Reversal Of Knowledge And Power Cultural Studies Essay

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Orientalism constitutes a system of apparent knowledge about the Orient in which the " other" is never allowed or invited to speak thus alienating him of this true power and knowledge. The essential purpose of Orientalism was that they Westerners defined themselves in evidence to the opposing qualities which they found in the Easterners. Consequently, they characterized them of irrationality and incivility which automatically reinforced their supremacy as being rational and sophisticated. It is actually the "status of all forms of thought and representation for dealing with the alien" (1988, Pp. 261) which needs to be interrogated and restructured.

Mary Douglas ( 1972, Pp. 12) claims that India is a " mirror image" of Europe and thus a totally opposite world to the West so that Liz, bridges the gap between her innate western cultures in order to immerse in the oriental cultures. The notions of self discovery and self fulfillment that directs her quest may be credited to the fact the Orient is highly romanticized. Clark (1997, Pp. 54- 55) enunciates that the metaphysical quest derives from the desire for fusion with religion and nature. However the contention that the Orient is "weaker that the West which elide(s) the Orient's difference with its weakness" (1978, Pp. 204) needs to be examined. Subsequently Liz's escape and longing for renewal account for the interrogation of the supremacy of the West. Liz 's characterization to attain self satisfaction, respect and confidence is evidenced through the journey in India and Bali and through which, the film explores the contrasting yet interdependent between Eastern and Western relationships.

The fact that Liz affirms that she has " lost" " everything" and her " place" instantly contradicts the western depiction as a person being " rational, mature, normal" ( 1978,Pp. 40). The viewer is challenged by the unlikely situation in which the powerful West, here exemplified by Liz is "weak, depraved and different" ( 1978, Pp. 40), qualities generally related with easterners. In this sense, the film is thought provocating for the viewer as it directs one to the estranging of power dynamics. Placing both the Guru Gita as well as Ketut, the medicine man in the position of guides and healers for Liz suggest that the West suggest that the power and dynamics are not indisputable and pre eminent. The powerful performance of the Easterners through their dissemination of knowledge to Liz to restore herself not only leads to the reversal of power dynamics but also hints at the alteration in the homogeneous construction between the East and West. Likewise this situation reflects that Liz's identity as a Westerner is seized by the eastern power over her spirit. According to Focault ( 1972, Pp. 101) power is " multiple and mobile field of force relations", " never completely satble" so that the counter hegemony of Western power becomes credible. He equally states ( the order of things p 326) that the other, exemplified by the medicine man or the Guru Gita, is representative of an " identical newness" " indispensable to [her]" as Liz " emerges in the field of knowledge" . In an attempt to oppose hegemonic discourse, Spivak advocates modes of " negotiation" and " critique" which " unsettle the dominant from within". (1997, Pp. 85) The form of reversal of knowledge and power symbolizes the negociation and appropriation of " persistently transforming conditions of impossibility to possibility" (1986: 201).

Just like Xena, in Xena The Warrior Princess makes use of Laoma's powers to confront and overpower the Green Dragon, so does Liz combines western civility as well as eastern civility and she thus finds the " perfect balance". The knowledge of self affirmation and expression that she acquires puts into question the notion of civility as a human being so far. This analysis supplements Adorno's contention that the " neurosis" that defines the " native informant" should be altered into the source of " healing force, that of knowledge" ( 1967, Pp. 252). In this perspective, Spivak ( 2003, Pp.15) vindicates that interaction with the other yields to an openness with the latter, enabling him to redefine himself as a subject of development. The re-appropriatiation of knowledge and power dynamics may be interpreted as a response to "an accumulated record of misinterpretations in the narrowly realist sense" in Ahmad's view (1992, Pp. 185- 186) .

Chapter 2:

The meeting of cultures

Drawing from the notion of hegemonic culture, Orientalism has helped to define Europe as its "contrasting image, idea, personality, experience" (1979, Pp. 1-2) so that the West makes use of the East to establish its meaning as well as construct its culture. However cultural hybridity is an influential means of envisioning an interrelated and united structure between Eastern and Western relationships such that an opportunity of re determining the alienating processes of stereotyping the other becomes possible. In this prospect, Ahmad articulates that "borders materialize as an effect on intensifications of feeling…individual and collective bodies surface through the very orientations we take to objects and others" ( 2004 , Pp. 39). Analyzed from a practical point of view, the film Eat pray love (2010) significantly illustrates the deconstruction of boundaries through cultural hybridity in every aspect.

The scenes in the film contextualize the idea of interwoven cultures from different countries such as notably Italy, India and Bali. Liz crosses the bridge of western culture in order to espouse the eastern culture. Her voyage of self-discovery pushes her forward to the discovery of other cultures and through her journey, she mends the connection between the east and the west. As a result, the spiritual journey of Liz enables her to espouse different 'food culture', 'dressing code' and also 'religious cults' so that she is she is symbolical of the living example of the essence of cultural hybridity.

Westerners and Easterners are interdependent in building a mutual culture and Bhaba's emphasis on notions like "diaspora, discplacement and relocation" ( 1994, Pp.247), showcases the evolving and flexible of the nature of culture and equally provides a possibility through which the other can recover from this dominated position as the West will depend on the latter for mutual cultural construction. Seen from this standpoint, this theoretical framework illustrates three preponderant components in terms of the deconstruction of barriers, connection between eastern and western constructions as well as the complementary paradigm of both cultures.

At one point, in the film, she also pictures the scene of her wedding with her American husband but she was dressed in Indian style. Such image casts the light on 'cultural hybridity' whereby two persons are getting married with two different dressing codes, one western and the other purely eastern. In the path of seeking spiritual enlightment, she lives in an Ashram with the Indians sharing the same culture as them. Through the meditation session in the ashram, she learns to understand the 'Guru Gita' which was none of her religious habit. Also, she also builds friendship ties with the Indian girl Tulsi to whom she dedicates her 'Guru Gita', the sacred book. In this sense Ahmed (1999) suggest how hybrid individuals are able to unite in a shared harmony.

It can be further argued that, at the intersection of both cultural identities both Eastern and Western lie the optimum of cultural hybridity. In fact, the optimum can be reached at the harmonious interaction of different cultures which leave room for coexistence. Language interaction in the film, is effective in exemplifying Fanon's expression that " to speak …means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization," (1967: 17-18). This point can clearly be justified as in the film, other Europeans in the Ashram use Indian words such as "seva" and that Liz teaches English, to her spiritual master Ketut. Thus, verbal communication the language of the colonizer does not attest for hegemonic discourse but instead vindicates willingness for active participation in culture. Also, this recognition and approval of role shapes the meaning of culture as it is subject to transformation. As such language interaction represents the affirmation of other voices that have been restricted from expression so far. The cultural construction is equally dynamic so that it no more sees language as a possession of the colonizer due to its dependence on the role of the colonized as well to give it shape. This argument purports that Said's emphasis has remained on the misdeeds of the Europeans rather than establishing the way in which cultural interaction could eventually take place.

CHAPTER 3: Constructing a Cosmopolite Identity

The "ontology of Occident and Orient which appears….. throughout all cultural moments" may "misrepresent far more heterogeneous conditions and operations". (1991, Pp.5-6). This leads us opening the relationship between the Orient and them Occident, which, when analyzed from a cosmopolite standpoint confirms that the hegemonic cultural construction of Eastern and Western relationships may get " constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed as people pursue their identities" ( 1994: 27). In the same vein Handler ( 1994: 27) affirms that identity has " de facto become a globalised concept, ubiquitous" " in the different corners of the world". Therefore, the fact that Europeans define themselves as fixed, unfaltering, supremacist identity compared to the orientals loses ground for cosmopolitanism implies a pluralistic approach where one identity is not fixed and static but more global and fluid.

In fact, the film deeply depicts this picture of Liz breaking all barriers or obstacles in order to reach the final end of ultimate self fulfillment which the western culture could not secure. Brought up in the western culture, she finds no happiness or self-satisfaction about her life and she finally decides to travel to Italy, India and Bali with the aim of finding the missing parts in her inner self. In this specific realm, the dichotomizing relationship between colonizer and colonized has no raison d'être as Liz embraces the ideology of individuals having numerous belongings who co-exist with other individuals of various cultures with equally opposing interests and loyalties. Liz, consequently is representative of those people of different roots living up in places where they forge new identities. The pre established image about the orientals as the " other", exemplified by Ketut, Guru Gita as well as Tulsi, in the European mind subsequently leads to the contention to the equality and togetherness of all human beings as well as value for human dignity.

This exchange and interaction between these two opposing poles interestingly form a complementary whole for both parties. This "richness" which paves the way to "self creation" (1998, ****), is evidenced through the involvement or partnership between the colonized and the colonizer as the effectiveness of border land also emerges. This accounts for the objective to build up the terrain to " achieve a globality beyond the colonial"( Dirlik, 2003). As such, the main characters in the film are symbolical of mediators who come to terms with their colonial past in order to re organize as well re shape a new future, where the " Other" is valorised as an active and truthful subject and not insignificantly an object of history.

Liz is characterised as an " antevesin" which in the film is explained to be " the one who lives by the border because they renounce to the comfort of family life in order to seek enlightenment" . In this view, seeking self evolution is indeed a process which takes times to realise. It is common that the process of self evolution constitutes particles of different cultures. As such, Beck (2002, Pp. 35) refers to cosmopolitanism as an attempt to deal with the "clash of cultures within one's own life". In contrast to the authority of the hierarchical system of Orientalism (1978), a discourse of cosmopolitanism recontextualises the rigid western identity as one which is not " unquestionable, singular and non negotiable given" ( 1996, 297). (0 neil) From this standpoint, Liz demonstrates that the identity and self image of "a western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient." ( 1978, Pp. 3) alters in both an evolving and fluid identity in relation to the Easterners. Regarding the oppressed, Spivak ( 1991, Pp.158) the whole point is to resist to imposed identities and stable definitions that serve the Occidentals. As such when applied in a cosmolitan discourse to counter attack the hegemony of Orientalism, the subject no more finds its reflection in the object but rather unites with his fellow other in equality. As such the symbiotic interaction between westerners and easterners generally made impossible by Said should be allowed to be nurtured.