Eastern world

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The Eastern world in a 1796 map, which included the continents of Asia and Australia (then known as New Holland).

The Eastern world, also known as the East or the Orient, is an umbrella term for various cultures or social structures, nations and philosophical systems, which varies depending on the context. It most often includes Asia or, geographically, the countries and cultures east of Europe, including the Mediterranean region and Arab world, specifically in historical (pre-modern) contexts, and in the context of Orientalism.[1] It is often seen as a counterpart to the Western world.

The various regions included in the term are varied, hard to generalize, and do not have a single shared common heritage, as is frequently claimed for the Western world. Although the various parts of the Eastern world may share many common threads, they have never historically defined themselves collectively.[2]

The term originally had a literal geographic meaning, referring to the eastern part of the Old World, contrasting the cultures and civilizations of Asia with those of Western Europe (or the Western world). Traditionally, this includes all of East and Southeast Asia (e.g. China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore), the Near East, the Eurasian Steppe, the Greater Middle East, and South Asia (Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent).

Conceptually, the boundary between east and west is cultural and geopolitical, rather than geographical, as a result of which places such as Australia is typically grouped in the West, while the Caucasian and Central Asian nations of the former Soviet Union, are grouped in the East.[3] New Zealand and Northern America are also considered a part of the Western world.[4][5] Furthermore, countries such as Israel and Turkey, which are geographically located outside of Europe, have been considered partially westernized.[6][7][8]

In some cases, the definition may be used to refer exclusively to the former Eastern Bloc.

Identity politics[edit]

Asian concepts[edit]

Although the concept of a unified "Asian race" does exist, it usually only refers to cultures and ethnicities from Southeast, East and South Asia.[9][10] This is due to the fact that common parlance, in English, links the "Asian identity" to the people from these regions and often excludes the regions of Western Asia and the Eurasian Steppe; such areas include the Arab nations, Israel, Turkey and Iran, and Russia, Kazakhstan and Post-soviet space.[11]

The division between the 'East' and 'West', formerly referred to as the Orient and Occident, is a product of Roman cultural history and of the distinction between Western Christendom and the cultures beyond it to the East. With the European colonization of the Americas the East-West distinction became global. The concept of an Eastern, "Indian" (Indies) or "Oriental" sphere was later emphasized by ideas of racial as well as religious and cultural differences. Such distinctions were articulated by Westerners in the scholarly tradition known as Orientalism and Indology. The notion of a unified Asian identity may, therefore, be considered a primarily European construct. Orientalism, interestingly, has been the only Western concept of a unified Eastern world not limited to any specific region(s), but rather all of the East together.[12][13]

European concepts[edit]

During the Cold War, the term "Eastern world" was used as an extension of the Eastern bloc, connoting the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China and their communist allies, while the term "Western world" often connoted the United States and its NATO allies such as the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

The concept is often another term for the Far East – a region that bears considerable cultural and religious commonality. Far Eastern philosophy, art, literature, and other traditions, are often found throughout the region in places of high importance, such as popular culture, architecture and traditional literature. The spread of Buddhism and Hindu Yoga is partly responsible for this.

Eastern culture[edit]

An image of the "Eastern world" defined as the "Far East", consisting of three overlapping cultural blocks: East Asia (green), South Asia (orange), and Southeast Asia (blue)
The spread of Syriac Christianity to East Asia.
Distribution of Eastern religions (yellow), as opposed to Abrahamic religions (pink).
Middle Eastern cultural region

Eastern culture has developed many themes and traditions. Some important ones are:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thompson, William; Joseph Hickey (2005). Society in Focus. Boston: Pearson plc. 0-205-41365-X.
  2. ^ Lee, Sandra S. Mouth, Joanna. Barbara, Koening A. The Meanings of Race in the New Genomics: Implications for Health Disparities Research. Yale University. 2001. October 26, 2006. [1] Archived 2006-11-01 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Meštrovic, Stjepan (1994). Balkanization of the West: The Confluence of Postmodernism and Postcommunism. Routledge. p. 61. ISBN 0-203-34464-2.
  4. ^ "Embassy of Brazil – Ottawa". Brasembottawa.org. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  5. ^ Falcoff, Mark. "Chile Moves On". AEI. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  6. ^ Sheldon Kirshner (16 October 2013). "Is Israel Really a Western Nation?". Sheldon Kirshner Journal. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  7. ^ "EU-Turkey relations". European Information on Enlargement & Neighbours. EurActiv.com. 23 September 2004. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  8. ^ "Fifty Years On, Turkey Still Pines to Become European". TIME. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  9. ^ Cartmill, M. (1999). The Status of the Race Concept in Physical Anthropology. American Anthropologist 100(3)651 -660.
  10. ^ For example, "Asian and Indian people" are referred to in the New Zealand Heart Foundation's BMI calculator Archived 2009-05-31 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Khatib, Lina (2006). Filming the modern Middle East: politics in the cinemas of Hollywood and the Arab world. Library of Modern Middle East Studies, Library of International Relations. 57. I.B. Tauris. pp. 166–167, 173. ISBN 1-84511-191-5.
  12. ^ Tromans, 6
  13. ^ from the Latin oriens; Oxford English Dictionary
  14. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Glenn Olsen (1961). Crisis in Western Education (reprint ed.). p. 108. ISBN 9780813216836.
  15. ^ "Ramoji Film City sets record". Business Line. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 3 August 2007.