How has the West represented the non-West

 

The governments of richer nations are able to maintain this relationship, by establishing trade laws, political initiatives, and through media influence in these regions. Attempts to resist such a situation by the developing nations may result in economic sanctions, further disadvantaging the economy of the controlled nation. Dependence develops in a situation where the economy of one country is conditioned by the development and expansion of another economy to which the former is subjected. (dos Santos in Seligson and Passe-Smith, 1998, p.252)

The result of this situation is that underdeveloped countries trapped in this position fail to modernize due to the restrictions of the arrangement. The trade within the relationship is usually part of a monopolised market, and many businesses in the under-developed country are opened using capital loaned from foreign investors. The interest rates imposed allows the retention of foreign control as the surplus produced, and the profit made, is all returned to the investors and thus the local businessman cannot improve his output.

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To cope with the increasing outgoings, any profit is invested in increasing manpower to meet demands, rather than developing new technology to keep up with the global market. (ibid, p. 253) Many of these relationships began in colonial times, when British government controlled labour, imports and exports of areas throughout the Orient. This was justified by the obligation of the “White Man’s Burden”, described above. As they could not afford to compete in the European market alone, the non-West was forced to allow the West to intervene with investment.

Commercial and financial capitals grew in alliance with the colonisers, and therefore dominated the economic market through possession of land, mines and manpower. Production is determined by demand from the hegemonic power – in this case the colonisers. (dos Santos in Seligson and Passe-Smith, 1998, p. 253) Hegemonic power is maintained because the local communities cannot evolve as their economic dependence prevents them from using their resources to sustain their own economy, for example Nigeria today due to oil extraction.

Therefore, the industries involved benefit; so Western governments continue this relationship. (ibid, p. 254) This results in the developing countries being portrayed as incapable of running their own economy, when in fact the West subjects them to exploitation. The picture from the outside may be that of generous foreign investors moving their business abroad to create opportunities there, but in fact the unequal trading conditions mean the developing countries are simply exploited.

In more modern times the aim of globalisation is used as an ethically justifying argument for maintaining the status quo – in a nutshell, that the long term result will be a more equal economy for all. (Mandaville 2003, p. 214) Another example of misrepresentation is associated with the rise of Islam in the 18th century. It had already created a strong divide between the Occident and the Orient, and missionaries began travelling to these lands to convert the people and educate them in Western ways.

Europeans’ first encounter with the Arab race was during the Ottoman Empire, which began the painting of the picture of Arabs and Muslims as tyrannical due to a fear of the Turkish power. The absence of Muslim gentry and the subordination of women was seen as unsophisticated and crude. (Asad 1973, p. 116) The result of these historic Christian experiences of aggressive Islam, meant that the Orientalist image created is that of repressive relations between Islamic rulers and their subjects, resulting in the conclusion that Islam is “unprogressing and fanatical”.

(ibid) The modern day idea of the Arab is synonymous with that of Islam, and that in turn is automatically associated with extremism and therefore ‘terrorist’. Early reports of Arabs by Westerners, from around 1918, state that Arabs were “dishonest, uneducated and greedy” (Said 2003, p. 306). The British claimed they were attempting to rule them fairly, but that the Arabs were simply too arrogant to admit they required outside help to govern them.

As a result of this they were doomed to remain in a state of anarchy, too uncivilised to even organise a rebellion and begin a revolution – as Vatikiotis states in Orientalism: “The major source of poltical conflict snf potential revolution in many countries of the Middle East, as well as Africa and Asia today, is the inability of the so-called radical nationalist regimes to manage… independence” (ibid, p. 314) After the Second World War, the Arab race became more prominent, especially after their resistance to the creation of the state of Israel.

The anti-Semitism associated with Islam also made it a natural target for the West. As the academic interest in the Middle East moved from Europe to America, European scholars were deemed to be very respectable sources of knowledge in this area. One in particular – H. A. R. Gibb – was never shy about reporting his dislike for Islam. He suggested that the Middle East produced no cultural features of interest and that the region would have no political influence on global issues or develop technologically in a fashion to rival the West.

His writings now seem so ridiculously nai??ve, especially for a so-called “expert” on the subject; yet he remained uncontested, his views simply accepted due to his eminence as a European scholar. He argued that Orientalists study the Orient as it is the duty of the West to preserve its memory – despite the lack of interest it offers. (Said 2003, p. 106)) During the years of the Gulf Wars, Arabs were depicted by the American media as greedy oil barons, attempting to ruin the US economy. (Said 2003, p. 286) In 1973 it became economically and politically viable for OPEC to increase their prices, due to an increase in demand.

(Wallerstein 1984, p. 61) This resulted in a negative stereotype of the Arabs due to American resentment towards the price rise, and also more determination on the part of the West to maintain control in order to retain access to the natural resources the area hold. (Mandaville 2003, p. 214) The ideas that arose are perpetuated today by media portrayal – Muslims continue to be marginalized in Western media, with the little projection provided demonstrating degrading footage: for example, Muslims burning books or forming threatening mobs, (Ahmed 1992, p.

228) or simple footage of large crowds of people in Arab dress, which suggests individual personality is non-existent and Arabs think and act only as group. The association between Jihad and the “global threat of Islam” all encourage Western society to fear Islam. (Bailie and Frank 1992, p. 83)) As a result of the media coverage of the recent resurgence of Islam and its associated extremists, the opinion has developed that the dichotomy between the West and non-West is based on the idea that the developed world is secular whilst the developing world is fundamentalist.

The presence in the public eye of the ‘global threat of Islam’ acts to ‘Orientalise’ all followers of the religion, as well as any people suspected to be from the Orient and also surrounding areas. (Biswas in Chowdhry and Nair 2002, p. 188) This creates and emphasises an ‘us’ and ‘them’ scenario, falsely cast, with repercussions being the difficulty in developing peaceful relationships between White and Asian populations, both in Britain and America. Moreover, some would argue that the fundamental rules of Islam make it impossible for Muslims to co-habit peacefully in Western Society with non-Muslims.

Tariq Ramadan argues against this, stating that Islam has always preached multi-culturalism between Muslims and non-Muslims; that it is the responsibility of the Muslims to take a pragmatic approach to these teachings, to allow an opportunity to experience greater diversity. Ramadan suggests that being present as an ethnic minority can be used as a strength; that by viewing Europe as a ‘space of testimony’ rather than an enemy it is possible to show responsibility to the non-Muslim others and educate them by accepting the differences of Islam whilst transcending the incompatibilities.

(Mandaville 2003, p. 216) However, the opinion that it could be impossible altogether shows that dominant discourse presenting the possibility of the incompatibility of the Islamic and non-Islamic world overrides with the mis-representation of these ideas. Suggestions that this secularisation is an inevitable consequence of modernization also perpetuate the view that Oriental cultures are less advanced and thus more primitive due to the national faith they follow, and question whether it is indeed possible to “embrace Western Technology without Western values” (Turner 1995, p.8).

Yet Britain is itself not strictly a ‘secular’ country, as demonstrated throughout the ‘Rushdie Affair’. (Biswas in Chowdhry and Nair 2002, p. 196) Salman Rushdie published his views of shortcomings within British law, listing hypocrisies of blasphemy laws, the branding of Islam as ‘fundamentalist, intolerant and fanatical’ leading to bad treatment of Muslims through ignorance of the British public. He argued that Britain was a secular country who should accept all faiths, and embrace ethnic diversity.

But the British response to this was the opposite to that intended – instead restricting further Muslim rights to prayer time at work, as Britain was overall a Christian state. It appears that Britain may take its secularisation for granted, using religion in defence only when its identity may be threatened. (ibid) Secularisation of the modern world leads to a tendency to look down on religion in the developing world, therefore reproducing a “racialized and gendered construction of the 3rd world that was material effects for people of colour in the 1st and 3rd world.

” (Biswas in Chowdhry and Nair 2002, p. 200) The implication of all of these stereotypes have resulted in greater suspicion and tighter immigration regimes surrounding people appearing Asian, as well as retaliation attacks for any negative events thought to have been performed by Islamic extremists – for example, revenge attacks were carried out on mosques immediately after the Oklahoma bombings, for it only to be shown later that the incident was carried out by a ‘home-grown’, white, American bomber.

Representation will never be accurate because by its very nature it is biased – indeed, “the real issue is whether indeed there can be a true representation of representations, or whether any and all representations, because they are representations, are embedded first in the language and then in the culture, institutions and political ambience of the representor. ” (Said 2003, p. 272) As long as people continue to believe the representations provided by their Governments, so the Governments can continue to control those represented for their own political gains.

The political implication of the negative stereotypes described above – nai??ve, lazy Indians; needy, incapable Africans; evil, tyrannical Arabs – is the perpetuation of the power balance between the West and the non-West. The Western governments can maintain their hegemony through the control of other governments, and continue to direct the dominant discourse and the repression of the non-West. The link between these three examples is that of a lust for resources by the West – and so they exploit their non-West counterparts to gain these. Western knowledge of the rest of the world has been shaped by this greed for power, (Clifford 1988 p. 255) and gained through a struggle to obtain land.

By ‘othering’ the non-West, and creating an ‘us’ and ‘them’ divide, the West creates an atmosphere in which arguably unethical actions against others seem more legitimate. But it is important to consider the consequences of such stereotyping on groups caught between the dichotomy of West and non-West – for example, what of the second and third generation Asian population in Britain? Caught between a Muslim home life and white peers they cannot relate fully to either group, and thus identity crisis is commonplace – and can be preyed on by extremists (http://digital. guardian. co. uk. ymogen.net/guardian/2007/05/12/pages/ber33. shtml).

This misrepresentation will continue as long as the public continue to accept the stereotypes created by these Western powers. The polarisation between the West and non-West must be removed, or at least, as Clifford states, “[all dichotomising events should] be held in suspicion” (1988, p. 255), through the questioning of representation and the demand for fairer treatment in the media and politics to allow the World to become more equal.

It is important for the public to encourage this “norm against noticing” racist behaviour (Vitalis 2000, p.332); but it is up to the government to alter the dominant discourse: to demonstrate that it is not only the non-West that are ‘others’ – to them, we as the West are ‘others’ also.

Bibliography: Ahmed, A. (1992)”Postmodernism and Islam” Routledge: London, UK Asad, T. [Ed. ] (1973) “Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter” Humanity Books: New York, USA Caplin, P. [Ed. ] (2003) “The Ethics of Anthropology: debates and dilemmas” Routledge: London, UK Chowdhry, G. and Nair, S. [Eds. ] (2004) “Power, Post-colonialism and International Relations” Routledge: Oxford, UK

Clifford, J. [Ed. ] (1988) “Predicament of Culture” Harvard University Press: USA Grove, R. , Damadoran, V. and Sangwan, S. [Eds] (1998) “Nature and the Orient: Environmental history of South and Southeast Asia” Oxford University Press: USA Hall, C. (2000) “Cultures of Empire: A Reader” Manchester University Press: Manchester, UK Inden, R. (1986) “Orientalist constructs of India” Modern Asian Studies 20 (3) 401-446 Mandaville, P. (2003) “Towards a different Cosmopolitan – Or, the ‘I’ Dislocated” Global Society, 17 (2) Said, E.(2003)

“Orientalism” [3rd Ed. ] Penguin Books: London, UK Seligson, M. and Passe-Smith, J. [Eds. ] (1998) “Development and Under-development” Lynne Rienner Publications: Boulder, USA Turner, B. (1995) “Orientalism, Globalisation and Postmodernity” Routledge: London, UK Trouillot, M. (2003) “Global Transformations” Palgrave-Macmillan: New York, USA Vitalis, R. (2000) “The Graveful and Generous Liberal Gesture: Making Racism Invisible in American International Relations” Journal of International Studies 29 (2) p. 331-356 Wallerstein, I.(1991)

“The Politics of the World-Economy” Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK Website: http://digital. guardian. co. uk. ymogen. net/guardian/2007/05/12/pages/ber33. shtml : “We were the Brothers” article by Madeleine Bunting, reviewing “The Islamist” by Ed Husain. The Guardian, Digital Edition, 12 May 2005; Main newspaper, the Saturday section, p. 33. Accessed 16th May 2007. 1 In this essay I use this phrase to refer to the anthropological Orient (The Middle East, India, China etc. ) but also to other areas affected by Western legacies of colonialism, such as countries in Africa.

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