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Volume 7 Number 1, Spring 2010, Pages 1-393   

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"Orientalism" and Contrastive (Intercultural) Rhetoric: A Response to What Said Has Said

    Deron Walker

Thirty years ago, Edward Said (1978) strongly criticized western scholars for "essentializing" the "exotic other." The "Orientalist" that Said described was complicit in a "discourse of power" that helped to enable Europe's exploitation of the Middle East and America's control over parts of the Far East. Postmodernists and post-colonialists of today share Said's concern with neo-colonialism and seek to protect others from harmful stereotypes. Meanwhile, the field initiated as contrastive rhetoric, now often called intercultural rhetoric, commenced when Kaplan (1966) discovered different organizational patterns in the English essays of five groups of international students. Though initially oversimplified, the field began with an explicitly pedagogical purpose: to help second language learners write better English academic essays. This paper will examine how Said-style criticism of "Orientalists," exercised by postmodernists and post-colonialists, has both helped to positively refine generalizations, biases and methodologies and simultaneously inhibited researchers and practitioners from further developing this pedagogically promising field of research in East-Asia.

Keywords: contrastive rhetoric, intercultural communication, intercultural rhetoric, Orientalism, postmodernism