"Eastoxification" supersedes "Westoxification" in Persian

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One never ceases to be amazed at the articles one comes upon in Wikipedia.  First, in this comment to a discussion on anti-Westernism in China ("War on foreign names in China" [6/22/19]), I encountered the notion of "Westoxification" in contemporary Iranian discourse.  Reading the Wikipedia article on this subject is so interesting that I copy passages of it here for Language Log readers (the whole article is fascinating and well worth reading):

Gharbzadegi (Persian: غرب‌زدگی‎) is a pejorative Persian term variously translated as ‘Westernized’, ‘West-struck-ness’, ‘Westoxification’, ‘Westitis’, ‘Euromania’, or ‘Occidentosis’. It is used to refer to the loss of Iranian cultural identity through the adoption and imitation of Western models and Western criteria in education, the arts, and culture; through the transformation of Iran into a passive market for Western goods and a pawn in Western geopolitics.

The phrase was first coined by Ahmad Fardid, a professor of philosophy at the University of Tehran, in the 1940s. it gained common usage following the clandestine publication in 1962 of the book Occidentosis: A Plague from the West by Jalal Al-e-Ahmad. Fardid's definition of the term as referring to the hegemony of ancient Greek philosophy, differed from its later usage as popularised by Al-e Ahmad.


"Gharbzadegi" has now been superseded by a new term commonly used in reference to China's growing presence in Iran. Called "Sharqzadegi", the new term is classed as fear of China's dominance.

So that reference in the last sentence led me to this Wikipedia article on "Eastoxification":

Sharqzadegi or Sharghzadegi (Persian: شرق‌زدگی) is a pejorative Persian term variously translated as "Eastoxification." It is used to refer to the loss of Iranian independence in the fields manufacturing, products and innovation due to the import of cheap Chinese alternatives. This has become especially pertinent in the early half the 21st century with the increase in Chinese automotive companies inside Iran. Unlike "Westoxification", "Eastofixication" does not infer Iranians' interest in Oriental culture, however is in 2015 limited to the appropriation and rise of Chinese industry in Iran. Eastoxifiation first appearance in printed literature in the English languages dates back to 1984, where Martin E. Marty Fundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education states that sharqhzadeqi is the act of appreciation of Eastern culture.

Eastoxifiation's first appearance is in a blog in 2006, where the author only called Mohammad writes about the impact of China on Iran. The word also appears in other blogs and written sources from 2006 onwards with increasing usage.

The topic is also in common use among the newswriting community in Iran. In 2014 Khabaronline an online news portal highlights the phrase.


In English the word was first coined by artist Anahita Razmi. It then was used in the English language newspaper the Financial Tribune by writer Morteza Raad, in 2015 about the rise in lower cost Chinese products.

The "References" following this article on Sharqzadegi are particularly suggestive, e.g., Nanquette, Laetitia (2013), Orientalism versus Occidentalism : literary and cultural imaging between France and Iran since the Islamic Revolution (London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1848859783.


"Farsi shekar ast" (4/10/15)

"Magi, myrrh, and mummies" (12/24/14)

"Marg bar ___" (2/19/17)

"Abbott's Abode" (5/6/11)

"Putting the kibosh on bosh" (6/18/17)

[Thanks to Brian Spooner and Jamal Elias]


  1. Joe Fineman said,

    June 23, 2019 @ 7:54 pm

    In the quotation on Eastoxification, I cannot understand "variously translated as" followed by only one example. Worse, I cannot parse the sentence beginning "Unlike". These and other, more minor errors actually appear in the Wikipedia article.

  2. Thomas Rees said,

    June 23, 2019 @ 8:13 pm

    @Joe Fineman: If the errors in the article bother you so much, you’re certainly free to correct them. I don’t bother with inconsequential mistakes.

  3. Jim said,

    June 24, 2019 @ 12:02 am

    Singer/songwriter Robert Wyatt chose 'Gharbzadegi' as a title and theme for one of his songs:

  4. martin schwartz said,

    June 24, 2019 @ 1:49 am

    gharbzadegi/ means both West-smittenness and West-bittenness,
    the latter semanticallky ref. to a smiting/biting insect.
    Toxicity extends the latter out of the original semantic sphere
    of the etymology and then the entomology.

  5. Victor Mair said,

    June 24, 2019 @ 5:22 am

    From Pardis Minuchehr:

    Westoxication is indeed a term that precedes the entire idea of “cultural invasion” that contemporary Iran holds as a dominant threat to its claim for authenticity.

    While Eastoxication may be a term used in closed academic circles, it is not as widely used and understood as “gharbzadegi”.

    It is indeed an interesting counter concept, but also one that is anachronistic.

  6. Terry Collnann said,

    June 27, 2019 @ 2:42 pm

    I note that both adjectives seem to be derived from the Arabic words for “west” and “east”. Is this true of the Farsi words for the compass points as well?

  7. Steve Bacher said,

    June 30, 2019 @ 7:31 pm

    Jim: "Singer/songwriter Robert Wyatt chose 'Gharbzadegi' as a title and theme for one of his songs"

    In reference to another thread, Wyatt also titled one of his albums "Dondestan."

  8. Joy said,

    July 2, 2019 @ 4:14 am

    Terry – Yes, gharb غرب and sharq شرق are the everyday words in Persian for West and East, loaned from Arabic along with shomaal شمال and jonub جنوب for North and South.

    The native word for East, khaavar خاور, appears in the phrase khaavarmiaaneh خاورمیانه for Middle East, but otherwise is relatively uncommon.

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