“Said illustrated his thesis with highly selective quotations, concerning a very narrow range of East-West encounters. And while pouring as much scorn and venom as he could on Western portrayals of the Orient, he did not trouble himself to examine any Eastern portrayals of the Occident, or to make any comparative judgments whatsoever, when it came to assessing who had been unfair to whom. He also has nothing to offer on other areas that traditionally comprised the field such as Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Far Eastern cultures, nor does he discuss the attitudes of German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese Orientalists.” (Scruton, 2006, p.11)
Given the short duration of the documentary film, only Said’s views could be covered in it, leaving no time for opposing viewpoints offered by such scholars as Scruton. Hence, a careful evaluation of Said’s points and his detractors’ counterpoints should be considered before arriving at an inference. On balance, though, it is perhaps a reflection of the veracity of the book’s claims that thirty years after its publication Edward Said is considered by students of literature, political science, sociology and cultural studies as one of the pioneers of the post-colonial movement in criticism and multiculturalism in politics. The following final words serve as a strong recommendation for the work:
“Its influence has been almost as widespread, not only in English departments across America and Europe but in sociology, anthropology and history. Orientalism has inspired its own academic field, post-colonial studies, which has generated some of the best critical work of the past two decades. It is almost inconceivable to imagine someone receiving a humanities PhD today without having come to terms with Said’s legacy”. (Burrows, 1999, p.51)
Burrows, Stuart. “Orientalism.” New Statesman 1 Jan. 1999: 50.
Foster, Charles. “Orientalism, the U.S. and the Middle East.” Contemporary Review Apr. 2005: 240+.
Scruton, Roger. “Islam and Orientalism.” The American Spectator May 2006: 10+.
Windschuttle, Keith. “Edward Said’s “Orientalism” Revisited.” New Criterion Jan. 1999: 30.