Postmodern Oriental Studies: Background and Consequences

Document Type: Original Article


1 Doctoral candidate in the field of Contemporary Islamic Thought at Al-Mustafa International University

2 Professor of the Social Sciences at Tehran University


This paper explores the epistemological and sociological background of postmodern oriental studies and its consequences using an empirical-analytical method that concentrates on the epistemological dimensions of the discourse of oriental studies in analyzing its various evolutionary phases as they relate to the evolutionary phases of science and the acquisition of human knowledge. While it is true that the changes that science and human knowledge have gone through in the past few centuries have had an effect on the techniques, concepts and general discourse of oriental studies, and that these have had a moderating effect, but it nevertheless seems that the West is still intent on rekindling the spirit of classical orientalism, which marginalized the East and looked upon it as an object of exploitation and colonization, in the postmodern period also, albeit in a more subtle and covert fashion. In this paper, in addition to the above considerations, we shall also point to some of the positions and findings of thinkers such as Edward Sa‘īd, Zīauddīn Sardar, and Leela Gandhi with respect to new approaches to oriental studies.