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Friday, October 26, 2012

Post-colonialism and Orientals:Kamil Alboshoka

In this study, I want to examine colonial geographical imaginations and postcolonial geographies. I will also explain the key features of colonialism in general and key features of colonialism in Arab countries in particular. In addition, I will discuss the legacies of colonial rule in Middle East, particularly Arab countries. After that, I aim to discuss the meaning of Orientalism, and also explain the colonial city after mapping empire. Finally, I want also to comment on its consequences for any history of the subsequent conflict between Arabs and the Western colonial like Britain and France, and how Arabs were portrayed by the British and even France and how this affected the development of modern Arab political identities. I will also discuss postcolonial studies of Homi Bhabha in 1994 about place of colonized people in these colonial discourses.
Anthony King in 1985 defined colonialism as the imposition of political control over countries, in particular undeveloped nations, through the exploitation of land, thereby gaining access to economic, military, political and even cultural power. European countries have colonised around 85% of the earth.
 
Rose in 2000 stated that there are 3 stages of European colonial expansion, which affected other countries from the 16th century to early 20th century. The first stage was in the 16th century, when European countries were searching for new resources after crises in feudalism. For example, countries such as Spain and Portugal were looking for gold and silver in South America and forced the indigenous population to adopt the Roman Catholic faith (Carlos F. Cardoza- Orlandi, 1961, Mission, p.17-8). The second stage, classed as “mercantile imperialism” occurred in the 17th century and was characterised by mainly European settlement in other countries and also transportation of 6 million slaves from Africa to the Caribbean, Brazil and Southern USA by Europeans. The slave trade was abolished in 1807 in the United Kingdom and 1833 in the USA, but formally abolished in 1865. The third stage was in the 19th and early 20th centuries and is called “the age of Empire”, to describe how European countries control markets, transport and communication like railways, telecommunications and education in other countries, particularly Arab countries, via the capitalist system (Blunt and Rose, 2000: 172).

My purpose here is to highlight that all economic, social and political power is control by the non-indigenous minority who are racially, culturally and religiously different from the indigenous majority because the minority run the military, technological and economic resources (King 1985). For instance,  non-Arab minority, mainly Persian who invaded Ahwaz controlled over 95% of economical power and nearly 100% of political power in Ahwaz. However, due to decrease of political and economical of European empires during WW2, the rise of nationalism, and independence movements, Europe was forced to leave countries it had colonised (Blunt and Wills 2000, 175). For instance, the French minority in Algeria used to hold all the levers of economic and political power before Algerian independence. However, with the Algerian independence movement, Algerians began to resist the French presence, fighting to wrest back control over their national culture, even though Algerians had far less power than the French (The Post-Colonial Studies Reader; chapter22, p.120). Finally, the Algerian people destroyed French plans to erode Algeria’s Arab culture, leaving the Algerian people to negotiate and translate their own culture identities (The Post-Colonial Studies Reader; chapter33, p.157).

Although European empires eventually departed Arab countries, in many cases they left behind an indelible mark on the political, administrative, legal, and educational systems of the countries they had colonised. The roots of some conflicts in the Middle East, such as the Israeli-Arab war over Palestine, the Iran-Iraq war over Al-Ahwaz and Invading Ahwaz by Iran can be traced back to colonialism.

In fact, there are three major indications of the process of cultural invasion of countries by Western colonial powers: namely trade, administration and education. This was imposed on the cultures of colonised peoples even more dominated by the colonial countries (Alan J. Bishop, The Post-Colonial Studies Reader; chapter13, p.80).

Edward Said in 1978 demonstrated that there is strong link between cultural production and colonialism (Edward Said, Orientalism 1978). For example, Western cinema spread around whole the world, reflecting its political dominance.
Homi Bhabha stated that culture can be both transnational and translational. It is transnational because it is rooted in culture displacement, where many people from the Third World migrated to the West after the WW2. Culture also can be translational because new technology like global media has impact on culture (Homi K. bhabha, the location of culture, p.172).

I want to expand on the theme by saying that Orientalism as a style of thinking is based on the existence of knowledge and differences between the East and West (Edward Said, The Post-Colonial Studies Reader; chapter3, p.25). Said believed that Orientalism is European-Atlantic power over the Orient (Edward Said 1978, Orientalism, p. 6).

According to Jane Wills in 2000, ‘Orientalism’ continues to inspire us today. In the travel industry, European people often travel to those countries that were colonised by their forefathers. Wills suggests that international sex tourism reflects stereotypical representations of ‘Oriental’ women being more sexual and ‘available’ than Western women (Wills, 2000:170).

Said (1978) pointed out several factors that have played a critical role in forming a negative impression of Arabs and Islam in the Western political sphere, including the history of anti-Arab and anti-Islam in the West, which itself draws on the discourse of Orientalism; and the struggle between the Arabs and Israeli peoples, and also Arabs and Persian invaders. Furthermore, because of oil industry in Arab countries, political situation, totalitarian of most regimes, freedom-loving by people make West to use different political ideas against Arabs. Television, films and western media's have also contributed to the picture of the Arab as violent, lusty, irrational and primitive. However, on the other hand, Western media gave innocent pictures for Persian who had great history after creating fake history for them and helped them to occupy Al-Ahwaz Arab land (Edward Said, Orientalism, p. 27).

On June 13, 1910, Arthur James Balfour gave his lecture in the House of Commons on the conditions of Egypt. Egypt was particularly important to Britain because of the Suez Canal, which was created by Britain and provided a link of great strategic significance between India and Egypt. Therefore, controlling Egypt was vital for Britain because it made the transport of goods from India easier and faster (Edward said, 1978, Orientalism, p.20, 91). Cromer believed knowledge of Orientals could give more power to the coloniser in the colonised territory (Edward Said, 1978, Orientalism, p. 36).

Furthermore, the negative image of Arabs in colonial ideology is evidenced by Cromer’s statements. Cromer said Westerners were more intelligent than Arabs who he described as gullible, ‘’devoid of energy and initiative,’’ obsessed with excessive praise and flattery, conspiracy and deceit. Cromer also added that lying is rooted in the Arab people. (Edward said, 1978, Orientalism, p. 38-9).

According to the Balfour agreement in 1919, Britain was to help Jewish immigrants create an independent homeland in the Middle East. Having promised the Arabs to support their independence following the end of the Ottoman era in the early 1900s, the West instead begun to carve up the land into new Arab countries according to its own geopolitical interests. The most controversial of its decisions was to establish a state for Jews on the land that was home to some 700,000 indigenous Arabs. (Edward Said, Zionism from the standpoint of its victims; Anne McClintock, Amir Mufti and Ella Shohat: Dangerous Liaisons, p.17). It is also can add that Britain helped Persian to create bigger land after invading AL-Ahwaz and other non-Persian lands, gave Persian new history which all created after 1935 like Takht Jamishid (Persepolis) and in 1971 built Pasargadae, and began to speech in their media about those fake history which created by them, however, on the other hand, they ignored the history in AL-Ahwaz caused will show their hypocrisy against non-Persian lands in Iran.

Furthermore, in 1914, Britain and France had planned to make meeting between both countries about making new ideas to separate Arab countries from each other and make them small nations that have since been periodically riven by political conflict amongst each other. Therefore, according to their agreement which called ‘’Sykes-Picot’’, Arab land became several countries (Edward said, 1978, Orientalism, 220-1). As Mark Sykes the British representative for Sykes-Picot agreement said “it is clear that Arab will make revolution against us, so it is better to return good relations with France till the revolution will be positive not negative against Britain’’ (Edward said, 1978, Orientalism, 221). For instance, helped Persian to occupied Ahwaz, and separated Sudan from Egypt and Western Arab countries from each other and so on.

Even now that the colonial era has passed, the West still wields great influence in the Middle. In fact, Arab countries through Western Education system, new modern technology, medication and so on can have better connection with the world because Arabs are using Western Education system, for instance the education system in Algeria is French so Algerian can have better connection with people from Mali is because Mali also has French system. Europe sees itself as responsible for the Arabs for political, historical and cultural reasons like French language in western Arab countries or British education in the Arabian Gulf countries. The West has began to create history for Arabs or remind Arab to their history through Media to make Arab often conflict each other due to historical reasons which created by the West (Edward said, 1978, Orientalism, p.63).

I would like to add that neo-colonialism differs from traditional colonialism. Traditional colonialism refers to the direct imposition of control over one country or area by another nation or more. The legacy of colonialism thus differed from one country to the next, depending on the unique configuration of coloniser and colonised. Neo-colonialism on the other hand does not involve direct control or nation-building, but rather the imposition of policies that have often grown out of colonial ideology and effectively perpetuate the colonialism of the past. For instance, the USA is neo-colonised country which still using traditional colonisers ideology (Ashby 1967; Kazamia and Epstein 1968; The Post-Colonial Studies Reader; chapter87, Philip G. Altbach, Education and Neo-colonialism: 197).
Neo-colonialism can have both negative and positive effects. For example, education, sending foreign textbooks to Arab nations’ schools, and the use of foreign technical and technology are arguably positive aspects of neo-colonialism (Ashby 1967; Kazamia and Epstein 1968; The Post-Colonial Studies Reader; chapter87, Philip G. Altbach, Education and Neo-colonialism: 1971, p.381). However, the negative effect can be the policies of Western media and even ideology of ordinary people in the West towards Arab, which have colonial root. Many people in the West think of Arabs as people who ride camels, belong to terrorist organizations, commit adultery, and do not deserve the vast riches that oil has conferred on some of them. (Edward Said, 1978, Orientalism, p. 109).

Friedman in 1966 stated that colonial cities are no different to their Western counterparts. Colonial cities pass through different stages of development from traditional non-industrial city to their modern industrialized form. However, Simon 1992 noted that cities in developing countries are very different from the West, for instance, cities in developing countries have higher birth rates than in developed nations. And also basing theories on Western experiences ignores the specificity of processes in the developing world.
To conclude, I want to suggest that colonialism is a cultural and economic project of control. I also want to suggest that in colonized countries, indigenous people became a minority and the majority of power is out of their hands. Since 16th century, European policy has changed from enslaving people to controlling their economy and politics, particularly in Arab countries. I also suggest that the political behaviour of Europe has always put its own interests above those of Arab
countries.
I would like to add that some cities in the Middle East  like Dubai were built like Western cities due to colonised root in Arab countries, but cities in AL-Ahwaz could not improve because of occupation which has oriental root.
 I also want to add that building colonised city in Western policy has some disadvantages for indigenous people such as affecting their culture, and limiting their power, but there can be advantages like industrialisation. For instance, native people in city like Dubai became minority.
I also conclude that the Third World, like some parts of the Middle East, has been exploited by the West, and the Arab world as we know it was a figment of the West as laid down in the Sykes-Picot agreement.