I am staying in the home of some lovely Ottoman scholars. Thus I picked up Yeğenoğlu’s Colonial Fantasies to read with my grilled cheese (as ya do). First, it had me wondering what parts of our other travel blog or even this blog or my social media feed might unwittingly be perpetuating Orientalist dialogues, patterns, topoi etc. Something like an antiquarian curiosity had me reading a Social History of Ottoman Istanbul before bed of late. Even that book itself — although careful to distinguish between its bedrock of in-culture sources and outsider perspectives and speculations — still seems ready fodder for such curiosities, turning the city and the history into a spectacle for a new crop of Anglophones eager for tales of the mysterious East.
Then, I came across the Said quote above. Reading it in Yeğenoğlu‘s context, I suddenly stopped seeing the word Orientalism and in its place saw Classics. How often I find myself drowning in footnotes of detail. Crafting my cross references at times with more care than my own reactions or observations. Those are nothing without the substructure of academic scaffolding.