Che by KordaThe "Snake Charmer" by Jean-Leon Gerome is an enigmatic work that includes many of the classic western fantasies about the rest of the world: primitive, mysterious, ancient, sensuous, cruel, colorful, attractive, repulsive, slow, spiritual, dangerous. Gerome lived in Egypt and travelled in the Middle East. He found a way to exploit his work commercially by having it widely reproduced in magazines in his native France and elsewhere in the western world, where the "natives" of the colonies were one of the most eagerly discussed topics - by anthropologists, philologists, fiction writers, returned explorers, missionaries, artists, and later film makers. Images like Gerome's (which appeared on the cover of Edward Said's influential book Orientalism in 1978) originated in a world where western powers were still extending their empires in the rest of the world. The stock of fantasies that was then developed has carried over, if in modified form, to our own period. Soon after the colonial empires have disappeared, at least officially, immigrants from the former colonies began to appear in the countries that had colonized them. Today it is in the increasingly multicultural countries of the West itself that "western" people encounter "non-western" ones. Meantime, tensions and inequalities continue between the West and the non-West - also known now as North and South.

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