The popular 1992 animated film, Aladdin, takes place in the fictional sultanate of Agrabah and follows the adventures of a street rat by the name of Aladdin. Aladdin encounters a lamp with a magical genie and uses the wishes to win the heart of the princess, Jasmine. Through his journey, he is met by evil forces wanting to use the lamp and he soon realizes that he must save the princess and the city. Through analysis of plot and character development, Aladdin can be characterized as an oriental depiction of the Middle East and South East Asia, also known as the Orient.
Edward Said defines orientalism as a scholarly depiction which illustrates a “Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient” (Said, 1978, 11). Through history, the West and its relationship with Middle Eastern countries has been based on the influence and resistance of Western power within the region. Historically, the West saw the Orient as uncivilized and lacking modernity due to its underdevelopment (Gelvin, 2011, 143). This attitude towards the Middle Eastern region is still seen in the West today. Analyzing Aladdin demonstrates how orientalism is vastly represented in American culture.
The proposed paper and presentation will first examine the historical relations between the United States and the Middle East and the development of orientalism. After defining orientalism, I will then analyze Aladdin and relate its oriental portrayal to the Western attitudes of the Middle East today.
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History, Anthropology, & Philosophy
- Event location
- Event date
25 March 2016
- Date submitted
18 July 2022