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Occidentalism refers to and identifies representations of the Western world (the Occident) in two ways: (i) as dehumanizing stereotypes of the Western world, Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Philippines, usually from the Muslim world; and (ii) as ideological representations of the West, as applied in Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China (1995), by Chen Xiaomei; Occidentalism: Images of the West (1995), by James G. Carrier; and Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies (2004), Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit.[1] Occidentalism is often counterpart to the term orientalism as used by Edward Said in his book of that title, which refers to and identifies Western stereotypes of the Eastern world, the Orient.

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.

In “De-Judaizing the Homeland: Academic Politics in Rewriting the History of Palestine” (2007), S. Ilan Troen said that the Zionist movement was rooted in a conscious rejection of Europe and the West, in general, and in favor of a modernized Hebrew culture, in particular. That “Zionists explicitly distanced themselves, in crucial ways, from the European exile they left behind”, an example is the “revival of Hebrew into a living language; the marking of the landscape with a Jewish identity; and the development of an indigenous culture with roots in the ancient past.”[4]

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.[5] That 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 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.[6] [7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jalees Rehman, M.D.: 'Occidentophobia': The Elephant in the Room". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  2. ^ (Bonnett, 2004)
  3. ^ Hilton, Isabel. "Occidentalism". Prospectmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  4. ^ Troen, S. Ilan (21 September 2007). "De-Judaizing the Homeland: Academic Politics in Rewriting the History of Palestine". Israel Affairs. 13 (4). doi:10.1080/13537120701445372. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Hari, Johann (2004-08-15). "Occidentalism by Ian Buruma & Avishai Margalit - Reviews - Books". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  6. ^ Jul 2, 2005 (2005-07-02). "Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs". Atimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  7. ^ Martin Jacques (2004-09-04). "Review: Occidentalism by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  8. ^ "Occidentalism by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit | The New York Review of Books". Nybooks.com. 2002-01-17. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bonnett, Alastair, The Idea of the West: Culture, Politics and History, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. ISBN 1-4039-0034-5, ISBN 1-4039-0035-3.
  • Buruma, I. and Margalit, A., Occidentalism: A Short History of Anti-Westernism, Atlantic Books, London, 2004. ISBN 1-59420-008-4.
  • Carrier, James G. Occidentalism: Images of the West, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995. ISBN 0-19-827978-7, ISBN 0-19-827979-5.
  • Chen, Xiaomei, Occidentalism: A Theory Of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China, second ed., rev. and expanded. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. ISBN 0-8476-9875-0.
  • Cohen, Nick, What's Left?: How the Left Lost its Way, New York, Harper Perennial, 2007. ISBN 9780007229703.
  • Hanafi, Hassan, Muqaddimah fi 'ilm al-istighrab (Introduction to Occidentalism), Cairo, Madbuli, 1991.
  • König, Daniel G., Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West. Tracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe, Oxford, OUP, 2015.
  • Souza, Teotonio R. de, "Orientalism, Occidentosis and Other Viral Strains: Historical Objectivity and Social Responsibilities", in The Portuguese, Indian Ocean and European Bridgeheads, Festschrift in Honour of Prof. K.S. Mathew, eds Pius Malekandathil & Jamal Mohammed, Fundação Oriente, India, 2001. ISBN 978-81-900166-5-0. pp. 452–479. http://pt.scribd.com/doc/30027278/Orientalism-Occidentosis-and-Other-Viral-Strains-Historical-Objectivity-and-Social-Responsibilities