that education should strengthen people’s rationality, will, and sense of morality, English education doesn’t actual do so in India. The reader suggests that the editor is wise because of his education, but the editor disagrees: he learned nothing about morality in school, and he doesn’t need his modern education to communicate with most Indians. He concludes that true education must emphasize morality and character.

The reader asks whether Indians should learn English. The editor says both yes and no. The English language has enslaved India-Indians must write in English to reach a wide audience, and India’s government, newspapers, and courts are all in English. Nevertheless, English can also help Indians educate themselves, communicate with English people, and build a resistance movement across linguistic boundaries. Still, Indians should strive to communicate, read, and learn in their native languages whenever possible. Their education system should focus on ethics, and all Indians should learn multiple Indian languages. Hindi should be the national language, but it should use both the Persian and Nagari scripts. And truly ethical teachers should replace the charlatans who currently teach religion.

8. Discuss the historical context of the Hind Swaraj.

Ans: The English colonization of India began with the formation of the East india company in the early 1600s and took off in the mid-1700s, when the company fought a series of wars and allied itself with several existing Indian rulers in order to control the subcontinent. The company’s sole purpose was to extract all the resources it possibly could from India’s land and population-historians have estimated the cost of this plunder in the tens of trillions of dollars. After the enormous Indian Rebellion of 1857-which is often considered India’s first revolution for independence-the British government nationalized the East India company and took direct control over India during the period conventionally known as the British Raj (or British Rule). Over the next 50 years, British policy accelerated a series of devastating famines that killed tens of millions of people. 

Founded by Indian capital and labour, the industrial revolution also transformed Britain into the world’s economic powerhouse. One famous example of Britain’s vicious economic policy was the way it exploited cotton markets: the British bought Indian cotton at incredibly cheap prices but then manufactured cloth back in Britain and forced Indians to pay sky-high prices for textiles. This is the context to which Gandhi was responding when he condemned “modern civilization” as the deases afflicting Indian and famously proposed that Indians boycott British goods and weave their own textiles. Of course, he was also responding to a growing pro-independence sentiment during this period. Through the creation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 and the enormous popular backlash to the partition of Bengal in 1905, questions of Indian nationhood and identity were at the forefront of many Indians’ minds. Gandhi belonged to and specifically hoped to address the emerging class of educated, political radical Indian professionals who lived in places like South Africa and London and generally favoured a violent overthrow of the British Raj. 

In particular, the assassination of British army officer Curzon Wyllie by the Indian revolutionary Madan Lal Dhingra in 1909 certainly made an impact on gandhi-he wrote Hind Swaraj just a few months later. Although this book did not become popular for roughly a decade after its publication, it soon became one of the cornerstones of the Indian independence Movement, with Gandhi went on a lead. India won its independence in 1947, but not as the unified secular democracy that Gandhi hoped for. Indeed, despite Gandhi’s hopes, communal and religious divisions remain a driving force in Indian politics today.

9. Write about other books related to Hind Swaraj.

Ans: Besides Hind Swaraj, Gandhi’s most important work is his famous autobiography, the story of my Experiments with truth (1948), which covers his early life. Although Gandhi argues for a specifically Indian philosophy of life and society in Hind Swaraj, this vision is deeply influenced by Western writers as well as Indian ones. The most significant of Gandhi’s Western influences is probably the famed Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, whose nonfiction workers-including the Kingdom of God is within you (1894), the slavery of our times (1900), and “A Letter to a Hindu” (1908)-Gandhi read voraciously during his time in South Africa. (They began corresponding after the publication of Hind Swaraj) Gandhi was also an avoid reader of the American transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau (especially the 1849 Civil Disobedience) and the English critic John Ruskin (including the 1860 book on political economy unto this last). Beyond seminal texts of ancient Indian philosophy like the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, and Upanishads, Gandhi’s Indian influences particularly include the Jain philosophy of Shrimad Rajchandra and the historical work of schools like Dadabhai Naoroji (Poverty and Un-British Rule in India, 1901). 

Other crucial texts of the Indian independence movement include Prime Minister jawaharlal Nehru’s the Discovery of India (1946) and the Hindu nationalist V.D. savarkar’s the Indian war of independence (1909), with which Gandhi sharply disagreed. Among the numerous books on Gandhi’s life and impact, a few significant works include Dennis Dalton’s Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent power in action (1995), the edited volume Gandhi’s ‘Hind Swaraj’: A Fresh Look (1985), and contemporary historian Ramachandra Guha’s two-part biography: Gandhi before India (2013) and Gandhi: the years that changed the world, 1914-1948 (2018).

(B) The Scope of Orientalism

1. When did Arthur James Balfour lecture the house of commons on “the problems with which we have to deal in Egypt” (31)?

Ans: June 13, 1910.

2. When did the British occupation of Egypt begin during the Anglo-Egypt War?

Ans: 1882.

3. When did the secondly Boer War begin?

Ans: 1899.

4. How much money was Lord Cromer given on July 30, 1907 as a retirement prize for what he had done in Egypt?

Ans: 50,000 pounds.

5. When did Lord Cromer publish an article in the Edinburgh Review referring to Orientals as “subject races” (36)? 

Ans: January, 1908.

6. The author cites Lord Cromer in Chapter 1, saying that “the real future of Egypt…lies not in the direction of a narrow nationalism, which will only embrace native Egyptians…but rather in that of” what (37)?

Ans: “An enlarged cosmopolitanism”.


1. Who was Arthur James Balfour and what role did he play in the British government?

Ans: Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930) was a British Conservative politician. He was a member of parliament as of 1874 and the author describes him in the book as addressing parliament regarding the “Egyptian problem”.

2. How does the author define Orientalism?

Ans: Orientalism, according to Edward said, is the study of the Orient as perceived through Western viewpoints, and is thus misinformed, judgemental, and marked by a sense of Western superiority toward the inferior East.

3. When was the height of British colonialism? What areas were occupied by Britain?

Ans: British colonialism originated between the sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries. In 1913, the British Empire ruled or held sway over 412 million people and in 1920 Britain occupied 24% of the earth’s total land area.

4. What was Lord Cromer’s associated with Egypt?

Ans: Evelyn Baring, the 1st Earl of Cromer, served as British controller general in Egypt in 1879. From 1883 to 1907, he served as the agent and consul-general following the British occupation.

5. What are two main arguments Edward said makes in his book Orientalism?

Ans: The two main arguments said makes in Orientalism are first that the “Orient” is nothing but a Western Europe nations constructed the idea of the “Orient” to serve their imperialist agend.

6. What are the main arguments involved in the Orientalism debate?

Ans: Said major argument is that the West has defined the East in terms that serve to justify the West’s domination of the East. He argues that the West has defined the east as effeminate and inferior. There have been many stands of criticism of said’s work.

7. What is the main theme of Orientalism?

Ans: Orientalism (1978), by the literary critic Edward said, announced many of the themes of subaltern studies. The Orient that Said discussed was basically the Middle East, and the Orientalism was the body of fact, opinion, and prejudice accumulated by Western European scholars in their encounter.

8. Define the term “Orientalism” as coined by Edward said.

Ans: “Orientalism”, as defined by Edward said, is the Western attitude that views Eastern societies as exotic, primitive, and inferior. Basically, an Orientalist mindset centres the Western (European/American) world and views the Eastern world as ”the other”. This mindset allowed, and continues to allow, Western to rationlize much of the imperial conquest of the Eastern world throughout history.

9. Write a short summary of the essay.

Ans: In addition to definitions, there is a significant amount of dissent about the content of Orientalism. The first chapter “The scope of Orientalism” focuses on Napoleonic expedition and the stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs and provides a historical formation of Orientalism and how it came into being in the following decades. The knowledge brought back from the expedition not only allowed for the European public to cultivate themselves, it also caused the power struggle between the Egyptians and French to emerge as the latter could use the knowledge they had of the former to dominate them. The rhetoric of power within Orientalism uses knowledge to build domination, which is later translated into cultural relationship, the intrinsic importance of power being at the core of all social field of study. Once the construction of Western dominance was established, this knowledge was transmitted from generations to generations resulting in an everlasting cultural domination.

In this chapter, Edward said explains how the science of Orientalism develop and how the orientals started considering the orientals as non-human beings. The orientals divided the world in to two parts by using the concept of ours and theirs. An imaginary geographical line was drawn between what was ours and what was theirs. The orients were regarded as uncivilized people; and the westerns said that since they were the refined race it was their duty to civilize these people and in order to achieve their goal, they had to colonize and rule the orients. They said that the orients themselves were incapable of running their own government. The Europeans also thought that they had the right to represent the orientals in the west all by themselves. In doing so, they shaped the orientals the way they perceived them or in other words they were Orientalizing the orients. 

Various teams have been sent to the east where the orientalist silently observed the orientals by living with them; and everything the orientals said and did was recorded irrespective of its context, and projected to the civilized world of the west. This resulted in the generalization. Whatever was seen by the orientals was associated with the oriental culture, no matter if it is the irrational action of an individual. The most important use of Orientalism to the European was that they defined themselves by defining the orientals. For example, qualities such as lazy, irrational, uncivilized, crudeness were related to the orientals, and automatically the Europeans became active, rational, civilized, sophisticated. 

Thus, in order to achieve this goal, it was very necessary for the orientalists to generalize the culture of the orients. Another features of Orientalism was that the culture of the orientals was explained to the European audience by linking them to the western culture, for example, Islam was made into Mohammadism because Mohammad was the founder of this religion and since religion of Christ was called Christianity; thus Islam should be called Mohammadism. The point to be noted here is that no Muslim was aware of this terminology and this was a completely western created term, and to which the Muslims had no say at all.

10. Write a short note on Orientalism.

Ans: Orientalism by Edward said is a canonical text of cultural studies in which he has challenged the concept of Orientalism or the difference between East and West, as he puts it. He says that with the start of European colonization the Europeans came in contact with the lesser developed countries of the East. They found their civilization and culture very exotic, and established the science of Orientalism, which was the study of the orientals or the people from these exotic civilization. Edward said argues that the Europeans divided the world into two parts; the east and the west or the accident and the Orient or the civilised and the uncivilised. This was totally am artificial boundary; and it was laid on the basis of the concept of them and us or theirs and ours. 

The Europeans used Orientalism to define themselves. Some particular attributes were associated with the orientals, and whatever the orientals weren’t the accidents were. The Europeans defined themselves as the superior race compared to the orientals; and they justified their colonization by this concept. They said that it was their duty towards the world to civilise the uncivilised world. The main problem, however, arose when the Europeans started generalizing the attributes they associated with orientals, and started portraying these artificial characteristic associated with orientals in their western world through their scientific reports, literary work, and other media sources. What happened was that it created a certain image about the orientals in the Europeans mind and in doing that infused a bias in the European attitude towards the orientals. 

This prejudice was also found in the orientalist (scientist studying the orientals); and all their scientific research and reports were under the influences of this. The generalised attributes associated with the orientals can be seen even today, for example, the Arabs are defined as uncivilized people; and Islam is seen as religion of the terrorist.

11. Give a brief analysis of the essay.

Ans: Edward said’s publication of Orientalism (1978) made such an impact on thinking about colonial discourse that for two decades it has continued to be the site of controversy, adulation and criticism. Said’s intervention is designed to illustrate the manner in which the representation of Europe’s ‘others’ has been institutionalised since at least the eighteenth century as a feature of its cultural dominance. Orientalism describes the various disciplines, institutions, processes of investigation and styles of though by which Europeans came to ‘know’ the ‘orient’ over several centuries, and which reached their height during the rise and consolidation of nineteenth-century imperialism.

The key to said’s interest in this way of knowing Europe’s others is that it effectively demonstrates the link between knowledge and power, for it ‘constructs’ and dominates orientals in the process of knowing them. The very term ‘oriental’ shows how the process works, for the word identifies and homogenises at the same time, implying a range of knowledge and an intellectual mastery over that which is named. Since said’s analysis, Orientalism has revealed itself as a model for the many ways in which Europe’s strategies for knowing the colonised world became, at the same time, strategies for dominating that world. 

Orientalism, in said’s formulation, is principally a way of defining and ‘locating Europe’ others. But as a group of related disciplines Orientalism was, in important ways, about Europe itself, and hinged on arguments that circulated around the issue of national distinctiveness, and racial and linguistic origins. Thus the elaborate and detailed examinations of Oriental languages, histories and cultures were carried out in a context in which the supremacy and importance of European civilazation was unquestioned. Such was the vigour of the discourse that myth, opinion, hearsay and prejudice generated by influential scholars quickly assumed the status of received truth.

Orientalism is an openly political work. Its aim is not to investigate the array of disciplines or to elaborate exhaustively the historical or cultural provenance of Orientalism, but rather to reserve the ‘gaze’ of the discourse, to analysis it form the point of view of an ‘Oriental’-to ‘inventory the traces upon…the Oriental subject, of the culture whose domination has been so powerful a fact in the life of all Orientals’. How said can claim to be an ‘Oriental’ rehearses the recurrent paradox running through his work. But his experience of living in the United States, where the ‘East’ signifies danger and threat, is the source of the worldliness of Orientalism. The provenance of the book demonstrates the deep repercussions of Orientalist discourse, for it emerges directly from the ‘disheartening’ life of an Arab Palestinian in the west.

The web of racism, cultural stereotypes, political imperialism, dehumanizing ideology holding in the Arab or the Muslim is very strong indeed, and it is this web which every Palestinian has come to feel as his uniquely punishing destiny…The nexus of knowledge and power creating ‘the oriental’ and in a sense obliterating him as a human being is therefore not for me an exclusively academic matter. Yet it is an intellectual matter of some very obvious importance.

Orientalism, as we can see, is the fruit of Said’s own ‘uniquely punishing destiny’. In this book, a Palestinian Arab living in America deploys the tools and techniques of his adopted professional location to discern the manner in which cultural hegemony is maintained. His intention, he claims, was to provoke, and thus to stimulate ‘a new kind of dealing with the Orient’ (1978:28). Indeed, if this binary between ‘Orient’ and ‘Occident’ were to disappear altogether, ‘we shall have advance a little in the process of what Welsh Marxist cultural critic Raymond Williams has called the “unlearning” of “the inherent dominative mode”.

Said’s own work of identity construction underlies the passion behind Orientalism. The intellectual power of the book comes from its inspired and relentlessly focused analysis of the way in which a variety of disciplines operated within certain coherent discursive limits, but the cultural, and perhaps even emotional, power of the books comes from its worldly ‘immediacy’ its production by a writer whose identity has been constructed, in part, by this discourse, who still feels the effects of Orientalist ‘knowledge’. Passion can be a confusing and unreflective element in intellectual debate, and while the passion no doubt explains a great deal about the popularity of Orientalism, the refusal by many critics to take the book’s worldliness into account has tended to limit their perception of its significance.

12. Discuss the irony of the essay.

Ans: The irony of Orientalism: Orientalism is fictitious philosophy of familiarity. For instance, the author illustrates using the political philosophy put forward by the British colonizers, whose primary goal was manipulation. The Orientalism satire helps readers to understand the misinformation used by the British in the early centuries to preside over Asia.

The irony Western Colonizers: ‘Western Colonizers’ is figuratively used by the author to represent superiority. The British were tactical because they first learned the language of the local people before presiding over them. For example, the British translated the local language to help them comprehend the language and culture of the locals before ruling them. Ironically, the British’s intention to learn local languages was manipulation because it did not benefit the locals in any way. 

The irony of colonialism: Most Asian countries were ruled by the British, who summarized all the cultures of different countries within the continent into one. The reader learns that even after colonization, most Asian countries are based on the pillars of colonialism! The satire in this narrative is that the Asian countries are not yet free because most of the decisions they make are based on western influencers. Therefore, it is easy to identify the dark side of colonialism in Asia and other countries that were ruled by Western countries.

The irony oriental studies: Oriental studies show the opportunistic nature of Western countries. It is sardonic to learn that the Colonizers assumed that the Asian people are irrational and made the world believe that they are seductive and exotic. The reader realizes that everything that is said in history about the people of the East is bogus.

The knowledge of the Eastern landscape: The western Colonizers claimed that they understood the Asian landscape that the local people! The reader finds this entirely ironic because the Westerners learned everything from the local people. Ironically, the Colonizers wanted the world to believe that they brought civilization to the East, which is entirely sarcastic. 

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