Orientalism

A Western Vegetarian 'Foray' into Non-Western Culture

A few months ago I got an email announcing a vegetarian get together at a Cambodian restaurant. Eating food associated with Cambodian culture is a perfectly valid basis for a vegetarian gathering, and I'm totally in favor of having an event at a place like a Cambodian restaurant. But what struck me was how the event was advertised as a "foray" into the food of Cambodian culture. I wanted to bring to the organizers attention a couple concerns regarding the use of the word "foray" in title of this event. (Read more...)

10,000 for Western Imperialism

Westerners may have physically left their old colonies in Africa and Asia, but they retained them not only as markets but as locales on the ideological map over which they continue to rule morally and intellectually. – Edward Said

On September 3, In Defense of Animals launched an online petition with the aim of gathering 10,000 signatures from people pledging to support a total boycott of the entire country of Korea and all its products until Korea's Animal Protection Law is amended to strengthen the ban on the consumption of dogs and cats. Currently the petition has over 9,000 signatures and is likely to surpass its goal by its seventh day.

In his book Yellow, Frank Wu recommends Asian Americans who are asked "Do Asians eat dogs?" to respond with the question, "What is the point of asking whether I eat dogs?" Building on Wu's recommendation, we might ask, "What is the point of campaigning against dog-eating in Korea?" I'm convinced the answer is that campaigns targeting dog-eating as a cultural practice, including I.D.A.'s anti-Korea campaign, are based on a subtext of Western supremacy, Orientalism and imperialism, as well as speciesism.

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Manifest Destiny

When the first Whites entered the Cache Valley it straddled the Mexico-"Oregon Country" border. While trappers for the fur trade set the groundwork for colonization of the region in the 1820s, by the 1840s it was the doctrine of Manifest Destiny that provided the justification for establishing White settlements. (Read more...)

Animal Protection and White Supremacy

Maybe you've heard about Brigitte Bardot's anti-Muslims comments? People are debating whether the comments are racist, or sincerely based on animal protection. And there's some justified anger on the Vegans of Color blog.

I think the comments fall into what Edward Said calls "the Orienalist description of the Islamic world." In "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy" from Color of Violence (South End Press, 2005), Andrea Smith explains that, "The logic of Orientalism marks certain peoples or nations as inferior and as posing a constant threat to the well-being of empire," and, I would add, the nation-state. So the comments are definitely racist in that they up hold the Orientalist pillar of white supremacy described by Smith. (Read more...)