Sunday, January 10, 2016

Oprea Buffa

Update: Hi MBRU readers! Make yourselves at home!

Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Marabout: In the Harem Bath (1889). Via
Megan Grace Oprea at The Federalist setting us straight on Orientalism:
Edward Said popularized this term in his 1978 post-colonial work Orientalism. According to many of my colleagues, an orientalist is a person who writes about the Middle East from a “western perspective,” which is when one does not unquestioningly support and affirm Middle Eastern and Islamic culture. This does not mean that westerners are excluded from writing about the Middle East and Islam. A westerner can do so successfully so long as their research is void of criticism. 
Oh, no, dear me, what "colleagues" (at the UT-Austin French department?) told you that? Orientalism does not present itself with a harsh critique but an affectionate smile. Orientalism adores the East, its fragrant and languorous beauty. Orientalism wants to put a harem wall around the whole delicious continent! Orientalists don't criticize the East, for heaven's sake, what for? They're only children, after all, really, though undoubtedly hot-tempered and given to knives and garrotes and poison, and also astonishingly sexy. Orientalists love Orientals the way Donald Trump loves women: he would never say anything unkind about them, unless they did something ugly and disturbed his fantasy about how dreamily acquiescent and mysteriously lovely they are.

Orientalists just think Orientals shouldn't write about anything. Why trouble their lovely, empty little heads? It'll just put frown lines on those sleek complexions.

Anyway, you don't have to worry about anybody calling you an Orientalist, with your record. They'll just call you a racist without the complications.

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