Orientalism: From Napoleon to Game of Thrones

11.30 – 12.20

Sunday 4th April

In 1798 Napoleon invaded Egypt with two armies marching beside him. Alongside his regular army, he also took an army of 167 scholars or ‘savants’, whose task it was to document this new land, capturing not territory but the knowledge and essence of Egypt itself. To understand and know Egypt, to possess it intellectually, would aid in its military subjugation. The military invasion ultimately failed, but the scholarly invasion was successful beyond anyone’s expectations, giving rise to Western Orientalism – a way of seeing that imagines, emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts differences of other peoples and cultures, allowing the West to dominate and have authority over the East, or ‘Orient’.  

In this thought-provoking talk, Dr Akil Awan charts the unsettling history of Orientalism – from 19th century depictions of the East as exotic, uncivilized, and yearning to be enlightened by Western rule; to the Iraq War and contemporary popular culture in films and TV drama such as 300, Game of Thrones and Aladdin.

Sunday and Weekend Pass holders will have access to this talk.

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Event image kindly provided by the Mary Evans Picture Library