1757: British conquest of
Bengal (eastern Mughal
By 1761: British eliminate
French power in India
1770s: corruption
scandals, Bengal famine,
early Orientalist
1780s through 1820s:
Territorial gains for the
British East India
Company in India
Robert Clive meets with Mir Jaffar, whose
treachery secured British victory. The
strategy of “divide and conquer” was
repeatedly used by the British throughout
the empire.
Other additions to the
British empire:
•1770s -- Australia
•early 1800s – Mauritius,
Cape of Good Hope,
Ceylon, Singapore, etc.
ASIA IN 1900
Late 1700s: British finance
explorations into West Africa
Up to 1875: European powers
control less than 10% of Africa.
Mining profits; Cecil Rhodes.
1884: Berlin Conference – 14
European countries and the US
meet to plan how to divide Africa
1890: Brussels Conference –
Western nations agree to
Belgian King Leopold’s
ownership of the Congo. (No
Africans were invited to either
1890s: Fashoda crisis – British
and French tension over Sudan:
We don’t want to fight,
But by Jingo! if we do
We’ve got the ships,
We’ve got the men
And got the money, too!
Early 1800s: Zulu kingdom (as
large as western Europe at its
peak) resists foreign domination
1880s: Muhammad Ahmad
Abdullah (died 1885) unified
Sudanese tribes under the
banner of Islam to attack
Ottoman, Egyptian, and British
Charge of the 21st
Lancers, Battle of
Omdurman, by Harry
1885: Sudanese siege of
Khartoum, murder of British
1898: General Kitchener’s
invasion of Sudan causes
Fashoda crisis. Kitchener’s
troops kill around 20,000
Sudanese at Omdurman.
1896: Ethiopia repels Italian
attack, remains independent till
Abraham Anquetil Duperron
Knew Persian, Sanskrit, Zend,
Avestan, and Pahlavi. Translated the
Upanishads from Sanskrit to Latin
Baron de Montesquieu
Wrote Persian Letters to
criticize the lifestyle and
liberties of the French elite
William Jones (1746-1794)
Went to Bengal as a supreme
court judge in 1783. Knew
French, Italian, Spanish,
Portuguese, Greek, Latin,
English, Arabic and Persian.
Among the first to translate
Indian texts from Sanskrit and
Persian. Established the
Asiatic Society in 1784
Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
Wrote Supplement to
Bougainville’s Voyage, in
which he contrasted Tahitian
society with French society,
in order to criticize the
French government
JAMES MILL (1773-1836)
• Got a permanent position with the
British East India Company after
publication of The History of British
India (3 vols., 1817).
• Mill never traveled to India or learned
an Eastern language
• His views were instrumental in shaping
Britain’s India policies
• He argued that
(a) Indian culture and society had
not developed since ancient times
(b) While US independence had led
to a flourishing of trade with
Britain, the same would not apply
to India, because Indians were
not ready for self-government
Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–1859)
Member of British Parliament
In India 1834–38, as a member of the supreme council of
the East India Company
Reformed the Indian educational system and composed a
legal code for the colony
“I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I
could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of
the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed both
here and at home with men distinguished by their proficiency in the
Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the
valuation of the Orientalists themselves. I have never found one among
them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was
worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.”
Thomas Macaulay, Minute of 2 February 1835 on Indian Education
Goal: to ensure the greatest good of the greatest
Utility: that property in any object, whereby it
tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure,
good, or happiness...or...to prevent the happening
of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness
Utilitarianism: A moral theory according to which
an action is right if and only if it conforms to the
principle of utility
British culture is not perfect, but it is superior to
the culture of the colonized people
Therefore, the introduction of British institutions
and ways of thinking is desirable…
…as is the eradication of native superstition and
social evils, like sati
Ban on sati, 1829
Calcutta University, 1857
Born on the Caribbean island of Martinique in 1925
Studied in France, and practiced psychiatry in colonial Algeria. Became
active in the Algerian freedom movement (FLN).
His books included Black Skin, White Masks (1952), A Dying Colonialism
(1959), and The Wretched of the Earth (1961).
Died of leukemia in Washington at age 36, in 1961
(1) Colonial domination disregards and disrupts the culture of the colonized people.
Colonizers consider native peoples barbaric.
(2) The colonized seek to reform their culture, or defend “tradition”. Thus the
colonized culture loses its pre-colonial dynamism, and must choose between
fossilized “tradition” and westernized “reform”.
(3) “By the time a century or two of exploitation has passed there comes about a
veritable emaciation of the…national culture. It becomes a set of automatic habits,
some traditions of dress and a few broken-down institutions. Little movement can be
discerned in such remnants of culture; there is no real creativity and no overflowing
life. The poverty of the people, national oppression and the inhibition of culture
are one and the same thing.” (The Wretched of the Earth)
(4) Exploitation, poverty, and famine drive the colonized people to violence. They
then begin to pick up the broken pieces of their culture and develop a new national
literature and culture which reflect their current reality.
Born in Jerusalem in 1935
Studied at Princeton and Harvard. Teaches at Columbia University
Wrote book Orientalism in 1978. Other works include Culture and Imperialism,
The Question of Palestine, and Blaming the Victim.
Died in 2003.
(1) The Orient is an imagined “region” (Middle East, N. Africa, Asia)
(2) Western Literature, Art, and Knowledge (especially 19th century) portrayed the
Orient as sensual, mystical, barbaric, undemocratic, irrational
(3) Imagining the Orient falsely divides the world into West and East. The West
identifies its “Self” by contrast to the “Orient”
(4) Fictional ideas were so greatly supported by policies, institutions, academic studies,
and even scientific knowledge, that they produced a reality that came close to the
fiction of the Orient.
“The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and
richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural
contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other.”
“The Orient is an integral part of European material civilization and culture.”
Romanticizing the Orient as
sensuous, alluring in a primitive
way, mysterious
Reviling the Orient as barbaric,
violent, irrational, impenetrable
Opposite of western
Some examples of Orientalist
Above: Jean-Auguste-Dominique
Ingres (1780-1867), active in the
first half of the nineteenth century
Below: Jean-Leon Gerome
(1824-1904), active in the second
half of the nineteenth century
Orientalism in the early 20th century
Picture postcards sent to France by
French soldiers in Algeria

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