An 'Ideal Type' Called Orientalism: Selective Affinities between Edward Said and Max Weber

Farris, Sara R.. 2010. An 'Ideal Type' Called Orientalism: Selective Affinities between Edward Said and Max Weber. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 12(2), pp. 265-284. ISSN 1369-801X [Article]

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Edward Said's Orientalism was first published in 1978. In this work, Said demolished the myths of the Orient that had been made famous by colonial literature as well as by European social sciences, revealing the intrinsically Eurocentric nature of discourses on the non-European ‘Other’. Though this influential work has been often praised, criticized and compared at the most disparate levels, there has not yet been an attempt to analyse the Orientalism that Said denounced in comparison to one of its principal sources of inspiration and diffusion, namely, Max Weber. This neglect in the literature is even more significant insofar as Said himself referred to Weber as a central theorist in the family portrait of Orientalists, due to his historical comparisons between different religions and also to his refinement of the methodological basis of a stereotypical Orientalist discourse by means of the concept of an ideal type. This essay explores in detail the Said-Weber relation. In particular, it analyses the numerous analogies between the analytical structure of the two authors: from their epistemological ambivalence on the relation between realism-constructivism, to the relationship with Foucault and Marx and the employment of a cultural-political nexus underlying their analysis of the relations of dominion between the Orient and the Occident. The essay demonstrates that despite their apparent irreconcilability, the theoretical structures of Said's and Weber's arguments are less different than is often supposed.

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Date Deposited:

09 Oct 2013 15:30

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 15:48

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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