Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of by Meyda Yegenoglu

By Meyda Yegenoglu

Meyda Yegenoglu investigates the intersection among postcolonial and feminist feedback, through the Western fascination with the veiled girls of the Orient. Linking representations of cultural and sexual distinction, she exhibits the Oriental girl to have functioned because the veiled inside of Western identification. Her unique and compelling argument calls into query dualistic conceptions of identification and distinction, West and East, masculinist assumptions of Orientalism, and Western feminist discourses that search to "liberate" the veiled girl.

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Bhabha, in specifying the conditions and defining features of the discourse of colonialism, attempts to articulate the representation of sexual difference with cultural difference. This is certainly a remarkable endeavor, for most of the analyses of representation of difference ceaselessly reproduce the dualistic framework in which the representation of cultural difference is treated as belonging to a separate domain, clearly distinguishable from the representation of sexual difference. And we should also remember that Said's analysis was not free from this dualism.

These two aspects of Orientalism are not incongruent, since by use of them both Europe could advance securely and unmetaphorically upon the Orient. 32 [emphasis added] The two senses of Orientalism used above are further elaborated in the following pages. Here Said makes a distinction between latent and manifest Orientalism a distinction which has profound implications for reformulating the structure of Orientalist discourse. "33 Thus latent Orientalism reflects the site of the unconscious, where dreams, images, desires, fantasies and fears reside.

To engage in an analysis of the unconscious site of Orientalism should not be seen as an alternative to its historical analysis. Indeed, if the power of Orientalism is not, as vulgar Marxism would have it, a mere reflection of an economic power, but is rather a power that is rooted in the production and dissemination of knowledge, concepts, and commonsense, then we must be able to root this knowledge itself in a certain libidinal economy that drives it. Therefore we need to subject Orientalist discourse to a more sexualized reading.

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