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Orientalism and Edward Said

            "Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn't trust the evidence of one's eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission of civilization"" (Edward W. Said, Orientalism). .
             The term, "Orientalism," has been used for centuries by scholars, historians, and librarians alike in reference to the Middle East and the Near East. More often than not, this reference would be used under the topics of art and literature by the Western world. Western interest in The Orient as an exotic land began with the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria beginning in 1798 supposedly to protect French trade interests, undermine Great Britain's access to India, and to establish scientific enterprise in the region. The scholars that were sent to the region included engineers, artists, mathematicians, and geologists; numbering around 167 individuals. They founded the Institut d'Egypte with the aim of propagating enlightenment values in Egypt through interdisciplinary work. Napoleon's discoveries in Egypt gave birth to the fascination with Ancient Egyptian culture and Egyptology in Europe. .
             However, in 1978, Edward Said drastically revolutionized the meaning of The Orient with the publishing of his book, Orientalism. Today, Orientalism is used more to describe the West's patronizing views and the repercussions of such views, towards The Orient. The area(s) that can be included under the term ˜Orient' can of course be debated, but for the simplicity sake of this paper, will refer mainly to the Middle East and North Africa. Said, a Palestinian-American, knows full well of these repercussions and made many ground-breaking claims about just how powerful Western influence has been on these areas in his book.

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