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Browsing by Subject "Orientalism"

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  • Kela, Leena (2023)
    Since the early 2000s, European nation-states have exhibited an increasing tendency to prohibit the use of Islamic veils. This has typically been justified by claiming that Muslim practices such as veiling symbolize the oppressive, non-secular, fanatical, and ultimately non-European nature of Islam. Historically, Europe has indeed tended to essentialize and Other Muslims, that is, construct simplified “us vs. them” understandings of “Western” and “Muslim” identities. In the more recent decades, however, globalization and growing cultural diversity have brought up concerns over the future of such understandings. I therefore argue that veiling bans are much less about the veils per se and more about what increasing, visible diversity means for familiar constructions of “European”, “Finnish”, and “Muslim” identities. As a result of these concerns, a demand for minorities and immigrants to demonstrate loyalty to the local “national” culture has become prevalent. While a national ban like the one in France and several other European countries has not (yet) been implemented in Finland, there have already been political discussions of whether such a ban should be ratified. Moreover, surveys and polls have shown that Islam is persistently viewed as a foreign religion that is inherently different from “Finnishness”, suggesting that the debate over Muslim minorities’ place in Finland will continue to come up. The decisions that are made will affect how religious minorities are approached. Therefore, in this thesis, I analyze how Finnish people justify bans on Muslim women’s veils in their comments under Helsingin Sanomat online news articles, examining what Islamic veils are perceived to mean. The analysis will further demonstrate how such comments work to (re)construct exclusionary Finnish identity. The key research question which I answer is: How do readers of Helsingin Sanomat online news articles justify the banning of Islamic headscarves in their comments? The qualitative content analysis of overall 209 comments from the time period of 2016–2022 reveal that Muslim women’s veils were perceived to challenge “Finnishness” because they were thought to symbolize oppression, partiality, resistance to integration, danger, extremism, and even poor health. The findings therefore demonstrate that Muslim identity is constructed as the foreign and illiberal opposite to liberal Finnish identity, and denying Muslim women certain fundamental rights, such as freedom of religion, is justified by arguing that it is a way to protect the otherwise liberal, enlightened “local” societies. It is argued, then, that as long as Muslim women continue to veil themselves, they cannot be accepted into the “in-group”. Overall, the findings of this thesis provide a nuanced understanding of how Islam, Muslims and especially veiled Muslim women are perceived by Finnish individuals in particular, especially from an intersectional perspective.
  • Tirkkonen, Anna-Kaisa (2020)
    This study analyses Western media representation of China in the 2009 Copenhagen Summit and international climate politics. The data is interpreted in the context of country categorisations like developed and developing and global power struggle in a situation where China is rising. The analysis is rooted in semiotic approach to language, the concept of the Other and the representation of the non-Western Other in the West. It examines how China is represented as an actor in COP15 and climate politics, how its national image and changes in its international position are portrayed and how the portrayals relate to Western representations of the “non-West” as the Other. The data consists of articles in the Guardian and the Observer including at least one China-related keyword and published between December 19, 2009 and October 31, 2010. The analysis was based on the method of Qualitative Content Analysis, basic tenets of cultural studies, the idea of the hermeneutic circle and close reading. The analysis demonstrated that portrayals of China don't form a unified regime of representation. They are rooted in evaluations of China's moral goodness and immorality. China is portrayed both positively and negatively. The data is characterised by intertextuality and steers the reader towards preferred readings that often depend on which actor's perspective is given dominance. The representations are characterised by competing and contradictory tendencies as the world powers battle to influence the politics of representation for benefits like favourable national images. In this process they profit from the ambiguous and shifting relationship between representation, interpretation and reality. Some representations fit typical Othering tactics, especially when viewed in the light of West's underlying desire to be seen as a morally good global leader while retaining control of the world economy. The process of identity building through the Other and the goal of defending Western policies in the eyes of the public possibly motivate these representations. They portray China as inscrutable, immoral, selfish, scheming, overpowering and/or threatening and at times also represent it as reactive, weak, incompetent and/or dependent on the West. These portrayals are opposed by contrasting representations and did not form a consistent pattern not explainable through other factors; a quality that should be considered as a metric when examining possible Othering of countries in the context of representing their governments in the international sphere. Examined as a whole the representations fall under the principle of freedom of speech at the basis of Western media ideal which demonstrates the biggest strength of Western media compared to China's controlled media landscape. Considering the variety of possible explanations, for a reader without insider knowledge it is very difficult to determine “the truth”. This highlights the importance of covering international affairs from varied, conflicting viewpoints. Western voices got more space to define China than the Chinese government. Some of that is attributable to Western media's better access to Western sources but it also reveals a dilemma in representing non-Western governments in Western media: given the opportunity, governments tend to craft narratives beneficial to them. Unchecked this tendency amounts to propaganda by foreign powers but curbing it can be interpreted as a symptom of “speaking on behalf of the Other”. In the decade since the summit China has become a major world power and is actively advancing its interests globally. It is important to approach it as a de facto superpower instead of implicitly seeing it as a mistreated Other. The theories of the West and its Others should not automatically be assumed to apply to a setting where powerful nations represent each other. They provide a strong frame of interpretation which may lead to approaching the question of representation in international relations with the premise of a biased West acting unfairly towards a victimised Other. In order to more reliably examine Othering tendencies in media in the context of rising China, more cross-national comparative media analysis is needed. The “artificial” nature of concepts like Eastern and Western civilisation is not enough to disregard their usefulness for example as basis for national and regional identities and as tools that encourage people to cooperate in societies. The problem lies in crafting positive self-identities through viewing the perceived Others as inferior and using that as a tool for domination. Instead of refuting the value of the concept of European values and culture, the theories of the West and its Others are helpful in encouraging critical examination of the concrete global actions of Western governments compared with their rhetoric. The study argues for a careful approach when examining if the West at present represents China as the Other. This should include considering other possible explanations in addition to Othering for representations seemingly fitting the model as well as striving for a nuanced understanding of changes in the global power balance.
  • Still, Veera (2019)
    1800-luvun lopulta toiseen maailmansotaan asti japanilaisessa historiankirjoituksessa näkyi voimakkaasti nationalistinen ja kolonialistinen ideologia. Historiasta haettiin oikeutusta Japanin valloituksille Aasiassa sekä japanilaista identiteettiä, joka erottaisi sen eurooppalaisten määrittelemästä ’idästä’ (orient) ja nostaisi sen ”modernien” kansallisvaltioiden joukkoon. Myös Korean historia valjastettiin tähän käyttöön. Hatada Takashi (1908–1994) oli ensimmäinen japanilainen historioitsija, joka sodan jälkeen kritisoi Japanin kolonialistisesti värittynyttä näkökulmaa Korean historiaan. Tämä tutkimus tarkastelee Hatadan teosta Chōsen-shi (1951, ’Korean Historia’), jonka Hatada kirjoitti ennen historiankirjoituksen traditiota kritisoivia töitään. Työn tutkimuskysymyksenä on Onko teoksessa Chōsen-shi kolonialistisen historiankirjoituksen piirteitä? ja siihen vastataan kolmen lisäkysymyksen avulla: 1) Onko Hatadan näkökulma teleologinen? 2) Onko tekstissä orientalistisia piirteitä? ja 3) Miten hän kohtelee ’marginaalista’ (subaltern)? Kysymykset kumpuavat kolonialistisesta ideologiasta ja postkolonialistisesta teoriasta, jotka toimivat tutkimuksen viitekehyksenä. Analyysi tehdään käyttämällä metodina teorialähtöistä sisällönanalyysiä. Analyysissä todetaan, että Chōsen-shi on selkeän teleologinen, tukee japanilaisen orientalismin teoriaa Korean historiasta jatkuvana, kehitystä häiritsevänä konfliktina, mutta vastustaa saman teorian väitettä täydellisestä pysähtyneisyydestä (stagnation) läpi Korean historian. Tekstissä on orientalistisia piirteitä ajoittain ’toisentaa’ Korea ja korealaiset, mutta se ei näkyvästi esitä Koreaa Japania huonommaksi tai oudommaksi. Hatadan käyttämät lähteet ovat enimmäkseen japanilaisia, ja tekstissä on esitetty japanilaisessa historiankirjoituksessa kolonialismin oikeutukseen käytettyjä väitteitä Japanin hallitsemista alueista Koreassa antiikin aikaan, mitä Hatada myöhemmässä tuotannossaan kritisoi. ’Marginaalinen’ on läsnä tekstissä maanviljelijöiden vaikeuksia ja kärsimystä käsittelevässä retoriikassa, mutta yksipuolisena kurjuuden kuvauksena se osittain ’toisentaa’ Korealaisia pelkistäen heidän koko historiansa kokemuksen negatiiviseksi köyhyydeksi ja ahdinnoksi. Naisen historiaa tekstissä kuvataan ainoastaan passiivisena osana miehen kokemusta. Chōsen-shi:ssä on kolonialistisen historiankirjoituksen piirteitä, mutta se ei itsessään ole kolonialistinen, vaan peilaa historiankirjoituksen tradition rakenteellista viitekehystä 1950-luvun Japanissa.
  • Abou Askar, Razan (2023)
    This thesis examines the stories of three Arab Queer individuals in Finland in relation to universal LGBT/Queer rights discourse. The main aim of this study is to explore more critically the implications of the so-called universal LGBT/Queer rights discourse on Arab queer individuals’ experiences and narratives in Finland through their own stories as a medium of sense making about the world. Secondly, and pertaining to the first objective, this research intends to inquire into the possible contributions of a methodology grounded in local concepts and categories of knowledge production in studying an under-researched topic as such. Inspired by conversational method in Indigenous research as discussed in literature by Kovach (2010), hakaya (stories) were used in this research as a means of gathering knowledge. Additionally, art-based methods were included as part of this research in order to engage the participants’ stories from the offset and to foster reflexivity from my end as a researcher throughout the research process. The research material was analysed in conversation with Edward Said’s (1978) work on Orientalism, as well as the contributions of several scholars on Decolonial Queering. Through a comprehensive analysis of data gathered via thematic analysis, artistic reflexivity, as well as follow-up conversations, three common themes were identified: a) pressure to assimilate; b) exclusion/exoticising inclusion; and c) feeling unsafe. The findings in this thesis demonstrate a clear link with previous literature discussed, indicating a perpetual issue when it comes to stories of Queer Arabs being mediated and filtered to feed dominant narratives informed by a Western lens which disregard the subjectivity and distinctive experiences of Arab queer individuals. This points to the necessity as well as the inherent challenge of bringing queerness into conversation with decolonisation to pave the way for the past, present, and future to be reimagined, as well as narrated differently. By utilising a combination of conversational and art-based research methods, this study also reveals that a methodology grounded in local methods of knowledge production—like hakaya or storytelling in the case of this specific thesis—in research on an under-researched topic as such can promote more equal participation and collaboration, yielding more nuanced findings as a result. Moreover, this paper concludes that utilising Art-Based methods can play a substantial role in the process of bringing forth the question of ‘what are the voices that have not been archived?’ and in fostering the visibility of historically marginalised and silenced voices. These findings will help to inform future research in the area and provide a better understanding of the complex dynamics at play when it comes to research on sexuality.
  • Nair, Vejay (2019)
    This study investigates the term authenticity and how it is used when applied to restaurants. In this thesis I explore the process of determining a restaurant’s authenticity and the numerous factors involved in defining whether or not a restaurant may be deemed authentic. Along with considering whether a restaurant can develop their authenticity using none-taste related elements, as well as what are the customer’s expectations for an authentic restaurant. The study observes the various interior modes (audible, visual and textual) of a selected restaurant from a major metropolitan area in the United States, as well as interviews with members of the restaurant’s staff. In order to offer the perspective of the customer and their understanding of authenticity reviews from the restaurant’s page on a popular travel website were collected and are discussed. Using a theoretical framework rooted in the concepts of multiculturalism, orientalism and place I explore the relationship of “us and them”, a common narrative in gastronomic discourse, and then discuss the concepts of ethnic food and authenticity. The selected restaurant weaves together different modes, identified in three separate modal categories, to create the overall visual look and feel of their restaurant. Often these modes result in the restaurant self-orientalizing or displaying general otherness in order to create a transportative experience for their diners. This study identifies that authenticity as a concept is multifaceted and its meaning is determined by both who is using the term and for what purpose they are identifying a restaurant as authentic.