Proceedings Journal Article — The African Orient: Edward Said’s Orientalism and ‘Western’ Constructions of Africa — by Agnes Czajak

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This paper utilizes the framework established by Edward Said’s Orientalism to examine ‘Western’ constructions of Africa. The essay attempts to expose the complex structure instituted by the ‘West,’ which establishes relationships of hierarchy among diverse entities, yet places ‘Them’ all firmly below itself. Finally, in an effort to account for the material foundations of these discursive hierarchies, an attempt is made to theorize their articulation with politico-economic concerns.

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Abstract

The following paper utilizes the framework established by Edward Said’s Orientalism to examine ‘Western’ constructions of Africa. The goal of the analysis is threefold. First, it aims to establish a general framework for the comparative examination of the phenomenon of ‘Othering’, extending it beyond the scope of Said’s Orientalism in order to present it as a broad configuration that structures the interactions of the ‘West’ with the remainder of humanity. While acknowledging this comparability between ‘Western’ conceptions of the Asia and Africa, the analysis,secondly, endeavours to illustrate the variations that exist within these discourses. Through an examination of these tensions, the essay attempts to expose the complex structure instituted by the ‘West,’ which establishes relationships of hierarchy among diverse entities, yet places ‘Them’ all firmly below itself. Finally, in an effort to account for the material foundations of these discursive hierarchies, an attempt is made to theorize their articulation with politico-economic concerns.

Czajak, Agnes. 2005. “The African Orient: Edward Said’s Orientalism and ‘Western’ Constructions of Africa.” Pp. 117-134 in Theories and Praxes of Difference: Revisiting Edward Said in the Age of New Globalizations: Proceedings of the Second Annual Social Theory Forum, April 6-7, 2005 (Discourse of Sociological Practice, Vol. 7, Issues 1&2, Fall/Spring 2005). Double-Issue Guest Editor: Mohammad H. Tamdgidi. Sociology Department, UMass Boston.


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