Friday, 27 November 2009

Defining the term 'Oriental'

Oriental is the term used in Britain do define anyone of east asian descent- be it chinese, korean, japanese, taiwanese etc.

There are huge differences in the usage of terms across geographical places, such as America and Britain, and call me a traitor but I prefer the Asian American train of thought so much more than that of the British. Asian Americans view the term as offensive and derogatory and I don't blame them, because it just rings heavily of colonialism. In this modern world, it is not at all correct to cling onto that part of history. Furthermore, as a history student, the term brings back memories of learning about the study of Orientalism, a term that defines and points out the flaws of historiographical evidence and research of Asia. The definition being that research about asia and the whatever asian countries they visited was purely a reflection on the colonialism and civilisation of their own civilisation-that of europe, the states and all things in between. I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing to be calling someone oriental.

I don't understand why British people are not making this term to be racist. the oxford dictionary states that it is 'a person from China, Japan or other countries in E Asia' and is 'OFTEN offensive' last updated 2005. 'often'? shouldn't it be always?


Jamilla Camel said...

I like "East Asian", or "Southeast Asian" or "South Asian" because, well, I guess that's what we or are!

Bebe said...

i don't really use the word. I am not asian myself, but I live near a large community of Viets, and Chinese and they refer to themselves as oriental... I guess just have to be sensitive that some people may not like it.