Posts Tagged ‘orientalism’
A great post by Robert Hariman published at Sociological Images. Hariman compares two photographs of the Iranian New Year celebrations in Afghanistan and Iran. Like I described in a previous post, this example also reveals how western orientalist preconceptions are reflected in photography:
Hariman writes that:
That image is one of throngs of working class men massed together in the street. What little business is there is in the open air markets lining each side of the densely packed urban space. We see small batches of everyday goods on display–probably to be bartered for, no less. The open baskets of food are a sure marker of the underdeveloped world.[…] Everything fits together into a single narrative, but the masses of men and boys make the scene politically significant. This is the place where collective delusions take hold, where mobs are formed, and where unrest can explode into revolutionary violence and Jihad.
Here he writes:
In this photo, there is no Arab street nor Iranian masses dominated by Mullahs and demagogues. A middle class tableau reveals that so much of what is in fact ordinary life for many people in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East is never seen in the US. And it isn’t seen because it doesn’t fit into simplistic categories, outdated stereotypes, and a dominant ideology. All that is shown and implied in the cliches is of course also there, but it is there as part of a much more complex and varied social reality.
Golam Khiabany writes in Race & Class about the current British media discourse on Muslim women and the veil as one of “new othodoxy.”
From the abstract:
The increased visibility of veiled bodies in Britain today has stirred a response that draws on long-standing orientalist oppositions and reworks them in the current climate of the `war on terror’, connecting them to parallel racist discourses about `threats’ to British culture. Sections of the British media have homogenised the variety of Muslim veiling practices and have presented the veil as an obstacle to meaningful `communication’; an example of Islamic `refusal’ to embrace `modernity’. Veiled women are considered to be ungrateful subjects who have failed to assimilate and are deemed to threaten the `British’ way of life.