Orientalists, International Congress of

views updated


a group whose meetings were devoted to the spread of learning in oriental subjects.

Initiated in Paris in 1873, these periodic meetings of scholarsdedicated, as one scholar put it, to "the propagation of the knowledge of the History, Languages and Civilizations of Oriental people among Western Nations"represented the academic profession of Orientalism as it was recognized in nineteenth-century Europe. Few non-Europeans attended the early meetings, and no meetings were held outside Europe until the fourteenth congress was held in Algiers in 1905. Papers on Asian and African topics of all sorts, but primarily focusing on philology and archaeology, were presented in sessions organized by geographical region or language family. The small size of the academic community concerned with Asia and Africa is indicated by the fact that the number of members, on all topics combined, remained in the hundreds throughout the nineteenth century. Some members, however, attended as representatives of national Oriental societies. Congress proceedings were normally published. The work of the International Congress of Orientalists is carried on by the International Congress of Asian and North African Studies.


Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.

richard w. bulliet
updated by vanesa casanova-fernandez