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MARITIME ORIENTALISM, OR THE POLITICAL THEORY OF WATER

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Abstract:

According to Edward Said, orientalism was a culturally constructed 'other' designed by Europeans to give expression to their claim to be 'the West'. The East was torpid, despotic, libidinous and static. The West was self governed, law governed, progressive and dynamic. Said located this figuration of modernity in the heyday of European global empires, specifically in British and French writings of the nineteenth century. But it is much older, and this article discusses orientalism in ancient Greece, renaissance England, Enlightenment Scotland, and colonial and contemporary New Zealand. Specifically it identifies a key geographical component which has been neglected.

Keywords: Athenian orientalism; British orientalism; Carthage and Rome; Enlightenment orientalism; New Zealand; Phoenicia and Carthage; anti-imperialism; anticontinentalism; geography and climate; geography and culture; island powers; islands versus continents; maritime orientalism; maritime powers; politics of geography; water

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2014-01-01

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