|Author||:||Azizan Baharuddin, Faridah Noor Mohd Noor|
|Publisher||:||Centre for Civilisational Dialogue|
The term "orientalism" originally referred to an interest (usually an admiring one) in cultures and regions that were perceived as "Eastern", and especially to the limitation and depiction of features of those cultures in art and architecture. Thus the term implied a positive attitude to these cultures. However the term gradually died out until the late 20th century, when Edward Said published his book Orientalism (1976). Much influenced by Michael Foucalt and Alexander Gramsci, Said argued that the idea of the Orient was an imperialist or, in Gramsci's term , hegemonic construction designed to demonstrate the superiority of the "Western " culture of Europe and the United States. According to Said, Western scholars set out to create a dichtomy , presenting the Orient (and Africa) as child-like, backward, romantic, mysterious and inscrutable, as well as barbaric, corrupt, cruel, devious and undemocratic while the West was seen as progressive, modern, democratic, enlightened, sophiscated and civilised. Said's work is often considered a landmark of critical theory and post-colonial thought.'
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