Orientalism’s amnesia

From Refashioning Iran, p 18:

The formation of Orientalism as an area of European academic inquiry was grounded on a “genesis amnesia” that systematically obliterated the dialogic conditions of its emergence and the production of its linguistic and textual tools. By turning “the Orient” into an object of analysis and gaze, Orientalism as a European institution of learning anathemized the Asian pedagogues of its practitioners. Embedded in an active process of forgetting, histories of Orientalism have attributed to the “pioneers” of the field the heroic tasks of entering “this virgin territory,” breaking into “the walled languages of Asia,” unlocking “innumerable unsuspected scriptures,” and making “many linguistic discoveries.” This modulated account of the history of Orientalism appropriates as its own the agency, authorality, and creativity of its Other. As a hegemonic and totalizing discourse, Orientalism celebrates its own perspectival account as scientific and objective while forgetting the histories and perspectives informing its origin.

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