Edited By William M. Reynolds
Chapter Ten: The Averted Gaze: Representations of Race and the American South in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
The Averted Gaze: Representations of Race and the American South in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
In Orientalism, Edward Said (1978/2003) argues that the West knows that it thinks it knows of the East not through any direct knowledge, but rather through narratives and accounts passed down from Western writer to Western intellectual to Western policymaker over the centuries. Much like the child’s game of telephone, in which the original message is badly garbled by the time the last person receives it, European “knowledge” of the Orient is decidedly distanced from the reality of the Orient; it is a construction tainted and twisted by Western biases, assumptions, and, sometimes, pure fantasy or wishful thinking. Even those Westerners who visit the East do not see reality, says Said, but instead project their expectations and assumptions upon what they see and hear, unwittingly (perhaps) coercing their perceptions to conform to an anticipated template, a “rather complex dialectic of reinforcement by which the experiences of readers in reality are determined by what they have read” (p. 94). Said identifies this faulty knowledge, this misinterpretation, misperception, and misrepresentation as the foundation for the power dynamic—Antonio Gramsci’s interpretation of hegemony (in Said, 1978/2003, pp. 6–9)—that locks the colonized under the control of the colonizer, long after the official end of the colonial period. Even the well-intentioned attention of European scholars “overrode the Orient” (p. 96), reducing it to a curiosity, reinforcing its...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.