Egypt, Exoticization, and the Student Experience
Rumsey, Leah Parsell
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Despite the rise of postcolonial studies as a field, Orientalist discourse remains prevalent in a variety of contexts, especially those related to travel and tourism. This project was planned as a way to both undertake an internship and conduct research about exoticization in student experiences of Egypt. I began the internship shortly after I arrived in Egypt and it provided a starting point from which to conduct my research by introducing me to more interview participants, by giving me a place in which to begin my observations. The primary goal of my research was to discover and examine Orientalist discourse that is used in contact zones between Egyptians and foreign students. The term contact zone was coined by Mary Louise Pratt in her essay “Arts of the Contact Zone” and she defines contact zones as “…social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today" (Pratt 519). Interning also creased my network of Egyptian and foreign contacts by introducing me to people who would offer feedback about my project and suggest new sites and situations for observation. These relationships helped be to begin finding the language of exoticization in a variety of places and situations that functioned as contact zones between Egyptian and foreign students.