Sarolta Eszter DériStudent number: 61409Number of characters: 127882, Discuss a contemporary example of what Edward Said terms Orientalism.Base your argument on Said’s text or simply use it as a reference.In the following essay I seek to apply a contemporary example on Edward Said’s argumentabout the term Orientalism. The concrete case I have chosen to build my argument around inthis essay is the French media institution who weekly publish satirical reports, cartoons ordisputes in their newspaper, namely Charlie Hebdo. In order to be able to unpack theconnection with some of the acts (and its consequences) made by the media Charlie Hebdoand the term Orientalism, the essay will shortly introduce Said’s main arguments aboutorientalism. It will be followed with a given understanding why there is a level of orientalismin Charlie Hebdo, while referring back on Said’s terms of orientalism.
And finally this essaywill give a short conclusion which will make clear the discussed connections between theFrench media institution and the unpacked term “Orientalism” by Edward Said.In such an essay I find it important to make it clear that my aim behind building up myargument is not to be against or to be for the moral thoughts behind Charlie Hebdo as aninstitution. The followed essay seek to be unbiased and build up an argument based only onpublished texts and cartoons.
Furthermore this topic has more than one layer, for exampleconsidering the terror attack in 2015 on Charlie Hebdo. Even though the layers are inconnection with each other in this essay I am only focusing on the European (particularlyFrench) power over the Orient – which means particular cartoons published in France, whileapplying it on Edward Said’s terms as “Orientalism”.The institution of Charlie Hebdo was founded in 1969 and was named as Hara-Kiri-Hebdo atthe time they were founded. Right now, in 2017, it is a left-wing political alignment mediainstitution, located in Paris, which has a strong focus on publishing articles which arereflecting on the contemporary political actions (usually made by the far-right) or in manycases on religious life. When the published articles are based on religious life, the tenors aremainly catholicism, islam or judaism.
(time.com) The mentioned reflection is always adistrosion, a cartoon, just as the time published it, saying the following sentences. (time.com)”The aim is to laugh,” Charlie Hebdo journalist Laurent Léger said at the time . “We want tolaugh at the extremists — every extremist. They can be Muslim, Jewish, Catholic. Everyonecan be religious, but extremist thoughts and acts we cannot accept.
” (time.com)Therefore what Charlie Hebdo, as a Western European media institution publish is can not beliterally taken since the journalism is filled up with sarcastic articles and focusing on theextremist thoughts and acts. But in spite of this fact, there is a created, an orientalized picturebehind their journalism, which was created by the Occident about (in many case, and thefocus of this essay) Orient. As it was mentioned above the media institution Charlie HebdoSarolta Eszter DériStudent number: 61409Number of characters: 12788prefer to publish about religion in their journalism.
The following few lines will highlight andexplain some of their published cartoons in connection with the Orient, with the Middle East,and later in the essay I will connect it with the term Orientalism.In the following section of the essay I will connect the term Orientalism with the above givencontemporary example, the French media institution, Charlie Hebdo.Edward Said discussed many shades behind the term Orientalism as well as the a historicalprogress of it. According to Said we can state that the historical roofs of the term Orientalismis coming from the power relationship between the Orient and the Western Europeans – whodo not see themselves as individuals but as they are unconsciously being defined as westerneuropeans – through history. (reference) Said unpacked the fact that Western Europeans notonly had power over the Orient, but were using that power in order to make profit tothemselves from it. Furthermore Said argued that the orient is not a concrete geographicalfact of nature, “it is not merely there, just as the Occident itself is not just there either.”(reference) . Instead, “.
..the orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought,imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the East” (E. Said:1979: 4 ).
Therefore, the Orient is men-made and is depending on the particular view of point just likethe Occident. Going further from the term “Orient” as it was said, the Orient is men-made sothat it was orientalized, meaning that the Orient was created. Here I would like to highlightthe first connection between Orientalism and those articles from Charlie hebdo – which arerefering on the Middle-East, is the word “created”. What the French media institutionpublicates in their journalism is reflecting on a picture how they see the Orient, particularlythe Middle East. This fact also can be connected with another argument of Edward Said aboutorientalism.
He argued the following sentences:”Orientalism, therefore, is not an airy European fantasy about the Orient, but a created bodyof theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been a considerablematerial investment. Continued investment made orientalism, as a system of knowledge aboutthe Orient, an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient into Western consciousness, justas the same investment multiplied- indeed, made truly productive – the statementsproliferating out from Orientalism into the general culture.” (E. Said. 1979: 6)In the mentioned case, the “created body of theory and practice” is perfectly can be seen inthose of the Charlie Hebdo caricatures, pictures and published articles when the one whopublished had particular assumptions and created pictures about “them” about the “orient”from the Western European world, with rather a mind of a Western European than with amind of individual (subconsciously). (E.
Said. 1979).Another argument of Edward Said also for the fact that the French media institution CharlieHebdo has some orientalist journalism. Said argued:Sarolta Eszter DériStudent number: 61409Number of characters: 12788″Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinctionmade between “the Orient” and (most of the time) “the Occident” ( E. Said. 1979: 2).
In this argument Said explains that orientalism is coming from the different ontological andepistemological distinction between the Orient (East) and the Occident (West). Thisstatement can be for example values in our everyday life. A concrete published journalismexample of Charlie Hebdo for this argument is a case from the summer of 2016, when in Junethey posted on Facebook a caricature in which we can see a naked long bearded men and anaked veiled women running on a beach.
Under the picture there is a message which says:”Musulmans… Dé-coin-cez-vous !” which means in English:”Muslims, free yourselves!”(Times of Israel: 2016) Moreover, the mention published picture by Charlie Hebdo has morereasons that we can apply on the term by Edward Said. Since Said also stated: “Orientalismexpresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discoursewith supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonialbureaucracies and colonial styles” (E. Said. 1979: 2)And as third argument from Said which perfectly reflects why the given published exampleof the French media institution is a good example is the argument of Said which says:”I myself believe that Orientalism is more particularly valuable as a sign ofEuropean-Atlantic power over the Orient than it is as a veridic discourse about the Orient(which is what, in its academic or scholarly form, it claims to be). ( E. Said.
1979: 6 )And lastly, as a fourth argument which also corresponding with the mentioned contemporaryexample. Said stated that: “The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship ofpower, of domination, of carrying degrees of a complex hegemony, and is quite accuratelyindicated in the title.” (E. Said. 1979: 5)The mentioned references from Edward Said all reflect on the concrete brought example ofthe published picture by Charlie Hebdo in 2016. Firstly, as the Western European mind saysbased on their own Western values that Muslims should have make them to be free containsstrong epistemological and ontological values made by Western Europeans.
The concrete message of the posted picture is that having a religion and belonging to areligion according to which the body should be hidden is something that should be over bynow. Meaning that the one of the main value in the Middle East should be “colonized” shouldbe the same as it is in the Western part, in the Occident part of the world. Furthermore thisalso reflects on the power relations between the Occident and the Occident, meaning simplythat Charlie Hebdo has the power to criticize and to examine a determinative point of muslimpeople’s lives.Furthermore, Edward Said highlighted Denys Hay’s points of that orientalism is not far fromthe idea of Europe, “. ..a collective notion identifying “us” Europeans against all “those”Sarolta Eszter DériStudent number: 61409Number of characters: 12788non-Europeans, and indeed it can be argued that the major component European culture isprecisely what made that culture hegemonic both in and outside Europe…” (E.
Said. 1979:7)This argument also perfectly proves that Charlie Hebdo in some case, in some of theirpublished journalism – for instance the mentioned case- tend to be orientalist. Saying what”them” should do in an insulting (it is insulting because they deleted one of their the taboo ofthe Middle East – showing the women body naked).
They have been identified themselves as”free” and messaged the Middle East that they should also “free themselves” meaning theyare not “free”.As a conclusion, according to Edward Said, colonialism is a complex term which hashistorical roots including the power relations between the Orient – which was mainlygeographically the Middle East and Asia and the Occident – Western world.Therefore, the Orient was men-made by having power over it during the colonization andtime by time the Western part of the world defined themselves and the Orient.
Orientalismcontains having power over the Orient from a Western view, having material investments init and nevertheless having authorizing views in it. It is interdependent and goes further andfurther in generations by teaching it and giving it further in the common sense knowledge.As the essay further proved there are some reason which can be connected with the termorientalism and can be found in (not all) but in particular published newspapers or facebookposts of Charlie Hebdo. This essay highlighted the one which had a message from WesternEurope to the Middle East – calling muslim people to “freeing themselves” by illustrating anaked muslim man and naked muslim women in the beach.Publishing such journalism shows the mentioned power relations by Edward Said.Specifically it contains hegemony, having the power to publish about “them” and telling”them” what to do. And here the essence is of course not on publishing (consideringdemocracy and freedom of speech) but on “them”, and on telling them what to do. Becausethe values according to which Charlie Hebdo messaged to muslim people “to freethemselves” considers a strong values of the Western World.
Furthermore here is theconnection with how in this context the individual is not an individual anymore, but rather an”Western European”. Charlie Hebdo published it without questioning if their views andvalues are the only option to live with. They have not because they have a sense ofknowledge what was discussed above based on Edward Said.Moreover, Orientalism goes from generation to generation by teaching it – as Edward Saidstated it. In this case, I find it needless to point out the huge power of media – includedCharlie Hebdo. The values and knowledge they publish their newspapers and posts gives thesame values further and further.In this essay I was seeking to prove why particular parts of the journalism of Charlie Hebdocan be considered as orientalist.
While doing it, as mentioned above, I did not aim to evaluatethe morals behind Charlie Hebdo. I simply aimed to build up an argument based on the termSarolta Eszter DériStudent number: 61409Number of characters: 12788Orientalism defined by Edward Said and based on the journalism of Charlie Hebdo – whilehighlighting one of their post.Bibliography:Said, Edward. 1979. Orientalism .
New York: Vintage Books. pp. 1-28.https://www.timesofisrael.com/france-investigates-death-threats-against-charlie-hebdo/(access on: 22.11.17)http://time.com/3657256/charlie-hebdo-paris-attack/ (access on: 22.11.17)