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Orientalism Essay

843 words - 4 pages

Conflicts between civilizations have existed since civilizations themselves were evolved, due to differences in culture, religion, and politics. While the clash between the dominantly Christian West and the Muslim East, is certainly due to these differences, it is also the product of centuries of stereotypes inflated by biased scholarly work. More importantly, the struggle that the United States faces today with the Muslim world can be traced back to a false sense of superiority among white Europeans and the fight for power and land.
Following the birth of the Islam religion onto the Arabian Peninsula, it was documented in the Qur’an, which is believed to be the word of god as ...view middle of the document...

Islam people, among and other non-Western cultures, were depicted as the opposite of these characteristics. Orientalism, defined as the distinction between Islam and the West, originated as a scholarly discipline during the Oriental Renaissance in the 19th century. Scholars tended to disagree on the opinion of Islam, and several were racist, degrading, and even cruel in their work. Some believed in the “white man’s burden”, or the need for white Europeans to assist less advanced or darker skinned people in order to civilize them.
European history with Muslims had a direct effect on the way that Americans view the “Middle East” today. While Britain and France have had direct experience and colonization in the Orient, America’s involvement is less direct . Major involvement started in the 1930s when the US turned to Saudia Arabia for their abundant oil supply. A decade later, US officials had a desire to help shape the world, with a hidden agenda to prevent the spread of Communism. Scholarly work on the Orient began to make way following World War II in an attempt to become experts in this area and stay invested in areas that would provide strategic benefits. Private organizations that promoted “area studies” increased until the late 1950s, then federal funding was approved. While studies on the non-West were rising into the 1960s in America and Britain, most work stayed true to the belief that the only way to become modern is to follow their ways and there is no other path to achieve modernization.
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