Orientalism as a form of Confession

Andrea Teti


In addition to being characterised as a ‘regime of truth’, Orientalist discourses also display the general properties of confessional discourses outlined in Foucault’s Will to Knowledge.  The article argues that there is a similarity in the ‘effects of power’ made possible within these frameworks, particular regarding the legitimisation and application of discipline.  Finally, the paper draws out a few implications for the analysis of power and resistance in confessional economies of power.  The perspective this paper provides an insight into the internal structure of Orientalist discourse; connects this structure with Orientalism’s ‘effects of power’; affords purchase on both Orientalism’s organisational and ontogenetic properties; helps explain the persistence of Orientalism – both overt and covert – despite three decades of post-Orientalist scholarship.  In this sense, a confessional perspective on Orientalism affords a broad view of the contemporary politics of truth in which Orientalism plays such as an important part.  Finally, a confessional perspective affords purchase on the nature of power, the formation of subjectivities, and the possibilities of resistance within Orientalist discursive contexts, which Said’s own analysis is often said to lack.


Edward Said; Michel Foucault; Orientalism; Confession, Power; Resistance; Regime of Truth

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