By Meyda Yegenoglu
Meyda Yegenoglu investigates the intersection among postcolonial and feminist feedback, through the Western fascination with the veiled girls of the Orient. Linking representations of cultural and sexual distinction, she indicates the Oriental lady to have functioned because the veiled inside of Western identification. Her unique and compelling argument calls into query dualistic conceptions of identification and distinction, West and East, masculinist assumptions of Orientalism, and Western feminist discourses that search to "liberate" the veiled lady.
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Extra info for Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism
The foreclosure of agency and counter-histories is one of the widespread criticisms advanced against Said's analysis. It is suggested that by portraying Orientalism in totalizing terms, Orientalism leaves no room for appreciating the agency of the Other. When Orientalism as a cultural representation is not seen simply as a constraining or distorting process, but as a practice of active constitution of subjectivity, enabling and empowering as well as dominating, then resistance to colonial power or the restoration of the colonized as the subject of history cannot be theorized apart from the Orientalist discourse.
I will discuss this point further in chapter 2. But now let me turn to the discussion of binarism that seems to be one of the major weaknesses in Said's analysis. Binarisms of Orientalism In characterizing the discursive economy of Orientalism through a set of binary terms, Said posits a polarity or duality at its very center. The following definition of Orientalism is an instance of such a polarity: Orientalism is the generic term that I have been employing to describe the Western approach to the Orient; Orientalism is the discipline by which the Orient was (and is) approached systematically, as a topic of learning, discovery and practice.
Rather, what I am suggesting is that we see the complexity within such a unity. As I try to show in chapter 3 it is the citationary nature of orientalism that maintains its constancy, unity, and hegemony. Thus to understand the complexity of the unity of colonialism and colonial discourse we need to conceive of it as a network of codes, imageries, signs, and representations which serve as a reference system and function as a regulatory principle of a discursive regime that we can label as colonial.