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Episode 11

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast
Episode 11: Imperialism, Orientalism, and Exceptionalism

Imperialism, as a concept, is defined as “a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.” Like many other things, one’s perspective on imperialism depends entirely if one is a part of the imperial force or the people being colonized and absorbed into the empire…

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The following works were used in this podcast:

Kirka, Danica. “UK Museum Removes Shrunken Heads from Exhibit in an Effort to ‘decolonize’ Its Collections.” USA TODAY. Accessed September 18, 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2020/09/15/uk-museum-removes-shrunken-heads-effort-decolonize-collections/5801771002/.

Said, Edward W. Orientalism. Reprint 1979. New York: Vintage, 1994.

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22 Comments

  1. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    Is there a good story of imperialism in history or is it all bad? I feel like it could be a good thing but imperialistic nations always take the opportunity to exploit the people rather than help them. I just wanna know if it has always worked out that way or if we only hear about the worst parts of imperialism.

  2. Kayla O'Connell Kayla O'Connell

    Episode 11 of the podcast discussed the structure of imperialism and the ideologies created as a result of this. Not only did imperialism create a presumption of western superiority and relational identification, but also the idea of exceptionalism in the United States. American Exceptionalism is the assumption that the United States is significantly better than everyone else. The United States was the first country to break off and create the first Constitution, and thus we believe we must be the best because of this. Have we as Americans established this ideology through the media and our government? Have our history classes integrated this bias into our lessons of history? When exactly was this idea of American Exceptionalism introduced to us?

  3. Julia Borger Julia Borger

    This podcast shed some very interesting light on the ideas of Imperialism, Orientalism , and American exceptionalism. I thought the idea of museums such as the British Museum and others showcasing their conquests from around the world very fascinating, as I have been to many of those museums and seen those artifacts, but only now really connecting the dots. Because of this, I wonder if there will come a day when a law is passed that allows every nation to acquire back artifacts that were taken from them, or not because that will hurt the museum’s popularity and business? Which is more important- being moral or making money?

  4. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    Dr. Bezio’s podcast talked about Imperialism, Orientalism, and Exceptionalism throughout history. Most often than not, the history that we study has a group of people who are oppressed and the oppressors. In regards to Podcast 11, the oppressed were the people whose nation was colonized and the oppressors were the empires who imperialism other nations. Has there every been a scenario where the oppressor is worse off than before they colonized another nation?

  5. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    In podcast 11, professor Bezio discusses imperialism, orientalism, and American exceptionalism and how they interact with each other. What stood out to me, was the fact that many different nations became empires, yet America gained exceptionalism, the idea that “they are significantly different from all other nations and it is the best nation.” I am wondering how Americans might have created this idea of their country? If many other nations also became empires and had similar successes, then why do we view our country as exceptional?

  6. William Coben William Coben

    Podcast number 11 mentioned three important terms that I believe we will be focusing on throughout the year… Imperialism, Orientalism, and American Exceptionalism. For my question, I will be talking about American Exceptionalism. While in the podcast, the section on American Exceptionalism was talked about in a way with sort of a negative stigma, that it is problematic to have that mindset. However, my question is: why is such a mindset considered problematic when it happens on every level of scale as it relates to geography. States think they are better than other states, countries, even continents dispute who is better, so why is this frowned upon if the entire world takes part in it.

  7. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    After listening to today’s podcast, I wonder why we must answer the question, “Are we, the United States of America, better than every other country that exists on this planet?” While I do believe that this question stimulates conversations around what needs to be changed or eliminated in this country, I feel that the implicit narcissism embedded in the semantics of this question continues to reinforce this superiority complex that could explain why many inequalities still exist in America today- for instance, racism. In essence, why do we have to be the best at everything when Microeconomics teaches us that specialization in a few areas is actually more profitable and efficient for an entity than trying to specialize in everything? Secondly, how could we still invoke progress without infusing narcissism in the question of “Are we, the United States of America, better than every other country that exists on this planet?”

  8. Margot Roussel Margot Roussel

    During the podcast you presented two ideas for why the colonial people didn’t adapt more to the current culture of the native people that lived here. Which of these two ideas do you think weighed more heavily on their decision to not adapt anything, the fact that the native social hierarchy was already so destroyed by disease or the colonizers thinking themselves as more advanced?

  9. Tess Keating Tess Keating

    The idea of American Exceptionalism was brought up in Podcast 11, and it is one that confuses and fascinates me. Why did we start viewing out nation as the most exceptional? Why didn’t this idea go away when other countries became just as successful?

  10. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    This podcast focuses mainly on cultural dehumanization and exploitation of imperial powers on their colonies. Would this mean that economic exploitation of nations would not qualify as imperialism (ex. British ownership over Iran oil and tobacco)?

  11. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    Dr. Bezio mentioned in this podcast that British and other European colonists immediately assumed the inferiority of Indigenous peoples in the Americas, and thus did not bother attempting to preserve the existing social hierarchies. However, in some places, especially South Africa, British colonists worked to exploit the colony often by manipulating the existing power structures. Is this because of the difference of nearly a century of British reform, or was there an element of power structures of Indigenous American cultures that made it more difficult for European colonists to exploit the existing hierarchies without completely destroying them?

    This podcast also spoke on Western preservation culture and how it is different outside the global West. The harms of orientalism are evident worldwide, but are there museums today making strides beyond reparations, like active acknowledgements of their contributions to exploitation? Have any museums took a step beyond admitting wrongdoing and implemented new educational programs on orientalism?

  12. Alexandra Oloughlin Alexandra Oloughlin

    Podcast 11 talks about imperialism. Imperialism had different forms and the colonizing country either kept the existing governmental structure of the country they were colonizing or brought there own system to the country. Both seemed to have negatives, either attempting to replace the culture or treating the culture something in a museum that contributed to institutionalized oppression. Which do you think was worse and had more negative repercussions for the oppressed?

  13. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    With globalization on the rise in our modern world, assist with fast technology and quick communication, do you think that the line between highly connected international cooperation and imperialism will be more defined or even harder to define? I use what Russia has been trying to expand into as a modern-day example. Could the line between manipulated economic cooperation or allyship become more or less blurred with the hyper-focus on efficient capitalism? This is how Lenin describes the end of capitalism/its transition into imperialism, which is concerning.

  14. Christina Glynn Christina Glynn

    In Podcast # 11 Dr. Bezio talks about imperialism, orientalism, and American exceptionalism. The idea that indigenous people did not view the Europeans as taking their land but instead thought they were just taking their resources made me wonder: Who really owns the lands? Why is owning property an agreement among people? How did this start? Were the Europeans mainly looking for resources for survival or to take control and power over the indigenous people?

  15. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    Throughout history, it seems when we learn about imperialism there is always a negative connotation prescribed to it. Are there any nations that were taken over by a higher power and ended up better than they were when they had sovereignty?

  16. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    Podcast Episode 11 focused on the concepts of imperialism, orientalism, and exceptionalism. After listening to this podcast, it is clear that imperialist tactics have led to the increase in control and power of certain countries in the world, such the United States, over other countries. Although imperialism boosted the status and power of certain countries, other countries were exploited and oppressed due to imperialism. For example, during the Berlin Conference the countries within Africa were divided up by the United States and other European countries, such as France, Britain, and Spain, which still negatively affects trade and conflict to this day in Africa. My question is: Due to Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory, do all countries innately embrace imperialism in order to “survive”? Furthermore, what would the world look like today without imperialism?

  17. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    Can the United States Imperialist period be labeled as an Empire? Were the advancements into their “spheres of influence” so forceful and violent that they fit the mold of conquerers extending an empire?

  18. Carly Cohen Carly Cohen

    In podcast 11, my suspicions that Americans believe they are superior and the best nation in the world were confirmed. What facts do Americans have that proves our country is better than all the other countries? How could Americans be humbled or become open to the idea that other countries may do things better than America?

  19. Annie Waters Annie Waters

    Why is American exceptionalism such a prominent aspect of American culture? Besides the distinguishment that America has in forming a democracy in rebellion against an imperialist regime, what other aspects of American history could factor into this? Could it have any relationship to the absence of more defined cultural characteristics through the relative youth of America as a country in comparison to most European nations, the sheer size of the US, etc?

  20. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    How might America look different today if we had behaved more typically of imperialistic powers and followed the social hierarchies and structures of the Indigenous people? Would our society still trends towards the same capitalistic, materialistic priorities and tendencies, or would we perhaps be more egalitarian and take the same care and value of land as the Indigenous people did? How might America look different in general today if we had not decimated the Native American population so cruelly as we did?

  21. Jack Kirkpatrick Jack Kirkpatrick

    Podcast #11 was an intriguing run through of imperialism and the differences between different eras of imperial rule. My curiosity peaked when Dr. Bezio talked about the Roman invasion of Britain while comparing and contrasting it to the Revolutionary War and Britains invasion of the Americas. It was baffling to think they had been conquered thousands of years before but built there way up the become the conqueror(failed conqueror) But what I was curious about was how DR. Bezio explained internal exploitation of people and government from the conquering Empire. She said, “Most empires exploited existing hierarchies by providing support to the upper classes or at least out of the ones removed, upper classes. Military force allowed empires to exert force over these classes. Empires did not seek to get rid of existing hierarchies but exploit them.”
    How would the wealthy simply accept imperial rule and profit from it? It seems as though they were happy and still profiting from imperial rule, but I dont quite understand that as they would have lost their power, influence, and majority of their wealth among other things.

  22. Julia Leonardi Julia Leonardi

    I find imperialism to be one of the most complex yet simple subjects. I never quite understood something within imperialism and must do research on is something more recent: US Territories. Are those still under the imperialism umbrella? How would they be classified?

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