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Article: Not knowing the Oriental

TitleNot knowing the Oriental
Authors
Issue Date2003
PublisherNew Zealand Asian Studies Society Inc. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.nzasia.waikato.ac.nz
Citation
New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 2003, v. 5 n. 2, p. 33-46 How to Cite?
AbstractThis paper marks the twenty-fifth year of Edward Said's Orientalism by reconsidering the knowledge/power paradigm that has dominated much thinking about colonial discourse after Said. In addition to cases of ‘sublime' ignorance, when the Orient was felt to be too vast, daunting and mysterious ever to be contained by western knowledge, there were also moments, and even strategies, of prophylactic ignorance, in which the western observer stepped back from venturing into the hinterland of Oriental experience, for fear of being overwhelmed, contaminated, compromised, assimilated or consumed. In such cases, colonial authority depended on not knowing too much. The theme of colonial ignorance is pursued in an investigation of one of Said's prime witnesses, the Earl of Cromer, for twenty-five years de facto governor of Egypt, whose authoritative Modern Egypt insists nonetheless that ‘the Egyptian Puzzle' must remain insoluble by the Englishman. The argument here is that this is a strategic ignorance that protects or insulates the Englishman's power. The second part of the essay turns to Rudyard Kipling's Indian fiction, in which knowing the Oriental is a glamorous but dangerous pursuit. Kipling's policeman hero Strickland seeks insider knowledge to increase his power over Indians, but in doing so he jeopardizes the distance on which his difference from them, and authority over them, depends. This compromises his status with both Indians and his fellow British. Sometimes it is ignorance of the Orient that secures power. Kipling's colonial characters are frequently caught in this dilemma – knowledge of the Oriental is dangerous, but ignorance is insupportable.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/207467
ISSN

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorKerr, DWF-
dc.date.accessioned2014-12-22T01:52:23Z-
dc.date.available2014-12-22T01:52:23Z-
dc.date.issued2003-
dc.identifier.citationNew Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 2003, v. 5 n. 2, p. 33-46-
dc.identifier.issn1174-8915-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/207467-
dc.description.abstractThis paper marks the twenty-fifth year of Edward Said's Orientalism by reconsidering the knowledge/power paradigm that has dominated much thinking about colonial discourse after Said. In addition to cases of ‘sublime' ignorance, when the Orient was felt to be too vast, daunting and mysterious ever to be contained by western knowledge, there were also moments, and even strategies, of prophylactic ignorance, in which the western observer stepped back from venturing into the hinterland of Oriental experience, for fear of being overwhelmed, contaminated, compromised, assimilated or consumed. In such cases, colonial authority depended on not knowing too much. The theme of colonial ignorance is pursued in an investigation of one of Said's prime witnesses, the Earl of Cromer, for twenty-five years de facto governor of Egypt, whose authoritative Modern Egypt insists nonetheless that ‘the Egyptian Puzzle' must remain insoluble by the Englishman. The argument here is that this is a strategic ignorance that protects or insulates the Englishman's power. The second part of the essay turns to Rudyard Kipling's Indian fiction, in which knowing the Oriental is a glamorous but dangerous pursuit. Kipling's policeman hero Strickland seeks insider knowledge to increase his power over Indians, but in doing so he jeopardizes the distance on which his difference from them, and authority over them, depends. This compromises his status with both Indians and his fellow British. Sometimes it is ignorance of the Orient that secures power. Kipling's colonial characters are frequently caught in this dilemma – knowledge of the Oriental is dangerous, but ignorance is insupportable.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherNew Zealand Asian Studies Society Inc. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.nzasia.waikato.ac.nz-
dc.relation.ispartofNew Zealand Journal of Asian Studies-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.titleNot knowing the Orientalen_US
dc.typeArticleen_US
dc.identifier.emailKerr, DWF: kerrdw@hkucc.hku.hk-
dc.description.naturepostprint-
dc.identifier.volume5-
dc.identifier.issue2-
dc.identifier.spage33-
dc.identifier.epage46-
dc.publisher.placeNew Zealand-

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