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Examine the concept of Orientalism as propounded by Edward Said in his book Orientalism.


In addition to the above answer, I might just add that in Orientalism, Edward Said established a binary between Orient and Occident. It was this binary that created the "Other" and that allowed the colonizers to form a cohesive Us identity in the corollary Us/Them binary. Postcolonialist professors embrace this criticism because of adherence to the precept that dignity derives from recognizing each group as equal as opposed to a Them inferior to or subservient to an Us.

The relevance of Said's binary of Orientalism to literature is that he contends (critics suggest boldly contends) that there could be no European literature from the end of the 18th century onward (at which time morality ceased being an individual choice of a code of conduct and became a cultural construct) as we know it because from Austen to Conrad, the Us/Them Orientalism binary is present. In works such as Austen's, it is present in a stark silence; in work such as Conrad's it is present with a passive Them as ineffectual background to the Us who have the agency, authority and rational capability to act.

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