Σάββατο 10 Μαρτίου 2018

The great Edward Said

Obviously, Edward Said's books have a prominent place in my library. And I could not find "Orientalism", probably I have lent the book to someone who has not given it back to me...

In Laura Nader's words (from the book below, pp. 86-87):

   "In Orientalism Said describes the processes through which Western academics invented the idea of the Orient. Focusing primarily on French and British intellectuals, Said demonstrates the "enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage - and even produce - the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period" (Said 1978:3). He argues that Western intellectuals' construction of the Orient did not reflect empirical realities; rather their depictions were imagined - prerequisites for gaining power over the Orient by means of a plethora of images constructed by scholars, historians, and artists. And although the military used such imaginings, European intellectuals and artists were complicit in efforts to subjugate the East. ... Said further refined this theme in his 1994 book, Culture and Imperialism, in which he describes the Western cultural imagination that inspired Europeans to extend their role across the globe while justifying their right and obligation to dominate other peoples.

... Anything but ethnocentric, he is a cosmopolitan who incorporated into his work high English and American culture, as well as his own high Arab culture of literature and politics, poetry and novels. Said's message was not that Orientalis scholars purposely "misrepresented" the Middle East in a vacuum, but that the Western political-intellectual culture that surrounded such representations linked logically to imperialism. Listening to contemporary news reports on the Middle East, for example, reminds one of Said's observation that in other situations such reporting might openly be called racist. Any interaction between culturally distinct groups of people has a power dimension."

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