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Until now, Orientalist art -exemplified by paintings of harems, slave markets, or bazaars- has predominantly been understood to reflect Western interpretations and to perpetuate reductive, often demeaning stereotypes of the exotic East. Orientalism's Interlocutors contests the idea that Orientalist art simply expresses the politics of Western domination and argues instead that it was often produced through cross-cultural interactions. Focusing on paintings and other representations of North African and Ottoman cultures, by both local artists and westerners, the contributors contend that the stylistic similarities between indigenous and Western Orientalist art mask profound interpretive differences, which, on examination, can reveal a visual language of resistance to colonization. The essays also demonstrate how marginalized voices and viewpoints -especially women's- within Western Orientalism decentered and destabilized colonial authority.
Looking at the political significance of cross-cultural encounters refracted through the visual languages of Orientalism, the contributors engage with pressing recent debates about indigenous agency, postcolonial identity, and gendered subjectivities. The very range of artists, styles, and forms discussed in this collection broadens contemporary understandings of Orientalist art. Among the artists considered are the Algerian painters Azouaou Mammeri and Mohammed Racim; Turkish painter Osman Hamdi; British landscape painter Barbara Bodichon; and the French painter Henri Regnault. From the liminal "Third Space" created by mosques in postcolonial Britain to the ways nineteenth-century harem women negotiated their portraits by British artists, the essays in this collection force a rethinking of the Orientalist canon.
This innovative volume will appeal to those interested in art history, theories of gender, and postcolonial studies.
Jill Beaulieu, Roger Benjamin, Zeynep Çelik, Deborah Cherry, Hollis Clayson, Mark Crinson, Mary Roberts