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Analysis / "Arabian Nights" Days

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This trope has proven to have a greater deal of Unfortunate Implications in recent times, especially after the publication of Edward W. Said's Orientalism.

In that book, Said noted that researchers, writers, poets and painters were so coloured by this trope, this exotic fantasy of "the East" and "the Orient" that it tended to prevail in serious, academic and objective books about the same area, conflating regionally diverse and multi-ethnic people into a single whole with no attention given to variations, ebb and flow of social changes.


He criticized the fact that there were very few attempts to include local sources, no attempt to involve regional writers and all other basic facts of academic research. Had the same treatment been accorded to an European nation, he noted, then nobody would take that research seriously.

Since then, many authors and writers have criticized the persistent tendency in Anglo-American and in some cases French work to keep showing the Middle East in a one-dimensional way, either in this exotic fashion of harem girls and hookah, or a theocratic nation state, with no attempt at looking at how people lived on the ground, variations in habits and all sorts of hidden resistance and subversion.


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