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Occidentalism is a distorted and stereotyped image of Western society (the occident), which can be held by people inside and outside the Western world and which can be articulated or implicit. The term emerged as the reciprocal of the notion of Orientalism - Western stereotypes of the Eastern world, the Orient.[1]

Occidental representations[edit]

In China "Traditions Regarding Western Countries" became a regular part of the Twenty-Four Histories from the 5th century CE, when commentary about The West concentrated upon on an area that did not extend farther than Syria.[2] The extension of European imperialism in the 18th and 19th centuries established, represented, and defined the existence of an "Eastern world" and of a "Western world". Western stereotypes appear in works of Indian, Chinese and Japanese art of those times.[3] At the same time, Western influence in politics, culture, economics and science came to be constructed through an imaginative geography of West and East.

Occidentalism debated[edit]

In Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies (2004), Buruma and Margalit said that nationalist and nativist resistance to the West replicates Eastern-world responses against the socio-economic forces of modernization, which originated in Western culture, among utopian radicals and conservative nationalists who viewed capitalism, liberalism, and secularism as forces destructive of their societies and cultures.[4] While the early responses to the West were a genuine encounter between alien cultures, many of the later manifestations of Occidentalism betray the influence of Western ideas upon Eastern intellectuals, such as the supremacy of the nation-state, the Romantic rejection of rationality, and the spiritual impoverishment of the citizenry of liberal democracies.

Buruma and Margalit trace that resistance to German Romanticism and to the debates, between the Westernisers and the Slavophiles in 19th-century Russia, and show that like arguments appear in the ideologies of Zionism, Maoism, Islamism, and Imperial Japanese nationalism. Nonetheless, Alastair Bonnett rejects the analyses of Buruma and Margalit as Eurocentric, and said that the field of Occidentalism emerged from the interconnection of Eastern and Western intellectual traditions.[5][6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barnard, Alan; Spencer, Jonathan (2009-12-04). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Routledge. p. 514. ISBN 978-1-135-23640-3.
  2. ^ Bonnett 2004
  3. ^ Hilton, Isabel (20 July 2011). "Occidentalism". Prospect Magazine. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  4. ^ Hari, Johann (2004-08-15). "Occidentalism by Ian Buruma & Avishai Margalit". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-01-29.[dead link]
  5. ^ Shlapentokh, Dmitry (July 2, 2005). "Changing perceptions". Asia Times. Archived from the original on January 5, 2019. Retrieved 2013-01-29.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ Martin Jacques (2004-09-04). "Review: Occidentalism by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  7. ^ "Occidentalism by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit". The New York Review of Books. 2002-01-17. Retrieved 2013-01-29.

Further reading[edit]