Orientalism is a colonialist, Eurocentric, ideology in which Asia and the east is represented in a stereotyped, foreign way. It was created by Europe’s inability and unwillingness to attempt to understand Eastern culture and bred a distant curiosity towards it. Western scholars couldn’t fathom Eastern culture as it was different from there own, therefore, the East was portrayed as exotic and was quickly romanticized instead of understood. Norms of Eastern culture were turned into commodities by Western writers, therefore making the east seem primitive and backwards when it was really quite the opposite. These new biases blocked the West from understanding and appreciating Eastern culture and the many societal advances it made.
What makes Orientalism so dangerous is the justifications it gave to the West. Because the East was portrayed as primitive and exotic by Western writers and scholars, it gave imperial justification for colonizers to conquer. It was felt as though the East needed salvation from themselves as they were lost and unable to live unguided as a society. With this logic, the West felt as though they were advancing Eastern society, when in reality, they were modeling it towards a far more European template. It was believed that the East needed the West’s help
This theory still has applications today through modern stereotypes. Whether it be preconceived notions we have on the economic status of the middle east, or the racist and prejudiced attitudes amplified by COVID-19, Orientalism still has a platform in society.