imitation or depiction of aspects of Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures
In art history, literature and cultural studies, Orientalism is the imitation or depiction of aspects in the Eastern world.
- By the law of contraries, I look for an irresistible taste for Orientalism in Britain. For a self-conceited modish life, made up of trifles, clinging to a corporeal civilization, hating ideas, there is no remedy like the Oriental largeness. That astonishes and disconcerts English decorum. For once, there is thunder it never heard, light it never saw, and power which trifles with time and space. I am not surprised to find an Englishman like Warren Hastings, who had been struck with the grand style of thinking in the Indian writings, deprecating the prejudices of his countrymen while offering them a translation of the Bhagavat Gita.
- source: English Traits, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
- The Orient that appears in Orientalism, then, is a system of representations framed by a whole set of forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western consciousness, and later, Western empire. ... The Orient is the stage on which the whole East is confined. On this stage will appear the figures whose role it is to represent the larger whole from which they emanate. The Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world, but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe.
- Edward Said, Orientalism. 1978