Saturday, June 6, 2009

like woahhh

Consuming Orientalism is about the power relationships that have written and rewritten the notions of the orient. By establishing Asians as the “other”, the west could justify the dominant-subordinate relationship between the east and the west. Therefore, “nation” is conveyed through aesthetics and the gendered body: “Through orientalism, differences in appearance and clothing were often read by colonizers as indexes of deeper differences, even as the colonizers’ discursive categories created the reality they supposedly described.” (Niessen et al., 9)

These oriental ideas are then used as part of the marketing strategy to promote products because it appeals to the customer’s intrigue with the unusual and different. It is in line with the contemporary sociopolitical climate to use post-racial ideas to advertise products to the masses. So advertisements utilize these “yellow power” ideas to reach a larger consumer base.
Therefore, the discourse around orientalism has been lost. Orientalism has been reduced to a trend: “This process of glossing certain items as generically Asian erases their specific cultural and national origins. Asian chic is something that, while aesthetically appealing to many, is ultimately a trend: something simply to be consumed and then moved beyond: "Asia is indeed an invented construction but it is nonetheless a very real construction. It has become a commodified identity that corporations can define and sell as an invented yet racialized look.” (Niessen et al., 19) .

The paradox is that these Asian trends are not considered beautiful until it has been validated by an outside source as such. What is notable is that this source is usually someone from a position of power, usually from the west. Globalization has allowed for the diffusion of such trends, but the origins—the context—in which these trends emerged has been lost. The meaning behind these trends changes as it continues to cross boarders: “it had to cross the border to become fashion in a way that it could never have been while south Asian women wore it…the irony for these [south Asian women] however was that pride in their new fashionability could be interpreted through logic as a kind of enlightenment that could only come from the western fashion establishment telling them what was precious about their cultural heritage.” (Niessen et al, 20)

Now, an interesting question was brought up during class: what if an Asian American were to "consume orientalism"? is it still considered "consuming orientalism" then? does it give these "oriental" commodities authenticity/ a new meaning?

re-orienting fashion, nissen

modern girl around the world, Barlow et al.

p.s. good luck with finals, have a great summer you guys <33>

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