Through the Eyes of the Other: Stereotypes of the Nineteenth Century

  • J. Michael Dash


‘The Orient was almost a European invention’ asserts Edward Said in his remarkable study of Western attitudes to the East (Orientalism, 1978). His provocative thesis is that Europe has produced a discourse, a rigid grid of stereotypes that allows a particular image of the Orient to filter into Western consciousness. These images of the East are neither simply picturesque nor innocent but an imaginative strategy which reinforces Western notions of superiority and defines the Orient as a commodity to be dominated or possessed. The idea of a geo-political awareness that is essentially imaginative provides a model for locating the element of mythification in relations between other countries. For instance, American attitudes to Haiti can be seen in terms of the creation of self-serving or rather self-aggrandizing images designed to tame the alien or threatening world on the outside. These images acquire a cumulative force over time and consistently resurface in order to define and reconstruct Haiti in terms which emphasize its difference or ‘Otherness’.


United States Nineteenth Century Black Race Racial Prejudice American Occupation 
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Copyright information

© J. Michael Dash 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Michael Dash
    • 1
  1. 1.University of the West IndiesJamaica

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