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Эта известнейшая книга Эдварда Саида представляет собой продуктивное и элегантное применение теории Мишеля Фуко о нераздельности знания и власти к области исследований, именуемой в Великобритании и Франции как ориентализм или увлечение (Ближним) Востоком. За распространением востоковедческого дискурса и образов экзотического востока, коллекционированием восточных экспонатов автор видит колониальные интересы Запада, стремление к господству и эксплуатации Востока. Знание подчинено интересам господства: сначала идут этнографические и археологические экспедиции; следом за ними – экспедиционный корпус. Книга Саида представляет собой достойный образец критического исследования дискурсивных практик с привлечением богатого исторического и литературного материала.

Orientalism is a masterpiece of comparative literature studies and deconstruction, published in 1978 it is arguably Said's most rigorous piece but undoubtedly his most influential. This is a examination of the academic discipline of Oriental Studies, which has a long history most of the European universities. Oriental Studies is a pastiche areas of study which include philology, linguistics, ethnography, and the interpretation of culture through the discovery, recovery, compilation, and translation of Oriental texts. Said makes it clear that he is not breaking new ground. Said limits Orientalism on how English, French, and American scholars have approached the Arab societies of North Africa and the Middle East. Although at times he refers to other periods - ranging as far back as the Greeks, the time period he covers is more limited than the scholarly field really extend. Said stays within the confines of the late eighteenth century to the present, whereas European scholarship on the Orient dates back to the High Middle Ages. Within his time frame, however, Said extends his examination beyond the works of recognized Orientalist academics to take in literature, journalism, travel books, and religious and philosophical studies to produce a broadly historical and anthropological perspective incorporating Foucaultian notions of "Discourse" and Gramscian notions of "Inventories". His book makes three major claims. Firstly, that Orientalism, although purporting to be an objective, disinterested, and rather esoteric field, in fact functioned to serve political ends. Next, his second claim is that Orientalism helped define a European (mainly English and French) self-image. Lastly, Said argues that Orientalism has produced a false description of Arabs and Islamic culture. Whether you agree with him or not, feel that he may have misappropriated Foucault or feel like I do that what he is putting out is not comprehensive enough therefore is suspect, the point is moot. What is important is that Said has opened up a whole new area of discussion. The book has brought the author a sense of academic place and the author has placed a sense of notoriety on the subject. Trapped in what Foucault has described as an "Authorial Function" of book and author, author and book, the book is a reawakening and sin to overlook.
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