Nesting Orientalisms

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Nesting Orientalisms is a concept introduced by Milica Bakić-Hayden, a visiting lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh. It is based on gradation of "Orients", i.e. otherness and primitiveness.


As developed by Milica Bakić-Hayden, Nesting Orientalisms is a conceptual variant of Edward Said's theory of Orientalism; an additional influence is Larry Wolff,[1] but, in fact, she already had used the term ‘Nesting Orientalism’ in the article ‘Orientalist Variations on the Theme “Balkans”: Symbolic Geography in Recent Yugoslav Cultural Politics” (1992), co-author Robert Hayden, before Wolff published Inventing Eastern Europe.[2]

The concept[edit]

This concept explains "a tendency of each region to view the cultures and religions to its South and East as more conservative and primitive".[3] It explains how a group which creates the Orientalized other can also be the subject of Orientalization by another group, and so on.[4] According to this concept Asia is more "east" or "other" than Eastern Europe. Within Eastern Europe the Balkans is perceived as most "eastern". Such hierarchy continues within the Balkans.[5]

Nesting Balkanisms[edit]

In the case of the Balkans there are many rankings connected with this concept, which "play a significant role in . . . identity building [and proclaiming] a more prestigious position within a generally negatively assessed entity".[6] Proclaiming one's European character was a tool in creating the pattern of "nesting orientalisms" in the Balkans.[7]

Hence, Bulgarian historian Maria Todorova introduced the related concept of "nesting balkanisms".[6] Todorova emphasized the importance of this concept in identity constructions, which in the case of the Balkans involve the dual perception of the Balkans as a part of Europe but also as in opposition, as the "darker side" of Europe.[6]

Nesting Colonialisms[edit]

Another concept related to the concept of nesting orientalisms was introduced by Tanja Petrović, a Serbian anthropologist from Slovenia: that of "nesting colonialisms", which is marked by parallels and analogies of the European Union and the rest of the world, which are perceived as former colonial powers and former colonies. This concept provides members of European Union, no matter whether they had a colonial past or not, with a "pool" of discursive patterns used for exclusion of those who are outside the European Union.[3]

Nesting Occidentalisms[edit]

Bulgarian intellectuals have modified the concept of Nesting Orientalisms into the reversed concept of Nesting Occidentalisms.[8]

The concept of nesting occidentalisms is present in the 2006 mockumentary Borat, which exploits foreign and domestic hierarchies of Americans.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ashbrook, John E (2008), Buying and selling the Istrian goat : Istrian regionalism, Croatian nationalism, and EU enlargement, New York: Peter Lang, p. 22, ISBN 90-5201-391-8, OCLC 213599021, Milica Bakić-Hayden built on Wolff's work, incorporating ideas from Edward Said's Orientalism
  2. ^ Milica Bakic-Hayden and Robert Hayden, "Orientalist Variations on the Theme "Balkans": Symbolic Geography in Recent Yugoslav Cultural Politics" Slavic review, vol. 51, no. 1 (Spring 1992), p. 4.
  3. ^ a b Petrović, Tanja (2009). Heinz Fassmann, ed. Kulturen der Differenz – Transformationsprozesse in Zentraleuropa nach 1989 transdisziplinäre Perspektiven. Vienna Univ. Press. p. 141. ISBN 3-89971-714-7.
  4. ^ Cela, Alba (2006), ‘Orientalism’ in service of Contemporary National Identity Building in Albania: The literary work of Ismail Kadare. (PDF), Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Nationalism Studies Program, p. 18, archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2011, Milica Bakic-Hayden’s work on “Nesting Orientalisms”... exposed how the project of creating a necessary other sometimes involves the Orientalization of one group by another, who has been in turn Orientalized by another, and so on.
  5. ^ Harrington, Carol; Ayman Salem; Tamara Zurabishvili, After communism : critical perspectives on society and sociology, p. 84, ISBN 978-0-8204-6951-5, OCLC 56334118, ...Hayden very interestingly introduced the idea of 'nesting Orientalism', which contains the process of descending East/West exclusion: "The gradation of 'Orients' that I call 'nesting Orientalisms' is a pattern of reproduction of the original dichotomy upon which the Orientalism is premised.
  6. ^ a b c Elchinova, Magdalena (2004), Bulgaria's Way to Europe: Some Aspects of Identity Construction Among Bulgarian Students Today, Ethnologia Balkanica, 8, Sofia: Prof. M. Drinov Academic Pub. House, p. 37, OCLC 41714232, [C]f. the idea of 'nesting orientalisms' in Bakic-Hayden 1995, and the related concept of 'nesting balkanisms' in Todorova 1997 ... The dynamic nature of 'Europe' and 'the Balkans' is even more salient when the two are regarded as identity constructions. As such, they are still opposed to each other (Todorova 1997:19) for the Balkans are not alien to Europe, they are its 'darker side'
  7. ^ Biehl, Peter F., Archäologien Europas: Geschichte, Methoden und Theorien, Waxmann, p. 316, ISBN 978-3-8309-1067-1, The renegotiation of the European character of the Balkan peoples was the major issue among the conflicting parties, and a device in constructing the pattern of 'nesting orientalisms' mentioned above (Bakić-Hayden...)
  8. ^ Bracewell, Wendy; Alex Drace-Francis (2009). Balkan Departures: Travel Writing from South-Eastern Europe. New York: Berghahn. p. 111. ISBN 1-84545-254-2. Retrieved 31 August 2011. Milica Bakić Hayden speaks of "nesting Orientalisms". Bulgarian intellectuals ... appear to have ... adopted a reversed version of her model. They approach Europe in terms of 'nesting Occidentalisms' or a 'gradation of Occidents'.
  9. ^ Hall, Richard Andrew, BORAT: ORIENTALIST SATIRE FOR MAKE GLORIOUS DEBATE WESTERN INTELLIGENTSIYA (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2012, Borat! is replete with what might be called 'nesting occidentalisms' or 'nesting antiAmericanisms': that is, it creates and plays on foreign and domestic hierarchies of Americans, good, bad, and ugly

Further reading[edit]