Change in Western Perceptions of the Orient Since the Eighteenth Century

Charles Issawi

in Cross-Cultural Encounters and Conflicts

Published in print June 1998 | ISBN: 9780195118131
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854554 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Middle Eastern History

Change in Western Perceptions of the Orient Since the Eighteenth Century

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The chapter examines the profound changes in the West's perception of the Orient between the 18th and 19th centuries from an attitude of respect and admiration to one of contempt. The term “Orient” refers to India, China, and Islam. Various factors are analyzed that were said to produce the change. One is the revival of Christianity in Britain and France making those regions less tolerant of other religions. Other factors include the military, political, and economic domination these countries achieved over Asia and Africa, the overwhelming technological superiority of the West, and the increase in respect for women. Such practices as footbinding, suttee, and polygamy seemed intolerable causing the West to condemn these cultures. Analysis is brought up to date by discussing important relevant developments in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Keywords: Orient; India; China; Islam; West; Christianity

Chapter.  2865 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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