Edward Said

Edward Said

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Edward Wadie Saïd was a Palestinian-American literary theorist
Literary theory
Literary theory in a strict sense is the systematic study of the nature of literature and of the methods for analyzing literature. However, literary scholarship since the 19th century often includes—in addition to, or even instead of literary theory in the strict sense—considerations of...

 and advocate for Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 rights. He was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 and a founding figure in postcolonialism
Postcolonialism
Post-colonialism is a specifically post-modern intellectual discourse that consists of reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism...

. Robert Fisk
Robert Fisk
Robert Fisk is an English writer and journalist from Maidstone, Kent. As Middle East correspondent of The Independent, he has primarily been based in Beirut for more than 30 years. He has published a number of books and has reported on the United States's war in Afghanistan and the same country's...

 described him as the Palestinians' "most powerful political voice."

Said was an influential cultural critic
Cultural critic
A cultural critic is a critic of a given culture, usually as a whole and typically on a radical basis. There is significant overlap with social and cultural theory.-Terminology:...

 and author, known best for his book Orientalism
Orientalism (book)
Orientalism is a book published in 1978 by Edward Said that has been highly influential and controversial in postcolonial studies and other fields. In the book, Said effectively redefined the term "Orientalism" to mean a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the...

(1978). The book presented his influential ideas on Orientalism
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

, the Western study of Eastern
Eastern world
__FORCETOC__The term Eastern world refers very broadly to the various cultures or social structures and philosophical systems of Eastern Asia or geographically the Eastern Culture...

 cultures. Said contended that Orientalist scholarship was and continues to be inextricably tied to the imperialist
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 societies that produced it, making much of the work inherently politicized, servile to power, and therefore suspect. Grounding much of this thesis in his intimate knowledge of colonial
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 literature such as the fiction of Conrad
Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born English novelist.Conrad is regarded as one of the great novelists in English, although he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties...

, and in the post-structuralist theory
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

 of Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

, Derrida
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

 and others, Said's Orientalism and following works proved influential in literary theory and criticism, and continue to influence several other fields in the humanities. Orientalism affected Middle Eastern studies
Middle Eastern studies
Middle Eastern studies is a name given to a number of academic programs associated with the study of the history, culture, politics, economies, and geography of the Middle East, an area that is generally interpreted to cover a range of nations extending from North Africa in the west to the Chinese...

 in particular, transforming the way practitioners of the discipline describe and examine the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. Said came to discuss and vigorously debate the issue of Orientalism with scholars in the fields of history and area studies
Area studies
Area studies are interdisciplinary fields of research and scholarship pertaining to particular geographical, national/federal, or cultural regions. The term exists primarily as a general description for what are, in the practice of scholarship, many heterogeneous fields of research, encompassing...

, many of whom disagreed with his thesis, including most famously Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis, FBA is a British-American historian, scholar in Oriental studies, and political commentator. He is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University...

.

Said also came to be known as a public intellectual
Intellectual
An intellectual is a person who uses intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning in either a professional or a personal capacity.- Terminology and endeavours :"Intellectual" can denote four types of persons:...

 who frequently discussed contemporary politics, music, culture, and literature, in lectures, newspaper and magazine columns, and books. Drawing on his own experience as a Palestinian growing up in a Palestinian Christian
Palestinian Christian
Palestinian Christians are Arabic-speaking Christians descended from the people of the geographical area of Palestine. Within Palestine, there are churches and believers from many Christian denominations, including Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic , Protestant, and others...

 family in the Middle East at the time of the creation of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Said argued for the creation of a Palestinian state
Proposals for a Palestinian state
Proposals for a Palestinian state currently refers to the proposed establishment of an independent state for the Palestinian people in Palestine on land that was occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 and before by Egypt and by Jordan since 1949...

, equal rights for Palestinians in Israel, including the right of return
Right of return
The term right of return refers to a principle of international law, codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving any person the right to return to, and re-enter, his or her country of origin...

, and for increased pressure on Israel, especially by the United States. He also criticized several Arab and Muslim regimes. Having received a Western education in the US, where he lived from his high school years until his death, Said tried to use his dual heritage, the subject of his prize-winning memoir Out of Place (1999), to bridge the gap between the West and the Middle East and to improve the situation in Israel-Palestine
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

. He was a member of the Palestinian National Council
Palestinian National Council
The Palestinian National Council is the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization and elects its Executive Committee, which assumes leadership of the organization between its sessions. The Council normally meets every two years. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority with a...

 for over a decade and his pro-Palestinian activism made him a figure of considerable controversy.

With his friend Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim, KBE is an Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor. He has served as music director of several major symphonic and operatic orchestras and made numerous recordings....

, Said co-founded the award-winning West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, made up of children from Israel, the Palestinian territories, and surrounding Arab nations. It opened in 1999. Said was also an accomplished pianist
Pianist
A pianist is a musician who plays the piano. A professional pianist can perform solo pieces, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers, solo instrumentalists, or other performers.-Choice of genres:...

. In 2002, he and Barenboim published a book of their earlier conversations on music, titled Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society. Active until his last months, Said died in 2003 after a decade-long battle with leukemia
Leukemia
Leukemia or leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases...

.

Early life



Said was born in Jerusalem (then in the British Mandate of Palestine) on November 1, 1935. His father, a US citizen with Protestant Palestinian
Palestinian Christians
Palestinian Christians are Arabic-speaking Christians descended from the people of the geographical area of Palestine. Within Palestine, there are churches and believers from many Christian denominations, including Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic , Protestant, and others...

 origins, was a businessman and had served under General Pershing in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. He moved to Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 in the decade before Edward's birth. His mother, born in Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

, also had a Protestant background and was half-Lebanese
Lebanese people
The Lebanese people are a nation and ethnic group of Levantine people originating in what is today the country of Lebanon, including those who had inhabited Mount Lebanon prior to the creation of the modern Lebanese state....

. His sister was the historian and writer Rosemarie Said Zahlan
Rosemarie Said Zahlan
Rosemarie Said Zahlan was a Palestinian-US Christian historian and writer on the Persian Gulf states. She was a sister of Edward Said...

.

Said lived "between worlds" in both Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 and Jerusalem until age 12. He attended the Anglican
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 St. George's Academy
St. George's School, Jerusalem
St. George's School is a boys' school in East Jerusalem run by the Anglican Jerusalem diocese. It is located next to St. George's College, just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The school was established in 1899. The author of the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books, Rev...

 in 1947 in Jerusalem.
As the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 declared war on Israel in 1947/1948
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, his family moved from the neighborhood of Talbiya
Talbiya
Talbiya or Talbiyeh , officially Komemiyut, is an upscale neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israel, located between Rehavia and Katamon. It was built in the 1920s and 1930s on land purchased from the Greek Patriarchate...

 in Jerusalem and returned to Cairo. In a London Review of Books article, Said gave a more detailed account of his upbringing:
In 1951, Said was expelled from Victoria College for being a "troublemaker", and was consequently sent by his parents to Mount Hermon School, a private college preparatory school in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, where he recalls a "miserable" year of feeling "out of place". Said later reflected that the decision to send him so far away was heavily influenced by 'the prospects of deracinated people like us being so uncertain that it would be best to send me as far away as possible'. Though these themes of interweaving cultures, feeling out of place, and being far from home affected him dissonantly and would echo through Said's work for the rest of his life, Said managed to do well at the Massachusetts boarding school often 'achieving the rank of either first or second in a class of about a hundred and sixty'.

Fluent in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, Said earned a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 (1957) from Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, and a Master of Arts
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 (1960) and a Ph.D. (1964) in English Literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

.

Career


In 1963, Saïd joined the faculty of Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, in the departments of English and Comparative Literature, where he would serve until his death in 2003. In 1974 he was Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard, in 1975-6 Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science at Stanford, and in 1977, Saïd became the Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Comparative literature
Comparative literature is an academic field dealing with the literature of two or more different linguistic, cultural or national groups...

 at Columbia and subsequently became the Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities. In 1979, Saïd was Visiting Professor of Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.
Saïd was also a visiting professor at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 and lectured at more than 100 universities.
In 1992, he attained the rank of University Professor, Columbia's highest academic position. He lived near campus in The Colosseum
The Colosseum (apartment building)
The Colosseum is a Manhattan apartment building located at 116th Street and Riverside Drive.The building is noted for its curved façade and impressive marble lobby. Across 116th Street, The Colosseum faces The Paterno, another building with a similar curved facade...

 on Riverside Drive
Riverside Drive
A number of cities around the world have a Riverside Drive.In the United States:*Riverside Drive *Riverside Drive *Riverside Drive *Riverside Drive...

.

Saïd also served as president of the Modern Language Association
Modern Language Association
The Modern Language Association of America is the principal professional association in the United States for scholars of language and literature...

, editor of the Arab Studies Quarterly, and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

, the executive board of PEN
International PEN
PEN International , the worldwide association of writers, was founded in London in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere....

, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Royal Society of Literature
Royal Society of Literature
The Royal Society of Literature is the "senior literary organisation in Britain". It was founded in 1820 by George IV, in order to "reward literary merit and excite literary talent". The Society's first president was Thomas Burgess, who later became the Bishop of Salisbury...

, the Council of Foreign Relations, and the American Philosophical Society
American Philosophical Society
The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...

.

In 1993, Said was invited to present the BBC's annual Reith Lectures. In a series of six talks, entitled Representation of the Intellectual he examined the role of public intellectuals in modern society. The BBC made these lectures available to the public in July 2011.

Saïd's writing regularly appeared in The Nation, The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, the London Review of Books
London Review of Books
The London Review of Books is a fortnightly British magazine of literary and intellectual essays.-History:The LRB was founded in 1979, during the year-long lock-out at The Times, by publisher A...

, Le Monde Diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique is a monthly newspaper offering analysis and opinion on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first created mainly for a diplomatic audience as its name implies...

, Counterpunch
CounterPunch (newsletter)
CounterPunch is a bi-weekly newsletter published in the United States that covers politics in a manner its editors describe as "muckraking with a radical attitude"...

, Al Ahram, and the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat. His writings have been translated into twentysix languages and the themes of his writings included literature, politics, the Middle East, music, and culture.

Literary criticism


After expanding on his thesis to produce his first book, Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966), Said, swirling with a wealth of ideas which he received from studying the works of Giambattista Vico
Giambattista Vico
Giovanni Battista ' Vico or Vigo was an Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist....

 and others, presented his award-winning second book, Beginnings: Intention and Method (1974), a work on the theoretical underpinnings of literary critical projects. Other literary critical texts by Said include The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983), Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature: Yeats and Decolonization (1988), Culture and Imperialism
Culture and Imperialism
Culture and Imperialism is the 1993 sequel to Edward Said's highly influential book Orientalism from 1978.-Subject:In a series of essays, Said argues the impact of mainstream culture on colonialism and imperialism., and conversely how imperialism, resistance to it, and...

(1993), Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures (1994), and the posthumous Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004) and On Late Style (2006).

Fascinated, like his postmodern influences, with how people perceive things in cultural contexts, and by the effects of society, politics and power on literature, Said is considered a founder of postcolonial criticism. His work on Orientalism is particularly important, but his interpretations of Conrad, Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

, Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

, Yeats, and other writers have also proven influential among critics.

"Orientalism"


Said is most famous for describing and critiquing "Orientalism
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

", which he perceived as the inaccuracies that are the foundation of Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 thought toward the East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. In his most famous book, Orientalism
Orientalism (book)
Orientalism is a book published in 1978 by Edward Said that has been highly influential and controversial in postcolonial studies and other fields. In the book, Said effectively redefined the term "Orientalism" to mean a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the...

(1978), Said claimed a "subtle and persistent Eurocentric
Eurocentrism
Eurocentrism is the practice of viewing the world from a European perspective and with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the preeminence of European culture...

 prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture." He argued that a long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 in Western culture
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 had served as an implicit justification for Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the US' colonial and imperial ambitions. Just as fiercely, he denounced the practice of Arab elites who internalized
Internalization
Internalization has different definitions depending on the field that the term is used in. Internalization is the opposite of externalization.- General :...

 the US and British orientalists' ideas of Arabic culture
Arabic culture
Arab culture refers to the culture in Arab countries of West Asia and North Africa, from Morocco to the Persian Gulf. Language, literature, gastronomy, art, architecture, music, spirituality, philosophy, mysticism are all part of the cultural heritage of the pan-Arab world.-Language:The Arabic...

.
In Orientalism, the book, Said asserted that much western study of Islamic civilization was political intellectualism bent on self-affirmation rather than objective study, a method of discrimination, and a tool of imperialist
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 domination. Orientalism had an impact on the fields of literary theory
Literary theory
Literary theory in a strict sense is the systematic study of the nature of literature and of the methods for analyzing literature. However, literary scholarship since the 19th century often includes—in addition to, or even instead of literary theory in the strict sense—considerations of...

, cultural studies
Cultural studies
Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and literary criticism. It generally concerns the political nature of contemporary culture, as well as its historical foundations, conflicts, and defining traits. It is, to this extent, largely distinguished from cultural...

 and human geography
Human geography
Human geography is one of the two major sub-fields of the discipline of geography. Human geography is the study of the world, its people, communities, and cultures. Human geography differs from physical geography mainly in that it has a greater focus on studying human activities and is more...

, and to a lesser extent on those of history and oriental studies. Taking his cue from the work of Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

 and Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

, and from earlier critics of western Orientalism such as A. L. Tibawi
Abdul Latif Tibawi
Dr. Abdul Latif Tibawi was a Palestinian historian and educationalist. Born in Taybet El-Muthalath, near TulKarem, he was one of the earliest graduates of the Arabic College, Dar Al-Mu’allimin, in Jerusalem. He read history and Arabic literature at the American University of Beirut and later...

, Anouar Abdel-Malek, Maxime Rodinson
Maxime Rodinson
Maxime Rodinson was a French Marxist historian, sociologist and orientalist. He was the son of a Russian-Polish clothing trader and his wife who both died in the Auschwitz concentration camp. After studying oriental languages, he became a professor of Ethiopian at EPHE...

, and Richard William Southern, Said argued that Western writings on the Orient, and the perceptions of the East purveyed in them, are suspect, and cannot be taken at face value. According to Said, the history of European colonial rule and political domination over the East distorts the writings of even the most knowledgeable, well-meaning and sympathetic Western ‘Orientalists’ (a term that he transformed into a pejorative):
Said argued that the West has stereotyped the East in art and literature, since antiquity – such as the composition of The Persians by Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

. Even more so in modern times, Europe has dominated Asia politically so that even the most outwardly objective Western texts on the East were permeated with a bias that Western scholars could not recognize. Western scholars appropriated the task of exploration and interpretation of the Orient’s languages, history and culture for themselves, with the implication that the East was not capable of composing its own narrative. They have written Asia’s past and constructed its modern identities from a perspective that takes Europe as the norm, from which the "exotic", "inscrutable" Orient deviates.

Said concluded that Western writings about the Orient depict it as an irrational, weak, feminised "Other", contrasted with the rational, strong, masculine West, a contrast he suggests derives from the need to create "difference" between West and East that can be attributed to immutable "essences" in the Oriental make-up. In 1978, when the book was first published, with memories of the Yom Kippur war
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

 and the OPEC
OPEC
OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of twelve developing countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings...

 crisis still fresh, Said argued that these attitudes still permeated the Western media and academia. After stating the central thesis, Orientalism consists mainly of supporting examples from Western texts.

Criticism


Orientalism and other works by Said sparked a wide variety of controversy and criticism. Ernest Gellner
Ernest Gellner
Ernest André Gellner was a philosopher and social anthropologist, described by The Daily Telegraph when he died as one of the world's most vigorous intellectuals and by The Independent as a "one-man crusade for critical rationalism."His first book, Words and Things —famously, and uniquely...

 argued that Said's contention that the West had dominated the East for more than 2,000 years was unsupportable, noting that until the late 17th century the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 had posed a serious threat to Europe. Mark Proudman notes that Said had claimed that the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 extended from Egypt to India in the 1880s, when in fact the Ottoman and Persian Empires
History of Iran
The history of Iran has been intertwined with the history of a larger historical region, comprising the area from the Danube River in the west to the Indus River and Jaxartes in the east and from the Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and Egypt...

 intervened. Others argued out that even at the height of the imperial era, European power in the East was never absolute, and remained heavily dependent on local collaborators, who were frequently subversive of imperial aims. Another criticism is that the areas of the Middle East on which Said had concentrated, including Palestine and Egypt, were poor examples for his theory, as they came under direct European control only for a relatively short period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These critics suggested that Said devoted much less attention to more apt examples, including the British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 in India, and Russia’s dominions in Asia, because Said was more interested in making political points about the Middle East.

Strong criticism of Said's critique of Orientalism came from academic Orientalists, including some of Eastern backgrounds. Albert Hourani
Albert Hourani
-Life and career:Hourani was born in Manchester, England, the son of Soumaya Rassi and Fadlo Issa Hourani, immigrants from Marjeyoun in what is now South Lebanon. His brothers were George Hourani and Cecil Hourani. His family had converted from Greek Orthodoxy...

, Robert Graham Irwin
Robert Graham Irwin
Robert Graham Irwin is a British historian, novelist, and writer on Arabic literature.He read modern history at the University of Oxford, and did graduate research at SOAS. From 1972 he was a lecturer in Medieval History at the University of St. Andrews. He gave up academic life in 1977 in order...

, Nikki Keddie
Nikki Keddie
Nikki R. Keddie is an professor of Eastern, Iranian, and women's history. She retired from the University of California, Los Angeles after 35 years of teaching...

, Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis, FBA is a British-American historian, scholar in Oriental studies, and political commentator. He is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University...

, and Kanan Makiya
Kanan Makiya
Kanan Makiya is an Iraqi academic, who gained British nationality in 1982. He is the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University...

 addressed what Keddie retrospectively calls "some unfortunate consequences" of Said's Orientalism on the perception and status of their scholarship.
Bernard Lewis in particular was often at odds with Said following the publication of Orientalism, in which Said singled out Lewis as a "perfect exemplification" of an "Establishment Orientalist" whose work "purports to be objective liberal scholarship but is in reality very close to being propaganda against his subject material". Lewis answered with several essays in response, and was joined by other scholars, such as Maxime Rodinson
Maxime Rodinson
Maxime Rodinson was a French Marxist historian, sociologist and orientalist. He was the son of a Russian-Polish clothing trader and his wife who both died in the Auschwitz concentration camp. After studying oriental languages, he became a professor of Ethiopian at EPHE...

, Jacques Berque
Jacques Berque
Jacques Augustin Berque was a French Islamic scholar and sociologist. His expertise was the decolonisation of Algeria and Morocco.-Biography:...

, Malcolm Kerr, Aijaz Ahmad
Aijaz Ahmad
Aijaz Ahmad is a well-known Marxist literary theorist and political commentator based in India.Born in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India just before it gained independence from British rule, Aijaz Ahmad along with his parents migrated to Pakistan following partition. After his education he worked...

, and William Montgomery Watt
William Montgomery Watt
William Montgomery Watt was a Scottish historian, an Emeritus Professor in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh...

, who also regarded Orientalism as a deeply flawed account of Western scholarship.

Some of Said's academic critics argue that Said made no attempt to distinguish between writers of very different types: such as on the one hand the poet Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 (who never travelled in the East), the novelist Flaubert (who briefly toured Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

), Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan was a French expert of Middle East ancient languages and civilizations, philosopher and writer, devoted to his native province of Brittany...

 (whose work is widely regarded as tainted by racism), and on the other scholars such as Edward William Lane
Edward William Lane
Edward William Lane was a British Orientalist, translator and lexicographer....

 who was fluent in Arabic. According to these critics, their common European origins and attitudes overrode such considerations in Said's mind; Said constructed a stereotype of Europeans. The critic Robert Irwin writes that Said ignored the domination of 19th century Oriental studies by Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 and Hungarians, from countries that did not possess an Eastern empire.

Such critics accuse Said of creating a monolithic "Occidentalism
Occidentalism
The term Occidentalism is used in one of two main ways: a) stereotyped and sometimes dehumanizing views on the Western world, including Europe and the English-speaking world; and b), ideologies or visions of the West developed in either the West or non-West. The former definition stresses negative...

" to oppose to the "Orientalism" of Western discourse, arguing that he failed to distinguish between the paradigms of Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 and the Enlightenment; that he ignored the widespread and fundamental differences of opinion among western scholars of the Orient; that he failed to acknowledge that many Orientalists (such as William Jones
William Jones (philologist)
Sir William Jones was an English philologist and scholar of ancient India, particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among Indo-European languages...

) were more concerned with establishing kinship between East and West than with creating "difference", and who had often made discoveries that would provide the foundations for anti-colonial nationalism. More generally, critics argue that Said and his followers fail to distinguish between Orientalism in the media and popular culture (for instance the portrayal of the Orient in such films as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a 1984 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the second film in the Indiana Jones franchise and prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark . After arriving in India, Indiana Jones is asked by a desperate village to find a mystical stone...

) and academic studies of Oriental languages, literature, history and culture by Western scholars (whom, it is argued, they tar with the same brush).

Said's critics argue that by making ethnicity and cultural background the test of authority and objectivity in studying the Orient, Said drew attention to the question of his own identity as a Palestinian and as a "Subaltern
Subaltern (post-colonialism)
In postcolonialism and related fields, subaltern refers to persons socially, politically, and geographically outside of the hegemonic power structure.- History :...

". Given Said's largely Anglophone upbringing and education at an elite school in Cairo, the fact that he spent most of his adult life in the United States, and his prominent position in American academia
Academia
Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.-Etymology:The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning...

, his own arguments that "any and all representations … are embedded first in the language and then in the culture, institutions and political ambience of the representer … [and are] interwoven with a great many other things besides the 'truth', which is itself a representation" could be said to disenfranchise him from writing about the Orient himself. Hence these critics claim that the excessive relativism of Said and his followers trap them in a "web of solipsism
Solipsism
Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. The term comes from Latin solus and ipse . Solipsism as an epistemological position holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure. The external world and other minds cannot be known, and might not...

", unable to talk of anything but "representations", and denying the existence of any objective truth.

Supporters


Said’s supporters argue that such criticisms, even if correct, do not invalidate his basic thesis, which they say still holds true for the 19th and 20th centuries and in particular for general representations of the Orient in Western media, literature and film. His supporters point out that Said himself acknowledges limitations of his study's failing to address German scholarship and that, in the "Afterword" to the 1995 edition of Orientalism, he, in their view, convincingly refutes his critics, such as Lewis. Orientalism is regarded as central to the postcolonial movement, encouraging scholars "from non-western countries…to take advantage of the mood of political correctness it helped to engender by associating themselves with 'narratives of oppression,' creating successful careers out of transmitting, interpreting and debating representations of the non-western 'other.'"

Said's importance in the fields of literary criticism and cultural studies is represented by his influence on scholars studying India, such as Gyan Prakash
Gyan Prakash
Gyan Prakash is a historian of modern India and the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University. Prakash is a member of the Subaltern Studies collective. Prakash received his BA in history from the University of Delhi in 1973, his MA in history from Jawaharlal Nehru University in...

, Nicholas Dirks
Nicholas Dirks
Nicholas Dirks is the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History at Columbia University, where he is also Vice President of Arts and Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences...

, and Ronald Inden
Ronald Inden
Ronald Inden is an American Indologist, and professor emeritus in the Departments of History and of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago and is a major scholar in South Asian and post-colonial studies...

, and Cambodia, such as Simon Springer, and literary theorists such as Hamid Dabashi
Hamid Dabashi
Hamid Dabashi born 1951 in Ahvaz is an Iranian-American Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York City.He is the author of over twenty books...

, Homi Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and the Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University. He is one of the most important figures in contemporary post-colonial studies, and has coined a number of the field's neologisms and...

 and Gayatri Spivak. His work continues to be widely discussed in academic seminars, disciplinary conferences, and scholarship.

Influence


Both supporters and critics of Edward Said acknowledge the profound, transformative influence that his book Orientalism has had across the spectrum of the humanities. But whereas his critics regret his influence as limiting, his supporters praise his influence as liberating. Postcolonial theory, of which Said is regarded as a founder and a figure of continual relevance, continues to attract interest and is a thriving field in the humanities. Orientalism continues to profoundly inform the field of Middle Eastern studies
Middle Eastern studies
Middle Eastern studies is a name given to a number of academic programs associated with the study of the history, culture, politics, economies, and geography of the Middle East, an area that is generally interpreted to cover a range of nations extending from North Africa in the west to the Chinese...

. He was a prominent public intellectual in the United States, praised widely as an "intellectual superstar," engaging in music criticism
Music criticism
See also Music journalism for reporting on classical and popular music in the media.The Oxford Companion to Music defines music criticism as 'the intellectual activity of formulating judgments on the value and degree of excellence of individual works of music, or whole groups or genres'. In this...

, public lectures, media punditry, contemporary politics, and musical performance. His breadth of influence is regarded as "genuinely global," resting on his unique and innovative blend of cultural criticism, politics, and literary theory.

Milica Bakić-Hayden based her concept of Nesting Orientalisms
Nesting Orientalisms
Nesting Orientalisms is a concept introduced by Milica Bakić-Hayden, a visiting lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh. It is based on gradation of "Orients", i.e...

 on the ideas of historian Larry Wollf and Edward Said's Orientalism
Orientalism (book)
Orientalism is a book published in 1978 by Edward Said that has been highly influential and controversial in postcolonial studies and other fields. In the book, Said effectively redefined the term "Orientalism" to mean a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the...

. Bulgarian historian Maria Todorova
Maria Todorova
Maria N. Todorova is a Bulgarian historian and philosopher who is best known for her application of Edward Said's notion of "Orientalism" to the Balkans. She is the daughter of former Bulgarian President Nikolai Todorov.-Career:...

 introduced another concept, a concept of "nesting balkanisms", which is related to concept of "nesting orientalisms".

Music


Being not only an avid music lover, but also an accomplished pianist, Said wrote extensively about music, including being the music critic for The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

for several years, and writing three books on music: Musical Elaborations, Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (with the Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim, KBE is an Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor. He has served as music director of several major symphonic and operatic orchestras and made numerous recordings....

), and his last book, On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain. In music, Said often saw a reflection of his ideas on literature and history, and he would find real life possibilities in bold composition and performance. A posthumous collection of essays was published in 2007 by Columbia University Press, entitled Music at the Limits.

The music of Arab American composer Mohammed Fairouz
Mohammed Fairouz
Mohammed Fairouz is an Arab American composer.Having fulfilling many commissions and created a substantial body of frequently performed works, he is considered one of the most sought after composers of the young generation. Fairouz began composing at an early age and studied at the New England...

 has been deeply influenced by the writings of Said. Fairouz's First Symphony references the essay Homage to a Belly Dancer and his Piano Sonata is titled Reflections on Exile after the collection of essays by Said.

In 1999, Said jointly founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with Barenboim. The award-winning youth orchestra is made up of musicians from Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding Arab countries, and has performed internationally, including within both Israel and Palestine. Said and Barenboim also worked together to establish The Barenboim-Said Foundation in Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

. The government-funded foundation was eventually constituted in 2004 with its purpose being to develop several "education through music" projects. In addition to managing the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Barenboim-Said Foundation assists with other projects such as the Academy of Orchestral Studies, the Musical Education in Palestine project and the Early Childhood Musical Education Project in Seville.

Pro-Palestinian activism


Throughout his adult life, Said involved himself in the effort for Palestinians statehood. From 1977 until 1991, he was an independent member of the Palestinian National Council
Palestinian National Council
The Palestinian National Council is the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization and elects its Executive Committee, which assumes leadership of the organization between its sessions. The Council normally meets every two years. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority with a...

. He was also an early proponent of a two-state solution
Two-state solution
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the consensus solution that is currently under discussion by the key parties to the conflict, most recently at the Annapolis Conference in November 2007...

 and, in 1988, voted for the establishment of the State of Palestine
State of Palestine
Palestine , officially declared as the State of Palestine , is a state that was proclaimed in exile in Algiers on 15 November 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization's National Council adopted the unilateral Palestinian Declaration of Independence...

 at a Palestinian National Council
Palestinian National Council
The Palestinian National Council is the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization and elects its Executive Committee, which assumes leadership of the organization between its sessions. The Council normally meets every two years. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority with a...

 meeting in Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

. In 1991, he quit the PNC in protest over the process leading up to the signing of the Oslo Accords
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

, feeling that the terms of the accord were unacceptable and had been rejected by the Madrid round negotiators
Madrid Conference of 1991
The Madrid Conference was hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the USA and the USSR. It convened on October 30, 1991 and lasted for three days. It was an early attempt by the international community to start a peace process through negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinians...

. He felt that Oslo would not lead to a truly independent state and was inferior to a plan Yasir Arafat had rejected when Said himself presented it to Arafat on behalf of the US government in the late 1970s. In particular, he wrote that Arafat had sold short the right of Palestinian refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s to return to their homes in pre-1967 Israel and ignored the growing presence of Israeli settlements. Said's relationship with the Palestinian Authority was once so bad in 1995 that PA leaders banned the sale of his books, but improved when he hailed Arafat for rejecting Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government....

's offers at the Camp David 2000 Summit
Camp David 2000 Summit
The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David of July 2000 took place between United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat...

.

In an article entitled Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims, he argued for the legitimacy and authenticity of both the Zionist claim to a land (and, more importantly, the Zionist claim that the Jewish people needed a homeland) and Palestinian rights of self-determination. Said's books on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians include The Question of Palestine (1979), The Politics of Dispossession (1994) and The End of the Peace Process (2000).
A photograph taken on July 3, 2000, of Said in South Lebanon throwing a stone across the Lebanon–Israel border
Blue Line (Lebanon)
The Blue Line is a border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations on 7 June 2000 for the purposes of determining whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon...

 drew criticism from some political and media commentators, some of whom decried the act as "terrorist sympathizing.".
Said explained the act as a stone-throwing contest with his son, and called it a symbolic gesture of joy at the end of Israel's occupation of Lebanon. "It was a pebble. There was nobody there. The guardhouse was at least half a mile away."
Although he denied aiming the rock at anyone, an eyewitness account in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir
As-Safir
As-Safir meaning The Ambassador, is a leading Arabic-language daily newspaper in Lebanon.It was first published on March 26, 1974 as an Arabic political daily....

asserted that Said had been less than 30 feet (9.1 m) from Israeli soldiers manning a two-story watchtower
Watchtower
A watchtower is a type of fortification used in many parts of the world. It differs from a regular tower in that its primary use is military, and from a turret in that it is usually a freestanding structure. Its main purpose is to provide a high, safe place from which a sentinel or guard may...

 when he aimed the rock over the border fence, though it instead hit barbed-wire.
While the photo provoked criticism from some Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 faculty members, some students, and from the Anti-Defamation League
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

 of B'nai B'rith, the Columbia provost issued a five-page letter defending Said's act on the grounds of freedom of expression: "To my knowledge, the stone was directed at no one; no law was broken; no indictment was made; no criminal or civil action has been taken against Professor Said." Said said that there were repercussions, however, noting that in February 2001 the Freud Society of Vienna cancelled an invitation for him to give a lecture.
The president of the Freud Society cited "the political situation in the Middle East and its consequences" as a reason, going on to explain that anti-Semitism "has become more dangerous" in Austrian politics and that the Society had decided on the cancellation "to avoid an internal clash."

Said made a documentary film about Palestine for BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 named In Search of Palestine. BBC was unsuccessful in getting it on U.S. television.

In Culture and Resistance (2003), Said likened his situation to that of Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

: "It's very similar to him. He's a well known, great linguist. He's been celebrated and honored for that. But he's also vilified as an anti-Semite and a Hitler worshiper." Said went on to explain:

In 2003, Said, along with Haidar Abdel-Shafi
Haidar Abdel-Shafi
Haidar Abdel-Shafi was a Palestinian physician, community leader and political leader who was the head of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference of 1991.- Background :...

, Ibrahim Dakak, and Mustafa Barghouti
Mustafa Barghouti
Mustafa Barghouti is a Palestinian democracy activist. He was a candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005, finishing second to Mahmoud Abbas, with 19% of the vote.Barghouti was born in Jerusalem...

, helped establish the Palestinian National Initiative
Palestinian National Initiative
Palestinian National Initiative is a Palestinian political movement or party led by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti.Its formation was formally announced on June 17, 2002 in Ramallah on the West Bank, part of the Palestinian Territories, by Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi, Dr...

, or Al-Mubadara, an attempt to build a third force in Palestinian politics, a democratic, reformist alternative to Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 and Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

. Three years later, in January 2006, anthropologist David Price obtained 147 pages of Said's 238-page FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 file through a Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act (United States)
The Freedom of Information Act is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure...

 request. The records reveal that Said was under FBI surveillance as early as 1971. No records were available on the last dozen years of his life.

Criticism of US foreign policy


In a 1997 revised edition of his book Covering Islam
Covering Islam
Covering Islam is a 1981 book written by Palestinian author Edward Said about how the world views Islam. Said describes the book as the third and last in a series of books in which he analyzes the relations between the Islamic world, Arabs and East and West, France, Great Britain and the United...

, Said criticized what he viewed as the biased reporting of the Western press and, in particular, media “speculations about the latest conspiracy to blow up buildings, sabotage commercial airliners, and poison water supplies.” Said opposed many US foreign policy endeavors in the Middle East and elsewhere. He critiqued US involvement in Kosovo
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

 and Iraq
Iraq Liberation Act
The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 is a United States Congressional statement of policy calling for regime change in Iraq. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and states that it is the policy of the United States to support democratic movements within Iraq...

 under President Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, and US support for Israel was a constant topic that he addressed in his activism. Although growing increasingly weak from his battle with leukemia, Said spent many of his last months speaking out against the then recent invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. In an April 2003 interview with Al-Ahram Weekly
Al-Ahram Weekly
Al-Ahram Weekly is an Egyptian English-language weekly broadsheet printed by the Al-Ahram Publishing House in Cairo, Egypt.It was established in 1991 by the Al-Ahram newspaper, which also runs a French-language weekly version, Al-Ahram Hebdo....

, Said argued that the Iraq War was ill-conceived:

Death and tributes



Edward Said died at age 67 in the early morning of September 25, 2003, in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, after a 12 year-long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia , also known as chronic lymphoid leukemia , is the most common type of leukemia. Leukemias are cancers of the white blood cells . CLL affects B cell lymphocytes. B cells originate in the bone marrow, develop in the lymph nodes, and normally fight infection by...

. He was survived by his wife of 33 years, Mariam (née Cortas); a son, Wadie, and a daughter, Najla.

Subsequently, several prominent writers published elegies for Said, including Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Claud Cockburn is an American political journalist. Cockburn was brought up in Ireland but has lived and worked in the United States since 1972. Together with Jeffrey St. Clair, he edits the political newsletter CounterPunch...

, Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Eric Hitchens is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the...

, Tony Judt
Tony Judt
Tony Robert Judt FBA was a British historian, essayist, and university professor who specialized in European history. Judt moved to New York and served as the Erich Maria Remarque Professor in European Studies at New York University, and Director of NYU's Erich Maria Remarque Institute...

, Michael Wood
Michael Wood (academic)
Michael Wood born in Lincoln, England, is the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Professor of comparative literature at Princeton University. He is an alumnus of St John's College, Cambridge....

, and Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali , , is a British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator...

.

In November 2004, Birzeit University
Birzeit University
Birzeit University is a university located in Birzeit near Ramallah, Palestinian territories. BZU is among the foremost tertiary educational institutes in the Palestinian territories and has played a significant role in the Palestinian political dialogue.- History :The institution was originally...

 renamed its music school as the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Said's honor.

In 2008, Verso Books published Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward W. Said, a book of essays by 15 authors, including Akeel Bilgrami
Akeel Bilgrami
Akeel Bilgrami is an Indian-born philosopher of language and of mind, and the author of Belief and Meaning, Self-Knowledge and Resentment, and Politics and the Moral Psychology of Identity , as well as various articles in Philosophy of Mind as well as in Political and Moral Psychology...

, Rashid Khalidi
Rashid Khalidi
Rashid Ismail Khalidi , born 1948, a Palestinian-American historian of the Middle East, is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs.-Family, education and...

 and Elias Khoury. The book was edited by Müge Gürsoy Sökmen and Bașak Ertür.

A critical memoir, Edward Said: the charisma of criticism, by H. Aram Veeser was published by Routledge in March 2010.

In August 2010, the University of California Press
University of California Press
University of California Press, also known as UC Press, is a publishing house associated with the University of California that engages in academic publishing. It was founded in 1893 to publish books and papers for the faculty of the University of California, established 25 years earlier in 1868...

 published a large volume of essays by some 29 authors about every aspect of Said's intellectual contributions. Edited by Adel Iskandar
Adel Iskandar
Adel Iskandar is a British-born Middle East media scholar, postcolonial theorist, analyst, and academic. He is the author and co-author of several works on Arab media, most prominently an analysis of the Arab satellite station Al Jazeera...

 and Hakem Rustom, Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representations includes interviews with Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is an Indian literary critic, theorist and a University Professor at Columbia University. She is best known for the essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?", considered a founding text of postcolonialism, and for her translation of Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology. She...

, and Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim, KBE is an Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor. He has served as music director of several major symphonic and operatic orchestras and made numerous recordings....

, as well as the writings of Joseph Massad
Joseph Massad
Joseph Andoni Massad is Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University, whose academic work has focused on Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli nationalism...

, Jacqueline Rose
Jacqueline Rose
Jacqueline Rose is a British academic who is currently Professor of English at Queen Mary, University of London.-Life and work:...

, Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim FBA is a British/Israeli historian. He is a professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a fellow of the British Academy.Shlaim is especially well known as a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict...

, Ilan Pappe
Ilan Pappé
Ilan Pappé is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university's European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, and political activist...

, Ella Shohat
Ella Shohat
Professor Ella Habiba Shohat is Professor of Cultural Studies at New York University, and has taught, lectured and written extensively on issues having to do with Eurocentrism and Orientalism, as well as with postcolonial and transnational approaches to Cultural Studies...

, Asha Varadhjan, RR Radhakrishnan, Ardi Imseis, Ghada Karmi
Ghada Karmi
Ghada Karmi is a Palestinian doctor of medicine, author and academic. She writes frequently on Palestinian issues in newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, The Nation and Journal of Palestine Studies...

, Sabry Hafez and many others.

Edward Said memorial lectures



Since Said's death in 2003, several institutions have instituted annual lecture series in his memory, including Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, University of Warwick
University of Warwick
The University of Warwick is a public research university located in Coventry, United Kingdom...

, Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide
The University of Adelaide is a public university located in Adelaide, South Australia. Established in 1874, it is the third oldest university in Australia...

, American University of Cairo, and Palestine Center
Palestine Center
The Palestine Center is an independent think tank based in Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C.. Their focus is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other Middle East issues....

, with such notables speaking as Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim, KBE is an Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor. He has served as music director of several major symphonic and operatic orchestras and made numerous recordings....

, Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

, Robert Fisk
Robert Fisk
Robert Fisk is an English writer and journalist from Maidstone, Kent. As Middle East correspondent of The Independent, he has primarily been based in Beirut for more than 30 years. He has published a number of books and has reported on the United States's war in Afghanistan and the same country's...

, and Cornel West
Cornel West
Cornel Ronald West is an American philosopher, author, critic, actor, civil rights activist and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America....

.

Awards


Besides being honored with memberships and posts to several prestigious organizations and institutions, Said was the recipient of twenty honorary degrees from universities around the world. Said was the recipient of Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

's Bowdoin Prize. He received the Lionel Trilling Award (twice), the first occasion being the first time the award was given. He also received the Wellek Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association
American Comparative Literature Association
The American Comparative Literature Association is the principal learned society in the United States for scholars whose work connects several different literary traditions and cultures or that examines the premises of cross-cultural literary study...

, and the inaugural Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

 Lens Award. In 2001, Said received the Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2002, he received the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, and he was the first U.S. citizen to receive the Sultan Owais prize. His autobiography, Out of Place, won him the 1999 New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

 Book Award for Non-Fiction; the 2000 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction; and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award in Literature. Said Was named an honorary patron of the University Philosophical Society, Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin , formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university", Extracts from Letters Patent of Elizabeth I, 1592: "...we...found and...

 in 2003, shortly before his death.

Honorary Degree at The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS): Orientalism once more (2003) / Edward W. Said / The Hague: ISS, 2003. Lecture delivered on the occasion of the awarding of the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa on the 50th anniversary of the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands, 21 May 2003.

See also


  • Blaming the Victims
    Blaming the Victims
    Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question, is a collection of essays, co-edited by Palestinian scholar and advocate Edward Said and journalist and author Christopher Hitchens, published by Verso Books in 1988...

  • List of Columbia University people
  • Palestinian Christians
    Palestinian Christians
    Palestinian Christians are Arabic-speaking Christians descended from the people of the geographical area of Palestine. Within Palestine, there are churches and believers from many Christian denominations, including Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic , Protestant, and others...

  • Projects working for peace among Arabs and Israelis

Further reading



External links