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Edward Said and Post Colonialism

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Laura Bilhimer

on 8 November 2012

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Transcript of Edward Said and Post Colonialism

Laura Bilhimer Edward Said and the Post Colonial Approach Edward Said (1935-2003) Born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1935
Schooling in Egypt and United States
BA at Princton; MA and Phd at Harvard

Professor at Columbia University
Department of Comparative Lit. 1963-2003 "The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences." (Orientalism, 1) Credited with establishing Post Colonial studies "...Arabic, my native language, and English, my school language, were inextricably mixed: I have never known which was my first language, and have felt fully at home in neither, although I dream in both. Every time I speak an English sentence, I find myself echoing it in Arabic, and vice versa." (Reflection on Exile, 557) Another Binary East/West
West/Not West

"The Orient is...the source of...one of [the West]'s deepest and most recurring images of the Other" (Orientalism, 1)

"...the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience" (1-2)

Just as a heterosexual norm assists in both marginalizing the not-heterosexual and stabilizing/solidifying the heterosexual identity, the Orient both "others" the not-Western while simultaneously strengthening the Western identity

We cannot have "the West" without "the East" Orientalism as Colonialism (Not Just a Location) "Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient--dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient." (3) Western Domination/Rule By Consent Rule, not by force, but by cultural hegemony

"Culture, of course, is to be found operating within civil society, where the influence of ideas, of institutions, and of other persons works not through domination but by what [Antonio] Gramsci calls consent...certain cultural forms predominate over others...this cultural leadership is what Gramsci has identified as hegemony" (7)
But it is not a vast Western "imperialist plot to hold down the "Oriental" world...it is, above all, a discourse that is by no means in direct, corresponding relationship with political power in the raw, but rather is produced and exists in an uneven exchange with various kinds of power...Orientalism is...a considerable dimension of modern political-intellectual culture, and as such has less to do with the Orient than it does with "our" world." (12) Praise and Criticism Hitchens: "a book which made one think"

An important work revealing the influence of culture

While Said's work importantly showed us what the Middle East was not, he was criticized for not being able to, especially at times when the Middle East was in the midst of great controversy, say what Islam and the Middle East may actually be.
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