Monday, February 1, 2010

Art & Empire

I found this article had many similarities of Edward Said’s Orientalism, which further justifies the notion that the United States is an empire, as expressed in the first article we read for this class. The thesis of this week’s article, "much of the sculpture and painting in the U.S. Capitol forms an iconographic program that outlines the course of North American empire by promoting and legitimizing the subjugation of the Native Americans," (Fryd 3) directly parallels Said’s notion that Western European ideologies created the term, “oriental”, and further dominates these people who were considered oriental by creating a body of knowledge on the subject. For example, Said suggests that only Westerners study the East and that because Westerners create the books and artwork on the subject, the subject inherently implies that Westerners are dominate to those who they study. Furthermore, Orientalism as a subject in both book and art is used as a justification for European imperialism and political gains. This mirrors the use of art in the U.S. Capitol to shape the perception of the Native American and to support their eventual relocation of tribes to reservations.

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