An Asia History Hub Workshop on Orientalism

Orientalism: Imagined Geographies and History-Writing

An Asia History Hub Workshop 

Friday 15 April, 10.00 a.m.– 12.00 p.m

Old Arts-263, Collaborative Learning Space 1

RSVP with Shan at

Written in 1978, Edward Said’s Orientalism is the foundational study of how the imagined geography of ‘the East,’ or ‘Orient’ is not only central to Western knowledge production about multiple lands and peoples, but also implicit in the category ‘the West.’ Over the last four decades, Said’s insights have profoundly shaped Asian history, while informing critiques of settler colonialism in contexts such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In this Asia History Hub workshop aimed at postgraduates and interested honours students (Staff welcome too!) we will read a section of Orientalism. Essential readings are listed below. In addition to reading the 2003 Preface & Introduction (40 pages) to Orientalism, please also read Ronald Inden’s‘Orientalist Constructions of India’ (44 pages). This will facilitate our discussion of the application and relevance of Said’s work when studying various geographic regions. In addition to providing a great discussion of the multiple different ‘Orients’ that exist in Western literary imaginations, Indenuses Said’s tools to critique the representation of India (and China) in Hegel’s Philosophy of History amongst other texts, illuminating how the orient/occident binary underpins the foundations of contemporary historical practise. For extra keen readers, I have also included as further suggested reading the first chapter of Orientalism (29-110). These are dense, sophisticated texts that will reward you amply if you give them time. See you in the workshop!


Essential Reading

  1. Light introduction to continuing significance of Orientalism can be found here:
  2. Preface & Introduction. Said, Edward. Orientalism. London: Penguin, 2003 Edition. pp. xi-xxiii, 1-28. (Link:
  3. Inden, Ronald. ‘Orientalist Constructions of India’. Modern Asian Studies 20, no. 3 (1986): 401–46. (Link:

Further Suggested Reading

  1. ‘The Scope of Orientalism,’ Said, Edward. Orientalism. London: Penguin, 2003 Edition. pp. 29-110. (Link: