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Edward Said

Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation

Adel Iskandar
Hakem Rustom
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 568
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  • Book Info
    Edward Said
    Book Description:

    Edward W. Said (1935-2003) ranks as one of the most preeminent public intellectuals of our time. Through his literary criticism, his advocacy for the Palestinian cause, and his groundbreaking bookOrientalism,Said elegantly enriched public discourse by unsettling the status quo. This indispensable volume, the most comprehensive and wide-ranging resource on Edward Said's life and work, spans his broad legacy both within and beyond the academy. The book brings together contributions from thirty-one luminaries-leading scholars, critics, writers, and activists-to engage Said's provocative ideas. Their essays and interviews explore the key themes of emancipation and representation through the prisms of postcolonial theory, literature, music, philosophy, and cultural studies. Contributors: Bill Ashcroft, Ben Conisbee Baer, Daniel Barenboim, Timothy Brennan, Noam Chomsky, Denise DeCaires-Narain, Nicholas Dirks, Marc H. Ellis, Rokus de Groot, Sabry Hafez, Abdirahman A. Hussein, Ardi Imseis, Adel Iskandar, Ghada Karmi, Katherine Callen King, Joseph Massad, W. J. T. Mitchell, Laura Nader, Ilan Pappe, Benita Parry, Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan, Jahan Ramazani, Jacqueline Rose, Lecia Rosenthal, Hakem Rustom, Avi Shlaim, Ella Habiba Shohat, Robert Spencer, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Anastasia Valassopoulos, Asha Varadharajan, Michael Wood

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94540-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction: Emancipation and Representation
    (pp. 1-22)
    Adel Iskandar and Hakem Rustom

    Tucked away in a poorly lit crevice of downtown Cairo and in the shadowof a small alley mosque, Le Grillon, a late-night bar and restaurant that has hosted the city’s writers and political adversaries for decades, is in a part of the city from which Edward W. Said often felt estranged. A repository of the city’s unpreserved yet vibrant collage of discordant memories of its many identities and histories, the eatery that was once frequented by foreigners, Levantine merchants, and Egyptian aristocrats is now almost exclusively local. Its secluded location and unassuming appearance once attracting the region’s oppositional voices, Le...

  5. 1 Affiliating with Edward Said
    (pp. 23-50)
    Joseph Massad

    Perhaps one of the more important principles that Edward Said abided by in his life and career was the centrality of his role as secular critic. He saw criticism as constitutive of the life of the intellectual, who must “speak truth to power.” Indeed, it was his commitment to persistent criticism as a basis for thinking that made him so controversial, whether in the United States, Europe, or the Arab world. Said insisted on affiliative forms of intellectual belonging and community in the expansive sense of the term, forsaking filiative forms as too limiting. The intellectuals and political figures with...


    • 2 Edward Said Remembered on September 11, 2004: A Conversation with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
      (pp. 53-59)
      Ben Conisbee Baer

      GAYATRI CHAKRAVORTY SPIVAK (GCS): There is something strangely appropriate that we sit in New York on this day remembering Edward Said. He was an eminent New Yorker, deeply involved in the life of New York. By geopolitical circumstance, he could not be located in a “real” place called Palestine. He was technically an Arab American, but it is difficult to think of him as American. But it seems completely appropriate to think of him as a New Yorker.

      This is to make a distinction between city-states—being of New York—and nation-states—being American. Now that nation-states are being disempowered...

    • 3 Beginnings Again
      (pp. 60-71)
      Michael Wood

      There is a temptation, given the directions and importance of Edward Said’s later work, and missing as we now do the sanity and the passion of his thinking about the Middle East, to treat his literary work as subordinate to his political essays and to see his early work as a mere prelude towhatwas to come. Or even to see his literary work as bluntly political and to forget the early writing altogether. We haveOrientalism,first published in 1978, and we have Said’s further pathbreaking studies in postcolonial theory and practice, along with his indefatigable commentaries on the changing...

    • 4 Side by Side: The Other Is Not Mute
      (pp. 72-85)
      Laura Nader

      InCulture and Imperialism(1993) Edward Said describes the Western cultural imagination that inspired Europeans to extend their rule across the globe and that fed their belief in their right and obligation to dominate other peoples. Said also followed and identified an “oppositional strain” in a number of writings that sought to expose this system of domination and point out its imperialist assumptions and insidious effects. Such effects stemmed from the justification of Western ambitions and took the form of slow cultural decolonization in many areas of the world. Even in the 1950s when I sought to fulfill my graduate...

    • 5 Edward Said and Anthropology
      (pp. 86-101)
      Nicholas B. Dirks

      Despite, or perhaps because of, Edward Said’s enormous impact on the discipline of anthropology, he was not always welcomed as a friendly critic. For some anthropologists, he was the embodiment of the unpopular notion that the discipline would forever be tainted by its colonial origins. Said was hardly the first to call attention to the colonial origins—and continuing entailments—of anthropology, but something about the challenge he held out made many anthropologists uncomfortable, defensive, and reactive. When Edward Said was invited to the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) as an anthropological interlocutor inNovember 1987, his critical...

    • 6 The Critic and the Public: Edward Said and World Literature
      (pp. 102-120)
      Timothy Brennan

      Edward Said’s authority was always ultimately literary. It is important to appreciate this fact and not underestimate it. His status in such varied fields as history, geography, music criticism, political commentary, exposé journalism, and the Palestinian movement defers to the place of honor he precociously established within comparative literature between 1966 and 1975, and he consistently relied on literature and the tropes of literary criticism to express his political and social imagination during hisanni mirabili(1975–92).

      Yet for him literature remained largely “autonomous,” capable of being evaluated as either good or bad depending on its degree of timelessness...

    • 7 Affiliating Edward Said Closer to Home: Reading Postcolonial Women’s Texts
      (pp. 121-141)
      Denise deCaires Narain

      In the first epigraph, Said’s emphasis on the connectedness of cultural worlds is part of an exhortation to “fellow Americans” to recognize the role of America as “thedominant outside force” in most, if not all, parts of the formerly colonized world and to acknowledge the responsibilities that attach to such power. “In short, we face as a nation the deep, profoundly perturbed and perturbing question of our relationship to others—other cultures, states, histories, experiences, traditions, peoples, and destinies. We are, so to speak,ofthe connections, not outside and beyond them. And it behooves us as intellectuals and...

    • 8 Translating Heroism: Locating Edward Said on Ahdaf Soueif’s The Map of Love
      (pp. 142-158)
      Katherine Callen King

      Edward Said asserts inOrientalismthat he, unlike Michel Foucault, believes in the “determining imprint of individual writers upon the otherwise anonymous collective body of texts constituting a discursive formation like Orientalism.”¹ This imprint justifies paying a lot of attention to individual authors, not only of scholarly but also of literary work, so that one can detail “the dialectic between text or writer and the complex collective formation to which [the] work is a contribution.”² When he turns to the modern American version of Orientalism, he laments the fact that its “social-science” approach utterly neglects the literature of the cultures...

    • 9 Edward Said and the Poetry of Decolonization
      (pp. 159-169)
      Jahan Ramazani

      “The earth is closing on us, pushing us through the last passage,” begins a poem written in Arabic by Mahmoud Darwish; it famously ends with the questions, “Where should we go after the last frontiers? Where should the birds fly after the last sky?”¹ In Darwish’s poem, which distills Palestinian uprooting, dispossession, and exile in elemental images of earth, space, stars, and sky, the Palestinian predicament becomes a nightmarish flight from entombment in the earth and a desperate search for a place to call one’s own. Edward Said quoted this poem in an homage to Darwish and later used the...

    • 10 Edward Said in Contemporary Arabic Culture
      (pp. 170-190)
      Sabry Hafez

      In hisRepresentations of the Intellectual,Edward Said suggests that “as an intellectual I present my concerns before an audience or constituency. But this is not just a matter of how I articulate them, but also of what I myself, as someone who is trying to advance the cause of freedom and justice, also represent. I say or write these things because after much reflection they are what I believe; and I also want to persuade others of this view.”¹ This statement makes an important point about the identification between the “self,” its concerns, the discourse emanating from its intellectual...

    • 11 “Long, Languorous, Repetitious Line”: Edward Said’s Critique of Arab Popular Culture
      (pp. 191-203)
      Anastasia Valassopoulos

      In “Cultural Politics,” which hewrote for the Egyptian newspaperAl-AhramWeeklyin 2000, Edward Said articulated an emotive yet practical direction for Arab cultural production: that it cease to foreground restrictive positions on sociopoliticalrealitiesand return, promptly, to aesthetics and form. While emphasizing this return as crucial for the survival of Arab culture in the global cultural market, Said himself, in the article, returned to amore conservative formulation ofgoodcultural production. This tension has consistently been present in Said’s commentary on popular culture. As I argue here, Said seemed unwilling to reconcile his desire for the proliferation and distribution...

    • 12 Edward Said and Polyphony
      (pp. 204-226)
      Rokus de Groot

      A gifted pianist, Edward Said gave music a privileged place in his life. In 1999, together with Daniel Barenboim, Said brought together young Arab and Israeli musicians toplay asoneorchestra. The West-Eastern Divan Workshop, named in honor of Goethe’s famous poem, was devised to dissolve, if only temporarily, political polarity through musical cooperation.¹

      Said was one of the few post–World War II intellectuals to accent his work with ideas on music forms. Until the mid-twentieth century, music-oriented intellectuals were commonplace, as evidenced in the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson, Ernst Bloch, Susanne Langer, and Theodor...


    • 13 The Arab/Jewish Counterpoint: An Interview with Daniel Barenboim
      (pp. 229-246)
      Hakem Rustom

      Music has an intimate life with politics. It is unthinkable that a political project would be influential and resonant without the legitimacy and power of music and the arts. For Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim, to make music was to defy silence and physical laws.¹ From their first meeting in London, the two forged a friendship that would nurture a most extraordinary humanist project. The West-Eastern Divan Workshop aimed to show that through music, diversity and difference could coexist despite the rigid omnipresence of nation-states and monolithic nationalisms. With the Divan, they sought to transcend physical and emotional barriers and...

    • 14 Speaking Truth to Power: On Edward Said and the Palestinian Freedom Struggle
      (pp. 247-279)
      Ardi Imseis

      In his 1993 Reith lectures, “Representations of the Intellectual,” Edward Said provided what I consider one of his most important intellectual contributions.¹ In the lecture “Speaking Truth to Power,” Said pondered “how the intellectual confronts the question of power and authority” to make the point that the task of the intellectual qua intellectual cannot properly be fulfilled under the corrupting influence of self-interest beholden to such elements.² Although intellectuals necessarily possess beliefs, loyalties, and affiliations that are shaped by the societies of which they are a part, and in that way are no different from most other individuals, Said held...

    • 15 Edward Said and the Palestine Question
      (pp. 280-290)
      Avi Shlaim

      Edward Said was an extraordinarily versatile and prolific scholar whose work ranged across academic disciplines. Although his principal field was comparative literature, he was also a student of culture and society. His 1978 book,Orientalism,exposed the ideological biases behind Western perceptions of “the Orient” and helped create a distinctive subfield that came to be called postcolonial studies. In addition to these literary pursuits, Said was a pianist of concert-playing standard and a leading music critic. Last but not least, he was a politically engaged intellectual and the most eloquent spokesman for the dispossessed Palestinian people.

      Edward Said’s attachment to...

    • 16 Representation and Liberation: From Orientalism to the Palestinian Crisis
      (pp. 291-303)
      Bill Ashcroft

      Edward Said’sOrientalismchanged the way the world thought about the relationship between the West and its “others.” Possibly no other work of the twentieth century has had the impact of this text, which has been lauded and attacked for three decades. Whether the revolution in consciousness it triggered has led to the liberation of the “Oriental” is a more contentious question. For instance, if we ask whatOrientalismmight have to do with Palestine, one of the most obvious and tragic examples of othering in contemporary times, we might conclude that analysis has not led, and perhaps cannot lead,...

    • 17 Said and the Palestinian Diaspora: A Personal Reflection
      (pp. 304-313)
      Ghada Karmi

      In the immediate aftermath of Edward Said’s death in September 2003, I remember wondering if, while we Palestinians mourned his passing, Israelis and their supporters were celebrating the demise of one of their most successful, articulate, and effective opponents. The Israeli political establishment does not seriously fear Palestinian military resistance or Palestinian “terrorism,” or the threats of militants, however much it has proclaimed that Palestinian resistance is the major problem for Israel. The battle Israel cannot afford to lose is the one for hearts and minds, the public relations contest, which it has always won hands down against a poor...

    • 18 The Question of Zionism: Continuing the Dialogue
      (pp. 314-320)
      Jacqueline Rose

      “Why should the Palestinians make the effort to understand Zionism?” The question came from a young woman in the audience at one of the many memorials held for you, this one in London in November 2003 under the auspices of theLondon Review of Books. It was not your priority, responded Ilan Pappe. And Sara Roy simply and powerfully told the anecdote of how she had witnessed Palestinians flooding with joy onto the curfewed streets of theWest Bank, where she was living, when the possibility of a Palestinian state was first acknowledged by Israel, while the soldiers stood by in...

    • 19 Edward Said’s Impact on Post-Zionist Critique in Israel
      (pp. 321-332)
      Ilan Pappe

      Edward Said’s general study of culture in the postcolonial era, along with his commitment to representing the Palestinian case wherever and whenever he could, informed his intellectual and public life. Something of this mixture and balance was also in his books. He will be remembered, and justly so, forOrientalismandCulture and Imperialism—twin works that shaped, nourished, and invigorated the fields of postcolonialism and cultural studies. But people in Palestine will remember more his various books on their country, the most important of which was probablyThe Politics of Dispossession. These short and lucid interventions, quite often immediate...

    • 20 The “Postcolonial” in Translation: Reading Said in Hebrew
      (pp. 333-353)
      Ella Shohat

      This essay focuses on the “travel” of various debates—Orientalism, postcolonialism, postzionism—between the U.S. and Israel, between one institutional zone and another. Through a comparative history of these critical intellectual debates, I consider key moments and issues in the “translation” of Said’s ideas into Hebrew. The essay considers the reception of Said’s work in its contradictory dimensions, especially in liberal-leftist circles, where the desire to go beyond Said offers some ironic twists. Among the issues it examines are the nature of the “post” in the concepts of the “post-colonial” and “post-Zionism,” the problem of “hybridity” and “resistance” in the...

    • 21 Exile With/Out God: A Jewish Commentary in Memory of Edward Said
      (pp. 354-366)
      Marc H. Ellis

      Exile is a strange place to be, and stranger still when one is affluent and secure. For Jews, exile is supposed to be at its end, especially in America and Israel. Exile is a time warp, a place we were then and often, to be remembered on specific holy days, to be invoked on spiritual and political occasions, certainly not to be lived and never to be chosen. To say that exile is ahead of us, that if we are awake, exile cannot be avoided, is to cry out in an era of empowerment and status that liberation has betrayed...


    • 22 The Incalculable Loss: Conversations with Noam Chomsky
      (pp. 369-388)
      Adel Iskandar

      Edward Said and Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist and perennial dissenter Noam Chomsky met in the 1960s at the height of the Palestinian emancipatory struggle and became immediately and intractably connected in their recognition of the dispossession of the Palestinian people. Their sense of common purpose accented much of their writing on the Middle East, fueled by an unrelentingly lopsided political situation at the epicenter of Middle Eastern politics as well as the intersection of U.S. foreign policy with events in the region. Their treatises on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were decidedly forged with the intention of rendering the failures of...

    • 23 “Contented Homeland Peace”: The Motif of Exile in Edward Said
      (pp. 389-413)
      Robert Spencer

      Theodor W. Adorno once described Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony as searching for “contented homeland peace, healed of the pain of frontiers” (Adorno 1992:44). The phrase is also a felicitous description of the political ideal, tentatively suggested and then articulated with increasing frankness in later writings of Edward W. Said, the world-renowned critic (until his much-lamented death in 2003) of imperial arrogance, cultural misapprehension, and Israel’s unremitting maltreatment of the Palestinians. As Said recognized in hisMusical Elaborations,where he declared himself “profoundly indebted in all sorts of ways” to Adorno’s work (Said 1991:15), the pair had rather more in common...

    • 24 A New “Copernican” Revolution: Said’s Critique of Metaphysics and Theology
      (pp. 414-430)
      Abdirahman A. Hussein

      The view that Edward Said is primarily a “third world” critic of Orientalism, imperialism, and Zionism has gained wide currency in the academic community and beyond. This appropriation of his writings, which has helped launch the increasingly important field of postcolonial studies, is perhaps not surprising. After all, Said over the years wrote a great deal about these related areas of knowledge and sociopolitical combat. Some of the most compelling insights in his oeuvre concern modern Euro-American imperialism—its genesis, evolution, consolidation, reversal, and recrudescence; its doctrinal audacity and epic scope; its trails of scent and lines of descent; its...

    • 25 Edward Said and the Possibilities of Humanism
      (pp. 431-447)
      R. Radhakrishnan

      I felt posthumous when I bought Edward Said’sHumanism and Democratic Criticismat a Chennai bookstore run by a close friend of mine. For the first time I was “buying” Said as a no-longer-alive author. Whatever grief or melancholy I felt was immediately expelled when I saw the cover of this first edition of the book, which showed a hefty book lying on its side with a small ticket protruding from the top, bookmark style, bearing thewords “Admit All”; at once, everything felt fine and restored again. The long-lasting significance of Said, his work, and the things he stood for...

    • 26 The Language of the Unrequited: Memory, Aspiration, and Antagonism in the Utopian Imagination of Edward Said
      (pp. 448-461)
      Asha Varadharajan

      The figure of Edward W. Said, for all his reiteration of a sensibility “not quite right and out of place” (Said 2000b:295), has come to be indelibly, and not unjustly, synonymous with a heroic humanism. Convinced that “every great civilization is made up of endless traffic with others” (Said 1999:291), Said made this generous and contrapuntal vision of global history singularly his own. A keen eye for overlapping territories and intertwined histories, the dream of mutuality and the hope of reconciliation, the defiance of power in the name of truth, and the scrupulous mapping, Cardinal Newman-like, of the relative disposition...

    • 27 Between Humanism and Late Style
      (pp. 462-489)
      Lecia Rosenthal

      As far as criticism goes, there are, according to Edward Said, two ways of thinking about the future. The first is oriented intrinsically, positing futurity within the boundaries of an already existing tradition. This mode is essentially conservative, its vision of the future self-confirming and dedicated to reproducing its own continuity. “Such critical activities set not only discrete and finite goals that can be accomplished within one or two works of criticism, but also larger goals that may include the production of many more works of that particular type and the transformation of idle readers into active believers in, practitioners...

    • 28 Secular Divination: Edward Said’s Humanism
      (pp. 490-498)
      W. J. T. Mitchell

      Any continuation of the conversation with Edward Said would have to include the question of humanism and its many discontents. Humanism for Said was always a dialectical concept, generating oppositions it could neither absorb nor avoid. The very word used to cause in him mixed feelings of reverence and revulsion, an admiration for the great monuments of civilization that constitute the archive of humanism and a disgust at the underside of suffering and oppression that, as Benjamin insisted, make them monuments to barbarism as well. Said’s last book,Humanism and Democratic Criticismis, among other things, his attempt to trace...

    • 29 Countercurrents and Tensions in Said’s Critical Practice
      (pp. 499-512)
      Benita Parry

      So many questions have been asked of Said’s work in bad faith that many who have learned from and leaned on his thinking may now be inhibited from asking any at all. Such reticence would be untrue to Said’s insistence that the labor of criticism must include attention to “countercurrents, ironies and even contradictions,” an imperative he heeded in his generous appreciations of others.¹ I want then to consider some theoretical matters relating to an erudite, innovative, nonconformist and mutable body of writing in which Said, during his “middle period,” knowingly brought politics to his academic projects. Although in a...

  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 513-520)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 521-548)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 549-549)