WRITING THE ORIENT: THE REPRESENTATION OF THE OTTOMAN SOCIETY IN THE TRAVEL OF EDUARD SACHAU (1845-1930)
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CitationAvci, R. (2022). WRITING THE ORIENT: THE REPRESENTATION OF THE OTTOMAN SOCIETY IN THE TRAVEL OF EDUARD SACHAU (1845-1930). ACTA HISTRIAE, 30(1), 121-140.
In the nineteenth century, the writings of European travellers became a textual vehicle by which the West sought to understand the Orient. Based on first-hand but highly subjective data, they contain comparisons between the Orient and the Occident which distinguish the two regions from one another. Thus, they played an important role in shaping the Western perception of the Orient. This article focuses on the German Orientalistphilologist Eduard Sachau (1845-1930), who held a chair at the Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Berlin and also served as the director of the Seminar fur Orientalische Sprachen (Institute of Oriental Languages). Sachau's journey to the East began in 1879 and lasted about six months. His travel notes were published (in 1883), under the title Reise in Syrien und Mesopotamien (Travel in Syria and Mesopotamia). In the nineteenth century, not only the British and French but also the German travellers had an important role in shaping the Western perception of the Orient. Following Edward Said's groundbreaking work Orientalism (1979) this study will argue that Sachau's narratives produce certain stereotypes. It will be made the case through analyses of the forms of expression, perceptions and cultural patterns that Sachau chose in order to construct an orientalist discourse, when he described different ethnicities, religions and sects.