Orientalism Within India and the World.

The orientalist view is very interesting to me, particularly how it affects the same people that the view is based on. Obviously there has been a false interpretation of South Asia and the Middle East conveyed to the western world that changes the way we perceive those areas, but that false interpretation also seems to affect the people who are the object of the orientalist view. This stems from the earliest form of British colonization in India and other parts of the orient.

This concept is illustrated very well by Roy’s ” God of Small Things” with the family because they are Indian, but they have British ties. Typically, we think about the orientalist view exclusively from the perspective of the western world, but we rarely think about how this view has affected the way Indian people view their relationship with Britain and the rest of the west. From the way it is portrayed in GOST, it seems like the British superiority view is perpetuated by the Indian people themselves. Because they have been conditioned to do things the western way when they were colonized so long ago, some are still set in these ways. An example of this is explicitly touched upon by Mammachi and Baby Kochamma. Both are Syrian-Christian, which is completely influenced by British missions and imperialism, and seem to cherish western values over traditional Indian ones. They encourage Ammu to marry a British person and forbid her from being with a touchable. The influence of British colonialism is so deeply rooted in India’s current culture and government, that it has even convinced the people at the bottom of the caste system that that is how it should be.

Orientalism is a word to describes a specific instance in history when colonialism affected the way the entire world views a specific place. However, the concept can be applied in a lot of different instances. It shows how we view any place that we have heard about, but are limited to our presumptions and internalized stereotypes. To me, a privileged person living in an an upper-middle class neighborhood, I have somewhat of an orientalist view on neighborhoods in Chicago that I’ve been told to avoid. I hear of stereotypes and less than credible stories to paint a picture in my head of what it is like, but to someone who lives there it might be completely wrong or distorted. I think it is important get a full story on something before you make judgments about it, and also try to be understanding of how systems of power can change the way we perceive others and how we perceive ourselves.

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