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Occidentalism - East-west Dialogue And The Other, China And Occidentalism, Bibliography

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The term Occidentalism refers primarily to the many ways in which non-Western intellectuals, artists, and the general public perceive and present the West. Though it seems to be an inversion of Orientalism, it has acquired some unique aspects defying a simple definition. In fact, the practices and discourses of Occidentalism vary a great deal, from time to time and region to region. If we can arbitrarily divide certain parts of the world into West and East, then the people of the East, like their counterparts in the West, had approached an understanding and knowledge of the West long before such terms as Occidentalism and Orientalism were coined. However, it was largely due to the seminal influence of Edward Said's Orientalism that the discussion and use of the term Occidentalism gradually, from the 1990s on, gained currency in academic circles. Also, the two discourses not only juxtapose but also overlap with one another, in that the non-Western people do not perceive the West solely on their own cultural terms; rather, given the presence of Western discursive hegemony, they present the West either as a contrast, or an exemplar, reminding one of the principal practices of Orientalism among the Westerners. Different from the Orientalist discourse, which is mostly made by and for the Westerners, however, the Occidentalist discourse is made by non-Westerners for both Westerners and themselves. In the early twentieth century, for example, when a group of Japanese Buddhists attended the World's Parliament of Religion, they exercised, to borrow James Ketelaar's terminology, a "strategic Occidentalism" in promoting Buddhism both at home and to the world. They appropriated elements from Christianity, and Western culture in general, and constructed an image of the West as the contrasting Other. In so doing, they threw into relief the value of Buddhism as a more integral part in Japanese culture. They also emphasized the potentials of Buddhism for complementing Christianity and redressing its shortcomings.

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