Since the 1990s, sociologists and others have increasingly used the term orientalism to refer commonly to ethnocentrism, Eurocentrism, prejudicial stereotyping, and cultural misrepresentations of non-‘western’ societies, particularly those influenced by Islamic knowledge and practices. I chart how theorist Edward Said has helped initiate the sociology of orientalism by emphasizing the relationship of orientalism as a set of cultural practice and discourse to modern empires and global imperialism. I discuss the prominent clusters of studies published in English in the sociology of orientalism: (i) cultural representations and (ii) cultural regulation and social-identity formation. I argue that these studies have examined the ways orientalisms have deployed signifying practices of abstraction, difference, and desire in constructing problematic images and social relations. Furthermore, I contend that sociology as an intellectual endeavor still needs to confront seriously the issues raised by critics of orientalisms.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/peter_chua/7/