Orientalism′s Interlocutors

Painting, Architecture, Photography

Orientalism′s Interlocutors


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Book Pages: 244 Illustrations: 53 photographs (6 in color) Published: December 2002

Art and Visual Culture > Art History, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Until now, Orientalist art—exemplified by paintings of harems, slave markets, or bazaars—has predominantly been understood to reflect Western interpretations and to perpetuate reductive, often demeaning stereotypes of the exotic East. Orientalism's Interlocutors contests the idea that Orientalist art simply expresses the politics of Western domination and argues instead that it was often produced through cross-cultural interactions. Focusing on paintings and other representations of North African and Ottoman cultures, by both local artists and westerners, the contributors contend that the stylistic similarities between indigenous and Western Orientalist art mask profound interpretive differences, which, on examination, can reveal a visual language of resistance to colonization. The essays also demonstrate how marginalized voices and viewpoints—especially women's—within Western Orientalism decentered and destabilized colonial authority.

Looking at the political significance of cross-cultural encounters refracted through the visual languages of Orientalism, the contributors engage with pressing recent debates about indigenous agency, postcolonial identity, and gendered subjectivities. The very range of artists, styles, and forms discussed in this collection broadens contemporary understandings of Orientalist art. Among the artists considered are the Algerian painters Azouaou Mammeri and Mohammed Racim; Turkish painter Osman Hamdi; British landscape painter Barbara Bodichon; and the French painter Henri Regnault. From the liminal "Third Space" created by mosques in postcolonial Britain to the ways nineteenth-century harem women negotiated their portraits by British artists, the essays in this collection force a rethinking of the Orientalist canon.

This innovative volume will appeal to those interested in art history, theories of gender, and postcolonial studies.

Contributors. Jill Beaulieu, Roger Benjamin, Zeynep Çelik, Deborah Cherry, Hollis Clayson, Mark Crinson, Mary Roberts


“This collection of essays challenges the accepted wisdom that Orientalism expresses the politics of Western domination...The book contains more than just valuable new information...[T]he essays also provide novel interpretations as well as revisions.” — Elizabeth Kridl Valkenier , H-Net Reviews

"This wide-ranging collection of essays in visual culture is a most welcome contribution to the field of postcolonial studies, brilliantly inserting the often overlooked category of the visual into the analysis of colonial and imperial power relations." — Reina Lewis, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

“Focusing largely on the conjunction of Orientalism and pictorial representation, a still underexamined area, Orientalism’s Interlocutors contributes new understanding to the concepts of Orientalism and colonial discourses.” — Julie Codell, coeditor of Orientalism Transposed: The Impact of the Colonies on British Culture

“This collection of essays makes a significant contribution to what is becoming a truly major debate. It advances the latest thinking about the processes of cultural interaction between East and West by viewing such ‘interlocutions’ as being much more of a dialogue through which indigenous identities can be formed and asserted.” — John MacKenzie, author of Orientalism: History, Theory, and the Arts


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jill Beaulieu is an independent art historian and past President of the Art Association of Australia.

Mary Roberts is the John Schaeffer Lecturer in British Art at the University of Sydney. They are coeditors (with Toni Ross) of Refracting Vision: Essays on the Writings of Michael Fried.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations


Orientalism's Interlocutors / Jill Beaulieu and Mary Roberts

Speaking Back to Orientalist Discourse / Zeynep Celik

Colonial Tutelage to Nationalist Affirmation: Mammeri and Racim, Painters of the Maghred / Roger Benjamin

The Mosque and the Metropolis / Mark Crimson

Earth into the World, Land into Landscape: The “Worlding” of Algeria in Nineteenth-Century British Feminism / Deborah Cherry

Henri Regnault's Wartime Orientalism / Hollis Clayson

Contested Terrains: Women Orientalists and the Colonial Harem / Mary Roberts




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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2874-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2859-9
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