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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Oriental Africa
Author:Du Plessis, Hester
Periodical:Tydskrif vir letterkunde
Geographic terms:Africa
Subsaharan Africa
Subjects:Islamic culture
culture contact
colonial period
External link:https://doi.org/10.4314/tvl.v45i1.29822
Abstract:Arab culture and the religion of Islam permeated the traditions and customs of sub-Saharan Africa for centuries. When the early colonizers from Europe arrived in Africa they encountered these influences and spontaneously perceived the African cultures to be ideologically hybridized and more compatible with Islam than with the ideologies of the West. This difference progressively endorsed a perception of Africa and the East being 'exotic' and was as such depicted in early paintings and writings. This depiction contributed to a cultural misunderstanding of Africa and facilitated colonialism. This article briefly explores some of the facets of these early texts and paintings. In the first place the scripts by early Muslim scholars, who critically analysed early Eastern perceptions, are discussed against the textual interpretation of East-West perceptions such as the construction of 'the other'. Secondly, travel writers and painters between 1860 and 1930, who created a visual embodiment of the exotic, are discussed in the context of the politics behind the French Realist movement that developed during that same period. This included the construction of a perception of exoticness as represented by literature descriptions and visual art depictions of the women of the Orient. These perceptions rendered Africa as oriental with African subjects depicted as 'exotic others'. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]