Edward Said and the Post-Colonial

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Edward Said and the Post-Colonial

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Horizons in Post-Colollial Studies Pal Ahluwalia and Bill Ashcroft

Edward Said alld the Post-Colollial Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim (Editors) ISBN 1-59033-157-5


Re-Imagillillg Africa: New Critical Perspectives Sue Kossew and Dianne Schwerdt (Editors) ISBN 1-59033-100-1

Narratives of Colollialism: Sligar, Java alld the Dlltch G. Roger Knight ISBN 1-56072-710-1


White alld Deadly: Sligar alld Colollialism Pal Ahluwalia, Bill Ashcroft and Roger Knight (Editors) ISBN 1-56072-814-0

Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Huntington, New York

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POLITICAL SCIENCE This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information


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Pal Ahluwalia alld Bill Ashcroft (Series Editors) GENERAL EDITORS' INTRODUCTION Post-Colonial Studies has undergone a meteoric rise in the past decade in literature departments throughout the world. The aim of this series is to open up various horizons in the field: to encourage the development of post­ colonial theory and practice in a wider spread of disciplinary approaches; to promote conceptual innovation in the study of post-colonial discourse in general; and to provide a venue for the entry of new perspectives. Many post­ colonialisrns have emerged in actual practice in recent times, but the fundamental thing they share is an interest in the ways in which colonized people all over the world have engaged colonialism, and a desire to analyze the effects of this engagement in contemporary cultural life. While the predominant interest has been in the legacy of the British Empire this series encourages the practical application of post-colonial theory into other European and non-European forms of colonialism, to investigate the ways in which the investigation of post-colonial discourse may illuminate present global cultural relations.


Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim










completely than Edward Said the paradox of identity in an increasingly diasporic and culturally heterogeneous world. Whether this is because his public profile is so high, his political advocacy so urgent and vociferous, or his intellectual reputation so widespread, there hardly seems to be a cultural critic

more visibly caught up








contradictions everywhere in his work and life: contradictions between his beliefs and preferences; contradictions between his highly Westemised professional persona and his Palestinian identity; contradictions between his view of professional work and his place in the contemporary landscape. Perhaps the most contradictory aspect of his place in contemporary theory is his relationship with 'the post-colonial.' Although his pronouncements on the subject have not been carved in stone, it is clear that he has neither a close acquaintance








understanding of its goals. Claimed by many to be the originator of post­ colonial studies, he demonstrates little interest in this (or any) field of cultural theory. In many respects this contradiction demonstrates better than anything else his desire to act as a 'secular' 'amateur' intellectual. While his place in post-colonial theory is so significant, his increasingly obsessive rejection of any theory that appears to be 'academic' has meant that more often than not he


BiIl Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim



As he expresses it, Said's view of 'secular criticism' is at odds with any

has turned his back on what may be, educationally, his major constituency. This paradox is symptomatic, not only of Edward Said, but also of post­

fIeld ofiiterary studies which employs a 'priestly' and abstruse specialization,

colonial theory. There is possibly no other contemporary movement beset by

which ignores the injunction to 'criticize' in the pursuit of the theologies of

such a range of defInitions and interpretations, and, consequently, such a

theoretical dogma. Who would not agree with this? But is there in this

multi-facetted collection of objections and controversies. In what other fIeld of

vigorous amateurism a danger of doing exactly what Said warns against, of

study do we see greater confusion and anxiety about its very name; what other

ignoring the worldliness of theory? For 'criticism' exists no more in a vacuum

theory experiences such complaint and condemnation from the very people

than does theory and when that theory pays urgent attention to the material,

whose names have come to be associated with it? And yet, just as the

how much more imperative is it to be driven by a systematic view of power

contradictions of Said's work are a sign of its vitality, so too, the paradoxes

relations? This paradox is both symptomatic and central to Said's ambiguous

and plurality characterising post-colonial studies are a sure sign of its

relationship with post-colonial studies. For whatever his expressed opinion

dynamism and strength.

about post-colonial theory (and what little there is seems contradictory) there

In a fIeld that demonstrates so well Said's own thesis in


is no doubt that the recurring elements of his own theory are in funda�


all cultural and theoretical movements have many beginnings rather than a

agreement with the interests ana trajectory of post-colonial critics.

single origin, a fIeld with which he has had an ambivalent relationship, to say

- C early, we intend this collection to-draw away from the myth of origins,

has been widely accorded the status of a seminal

the myth of Said's place at the beginning of post-colonial theory, for a more

text. One introduction after another puts Said at the beginning of a theory to

critical, searching, and, in the end, more productive view of the value of his

the least, his


which he makes little mention throughout his career. It would be hard to fInd a

work to the various branches of post-colonial studies. There is hardly a more

more desperate need for origins than this need to fInd a 'beginning' for post­

quoted source in this fIeld, but almost always it is for the wrong reason. The

colonial theory. But if any 'beginning' is to found in this overdetermined

'great man' myth renders stagnant the very ideas for which he is celebrated.

discourse it is to be found in the many beginnings of colonial occupation.

Rather than providing a myth of origins, Said's work is capable of providing a

general terms as the

vigorous theoretical energy to the fIeld. This volume demonstrates the

intellectual engagement with the consequences of colonization, then it began

controversy surrounding his work as well as the different directions in which

in the work of colonized writers as soon as they were forced into colonial

his work can be taken, the ways in which it can focus critical thinking about

education systems. Systematic theorizing of colonization and its attendant

colonialism and power relations.

If post-colonial theory is to be described in

features such as race, language, resistance and representation fIrst found in Frantz Fanon, was long preceded by theory which could not claim the name

The opening essay by Patrick Williams exposes the nature of the contradictions surrounding Said's place in contemporary theory. Williams


takes issue with Said for the latter's ostensible disavowal of and indeed

stands as a reference point, a marker at an imagined junction of the many

negative, even superfIcial, assessment of post-colonial theory - distinguished

theory in the creative writing of colonial intellectuals. Said's

tributaries that had been feeding the growing awareness of post-colonial

here from the main stream of Western theory - and for what amounts to an


offhand dismissal of the post-colonial intel1ectual on the part of Said. This is

'Commonwealth' literary study; the cultural commentary of C.L.R. James and

not simply a critique of Said's lack of awareness of part of the worldliness of










other Caribbean intellectuals; the phenomenon of the Heinemann African

his own text, but a demonstration of the kinds of methodological diversity and

Writers Series; Kwame Nkrumah's thesis of neo-colonialism and the growing

definitional paradox that characterises post-colonial studies itself. In Said's

opposition to development theory; the establishment of institutes such as

relationship with post-colonial

Dhvanyaloka in India - all these flow into the overdetermined stream of

problematic consequences of the secular critic, and indeed, his ambivalent

contemporary post-colonial studies.

relationship with the fIeld is the focus of this volume.

theory we

discover some


the more

Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim




A prominent factor in Said's relationship with the post-colonial lies in the

"Worldliness" for a post-colonial agenda. This view of worldliness, although

affinities he has with contemporary cultural studies, and nowhere is this more

it is inspired by literary theory, suggests that he may be closer to the

obvious than in

Culture and Imperialism

in which Said gives credit to

materialism of the Ahmads and Dirliks than they realise (as is the project of

Raymond Williams, who has a similarly complex relationship with a field of

post-colonial studies). Ashcroft views Worldliness as Said's most "post­

study for which he is often held to be an originator. Patrick Brantlinger

colonial" and also most crucial contribution to critical theory. To the extent

stresses the intellectual affinities between Said and Raymond Williams and

that it emphasizes the materiality of the text, the concept of Worldliness (of

points to the influence of Williams and of cultural studies on Said's thinking.

both text and critic) thus works to counter the unbridled textuality of much

A refusal to acknowledge Williams' influence on Said, Brantlinger notes,

poststructuralist theory. As such, Ashcroft argues, Said's key concept reflects

accounts for many Marxist critiques of


such as that of Aijaz


the aims of post-colonial criticism to represent and intervene in the world. Moreover, despite the controversy surrounding Said's positioning within the

Said's prominence and his relentless advocacy of the rights of the

post-colonial, his insistence on the materiality of the text and his emphasis on

Palestinian people have made him the target of much criticism particularly

the necessity for criticism to be politically and socially engaged signal the real








'Professor of terror' slur by Edward Alexander in that journal in



convergence between Said and post-colonialism. One of the keys to the vexed relationship between Said and post-colonial

has been

followed up most recently by Justus Reid Weiner's 'My Old Beautiful Home'

studies is the fact that in interest and background, Said is concerned with the


broad impact of Europe's imperialism rather than the specifics of its


to which Mustapha Marrouchi responds in the course of his reading

of Said's memoir

Out of Place-


widely regarded as a politically-motivated

attempt to discredit the foremost spokesperson of the Palestinian cause. Most criticisms











colonialism (and also, perhaps, rather than the specifics of resistance). In her essay Linda Hutcheon, who views witnessing,


as an act of historical

proposes drawing a very useful distinction



One species of

colonial" and "postimperial" discourses. Locating the originary moment of

In Theory (1992), assails Said for the predominantly Western cultural apparatus of Orientalism and also for the book's allegedly anti-Marxist stance.

both discourses at the colonial encounter, she assigns to the former denoting

In the tradition' of Marxist critics such as Aijaz Alunad, Arif Dirlik

discourses that address the impact of the encounter over time on empire and

methodological and conceptual problems of

critique is best represented by Aijaz Alunad who, in his book

discourses that are concerned with the impact of that encounter over time on the


Postimperial discourses,






expands his criticism of post-colonial studies to include Edward Said. Dirlik

its discourses. According to this scheme, and due to the book's primary focus

chronicles the transformation of post-colonialism from radical beginnings (the

on the imperial discourses of the West,


falls within the category

post-colonialism of national liberation movements), to what he perceives to be

of the postimperial rather than the post-colonial. Misdirected critiques of

a depoliticized post-colonialism marked by an abandonment of its initial focus


Hutcheon notes, are attributable to Said's own positioning as

and by a preoccupation with issues of race and ethnicity (the contemporary

both a post-colonial and postimperial historian as well as to the overlap


between the postimperial (a theoretical focus) and the post-colonial (an






overemphasis on cultural identity, Dirlik warns, has the effect of decentering

enunciative position) within


issues of political economy and amounts to possible complicity with structures


of political economy. Dirlik further argues that Said's affinities to and

differentiation between the two

positioning between both strains of post-colonialism account for the paradoxes


and contradictions that abound in his thinking.

predominates in Said's works on Palestine.

however, as well as


makes modes

itself. Despite the overlap and a


of discourses:

Culture and Imperialism),

case the




and the post-colonial which


Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding Said's work, the mode of

antipathy to post-colonial theory and the significance of his concept of

colonial discourse analysis initiated in Said's study of Orientalism continues

Bill Ashcroft







Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim


to be applied to a plurality of discourses with a view to identifying possible

his work is used, may differ from the way he reads it. But ultimately, the


linkages to imperialism. An instance of such application is Susanne Zantop's

political meaning of Said's cultural theory emerges in the use to which it may

proposal to expand the Orient-Occident dichotomy central to Said's study of

be put, in the project of liberation and transformation lying at the centre of the

Orientabsm. What this dichotomy fails to take into account, notes Zantop, are

'post-colonial. '

the "discovery" of the Americas and the consequences of that "discovery" in terms of producing multiple occidents. Focusing on European representations of the "New World," Zantop argues that the inclusion of the Americas in the debate is crucial to the decentring task of post-colonial studies. Pal Ahluwalia outlines the way in which Said's Orientalist project can stand as a model for many other examples of the cultural and political relationship between Europe and

its others.

A significant case is African Studies. The discursive

construction of 'Africa' and 'the African' is a profound demonstration of the link between knowledge and power, and reaches even more deeply into the imagination of the West than does the Orient. Orienlalism's extraordinary currency has not impeded critical activity











assumptions. Elleke Boehmer, for instance, although she stops short of suggesting "a knowing complicity" between the post-colonial and neo­ colonialism, nonetheless posits a certain relatedness between post-colonial studies and the continuing hegemony of the Western metropolis. This relatedness is apparent,

inter alia, in what she terms "a neo-orientalist

rhetoric" that lingers on in post-colonial literary criticism from the West, its oppositionality notwithstanding. Juxtaposing the critical reception of the Indian woman poet,'Sarojini Naidu in England in 1892 with the postcolonial reception of another Indian writer, the novelist Arundhati Roy, in the West in the 1990s, Boehmer discerns unsettling parallels between colonial discourse and recent post-colonial literary criticism. Mustapha Marrouchi's wide ranging discussion of Said's memoir Oul of Place reveals how Said's sense of displacement, a sense exacerbated and

ironically demonstrated by the most recent attack by Justus Weiner, is a function of both the most personal and the most global trajectories of cultural displacement. This memoire itself leaves us with a very clear sense of the link between the personal and the cultural, a sense of the materiality and specifics of exile and displacement. Ironically, it is these specific features of the experience of the displaced Palestinian academic that best demonstrate the paradox of the

contemporary post-colonial intellectual.



paradox can be seen to be a matter of reading. How we read Said's work, how

Chapter 1



Edward Said is an intellectual of many paradoxes. His work over the last three decades has articulated the most cogent and sustained critiques of Eurocentrism, and yet he retains an intellectual and personal commitment to the values of European humanism, and the products of its high culture. He owes much of his political and moral stature to his commitment to the Palestinian cause, at the risk of personal abuse and danger, and yet he is a relentless critic of nationalism, including Palestinian nationalism. He has written incisively about the complicity of academic institutions in domination and hegemony, and yet is ready to rush to the defense of the American university against its critics from the left and the right. He is a thorough professional who is critical of professionalism in the name of the public obligations of intellectuals. While his work has inspired new theoretical departures in literary and cultural criticism, he disclaims theory as a major concern of his work. The list could go on-almost indefinitely. Said himself has been explicit in acknowledging his paradoxes, and commentators on his work have been quite aware of the ways in which these paradoxes inform his cultural and literary analyses. Interestingly, Said's paradoxes or, more strongly, contradictions, rather than undermine his


Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

credibility, have served to empower his work, and enabled him to retain his

While Said on occasion uses the fashionable postcolonial tenm "hybridity"

autonomy as a critic against pressures to confonmity of changing intellectual

with reference to both himself and his analytical perspective, his is what M.

and political fashions, incl uding those for which his own work may be

Bakhtin wrote of as "intentional hybridity," that sets different voices against

responsible. Said's credibility is due in part to an intellectual integrity that

one another without


denying their


(at times) irreconcilable differences

refuses to disavow the many pasts, and the cultural baggage, accumulated in

(Bakhtin 1981: 358-359). Rather than submerge difference into an opaque

the course of a complex personal itinerary that has traversed a variety of

hybridity, Said, as Mustapha Marrouchi observes, inhabits "a space of

historical and cultural situations; from Jerusalem through Beirut and Cairo to

multiple allegiances," or perhaps even more accurately, mUltiple spaces, that

New York. He has been quite open about the ways in which his "Western"

are not always easily reconciled, but provide him with a multiplicity of

and "elite" education have shaped him, about his love for the EuroAmerican

interpretive locations (Marrouchi 1998: 209).

writers whose works he subjects to criticism, and even the ways in which his

Most discussions of Said with which I am familiar focus on the spatialities

background and education have divided him intellectually and esthetically

that these paradoxes represent, or produce; at the most fundamental level, the

from the Palestinian and Arab societies he speaks for. Referring to other Third

cultural "in-betweenness" that infonms his self-image and his work. I would

World intellectuals, more hostile than he to the products of European

like to tum here to a paradox that is temporal, that has been suppressed in the

humanism, he states in his interview with Jennifer Wicke and Michael

preoccupation with cultural spaces: Said's location in the unfolding of the

Sprinker, with a note of defiance, that "there's no reason for me to perfonm

postcolonial. One of the more intriguing paradoxes in Said's career is the part

acts of amputation on myself, intellectual, spiritual, or esthetic, simply

he has played in the emergence and legitimation of contemporary postcolonial

because in the experience of other people from the Third World, a black

criticism, with its preoccupation with the culture and politics of identity. On

novelist from Nigeria like Achebe or your West Indian friend, can make


the other hand, Said has drawn insistently on an earlier, more politically

Proust or Conrad into someone who is only despicable" (Wicke and Sprinker

oriented, postcolonialism preoccupied with questions of national liberation,

1992: 253, emphasis mine). He stands out among so-called postcolonial

revolution, and Third World alternatives to capitalism and existing fonms of

intellectuals for his honesty in acknowledging the ways in which his class

socialism; and objects to the postcolonialist preoccupation with identity, its

background have both shaped and limited his political choices (253). His

repudiation of metanarratives, and even the tenm postcolonial itself (Said

honesty extends to an unwillingness to suppress in ideological generalizations

1998/9: 92). These different versions of postcolonialism also pervade much of

the political dilemmas facing the Third World, and the Third World

Said's writing in tense co-existence, raising questions about his work among










But there is more to the empowenment than personal attributes. Said has

willingness to affinm "binarisms" and even "essentialisms." That Said has

rendered personal experiences into method as he has brought his own diverse

nevertheless played an important part in the emergence of this contemporary

and conflicting cultural allegiances into play against one another. He writes in

postcolonialism also raises questions concerning his departures from an

"this book is an exile's book.

earlier, politically radical, postcolonialism, that need to be queried for closer

For objective reasons that I had no control over, I grew up as an Arab with a

assessment of some of the more problematic aspects of his thinking. Benita

Western education. Ever since I can remember, I have felt that I belonged to


his introduction to

Culture alld Imperialism that

both worlds, without being completely

of either

one or the other" (Said 1993:









postcolonialism in observing that,

xxvi). He describes the "perspective" his experience of exile produced as "contrapuntal," which refers both to a way of thinking about people, and a method of analysis and reading texts; the method suggesting, to this writer anyway, a decoding of a text, a culture or whatever with the aid of its acknowledged or suppressed Other, while recognizing the integrity of both.

A critique of culture and imperialism that situates itself on the borders and

bouodaries of knowable communities, intellectual

systems, and critical

practices, celebrating the unhoused and decenlred counter-energies generated by









symptomatic of a postcolonial cosmopolitanism which proclaims its mUltiple




Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

detachments and occupancy of a hybrid discursive space. It is a precarious position for a politically aligned theorist to maintain, and a demonstration of Said apparently contradicting hintself is when

in the


breath he

acknowledges the importance of moving from one identity to another, and


radical social, economic and political programs into the problematic of cultural discourse. The postcolonial in its contemporary appearance is shaped by the retreat

virtues of being a Palestinian is that it teaches you

from revolution with the reconfiguration of global relations in the eighties.

to feel your particularity in a new way, not only as a problem but as a kind of

This retreat is most readi ly visible in the abandonment in postcolonial

gift" (Parry

criticism of two categories that were fundamental to earlier revolutionary

affums that

"[O]De of the

1992: 19-20).

I would like to pursue this contradiction a bit further, in the perspective of the history of postcolonialism; which requires a diversion from the subject at hand, but is necessary nevertheless to place what I have to say in historical context. As Aijaz Ahmad has pointed out, the idea of the postcolonial itself has a history (Ahmad 1995: 1). In its initial, more or less literal, temporal sense, it referred to newly liberated colonies, and was quite radical in its social, economic and political implications: breaking with the colonial past to create new societies economically, politically and culturally. Integral to the postcolonial vision of this early period (peaking in the 1960s) were ideologies of national liberation that sought national autonomy in all realms from the colonial past as

well as


neo-colonial present. National


movements of this early period were informed for the most part by socialist programs of one kind or another; which also explains the affinity between ideologies of national liberation and Third World socialisms such as the Chinese. Against an earlier scholarship infused with colonial or neo-colonial assumptions, the radical postcolonial vision fostered both at home and abroad a new anti-colonial scholarship. These beginnings are largely forgotten in contemporary conceptions of postcoloniality, which not only have turned their back on these origins, but indeed may be viewed as a negation of the original sense of the postcolonial of which they are products. The ambivalence produced by this dialectical positioning is visible in the works of Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and Stuart Hall who today are hailed as originators of postcolonial criticism as we have it now, but whose works are nevertheless deeply marked by their points of departure in an earlier sense of the postcolonial, connected to its radical social programs even as they articulated a new discourse of culture that would ultimately negate those origins. It is not that culture was missing from earlier discussions of postcoloniality; but it is a long ways from the "cultural revolutions" of national liberation movements in which culture appeared as part of a broader political program to the contemporary disappearance of

discourses: nation and class. There are complex reasons for the increasingly problematic nature of these two categories in our day, some of which I have discussed elsewhere. Here I will speak briefly to those aspects of the problem that are directly pertinent to the issues at hand. Ironically, in our day, when formal political colonialism has all but disappeared, it is the nation and nationalism in their claims to homogeneous cultural identities that appear as the greatest foes of cultural and historical diversity, and the free play of individual and group identities-including those that are the legacies of colonialism. Whereas an earlier generation experienced colonialism as erasure of real or imagined native identities, and set out to recover those identities through the agency of the nation, postcolonial self­ identification with hybridity, in-betweenness, marginality, borderlands, etc., represents in some fundamental ways the revolt against claims to authentic national identity of those whose very cultural formation was a product of the colonial encounter at home and abroad. While postcolonial criticism devotes much effort to the critique of the ideologies of colonial domination (chief among them, Eurocentrism), it ironically also represents an affirmation of the colonial past-at least of the colonial past in the postcolonial. The postcolonial celebration of hybridity and in-betweenness is a celebration against nationalist cultural claims of a culture which includes the culture of the colonizer as a constituent moment; that also reasserts the claims to cultural priority of those groups in society shaped by the colonial encounter. The failure of postcolonial national liberation regimes to deliver on their political, economic and cultural promises is no doubt an important factor in this turnabout. But so is the proliferation of diasporic populations that has accompanied economic and political globalization,



dispersal has created a situation in which it is no longer possible to identify cultures with national boundaries. One of the important by-products of this situation-encompassed in slogans of globalization-is increased porosity of the boundaries that earlier separated the colonizers from the colonized; which may account for the receptivity to postcolonialism among the intellectuals and


Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

institutions of metropolitan centers (unlike, say, In earlier largely negative

importation of capitalism through the agency of colonialism and, in spite of

responses to third-worldist separatism).

their resentment of imperialist domination, also shared common interests with



There is also a reminder here, however, of the need for caution in

the latter. Given the ties of these groups to imperialism, national liberation

generalizing the postcolonial experience, which was historically the most

must be unsuccessful so long as they retained their power. Much the same

significant for those who experienced colonialism as a transformative cultural

pertained to nation-building as a cultural project: that the recovery of authentic

force. Even in those cases, there is much that is problematic. The questioning

national traditions also required the "re-nationalization" of those who had

of authenticity to nationalist claims has had as an underlying purpose the

come under colonial cultural hegemony. The Chinese Cultural Revolution in

recognition of equal "authenticity" to those who were products of the colonial

the sixties may be seen as one eloquent testimonial to the coincidence of



economic, political and cultural projects in a situation of obsessive concern

Unreflective promotion of "borderlands," however, has gone beyond such

with national autonomy, where the necessity of purging the culturally

demands for recognition to the erasure of all alternatives to the borderlands,

"contaminated" classes appeared as a primary task. Such extremist nativism

and "borderlands" that were products of encounters other than the colonial. At

was not restricted to China, needless to say, but entered in various ways

a time when claims to ethnic authenticities proliferate, the preoccupation with

speculation over the future of national cultures in all national liberation







"borderlands" makes for a blindness to other ways of perceiving cultural self­

movements. It is not difficult to appreciate why the revolt against claims to

identification that have as much claim to their self-identifications as diasporic

national cultural authenticity on the part of those disenfranchised culturally by

intellectuals and populations.


nativism should tum "class" itself into an undesirable category.' On the other

homogeneous, but deeply divided socially; against the insistence on cultural

hand, the abandonment of class issues deprives analysis of a major intellectual


diasporic populations


hybridity of diasporic elites, large sections of these populations appear to be

instrument in evaluating differences in claims to marginality, nourishing


pretensions to ethnic unity and homogeneity.







of departure. That the "border" claims of

Strong traces of the origins of the postcolonial in the colonial persist in the

postcolonialism are taken more seriously at first world locations than in third

preoccupation with questions of race and ethnicity. And in its ideological

world origins also point to the power context for contemporary discussions of

effects, the generalization of the postcolonial has resulted also in the

culture. There is little that is puzzling about the receptivity in metropolitan

generalization of the problematics of ethnicity and race above all other

populations at their places

centers to postcolonialist arguments in favor of "border" cultures, as those

questions. The meaning and politics of postcoloniality have been transformed

arguments confirm

as postcolonial criticism has suppressed important elements that earlier







components of the colonized. While the retreat from class presents its own problems within the context of globalization, it is not entirely unrelated to the question of the nation. One of the fundamental premises of earlier national liberation movements, that

structured the concept of the postcolonial; ethnicity and race have been the I

The historical context for these developments is the renunciation by national liberation states of their own pasts. Nevertheless, this does not eliminate the contradictions generated by past legacies. Thus, a Slate such as the Chinese, has abandoned its earlier commitments to national

distinguished them from other forms of Third World nationalism, was

autonomy in the economic realm; but it continues to pretend that cultural boundaries can and

conviction in the necessity of a social revolution as a prerequisite of national

should be policed. This is less convincing than ever before in its contradictions with the

liberation and autonomy, which also explains their affinity to socialism. The reason was fairly straightforward from the perspective of a Leninist (if not just a Leninist) appreciation of the contradictions of imperialism: that colonial or imperialist domination required for its effectiveness and perpetuation the complicity of native classes-"feudal" classes bent on preserving their power against new nationalist forces, or "bourgeoisies" who were products of the

economic policies of the regime. Arguments in favour of borderlands cultures are obviously of important critical significance in the critique of such policies. On the other hand, such state policies and postcolonial criticism may be contemporaries, especially with regard to a

compartmentalized isolation of various realms of life from one another As the Chinese state .

wishes to concentrate on the economic realm, and is reluctant to speak to issues of culture(or even politics), postcolonial criticism focuses on issues of culture and relegales issues of political economy to the background. Such compartmentalization betrays the legacy of



Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist


chief beneficiaries of the retreat from nation and class-especially in the

a product largely of a refusal to address questions of structure and totality-has

homelands of the new version of the postcolonial in metropolitan institutions.

facilitated such ideological use of postcolonialism. Such questions of structure

In the academic discourse of the early to mid-1980s, ethnicity and race

include the legacies of colonial spaces which persist beneath the appearances

appeared mostly in conjunction with class and gender, which pointed to a

of globality and continue to shape not only the configurations of power and

discursive conjuncture between feminism and the postcolonial in it original

political economy, but also diasporic motions and cultural formations. An

sense as a problem in culture and ethnicity as well as in the structures of

excessive attention to free-floating cosmopolitans conceals that most diasporic

political economy. Class was the first casualty as the postcolonial in its

motions are regulated by conditions of political economy and, in the case of

unfolding turned its back on structures of political economy. Issues of gender,

migrations out of former colonies, follow paths that end up in the "mother"

too, were quickly infiltrated by issues of race and ethnicity. By the time


postcolonialism in its contemporary guise appeared in the nineties, ethnicity

On the other hand, the projection of the postcolonial argument to the past

and race had moved to the center of the discourse. Conceived to combat

has rendered the colonial past into just one more phase on the way to



globalization, while erasing the revolutionary pasts that, for all their failures,

presently to the racialization and ethnicization of the languages of both critical

envisioned alternatives to capitalist globality. The criticism of the nation, that




discourse ironically

intellectual work and politics-with liberal intentions, no doubt, but at the risk

does not distinguish between different kinds of nationalism, also serves to

on the one hand of covering up proliferating problems of social inequality and




does the obliviousness to questions of class. In light of what I have observed

contributing to the consolidation of the very ethnic, national and racial

above with reference to the re-evaluation of class formations in earlier










the revolutionary movements that took the nation as their premise. So

boundaries that it is intended to render porous and traversible. Both risks are

national liberation movements, it may be understandable why postcolonial

visible plainly in that slogan that has become dear to a an emergent multi­

critics from formerly colonial societies should be reluctant to speak to issues

ethnic globalist establishment: multi-culturalism.

of class, as they hail for the most part from classes that were (and are) suspect

I have no wish here to go in any depth into a problem that I have

in the eyes of nativists. This makes it all the more imperative to speak to

discussed at length in a number of places; namely, the relationship between

issues of class, however, as postcolonial elites are increasingly entangled in

globalization and postcolonialism. Suffice it to say here that postcolonial

the transnational class formations produced by global reconfigurations. In the

concerns resonate with questions concerning the status of the nation-state,

process, the postcolonial argument is mobilized to serve as an alibi for a

classes, identities, etc. in a world where globalization real or imagined has

cultural colonialism that is so thorough that it is nearly impossible to speak

also captured the imagination of many; and it is hardly coincidental that the

about it, as colonialism itself loses its meaning where it proceeds by consent

two have gained in intellectual popularity in tandem. If globalization for its

of the colonized. However diluted in its dissolution of social differences into

promoters represents a break with an older world of colonialism, nationalism

generalities about marginality or subalterneity, the postcolonial argument even

and revolution, that requires a re-writing of the past, postcolonialism offers

in its later phase initially retained a concern for the underdog; as witness the

valuable tools for doing so. Postcolonialism, in other words, enjoys wide

affinity postcolonial critics have expressed with the

appeal because it has something important to say about the contemporary

now, however, postcolonial criticism has become absorbed into institutions of power, its arguments appropriated by those who may feel marginal in certain

world. This also is its predicament as a critical discourse. What is intended as a critique turns into a legitimation of a new ideology of globalization when it is mobilized in service of the latter. The failure of most so-called postcolonial critics to position themselves critically vis-a-vis the ideology of globalization-


historians. By

ways, but represent new forms of power in others. It may be indicative of this assimilation to transnational power that any call to disentangle postcolonialism as an intellectually and

functionalism, which ignored that the economic is also social, political and cultural, just as the cultural is at once social, political and economic.


critical strategy from its


Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

service to new structures of power provokes censorial charges of "Ieft­

utilized in European writing since the Renaissance to inform and invigorate


conservatism," racism, and more colorfully, if in language reminiscent of politburo commissars, monsters arising from the netherlands.2 It may also explain why first-world

lIluchacho postcolonials

should be even more












than third world postcolonial intellectuals in the defense of postcoloruahty. It

... if it is embarrassing for us to remark that those elements of a society we

is even arguable that within the discourse of postcoloniality, the literally

have long considered to be progressive were, so far as empire was concerned, unifonnly retrograde, we still must not be afraid to say it. When I say

postcolonial are increasingly marginalized as the postcolonial is abstracted as

"retrograde" 1 speak here of advanced writers and artists, of the working

"method," and appropriated for first world concerns that have httle to do wIth

class, and of women, whose imperialist fervor increased in intensity and

the colonial per se.

perfervid enthusiasm for the acquisition of and sheer bloodthirsty dominance

Said inhabits both worlds of the postcolonial; the postcolonial ism of

over innumerable niggers, bog dwellers, babus and wogs, as the competition.

radical national liberation movements, which informs his writing and his self­

..also increased in brutal ity and senseless, even profitless, control. Wbat

image, as well as the postcolonialism of identity politics, to the articulation of

enables us to say all of those things retrospectively is the perspective provided for us in the twentieth century by tbeoreticians, militants, and

which he has contributed significantly. What I referred to above as hIs

insurgent analysts of imperialism like Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, C.L.R.

dialectical positioning between these worlds helps account for the paradoxes

James, Aimo Cosaire, Walter Rodney, plus many otbers like them, on the one

and contradictions in his thinking. On the other hand, what we might perceive

hand, and on the other hand, by the great nationalist artists of decolonization and revolutionary nationalism, like Tagore, Senghor, Neruda, Vellejo,

as his quite apparent will to contradictoriness has provided him with an

Cesaire, Faiz, Darwish... and Yeats (Eagleton, Jameson and Said

autonomous intellectual identity that enables him to re-read past ideologies with present concerns, while avoiding entrapment in the ideologies of the present,


he continues to invoke the past against the present;

contrapuntal reading







however, is not the same as a dialectical resolution of the questions raised by the history of the postcolonial, and the self-conscious will to contradiction, however powerful as a critical tool, in the end exacts its own price in substituting for political utopia the utopianization of the itinerant intellectual. Said perceives his work as heir to, and continuous with, the critique of colonialism by an earlier generation of intellectuals who played seminal roles in articulating the tasks of anti-colonial politics and culture in the process of national liberation. Commenting on the ways in which culture has been 2

1 am referring here to the distempered remarks by Stuart Hall w th refe�ence to an ear1 er critique of mine of postcoionialism: "We always knew that the dismantling of th� colomal

paradigm would release strange demons from the deep, and that these monsters mJght come

trailing all sons of subterranean malerial," (Hall

1996: 259). . The "we always knew" part

suggests that postcolonial criticism emerged as some premedItated strategy deVIsed by an

.' !h

unnamed group, but Hall does not tell us what the occasion was for the ucons�irac�.' at 8 . distinguished intel1ectual should be so oblivious to the history in postcolomal CritiCism IS indicative of the pitfa1ls in postcolonialist thinking. I, for one, appreciate Hall'� readin�ss to . jump to the defense of his fellow-"conspirators," but su�h na�e-�alhn� aVOids th e Issues , involved-with which he would seem to agree, and which COinCide With theoretical and political positions he has adopted elsewhere.


imperialism," he writes that,

1990: 72-3).

These anti-colonial writers' names and works (with Fanon holding a special place) appear repeatedly in Said's work, and so do the issues that they raised; it is possible to detect in Said's writing on occasion even the language in which they raised those issues. He remarks in his interview with Jennifer Wicke and Michael Sprinker that, "what Fanon calls the conversion, the transformation, of national into political and social consciousness, hasn't yet taken place. It's an unfinished project, and that's where I think my work has begun"

(236). He is willing to condone, at least as a "tactical" necessity, the

advocacy of redemptive violence by Fanon, and "the extraordinary intensity" of





his animosity





and hate keep turning up-all the more evident against the

particularly ugly backdrop of Portuguese colonialism" (Said

1993: 274-5). He

is equally unwilling to condenm the Marxist (especially Leninist) inspiration that









movements. While Said confesses to an inability to "identify with Marxism" because of its totalizations, its tendencies to orthodoxy, and the less than savory careers of Marxist parties, Marxists from G. Lulcics to A.Gramsci, T. Adorno and R. Williams (especially Gramsci and Williams) are among his acknowledged inspirations.

Arif Dirlik

Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

Such claims may not mean much, as these various writers and literary figures are claimed by most contemporary postcolonial intellectuals in their re-readings of the past, but unlike in the case of the latter, Said interestingly readily confesses to "limitations" of background in his ambivalent relationship to Marxism (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 260-261).' His involvement with the Palestinian cause is no doubt a central element in the way he reads national liberation and Marxist texts, as the Palestine liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s was widely perceived by friends and foes alike as one of the many anti-colonial national liberation struggles of the time. If Said's "Palestinian nationalism" drives him to the texts of national liberation for answers, the texts themselves, read with due regard for their integrity, compel attention to the politics and theories that inform them. Palestinian nationalist though he is, Said acknowledges nevertheless that "[n draw out patterns from my peculiar background, not so much my ethnic background, but the non-European background" (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 230). This background also plays an obvious part in Said's ambivalence on the question of nationalism. Over the last decade in particular, criticism of "the fetishization of national identity," for its oppressive consequences as well as its destructive divisiveness, has been a constant theme in Said's writing (232). In one of the series of lectures that comprise his 1 994 volume, Representations of the Intellectual, Said devotes a few pages of his discussion to the use of pronouns such as "we" and "our" in political language, which refer not only to the writer or the speaker, but suggest "a national corporate identity" (1994: 29). 'He observes in elaboration that "there seems to be no way of escaping the frontiers and enclosures built around us either by nations or by other kinds of communities (like Europe, Africa, the West, or Asia) that share a common language and a whole set of implied and shared characteristics, prejudices, fixed habits of thought" (30). On the other hand, he is quite obviously wary of the implications of such "corporate thinking," which makes it "only too easy to repeat collective formulas, since merely to use a national language at all (there being no alternative to it) tends to commit you to what is readiest at hand, herding you into those stock phrases and popular metaphors for 'us' 'and them' that so many agencies, including journalism, academic professionalism, and expedient communal intelligibility,

keep in currency" (32) (emphasis mine). Even in the case o f "defensive nationalisms" such as those of the Third World, it is imperative for the intellectual who seeks critical independence not to put solidarity ahead of criticism, as these nationalisms, too, perpetuate oppression of "disadvantaged populations locked inside ... unrepresented or suppressed" by the "status quo powers of the national state," which "provides the intellectual with a real opportunity to resist the forward march of the victors" (39). By the time Said concludes his discussion, there is little doubt left in the mind of the reader that the public intellectual must at all times resist incorporation into the collective "we" if s/he is to maintain critical autonomy against pressures of culture and language, or the political demands for loyalty. The reader of these lectures is likely to be surprised, then, by Said's prolific use of "we" and "our" a few years earlier in what may be his most personal work, After the Last Sky. He writes there, with reference to Palestinian identity, that:



See, also, pp. 227-229, fOT the influence of his class background on his response as man to Nasserite socialism.




Identity-who we are, where we come from, what we are-is difficult to maintain in exile. Most other people take their identity for granted. Not the Palestinian, who is required to show proofs of identity more or less constantly. It is not only that we are regarded as terrorists, but that our existence as native Arab inhabitants of Palestine, with primordial rights there (and not elsewhere), is either denied or challenged. And there is more. Such as it is, our existence is linked negatively to encomiums about Israel's democracy, achievements, excitement; in much Western rhetoric we have slipped into the place occupied by Nazis and anti-Semites; collectively, we can aspire to little except political anonymity and resettlement; we are known for no actual achievement, no characteristic worthy of esteem, except the effrontery of disrupting Middle East peace...We have known no Einsteins, no Chagall, no Freud or Rubinstein to protect us with a legacy of achievements.

We have had no Holocaust to protect us with the world's compassion. We are "other," and opposite, a flaw in the geometry of resettlement and exodus (Said 1986: 16-17).

It will not do to ascribe these contrasting stances to the nostalgic tone of this earlier work against the more analytical orientation of the lectures, or a passage of time that has witnessed a transformation of the author's views. While there may be a tone of nostalgia in After the Last Sky, to view it as merely nostalgic would be to trivialize both the work and what Said has to say there. And if there have been shifts in Said's emphases over the years, ambivalence toward nationalism has been one of the persistent traits of his


Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

thinking' It may be more productive, therefore, to read one statement against the other, so as to bring out the tensions that have animated Said as an intellectual, and lent his work cultural and political complexity. While it is not quite clear how it applies to him, his insistence on the pronoun "we" with reference to Palestinians resonates with his remarks in his lecture about the confmement of the intellect by national language, and even by geographical

A significant segment of Arab Palestinian history has been made up of


regton. Said's lecture may also enable us to read After the Last Sky deconstructively. After the Last Sky is in a fundamental sense a skillful work of propaganda (in a positive sense of that term), if not just a work of propaganda. It was written for Western readers, to impart to them a sense of Palestinian life in all its variety in order to humanize Palestinians against their de-humanization in a hostile environment. It is also a deeply "place-based" work, thanks largely to Jean Mohr's photography which seeks successfully to capture Palestinian life in its concrete everydayness.' Said, who at the time of writing had been away from Palestine for almost four decades, in his commentary reflects on these photographs which recall for him memories of Palestine, but also serve as reminders both of the varieties of Palestinian life, and his own distance from the immediacy of Palestine. If he essentializes being Palestinian against his recognition throughout the text of the diversity of Palestinian life in Israel/ Palestine and in exile, it is only partially out of nostalgia; for without the self-identification he reads into the photographs, the work would have lost much of its propaganda value. These considerations may not make the writing any the less essentialist (in a way that contrasts with the place-based diversity implied by the photographs), and Said's self­ identification any the less real, but they suggest a need for reading the text in more complex ways, with due attention to its politics, the distance between the author and the text, and the ambivalence that peeks through its homogenizing nationalism. Said's self-identification as a Palestinian in this text is an imagined if not a willed self-identification; or, as he puts it, a "metaphorical" one. He writes of several photographs of rural life in Palestine that,


peasant fanning and agricultural Iife ...Pastoral and rural forms of existence dominate in our society. The chances are today that one out of every two Palestinians you meet is descended from farmers or shepherds, and has deep roots in a land descended from farmers or shepherds, and has deep roots in a land worked by small rural communities. It is therefore very tempting to

think of this life as essentially timeless and anonymously collective. I am perhaps an extreme case of an urban Palestinian whose relationship to the land is basically metaphorical, I view the Palestinian community at a very ' great remove (1986: 88).

In contrast to a depoliticized postcolonialism that dismisses the nation with deceptive ease, Said's political alignment leads him to reafftrm nationalism even as he remains suspicious of it on both political and cultural grounds. He writes in Culture alld Imperialism that "[N]ationalism's disabling capacities have been lingered over and caricatured quite long enough by a large army of commentators, expert and amateur alike, for whom the non­ Western world after the whites left it seems to have become little more than a nasty mix of tribal chieftains, despotic barbarians and mindless fundamentalists" (1993: 275-6). This affirmation in tum is informed by a recognition of the deep inequality in power that persists between the First and the Third Worlds, which is suppressed in contemporary postcolonial criticism in the preoccupation with identity politics, politics of location, or the negotiability of cultural identities; in other words, in the separation of culture from politics. While quite contemporary in his recognition of multiple complicities in the making of colonialism as well as postcolonial ism, Said insists nevertheless that, An entire massive chapter in cultural history across five continents grows out of ...collaboration between natives on the one hand and conventional as well as eccentric and contradictory representatives of imperialism on the other. In paying respect to it, acknowledging the shared and combined experiences that produced many of us, we must at the same time note how at its center it nevertheless preserved the nineteenth century imperial divide between native and Westerner. The many colonial schools in the Far East, India, the Arab

4 For the persistence of certain questions in Said's work over the years, see, Tim Brennan ( 1 992: 74·95). Said himself continues to use "we" insistently with reference to Palestinians, most recently in an interview on the Serbian crisis on the BBC show, "The World Today," 16 April 1999. 5 I am unable to expand here on the idea of the "place-based," which appears further in the discussion below. For an elaboration of the idea, readers may be referred to Dirlik ( 1 999).

world, East and West Africa, for example, taught generations of the native


Said's willful ambivalence on the question of the nation has a parallel in Stuart Hall's ambivalence on the question of cthnicity. Hall, too, is critical of essentialized ethnicity, even as he recognizes the importance of ethnicity to the political identity of the oppressed. Sec, HaJl (1996: 1 1 0- 1 2 1 ).



Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

bourgeoisie important truths about history, science, culture. And out of that learning process millions grasped the fundamentals of modem life, yet remained subordinates of a foreign imperial authority ( 1993: 263-4).

How this was achieved is the subject of


the great majority of the displaced, when he writes that, "there is a great difference...between the optimistic mobility, the intellectual liveliness, and 'the logic of daring' described by the various theoreticians on whose work I

which, for all its

shortcomings, is likely to remain as Said's most lasting contribution to postcolonial thinking. It is in many senses a pivotal work; a cultural product of a transition between the two senses of the postcolonial. Terry Eagleton, citing Raymond Williams, points to an "impossible irony" of nationalism; that "it is...like class. To have it and to feel it, is the only way to end it. If you fail to claim it, or give it up too soon, you will merely be cheated, by other classes and other nations" (1990: 23). To overcome nationalism, he remarks, it is necessary first to go through it. The problem to which he points is not a philosophical or a theoretical problem but a historical

have drawn, and the massive dislocations, waste, misery, and horrors endured in our century's migrations and mutilated lives" (1993: 332). Politically, he complains of "the extent to which, at least outside the Occupied Territories, the [palestinian) movement is dominated by class interests that are not at all progressive. There is a tremendous confluence of the high Palestinian bourgeoisie in the PLO, and with it an ideological dependency upon the United States viewed as the private fiefdom of whichever administration happens to be in office" (1993: 332). The issue of class in his thinking is not merely a tactical one, but a persistent problem of oppression and liberation, as when he writes, with reference to the periodical, Subaltern Studies, that,


The resonances of the word

With some qualification, there is some of this same sense of irony in

Prison Notebooks in

Said's approach to nationalism. Said, following Fanon, draws a distinction between "independence" and "liberation": "If the









independence to the theoretical domain of liberation" (1993: 268). This shift entails a transformation of national into social and political consciousness,


derive from Gramsci's usage



which, ever the astute political analyst and theoretical

genius, he shows how, wherever there is history, there is class, and that the

I have so often cited Fanon, it is

because more dramatically and decisively than any one, J believe, he expresses


essence of the historical is the long and extraordinarily varied socio­ economic interplay between ruler and ruled, between the elite, dominant, or

hegemonic class and the subaltern and, as Gramsci calls it, the emergent class of the much greater mass of people ruled by coercive or sometimes mainly ideological domination from above (Said 1988: vi).

transcending the nation in its compass, and aiming at some kind of universalist

While Edward Said, to my knowledge, has not spoken extensively and

humanism. The necessity of national consciousness on the way to liberation,

systematically to the problem of revolution that to an earlier generation

that appears in Fanon's work as an immediate historical necessity, and for

seemed to be inextricable from questions of national liberation and class

Eagleton and Williams, as irony, however, appears in Said's thinking also as

struggle, he has not repudiated it either. I noted above the ways in which he

tragedy: "It's the tragedy, the irony, the paradox of all anti-imperial or

seems on occasion to condone the violence advocated by national liberation

decolonizing struggles that independence is the stage through which you must

thinkers and theorists. But the issue of revolution is not merely one of

try to pass: for us independence is the only alternative to the continued horrors

violence. Fanon also perceived in the process of revolution the process of

of the Israeli occupation, whose goal is the extermination of a Palestinian

creating a new national culture, that would ultimately transcend nationalism to

national identity" (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 236-237).

create new cultural forms on the way to liberation. On a rare occasion, Said

I will comment below on the possible significance of this addition of "tragedy" to irony and paradox. More immediately here, very much in the

sounds quite like Fanon when, discussing the Palestinian

intifada, he



tradition of earlier writers on national liberation, Said continues to invoke class as a problem both for independence and liberation. J have noted above

...we should present the

Said's frequent references to his own class background, that in his view

which on the simplest level Palestinians under occupation have decided to declare their independence from the occupation by providing different, not so much models, but different forms for their lives which they themselves

"disadvantages" him on some political issues. He is also sensitive to differences in experience of exile or migration between those like himself, and


as an alternative, an emergent formation, by


Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

administer, develop and have in fact created...It's a cultural movement which

immediacy in much of this earlier writing to the need to create andlor invent a


says that we are not going to cooperate, we can't any longer live under the occupation, and therefore we must provide for ourselves...So what has happened is that now with the expropriation of land, with a domination of the


national culture to fulfill the urgent task of national independence and liberation, that is missing from Said's work. While a thinker such as Fanon

network of settlements defended by the Israeli army, there is the possibiliry

was quite aware of the heterogeneity and fragmentedness of being black, he

agricultural alternative to that one. That is

retained a faith nevertheless that a new historical narrative could be

for the Palestinians to provide


to say, the use...of private gardens and houses and the creation of a food delivery service through the collectivization of bakeries ... places on the West bank...have become in effect liberated zones (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 237238).

reconstructed in the process of the struggle for national liberation. Said, on the other hand, while he frequently refers to a Palestinian identity (against his repudiation otherwise of homogeneous national identities) that has been shattered by the experience of exile, is sceptical of the possibility of

There is an interesting elision in Edward Said's work of the difference between genealogy and history. Said has been insistent on the centrality of

reconstructing a historical narrative of the nation, as when he notes that, "there many different



kinds of

experience, which cannot be

history to literary and cultural analysis.' And he has been sensitive in his

assembled into one. One would therefore have to write parallel histories of the

analyses to the changing environment of both culture and politics, as in his

communities in Lebanon, the Occupied Territories, and so on. That is the

concluding chapter to

Culture alld Imperialism,

where he discusses the

problems thrown up by a changing world situation. On the other hand, in a great deal of his work, most notably in


as critics have pointed

central problem. It is almost impossible to imagine a single narrative" (Said 1994b: 119). And when he wills such a narrative into existence, as in After the


Sky, he views the task as a "tragic" necessiry, and perceives his

In the end, the insistence on

out, the genealogy of ideas seems to take precedence over history and

relationship to such a narrative as "metaphorical."

historical context (which need not be linear, but concretely historical, with

the possessive pronoun, "we," in

attention to diversity in time and space). This is true in some respects for the

identification with a national narrative that does not exist, but also the

genealogy he establishes for his own work. While Said is quite justified in

production of an exilic nationalism that is abstract and off-ground. Abdul

After the Last Sky

suggests not just a willed

stressing his genealogical affinities with an earlier generation of postcolonials,

lanMohamed observes astutely that "Said's subject-position is only partly that

he has had little to say on how his historicity separates him not only from

of articulator and defender of Palestinian aspirations within the West; he is an




contemporary postcolonials, but also from this earlier generation. It is


important to read Said's work, in other words, not only in its continuities but

identity... [Said, in his book,




The Question 0/ Palestine,]



is motivated not only

also with an eye to the ways in which he breaks with the past, which account

by the current plight of Palestinians, but also by a utopian vision of Palestine,

for some of his affmities with a contemporary postcolonialism.

a 'nonplace,' an idea that galvanizes Palestinians everywhere" (JanMohamed

While Said may quite justifiably point to the commitment in his work to

1992: 104). We may add, however, that ultimately the idea is Said's own, a

the Iiberationist utopianism of an earlier generation of national liberation

product of his idiosyncrasies, that are not necessarily shared by most

theorists who perceived national independence as one phase of a more

Palestinians, as he is willing to admit.

transcendental historical project of liberation, he would be more hard put to i t

Similarly with the question of class. Said's recognition of the importance

t o claim them for his feeling o f disconnectedness t o the nation (or the ethnic

of class-related questions to the project of liberation draws on the legacy of

or racial group), or his fragmented vision of the nation; which in the last

Marxism in earlier national liberation movements. On the other hand, in spite

analysis may rest upon different conceptions of


There is an

of his references to the fundamentally economic and political nature of imperialism and colonialism, his attention to the question of class is restricted


to its implications for national struggles, divorced from class analysis in the See, for example. "Reflections on American 'Left' Literary Criticism," in (Said 1983: 158· 177; 167- I 68), where he complains of the obliviousness to history of new trends in literary criticism, and compares revisionist work in history favourably to that in literary criticism.

critique of capitalism, and the internationalism that motivated earlier national liberation theorists who perceived in the struggle for national liberation a


Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

struggle both for the nation-and against a capitalism which was viewed,

the locations for unpleasant fundamentalism's, and as a good, cosmopolitan

rightly or wrongly, as the ultimate source of colonialism. The project of

New York intellectual, is not beyond speaking of them with a hint of

"liberation," as distinct from "independence," was in fact premised on just

contempt, as in his condescending reference to Youngstown, Ohio, in his

such an internationalism, that drove Canadian (Nonnan Bethune) and Arab­

conversation with Salman Rushdie, as "a town I don't know, but you can

American (George Hatem) doctors to fight in the Chinese Revolution, or for a

imagine what it's like" (Said


Ohio, is a recipient of Palestinian immigrants, and he is concerned mainly












I 994b: 115). According to Said, Youngstown,

"headquarters" of world revolution. Said dismisses "internationalism" a bit


too cavalierly, when he observes that, "the force of the phenomenon I am

an old working class city in decline with the decline in steel industries, and the

talking about [that is, subaltern struggles] is that it takes place in many

globalization of the US economy; its non-Arab inhabitants, too, may be

different places, and I suppose those places taken all together could be

deserving of empathy-and solidarity.


plight. But Youngstown, Ohio, in the American "rust belt," is also

considered international. But I think it still has very deep roots in a local and

The question here is not whether earlier ideas of nation, class or revolution

national situation" (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 235). Internationalism, needless

should be preserved intact in the unfolding of postcolonial criticism. New

to say, is hardly inconsistent with "roots in a local and national situation," but,

times indeed call for new conceptualizations both of liberation, and of the

on the contrary, unlike contemporary globalism, is premised on those

problems to be confronted to that end. Said's own thinking is in some ways

localisms. Said's apparent reluctance to recognize this earlier internationalism

entrapped in the contradiction between the present and the past; playing the

as a unifying force across the various worlds is all the more ironic, as he

one against the other, but unable to transcend the parameters they set. Said's

observes elsewhere that the presence in metropolitan areas of supporters for

personalization of contradictions makes him unable or unwilling to see them

Third World causes eliminates an earlier need for drawing strict boundaries

as also products of confrontations between shifting social fonnations; an

between the different worlds of colonialism and anti-colonialism (231-33).

unwillingness that is very much infonned by contemporary suspicions of

What he does not say is that the global cosmopolitans of whom he speaks now

totalities.' At the same time, his assumption of continuity with the past also

inhabit not "places" or

evades the problems presented by the enonnous political distance between the

political movements but universities, idealized

locations where complex "hybridities" may be discussed and negotiated (Said

present and the past. In the end, Said's critical stance is achieved at the cost of

1991). And if universities are indeed locations where classes may be less

an inability to look through the present with the critical help of the past to

visible than most other locations, they are also locations the inhabitants of

consider radical alternatives for the future; leaving the past behind without

which play an active part in erasing the question of class in society in general.

forgetting it, and overcoming the complicities with power of the present while

One of the serious shortcomings in Said's analysis is his failure to address

taking seriously the new problems that it has thrown up. National liberation is

questions of class under contemporary conditions of globality, that indeed

no longer a problem when, by his own admission, the very status of the nation

produce transnational classes that abolish earlier distinctions between the First and the Third Worlds, but do not therefore abolish the importance of class. Admirable though he is in his acknowledgment of

his own class

positions, too

much emphasis on the personal distracts from the need to address broader questions of social fonnations. Said has little to say about the significance of contemporary class fonnations understanding which may be essential both to contemporary projects of liberation, and to the role intellectuals may play in their realization. For all his insistence on "places," as in the statement above, Said celebrates the "placelessness" of a New York, which makes his defense of "places" seem less than genuine. He associates places and localisms with


One wishes that Said followed more closely on the question of the postcolonial the acute awareness of the relationship between structure and agency that informs his analyses. He observes, with relationship to the relationship between cuhure and the individual, that: '·AII this, then shows us the individual consciousness placed at a sensitive nodal point, and it is this consciousness at that critical point which this book [ The World, the Text, and lhe Critic] attempts to explore in the fonn of what I caB criticism. On the one hand, the individual mind registers and is very much aware of the collective whole, context, or situation in which it finds itself. On the other hand, precisely because of this awareness·a worldly self-situating, a sensitive response to the dominant cuhure-that the individual consciousness is not naturally and easily a mere child of culture, but a historical and social actor in it. And because of that perspective, which introduces circumstance and distinction where there had been only conformity and belonging, there is distance, or what we might also call criticism," (1983: 15).


Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

has become problematic. That he continues to speak, however paradoxically,

whose activities were not appreciated by his other cosmopolitan colleagues,

as if a contemporary postcolonialism is continuous with that of the past, serves

let alone the public at large (Said 1976: 35). Exile, under the circumstances,




his 1986 essay, "The Mind

mainly to conceal the history that divides postcolonialism past and present.

could not but appear as occasion for mourning.

While Said's paradoxes enable him to distance himself from the past and the

of Winter," where he addressed the question of exile directly, he referred to

present, the "dis-identification" thus achieved also obviates the need to

the liberating potential of exile, while still mourning it, and wrote that, "I am

confront the issues raised by the juxtaposition of the past against the present.

speaking of exile not as a privileged site for individual self-reflection but as an

Said assumes the mantle of past theorists without sharing in the political and


ideological burdens that they faced. On the other hand, that same mantle

1984: 54). It is my impression from reading his works-and it must remain as

to the mass institutions looming over much of modem life" (Said

disguises his relationship to a present in which the Third World intellectual

an impression-that over the following decade, as he has brought his two

occupies a vastly different place in the metropolitan centres than in the past.

worlds closer together before a public more receptive to his politics, he has

The avoidance of the need to account for the gaps between the present and the past











moved in the direction of privileging exile as the site for a superior form of knowledge, even as the mournful aspects of exile have receded to the

postcolonialism whose contestatory stance over issues of cultural identity

background. This may also have something to do with his and an increasing

displaces political issues to the realm of culture, and refuses to confront its

sense of distance from Palestine, which he first expressed following his return

possible complicity otherwise with the structures of power in a new situation

to Palestine/ Israel in 19929

of globalism. While no one in good conscience could say of Said that he is a

The exilic self-consciousness, in Said's own self-image, accounts for

defender of a contemporary establishment, we may perhaps observe of his

many of his paradoxes. He concluded his interview with Wicke and Sprinker

contrasts with earlier national liberation theorists what he has to say himself of

in 1989 with a confession to a perpetual sense of placelessness, and an

what he describes as the "degradation" of George Lukacs' theories at the

uncertainty "about what I'm doing and my whole enterprise" (Wicke and

hands of Lucien Goldmann:

Sprinker 1992: 263).10 But exile has also empowered him, and his paradoxes. It is exile that enables Said to use the pronoun "we" (with reference, variously,

I do not think . that degradation here has a moral implication, but rather... that degradation conveys the lowering of colour, the greater degree of distance, the loss of immediate force that occurs when Goldmann'S notions of consciousness and theory are compared with the meaning and role intended by Lukacs for theory. Nor do I want to suggest that there is something inherently wrong about Goldma.nn's conversion of insurrectionary, radically adversarial consciousness into an accommodating consciousness of correspondence and homology. It is just that the situation has changed sufficiently for the degradation to have occurred, althougb there is no doubt that Goldmann's reading of Lukacs mutes the laner's almost apocalyptic version of consciousness (1983: 236). .


to being Palestinian, American, or "Western") against his own theoretical positions; an option that is not open to others, non-exilic migrants, who perceive their places of origin not just as "beginnings," but also as places that must be repudiated as locations of oppression-I am referring here, reluctantly (out of a resistance to confound the personal and the political, and the private and the public), to my own inability to identify with a Turkish society that continues to suppress its past atrocities, as against the Armenian minority, and is incapable, therefore, of forestalling continued atrocity and oppression presently, as with its Kurdish minority. The history in identity, in the latter case, becomes more important as a question than the multiplicity of identities.

Said's "postcolonial cosmopolitanism" has been kept under check over the years by his political commitments, by his affiliations with earlier ideologies of national liberation, and by his exilic self-consciousness. In one of his earliest interviews, he described himself as living in two worlds separated as if in different boxes; the world of the cosmopolitan literature professor in a prominent American university, and the world of the Palestinian nationalist,


"Return to Palestine-Israel," in The Politics of Dispossession (1994: 175-199). Said's acknowledgment of the differences in "language" between himself and the Palestinians living in Palestine, or his alienation from Palestinian political leadership, has not kept him from continued involvement in Palestine, and Palestinian issues. to Said has referred to this sense of uncertainty most recently in his article, "On Writing a Memoir," (1999: 8).

Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist




So do the places of arrival against the places of origin. It does not take an

very strong for me. I would say that's the single strongest strand running

"uncritical gregariousness" to identify with places of arrival against origins, if

through my life: the fact that I'm always in and out of things, and never really

only because creative politics, while mindful of the past, needs also to come to

of anything for very long" (Saluzinsky 1987: 123). While such a statement

terms with where one lives, and how. This may mean anonymity, and

suggests the profound alienation of the placeless stranger, it is the knowledge

disappearance of identity into place, but that is not much of a problem i f

produced by such alienation that Said privileges. He writes, without apparent

identity is conceived in terms of its historicity, and the abolition o f ethnic


identity is viewed as a desirable goal. It may also be the case that too much preoccupation with identity, which Said shares with contemporary postcolonial criticism, ends up erasing the historicity of the question of identity, easily reverts back to the presumption of reified cultural identities that defy history, and is depoliticizing in its

.. .it is no exaggeration 10 say that liberation as an intellectual mission, boro in the resistance and opposition to the confineroents and ravages of iroperialism, has now shifted from the settled, established, and domesticated dynamics of culture to its unhoused, decentred, and exilic energies, energies whose incaroation today is the migrant, and whose consciousness is that of the

consequences. I I Inhabiting a multiplicity of spaces without being entrapped by

intellectual and anist in exile, the political figure between domains, between

any of them offers obvious critical possibilities. It may also serve the ultimate

forms, between barnes, and between languages ( 1 993: 332).

goal of criticism which, according to Said, "must think of itself as life­ enhancing and constitutively opposed to every form of tyranny, domination and abuse; its social goals are non-coercive knowledge produced in the

If I may return to IanMohammed' s statement above, what is being utopianized here are not new "possibilities of group formation," but the

interest of human freedom" (Said 1983: 29). I say "it may" quite self­

placeless intellectual, and the kind of knowledge that produces and is

consciously because there is an elision in much of Said's writing of the

produced by such an intellectual-critical knowledge that nourishes off paradox

difference between textual criticism, or even the criticism of power, and

and contradiction. Such knowledge may help against the ravages of past

"knowledge produced in the interest of human freedom." Abdul IanMohamed

localisms and their contemporary manifestations, but it is also oblivious to the

"specular border

place-based knowledges by which people conduct their everyday lives in order

intellectual," observes that such an intellectual "subjects... cultures to analytic

to survive. If place-based knowledges need global visions to overcome their

scrutiny rather than combining them; he or she utilizes his or her interstitial

parochialisms, globalized knowledge without attention to concrete places may

cultural space as a vantage point from which to define, implicitly or explicitly,

easily slip into complicity with new forms of power.


in his


essay has described Said



other, utopian possibilities of group formation" (JanMohamed 1 992: 97). Said

Said himself has managed to ward off such complicity by retaining

but even

localized commitments, however imaginary, against the invasion of off­

himself frequently refers






borderlands inhabitance would seem to appear potentially suffocating to him,

ground globalism. If his paradoxes distance him from the past, they also help

as he also associates "contrapuntal" with "nomadic," and tells us that: "The

ward off the predicament of complicity in the present. But the avoidance is

and mobile mode of

personal, and tenuous. It may seem strange to say of a politically committed

proceeding-that's why the Deleuzian idea of the nomadic is so interesting-is to

individual like Said, but needs to be said anyway, that the very paradoxes in

me a much more useful and liberating instrument. .. You might say the real

his politics inexorably displace political concems toward the realm of culture,

conflict is between the unhoused and the housed" (Wicke and Sprinker 1992:

and utopianized cultural places, such as the university, where politics may be

need for a relatively more unbuttoned,


24 1 ). The issue here is not merely one of method of analysis. In a similar vein,

interpellated into cultural politics. While cultural politics is not to be

he says of himself that "The sense of being between cultures has been very,

disdained, if it is to serve the purposes of "liberation," it needs to be returned to where it may serve this goal for society at large: the everyday lives of


people in concrete places. Living with contradictions in the end is not a For a critique of Said's use of culture. specifically with reference to Orientalism, see, James Clifford, "On Orienlalism," in Clifford (1988: 255-6).

Arif Dirlik

Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist

substitute for resolving them, hopefully toward the end of human liberation,

problem that it would overcome. There are other ways of self-identification


and not the extinction of any meaningful sense of being human.


than ethnic and national origin. To overcome national and ethnic identity, it is necessary in my opinion to view identity itself historically, as the product, not determinant, of personal or group trajectory. This, interestingly, is also Said's


point in his discussions of "beginnings" that are not determinants of what

This is the second essay I have written over the last six months on a contemporary intellectual (the other was on the Indian thinker, Ashis Nandy).

I have written these essays reluctantly, not so much out of the historian's qualms

about writing on contemporaries,


out of a resistance


contributing to what I perceive to be a tendency of contemporary intellectual life to create if not to fetishize iconic intellectuals. I have felt a simultaneous obligation to write these essays, however, as this tendency needs to be confronted as an intellectual and political problem. I also feel that if we are to grasp postcolonialism as a problem, we need a better understanding of those whose works have played an important part in its historical unfolding. Writing this essay has been particularly difficult because, while I am sympathetic to Said's positions, I am also critical of his stance, and I have had

follows, but are subject to all the contingencies of history; it is all the more puzzling, therefore, that he should also be insistent on multiple identities that resist history, which, however complicated, non-linear, and resistant to narrativization it may be rendered by the vagaries of identity formation, assumes some coherence nevertheless in the process of living. I differ from Said most importantly in my insistence on greater attention to places of arrival against


of origin,







cosmopolitanism, which informs my critique above. A number of friends and colleagues have read the paper. I would like to name especially Terry Eagleton, Fred Inglis, Charles Lock, Masao Miyoshi, Benita Parry, Roxann Prazniak, Michael Sprinker, Richard Todd and Zhang Xudong. I am grateful for their comments and encouragement.

to be quite careful in my criticisms as I would hate to play into the hands of the politically motivated hostility that has been directed at him over the years. Having attended an American school myself (Robert College in Istanbul),



am appreciative of much of what Said has to say on questions of identity. These questions are not questions of abstract ethnicity, but questions of everyday life; as the student in the course of such schooling moves daily from

Ahmad, Aijaz (1995), "The Politics of Literary Postcoloniality,"


Race and

36.3: 1-20.

Bakhtin, M.M. (1981),

The Dialogic Imagination,

(ed. Michael Holquist, tr.

a class, say, on English literature, where slhe is taught the glories of Chaucer

Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist), Austin, Texas: University of Texas

or Shakespeare, to a class on Turkish literature, where the instructor tells


himlher that Europeans at the time of those great authors defecated in their living rooms while subjects of the Ottoman Empire basked in the glory of hamams. Such contrasts do not just create different identities in the same person, they also create an urge to transcend silly and self-serving claims to ethnic and national identity. Entrapment in ethnic and national identity may be inevitable for the underprivileged who are not allowed to escape it, or an exilic intellectual such as Said where the very condition of exile makes it an intractable problem.

I also believe, however, that the preoccupation with

ethnic and national cultural identity that is a prominent a feature of contemporary intellectual and political life, especially in the United States, needs to be resisted because it contributes to the perpetuation of the very

Brennan, Tim (1992), "Place of Mind, Occupied Lands: Edward Said and Philology," in Sprinker 1992: 74-95. Chambers, Ian and Linda Curti (1996),

The Post-Colonial Question,


Routledge. Clifford, James (1988), "On Orientalism," in James Clifford,

of Culture:

Twentieth-Century Ethnography,

The Predicament Literature, and Art,

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 255-276. Dirlik, Arif (1999), "Place-Based Imagination: Globalism and the Politics of Place," Review XXII.2 (Spring). Eagleton, Terry (1990), "Nationalism: Irony and Commitment," in Eagleton, Jameson and Said: 23-39.



Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist


Eagleton, Terry, Fredric Jameson and Edward W. Said ( 1 990),

Colonialism and Literature,

Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota

Press. (ed.),

Contemporary Postcolonial Theory: A Reader,

London: Arnold

Books. Chambers and Linda Curti ( 1 996).



in conversation with Neeladri

Bhattacharya, Suvir Kaul and Ania Loomba, New Delhi, 1 6 December 1997,"


1 . 1 ( 1 998/9): 8 1 -96.

boundary 2 25.2(Summer


1998): 205-257.

Edward Said's Postcolonial Cosmopolitanism," in Sprinker 1 992: 1 9-47. Said, Edward ( 1 993),



Representations of the Intellectual,






The 1993 Reith Lectures New York:

Pantheon Books. Said, Edward ( 1 994b), "On Palestinian Identity: A Conversation with Salman Rushdie," in Edward W. Said, The Politics ofDispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Se/fDetermination, 1 969-1994 New York: Pantheon: 1 07129.

Diacritics, 6.3(Fall): 30-47. The World, the Text and the Critic, Cambridge

Said, Edward ( 1 976), "Interview," Said, Edward ( 1 983),


Harvard Said, Edward ( 1 984), "The Mind of Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile,"

Harper's Magazine No. 269: 49-55, Said, Edward ( 1986) After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives,

photographs by

Jean Mohr. London: Faber and Faber. Said, Edward ( 1 988), "Foreword,"

Selected Subaltern Studies,

(ed. Ranajit

Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak), New York: Oxford University Press. Said, Edward ( 1 990), "Yeats and Decolonization," in Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson and Edward W. Said,

Nationalism, Colonialism and Literature

Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press: 69-95. Said, Edward ( 1 99 1 ) , "Identity, Authority and Freedom: The Potentate and the Traveller," (3 1 st TB Davie Memorial Lecture, 22 May 1 99 1 ) , Cape Town: University of Cape Town.

Edward Said: A Critical Reader


MA: Blackwell. Wicke, Jennifer and Michael Sprinker, "Interview with Edward Said," in

Culture and Imperialism, New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

( 1 994),

Criticism in Society: Interviews

London and New York: Methuen. Sprinker, Michael ed. ( 1 992),

Parry, Benita ( 1 992), "Overlapping Territories and Intertwined Histories:

London Review of Books,

Volume 2 1 Number 9(29 April): 8-1 1 Saluzinszky, Imre ( 1 987), "Edward Said," in

Marrouchi, Mustapha ( 1 998), "Countemarratives, Recoveries,


Edward ( 1 998/9),

Said, Edward ( 1 999), "On Writing a Memoir,"

Hall, Stuart ( 1 996), "When was the post-colonial: thinking at the limit," in Ian


The Politics of Dispossession: the Stnlggle for Palestinian Se/fDeterlllinatioIl 1 969-1994 New York: Pantheon.

Said, Edward ( 1 994), Said,

Hall, Stuart ( 1 996), "Cultural Identity and Diaspora," in Padmini Mongia


Sprinker 1 992: 2 2 1 -264.

Chapter 2


Patrick Williams In

the truly remarkable

intellectual looms large.

I In






of Edward Said, the figure of the

addition, Said himself is increasingly being the





intellectuals. 2 Much of Said's work has involved engaged analysis of intellectual production of all sorts and from all sites - institutional and nonI

This is reflected in the fact that at least two of the contributions to the present volume address directly questions of intellectuals in relation to Said. While this essay will try hard to avoid overlap with Patrick Brantlinger's analysis of the public intellectual, it is worth noting in passing that numbers of post-colonial intellectuals - including, of course, Said - are among the more prominent and influential of public intellectuals today. Robert Boynton's discussion of African-Americans (Boynton, "The New Intellectuals") as the epitome of contemporary public intellectuals in the United States recognises one dimension of that.

2 This is not without its problems, perhaps most particularly in terms of being taken to represent a pre-given position. In the most recent general study of intellectuals, (Goldfarb 1 998) Said figures as 'the subversive intellectual', caught up in the stagnation and contemporary irrelevance of the Left. However, the fact that we are told that he is an ideologue, that he is "subversive not in the name of truth but of an identity position", that he is guilty of "simple­ minded leftism" , and that he and others like him behave as if communism had not ended, suggests that the author may have a few intellectual problems of his own.

Patrick Williams


Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . .


institutional; on the side of different forces and forms of oppression, or

approach. Even when the movement concerned was the PLO and the cause as

resolutely ranged against them; aspiring simply to be 'private', or determined

compelling as justice and freedom for his own people, Said has always held

to be as public as possible - and has enlarged understanding in all the areas he

back: "I refused all inducements to join one of the groups or to work in the

has covered, as well as in others where his insights have inspired work in


largely because 1 felt it was important to preserve my distance. J was a

disciplines apparently little related. It is difficult to find his equal today in

partisan, yes, but a joiner and member, no. "(Said 1 995a xxiv)' In that kind of

terms of his embodiment of committed and courageous taking of positions and

perspective, refusal to identify with post-colonialism is nothing special.

defending of causes combined with generosity of spirit. The present essay (in

At the level of post-colonial literature, there is the paradox that although

what will no doubt look to some as the very opposite of a spirit of generosity)

Said has frequently championed individual post-colonial writers, or used them

will take as its starting point an intriguing absence in Said's work - post­

as illustrative examples in his work, post-colonial texts more generally seem

colonial studies in general and post-colonial intellectuals in particular. A

to suffer in comparison with Western canonical ones. There is, for instance,

discussion of this sort is, of course, anything but disinterested; as Pierre

the feeling that the inclusion of post-colonial texts on university curricula is

Bourdieu (of whom more later) says:

likely to occur for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way:

We have an interest in the problems tbat seem to us to be interesting.... But to

one can sympathize with tbe dissatisfaction of students who come bere from

say we are interested in a problem is a eupbemistic way of naming tbe

tbe Third World looking for ways out. But I'm not sure tbat tbe way out is

fundamental fact that we have vital stakes in our scientific production

simply tbe mechanical substitution of post-colonial fiction for nineteentb


century fiction (Sprinker

1993: 49).

1992: 257).

Post-colonial studies seems to me not only an interesting but also an

In addition, a certain (post-colonial) questioning of canonical texts - which

academically and politically important (and of course endlessly conflicted and

may form the basis for calls for 'mechanical substitution' - also strikes Said as

contested) area of current intellectual production - and Said's silence on it is

inappropriate or inadequate:

thus also a matter of interest. It is indeed hard not to register the post-colonial as an enormous silence in

There's no reason for me to perform acts of amputation on myself,

Said's work, and even as a growing or more entrenched one, given that he was

intellectually, spiritually or aestbetically, simply because in tbe experience of otber people from the Third World, a black novelist from Nigeria like

(briefly) content to use the term a decade ago. Whether such silence is the

Achebe, or your West Indian friend, can make my Proust or Conrad into

mark of a principled refusal or, however paradoxically, the sign of something

someone wbo is only despicable (Sprinker:

more akin to the cultural conservatism and disciplinary boundary policing

1992: 253).

which he so acutely identifies in the work of others, may be difficult to

Apart from the fact that making Conrad 'only despicable' is not part of

ascertain. There is, nevertheless, an undoubted irony in the turning away from

Achebe's argument, (he could be said to be offering nothing more than a

the concept of post-colonialism by the man who has done so much to

heartfelt 'politics of representation' reading of Conrad, of the kind which Said

stimulate inquiry in that area, and who for many might represent something

himself does in a more sophisticated and successful manner), it is interesting

like the very figure of a post-colonial intellectual.


At the same time, the

to note both the strength of feeling and level of personal investment here with

reluctance to sign up to any movement, party or group - particularly anything

regard to the canonical: loss of 'my Proust' would be an 'amputation'. Said, of

which hints at the merely fashionable - has always been part of Said's

course, has always been unapologetic in his admiration for the monuments of


Said is not quite alone in this high-profile disavowal - another paradigmatic post-colonial intellectual who has recently gone back on earlier positions is Gayatri Spivak. In a forthcoming piece she says, among other things: "In the era of cyberpolitics and electronic capitalism, the "postcolonial" seems to me to be residual" (Spivak 1 999).


There is of course an interesting tension between Said's years of commitment to, and involvement in, the Palestinian struggle. and his refusal to Join'.

Patrick Williams

Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . .

Western culture, but the fact and manner of their defence against illegitimate intruders from the Third World strikes a curious note. If Said very much wants to hang on to Western literature, something like the opposite is the case with (Western) theory. His silence on post-colonialism at the theoretical level may be no more than the result of his loss of interest in theory generally, following its decline, in his view, into "a guild designation now that has produced a j argon I find hopelessly tiresome" (Sprinker 1 992: 249). Said's statement from 1 99 1 : "I simply lost interest in literary theory about ten years ago. It just doesn't strike me as something that is of interest to me in what I'm doing on a given day"(247) is also important. If theory 'died' for him in 1 980 or thereabouts, then clearly a lot of flogging of dead horses has taken place since. Ironically, many people would see 1 980 (or thereabouts) as precisely the moment when literary theory took off - though perhaps Said's loss of interest is not unconnected to what might be seen as the professionalisation, institutionalisation, even vulgarisation of theory which its eventual success involved. Though the institutionalisation of oppositional forms of theory - Marxism, feminism, latterly post-colonialism - has generally been perceived in terms of loss of resistant potential, for a critic like Stuart Hall it is a (painful) necessity: "One needs to go through the organisational moment - 'the long march through the institutions' - to get people together, to build some kind of collective intellectual project" (Hall 149). Along with theory's 'success' has corne accusations that it is merely fashionable, and for critics such as Russell Jacoby, that applies very much to post-colonial studies, which may ultimately prove to be no more than "another boutique in the academic mall of human knowledge" (Jacoby 1 995: 1 7) . For others, however, the pressures of fashion constitute a more generalised problem for intellectuals:

desperate-docile intellectual activity from, say, a special issue of BoundG/y 2 devoted to Said, or indeed a volume of essays in his honour. Said is far from alone in his unhappiness with the 'hopelessly tiresome ... j argon' of post-colonial theory. Certain post-colonial theorists (most obviously or notoriously, but not exclusively, Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak) have been repeatedly accused of jargon-ridden obscurantism, as has the kind of post-colonial work most strongly influenced by post-structuralism or other fonms of 'high' theory. Such criticisms have come from those within the field as well as outside, and for the former at least, have in no way diminished the importance either of theory or of the field. For Said, however, even at rare moments when he appears well-disposed towards post-colonial studies in general, the 'excess' and 'risible jargon' he perceives (Said 1 995b, 350) clearly constitute a significant stumbling block. In addition, terminological excess and a share in the general problems of the 'post-' are among the factors which can lead post-colonial studies to have what in Said's eyes is the most deleterious of effects: luring intellectuals away from any sort of meaningful political engagement. In the wake of the generalised failure of intellectuals - especially in the United States - to respond to American imperialism in the shape of the Gulf War, Said said:

There is something desperate in the way in which 'free intellectuals' hand in their essays on the required subject of the moment, currently desire, the body, or seduction. And there is no more dismal reading, twenty years on, than these obligatory exercises brought together, in perfect harmony, by the special issues of the major 'intellectual' magazines (Bourdieu 1 993: 43).

Said's growing objections to theory are also based on what he sees as the latter's totalising aspirations, its desire to install itself as all-encompassing system. Thus he is at pains to point out in Culture and Imperialism that he is not proposing a "completely worked out theory" and that the book offers a "globalized (not total) description" (233) though it is not clear exactly what beyond the ideological (and theoretical) unacceptabihty of the T-word - would constitute the difference. Certainly, to the extent that post-colonial theory is forced to address universalising phenomena, it immediately risks being or becoming too all-embracing in a way that other theories are not. This,


For some, that would no doubt be a perfect characterisation - and dismissal - of the current state of post-colonial studies, though we might ask on what reliable grounds it would be possible to distinguish such dismal and


One would pretty much have to scuttle all the jaw-shattering postmodernisms that now dot the landscape. They are worse than useless. They are neither capable of understanding and analyzing the power structure of this country nor are they capable of understanding the particular aesthetic merit of an individual work of art. Whether you call it deconstruction or postrnodemism or poststructuralism or post-anything, they all represent a sort of spectacle of giving back tickets at the entrance and saying. we're really out of it. We want to cbeck into our private resort and be left alone. (Said 1995a: 3 1 6)

Patrick Williams


Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . .


has to grapple

A further post-colonial absence in Said's writing, and the one which most

with imperialism, the globalization of capitalism, etc., then its own global

concerns us here, is intellectuals. A similar process is discernible here to that

reach might be seen as entirely appropriate, grounded in material conditions in

which operates in relation to texts and theory: there is no discussion of post­

a way that, for instance, deconstruction might not be, and any universal

colonial intellectuals (texts or theories) in general; when individual post­

however, could be understood otherwise: if post-colonial theory

pretensions on the part of the latter would need to be resisted.

colonial intellectuals (texts or theories) are mentioned, they are not identified

The refusal of theory-as-system, and of all-encompassing models in

as such. Even when the discussion involves intellectuals in relation to

general, is the intellectual or conceptual correlate of the political party, nation

concepts or processes such as exile which for so many other critics are

or ethnic group whose claims and clutches he is determined to avoid. For Said,

paradigmatic of post-colonialism, the term is still avoided. The notable

collectivities - by their very nature, no doubt - constrain the individual's sphere

exception to this is the paper "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World". Even

of operations, and this applies particularly to intellectuals. As a result, he is

here, although Conor Cruise O'Brien in the accompanying discussion is quite


wrong to remark that Said has more to say about the pre-colonial world, the





and hence refuses




nominalised belonging and identification. In this context, it would be possible

post-colonial somehow contrives to slip out of focus. Also, the critical

to see post-colonialism as naming yet another (potentially) constricting

intellectual activity Said notes in this article is in areas such as theories of

identity; just one more label to be avoided.

development and dependency, and not those of literature and culture. In the

At the same time as criticising theory, Said has expressed his interest in









the kind of analysis which is historically based, which is not confined within

(subsequently absorbed, along with "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World",

traditional disciplinary or discursive boundaries, and which tries to construct


historical or intellectual linkages - all of which, one could argue, applies to so

represented by literature and culture, as well as one of

much of the work done in the post-colonial field, and which even a profound

frequently remarked upon absences - the voices of intellectuals answering

Culture and Imperialism)

Said addresses both the particular gap

OriellIalism 's


sceptic like Jacoby is prepared to admit: "Any evaluation of post-colonial

Orientalism and imperialism back, theorising and representing anti-colonial

theory must acknowledge its salutary effort to challenge repressive intellectual

and post-colonial resistance.

divisions of labour." (Jacoby,

1 7).

In addition, Said has repeatedly accused

theory in general of ignoring colonialism and imperialism:

In terms of the growing silence (or resistance) on Said's part regarding post-colonialism, it is perhaps worth noting that when "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial

All the energies poured into critical theory, into novel and demystifying theoretical praxes, like the new historicism and deconstruction and Marxism, have avoided the major, I would say determining, political horizon of modern Western culture, namely imperialism ( 1 993:


However, a strange and unexpected 'ignoring' is also taking place here precisely of all those books and articles which, following his lead and that of others, have attempted to tackle imperialism, its practices and cultural products, in a range of ways.'









Culture and

most of the references to post-colonialism, and particularly to

post-colonial intellectuals, are reworded or simply removed. Probably the most frequent transformation is to 'post-imperialism', a term which begs even more questions and raises more potential problems than post-colonial. One of the more significant problems relates to the fact that some of the most useful thinking in this area has been based on a particular differentiation between colonialism and imperialism, with the former seen as a distinct historical phase of the latter, and one which is almost entirely concluded. The latter, on the other hand, considered as the globalizing of the capitalist mode of production, is a process which is far from finished, and therefore to talk of


It is no doubt invidjous to name even a few names, but the work of Neil Lazarus, Nicholas Thomas, Peter Hulme, Ranajit Guha and the Subaltern Studies grouP. Benita Parry, and, yes, Gayatri Spivak (to take some rather random and disparate examples) is theoriscd, poiiticised, historicized, engaged with imperialism - and exemplary in different ways.

'post-imperialism' in this context as having already arrived would make no sense. Work done in post-colonial studies in the last decade would allow the retrospective argument which would emphasise the sense of 'post-colonial' as

Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . .

Patrick Williams



a question which is not settled in reality, tbat of knowing wbo is an

either the discourse of resistance to colonialism and therefore potentially

intellectual and wbo isn't, who are the 'real' intellectuals, those who really

contemporary with it, or as the discourse of anticipation of the eventual

realize the essence of the intellectual. In fact, one of the major issues at stake

achievement of a properly post-colonial state. Said might then be argued to be

in the literary or artistic field is the definition of the limits of that field, that

using 'post-imperial' in either anticipatory or resistant mode; there is, however,

is, of legitimate participation in the struggles

( 1 990: 143).'

nothing in his use of the term to support such a view. The process of

Cullure and

If these - the (positive) legitimation of the boundaries of a field and of the

is all the more remarkable, given that by the time of its

participation of certain individuals within it - are significant examples of, in

transforming or omitting the post-colonial in the passage to


publication in

1 993 post-colonialism had gained rar greater currency (and thus

Bourdieu's terms, 'symbolic power', how much more so are those gestures

potential intellectual resonance) than it had when "Intellectuals in the Post­

which delegitimate, not only individuals but entire fields, as Said does in one

Colonial World" appeared in

of his most recent interviews. Asked by Ania Loomba whether he thought the

1 986 (whereas 'post-imperialism' remains an

awkward and deeply troubling term).

field of post-colonial studies was subject to some of the same problems as

If the role of intellectuals in the post-colonial world has (despite Said's

Orientalism, he responded:

article) yet to receive its proper theorisation, it has so far not lacked for I would rather myself not talk about it because I do not think I belong to that.

denunciations, and some of the best-known polemical interventions, such as

First of all I don't think colonialism is over, really. I don't know wbat they are

those by Aijaz Ahmad, Anthony Appiah and Arif Dirlik, regarding the nature

really talking about... So I think to use the word postcolonial ism is really a

of post-colonialism, and the legitimacy, utility or scope of the term, have

misnomer and I think I referred to the problems of that term in the Afterword

focused on intellectuals. There is a notable dynamic here, with post-colonial


intellectuals who do not want to identify themselves as such attaclcing others

Orienta/ism ( i 998/9: 82).

who do. If, as Zygmunt Bauman has argued, "Any attempt to define

Apart from the recognised refusal to be labelled or co-opted, this

intellectuals is an attempt at self-definition; any attempt to accord or deny the

represents the strilcing dismissal of a substantial body of recent and continuing

status of an intellectual i s an attempt at self-construction" (Bauman

1 992: 8 1 ),

intellectual endeavour. It is strilcing because on the face of it one would have

then one of the things being played out here is a particular lcind of power

thought that Said would have been sympathetic to what post-colonial studies

game, a territorial struggle for certain forms of (intellectual ) legitimacy. Said

is trying to do - not least because part of it is precisely the same as what he

himself has frequently rejected the ideology of what he terms "possessive

himself does, in terms of textual or cultural analysis, in

insiderism", the idea that only a particular identity grants the holder the right

and Imperialism.

to research or speak on a particular topic:




It is strilcing, too, because his categorisation of post-colonial

studies seems to have so little to do with current practice. In the response just quoted, Said goes on to say:

I mean simply that if you believe with Gramsci that an intellectual vocation

is socially possible as well as desirable, it is an inadmissible contradiction at

I mean colonialism in the formal sense is over, but I am very interested in

the same time to build analyses of historical experience around exclusions,

neo-colonialism, I am very interested in the workings of tbe International

exclusions that stipulate, for instance, only women can understand feminine

Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and I have written about them. I care

experience, only Jews can understand Jewish suffering, only formerly colonial subjects can understand colonial experience

very much about the strucrures of dependency.. .

( 1 986: 55).

The processes of labelling and accreditation, inclusion or exclusion (of self and/or others) are central to strategies in the intellectual field. This, despite the self-confident pronouncements of those involved in the field, is a practice without closure, since, as Bourdieu has pointed out, it relates to

( 1998/9: 82).

The suggestion that people worlcing in the post-colonial studies somehow believe that colonialism (in the shape of neo-colonialism) is past and gone 6

Defining the 'real' post-colonial intellectuals is one pan of the 'game' (in Bourdieu's terms) which the present essay will not attempt.

Patrick Williams


indicates that unfortunately in a sense Said really doesn't know what they are talking about. It is of course perfectly possible to read all kinds of work in postcolonial srudies which betrays no necessary or immediate concern with the workings of the IMF or the strucrures of dependency, but then some readers might feel that the same could be said of a number of Said's own literary and culrural analyses - though it would be a peculiarly rash or iJI­ informed commentator who attempted on that basis to suggest that Said himself had no interest in international political matters. (And if the political affiliations of someone as clear and committed as Said can be overlooked or misinterpreted in particular pieces, how much more understandable is that in the case of the mass of 'ordinary' post-colonial intellecruals ?) Ultimately, post-colonialism may prove to be a misnomer, as Said suggests, but then what are we to make of his preference for 'post-imperialism' in terms of its implications for the disappearance or persistence of international strucrures and practices of domination and exploitation ? The interview continues:

Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . . "When exaclly... does the 'post-colonial' begin



queries Ella Shohat in a recent

discussion of the subject. Misreading the question deliberately, I will supply here an answer that is only partly facetious: When Third World intellectuals have

arrived in first world academe (328-9).

Here in his opening sentences, Dirlik inadvertently does exactly what he later criticises post-colonial intellecruals for doing - taking the local for the global - since although the 'arrival' of Third World intellectuals may mark the 1Oauguratlon of post-colonial studies in the United States, that is not the case in other first world academic centres, for example Britain or Germany, where, on the contrary, the presence of more Third World intellectuals would be welcome. Similar worries to Dirlik's are voiced by Gayatri Spivak: Neocolonialism is fabricating its allies by proposing a share of the centre in a seenungly ne,,: way (nol a rupture but a displacement): disciplinary support for the convlctton of authenttc margmality by Ihe (aspiring) elite .. . .

When a cultural identity is thrust upon one because the centre wants an [Ania Loomba] I just wanted to finish this by saying that there is a whole debate about the literary emphasis of post-colonial studies or the genesis, the

identifiable margin, claims for marginality assure validation from the centre (SpiVak 1993:

57, 55).

disciplinary home, from which it began. One of the unfortunate spillovers is that precisely those material details - you know what Arif Dirlik says -

The fact that these are repeated does not affect the parochial reach of the claims in so far as they relate to the behaviour of post-colonial intellecruals.

[Said] (intervenes) - are left out. Yes 1 agree. I have quoted Arif Dirlik precisely for that reason ( 1 998/9: 83).

Dirlik is well known as the author of one of the most trenchant attacks on post-colonial intellecruals, and in view both of the approving reference and because his article offers a more sustained discussion of the question of intellecruals, it is useful to examine his reservations alongside those of Said. "The Postcolonial Aura" is powerfully written, and makes uncomfortable reading for anyone - especially anyone with materialist or socialist affiliations -working in the post-colonial field, firstly because of the strength of its denunciation from a 'friendly' theoretical-political position, and secondly because it can leave the reader wondering how such a powerful critique could get things so wrong. . . Questions o f the identity, location and behaviour o f intellectuals are central to Dirlik's discussion of post-colonialism:

Otherwise, they have a general (but not specifically post-colonial) application 10 terms of how the 'centre' in any hegemonic system works to co-opt those outside its 'narural' constiruency - and conversely how those outside the centre may aspire to advancement or reward. (The assertion that Dirlik's and Spivak's claims do not apply to the situation in post-colonial studies in Britain should not be taken as suggesting any superior resistance to co-optation, simply that there is not the same constiruency hoping for promotion.) Among Dirlik's central concerns is the relation of post-colonial . 10tellectuals to global capitalism: formed by it, complicit with it and


simultaneously repudiating its power in their writings, (when not s mply Ignormg It altogether in his view). There are, however, all sorts of problems with this. Dirlik's observations on the (academic) emergence of post-colonial studies in the contemporary period of global capitalism are correct, but not his conclusions regarding the linkages of complicity (with no other grounding than the bare fact of simultaneity). Exactly the same chronology could be used

Patrick Williams


Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . , .


to argue for post-colonial studies as in fact resistant reaction to the neo­

The latter point is representative of a typical stumbling block in

colonial or globalising moment of capitalism. More importantly, Dirlik's view

discussions of intellectuals - the (unresolved) issue of the extent to which

of post-colonial studies as more or less springing fully co-opted from the head

questions of location (class ! geographical ! institutional ! hierarchical ! etc)

of capitalism (to mangle a classical allusion) ignores that significant part of

and formation (social ! cultural ! class ! gender ! intellectual) are regarded as

the discipline's roots which lie in the tradition of anti-colonial writing and

simple indicators or ineluctable determinants of the nature of intellectual

activism of Cesaire, Cabral, Fanon and others.

praxis and production. Probably more than any other similar group, post­ the

colonial intellectuals have been subject to routine dismissal precisely on

'foundational' importance of capitalism rests on his reading of an article by









grounds oflocation in the West (especially if that is combined with location in

Gyan Prakash. In itself, the reading is correct - there is no getting away from

a university deemed elite). What that rather simplistic kind of argument

the fact that Prakash makes just such a denial; for example: "we cannot

ignores is the fact that 'the West' is not ideologically homogeneous in itself,

thematize Indian history in terms of the development of capitalism and

nor able to enforce ideological compliance on anyone who happens to reside

simultaneously contest capitalism's homogenization of the contemporary

within its increasingly porous borders. It also ignores issues of hierarchy and

world." (Prakash

1 992: 1 3). The problem is rather that Dirlik once again

status among institutions both nationally and internationally:


mistakes the local for the global. In this case, he takes Prakash's article for the

University may be more 'powerful' than the University of Kelaniya, but

whole of post-colonial studies, when in fact, impressive and thought­

equally an institution like the University of Singapore can far outrank the

provoking though the piece is, it is arguably eccentric in terms of debates

University of Sunderland on the global stage. Also, as Rajeswari Sunder Rajan

within the field, and certainly in no way represents anything resembling a

points out, the institutional gamut from elite and powerful to obscure and

consensus or dominant view. There is the additional problem for Dirlik's

marginalised runs through universities in India as much as in the United

extrapolation that Prakash is arguably quite wrong: apart from the curious

States, and entrenched norms and practices may be more constraining on the

self-limiting aspect of such a theoretical gesture, it conflates the (analytical

work of post-colonial intellectuals

and political) importance of recognising and understanding the historical role of capitalism with the simple acceptance of capitalism's global 'success'. Like






establish his






in situ than in the West (Raj an, 1 997).




of post-colonial

intellectual formation and location, and one which also does so on the basis of and

a specific theory, rather than generalised assertions, is Anthony Amove's

paradoxical) distance from post-colonialism: "I myself share in the concerns

"Pierre Bourdieu, the Sociology of Intellectuals, and the Language of African

(and even some of the viewpoints) of post-colonial intellectuals, though from

Literature". Although its focus is, as stated, African, it has potential for

a somewhat different perspective than those who describe themselves as such"


(328). Although there is the sense of a division of post-colonial intellectuals

culpability or complicity. Amove's account, while more sympathetically








into the suspect or illegitimate ("those who describe themselves as such") and

inclined than some others we have encountered, does not necessarily offer

others less gripped by unseemly haste to be part of the club, it is somewhat

much immediate comfort. He draws on Bourdieu's theories of intellectuals in

unclear why Dirlik would wish to admit to even partial alignment with a

order to assess the arguments around post-colonial cultural production

discourse or approach which otherwise seems to him so utterly compromised

polarised and personalised in terms of Chinua Achebe versus Ngugi wa

("postcoloniality is the condition of the intelligentsia of global capitalism", etc

Thiong'o and their views on language choice. Amove is also interested in the

(356)). It is also unclear how, being in his own words "(more or less) one of

location of intellectuals - though in terms of various analytical 'fields' of class

the Third World intellectuals in First World academe" (328), he manages to

or 'social space', rather than Ivy League universities. In particular, he is

avoid being part of the compromised "intelligentsia of global capitalism".

concerned with the way that their location in these fields causes Achebe and Ngugi, in his view, to misrecognise both the nature of their position and the terms of their disagreement. For Bourdieu, "artists and writers, and more

Patrick Williams


Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . .

generally intellectuals, are a dominated fraction of the dominant class." (Bourdieu

1 990: 145), and this membership of the dominant class is, in

Amove's eyes, what Ngugi in particular misrecognises. (Such an apparent refusal or inability to recognise a problematic privileged location has, on the face of it, some connection with Dirlik's criticisms.) Although Ngugi is able to critique

Achebe's unwarranted generalising

of his



experience to represent the nation as a whole, he remains, for Amove, unable to recognise the problems caused by "the effacement of his class position in an idealization of his relationship to 'the people'"

(286) Amove goes on to say:

Ngugi's use of 'the people' is bound up in the struggle for cultural capital, for social recognition, and the "profit of distinction" (LSP 55) that is secured by being recognised as an authentic spokesperson for the dominated classes, someone who can be seen as "courageous" and "conunitted" for his decision to write in Gikuyu (287). Although Amove opens his article by considering - and rej ecting - the idea that using Bourdieu in this context might represent a


imposition", there are nevertheless grounds for wondering whether Bourdieu's generally powerful and persuasive arguments quite fit their chosen post­ colonial object. Firstly, there

is the question of whether intellectuals

necessarily belong to the dominant

class. Apart from the fact that it leaves no

space for anything resembling Gramsci's organic intellectual, emerging from and belonging to - subaltern as well as dominant classes, the idea that going to school and university automatically dec lasses / reclassifies in this way someone like Ngugi from a landless peasant background assigns enormous power to cultural institutions to influence and situate individuals. (Ironically, this institutionaVcultural effect is something which Amove is at great pains to play down when it is a case of Ngugi arguing for colonialism's profound mental impact on colonised peoples, especially through education.) Achebe and Ngugi's position within the 'field' of intellectual (here, literary and cultural) production appears remarkably constraining or determining (especially in view of Amove's basically materialist stance) in relation to class location, and the possession and deployment of, in Bourdieu's terms, 'cultural capital' and 'symbolic power'. Essentially, once you are in, there seems to be no way out of the 'field'. Also, there is the assumption that, once located in the field, Achebe and Ngugi inevitably follow its logic:


It is precisely in this context - the competition within a field for a dominant position, with the recognition and cultural capital (convertible to economic capital through the institutions of publishing, teaching, lecturing and award­ granting) it confers - that Ngugi's and Achebe's 'position-takings' ... on the language of African literature should be situated. (288). The idea that Ngugi might be more urgently concerned with things other than the accumulation of (convertible) cultural capital - such as opposing the neo-colonial regime in Kenya for example - is either not entertained or dismissed as another form of self-misrecognition. For Amove, the most particular form of Ngugi's misrecognition is, as mentioned, his relation to the 'people'. Bourdieu suggests that:

the 'people' or the 'popular' ... is fust of all one of the things at stake ill the struggle berween intellectuals. The fact of being or feeling authorized to speak about the 'people' or of speaking for (in both senses of the word) the 'people' may constitute, in itself, a force in the struggles within different fields - political, religious, artistic ... the stances adopted towards the 'people' or the 'popular' depend in their form and content on specific interests linked fust and foremost to belonging to a cultural field of production and, secondly, to the position occupied within this field (1 990: 150). The first section of this is unobjectionable as the recognition of a particular kind of politics of the sort Bakhtin and Voloshinov would endorse. For Bourdieu, however, the access to the role of spokesperson inevitably involves a break with the 'people', in which case the 'people' can presumably never have a 'genuine' spokesperson, one who is not vulnerable, like Achebe and Ngugi, to the charge of idealizing or romanticizing their relationship with the people (since he or she is no longer fully one of them). The second part of the quote from Bourdieu reinforces the containing or constraining sense of the field. Ngugi's use of the 'people', and his behaviour towards those he sees as his people hardly seem to be those constituted by his position within the field: world-famous novelist and head of a university department. Bourdieu's theory (as used by Amove) appears to take no account of the possibility of someone located within the field of literature deriving their stance and organising their behaviour towards the 'people' on the basis of concepts derived from a completely different field - politics, for instance. Above all, Amove's view of Ngugi crucially - and surprisingly, given his

Patrick Williams


Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial " .

materialist approach - ignores the possibility of praxis as an activity which can connect the intellectual and the 'people'.

In Ngugi's case, the best-known


And in case there is any doubt about whether Ngugi might somehow be conceptualising imperialism in culturalist terms:

example was his involvement in collaborative radical theatre projects with the people of his village of Kamiriithu using indigenous languages and cultural forms. The first of these projects was strongly Gikuyu-based; the second aimed at the production of a more truly national-popUlar form. The fact that the first led to his imprisonment without trial for a year did not stop the attempt at a second (which had more than a little to do with his subsequent exile). From exile Ngugi has been involved (culturally and more 'practically') in the protracted struggles to establish democracy in Kenya - participation, in his view, in people-oriented praxis. If, however, Amove and Bourdieu are correct, and the basis for all of this is no more than a fundamental self-misrecognition, it is difficult to see what sort of legitimate linkage a post-colonial intellectual, or any other, aiming for connection with ordinary people (whether at the modest level of simply retaining class belonging, or the much more ambitious one of mass political mobilisation) could ever hope for.

In tum, the prospects for any post-colonial

intellectuals' relation to politicised agency would look extremely bleak. Another of Amove's criticisms of Ngugi is one which is frequently leveled at post-colonial intellectuals - the bias towards culturalism and neglect of the material, which we have already encountered in Said's comments, and will do so again. For Amove:

"the tendency of positions generated from the

dominant-dominated position [i.e. that of intellectuals] to interpret the social world according to culturalist protocols tends to obscure the economic stakes of cultural struggles"

(289). If, however, the dominant-dominated is the

position of all intellectuals (according to Bourdieu and Amove) that ought logically to mean that world.


intellectuals produce culturalist readings of the

In addition, it is impossible to see this - as it is intended - as a useful

assessment of Ngugi. Even in the book on which Amove bases his discussion (and which is admittedly one of Ngugi's more culturalist),

Dec% llising the

Mind, there are numerous examples of statements like the following: The language question cannot be solved outside the larger arena of economics and politics, or outside the answer to the question of what society we want. § But the search for new directions in language, literature, theatre, poetry, fiction and scholarly studies in Africa is part and parcel of the overall struggles of African people against imperialism in its neo-colonial stage ( 1 06).

Imperialism is the rule of consolidated fmance capital, and since 1884 this monopolistic parasitic capital has affected and continues to affect the lives of even the peasants in the remotest comers of our countries (2). - not Ngugi's most elegant exposition, perhaps, but scarcely one that could be called culturalist. From a certain perspective, of course, the strenuous distinctions drawn between the cultural and the material would appear not only ideologically loaded, but also virtually meaningless: the materiality of culture, its practices and processes, as well as its products, has been one of the basic tenets of cultural studies, with which post-colonial studies shares a great deal of common analytical ground, political aspirations and even intellectual practitioners. If the use of Bourdieu might seem to lead to an underestimation of the extent to which a post-colonial intellectual like Ngugi might retain links with 'the people', or might be engaged in the struggle for more than just 'the profit of distinction' in his mobilisation of 'the people' (discursively and practically), there are nevertheless other aspects of his thought which appear more promising in our context. In his inaugural lecture at the College de France, Bourdieu said:

it is supremely difficult for intellectuals to escape the logic of the struggle in which everyone willingly turns himself into the sociologist of his enemies, at the same time as turning himself into his own ideologue, in accordance with the law of reciprocal blindness and insight which governs all social struggles for truth. It is, however, only if he apprehends the game as a game, with the stakes, rules or regular sequences that are proper to it, the specific interests created in it and the interests satisfied by it, that he can both extricate himself through and for that distancing which grounds theoretical representation, and, simultaneously, discover himself to be implicated in the game, in a determined place, with his own determined and determinant stakes and investments. ( 1 990: 183-4). One result of this is the recognItIon of the morally and ideologically loaded - and, for Bourdieu, ultimately untenable - nature of the distinction between 'good' intellectuals (proper, legitimate, non-co-opted) and 'bad' (complicit, co-opted, contaminated) with which so many critics operate. In

Patrick Williams

Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . .

this perspective, since everyone is variously involved and implicated in the

Even intellectuals who are lifelong members of a society can, in a manner of speaking, be divided into insiders and outsiders... those who can be called yea-sayers, and on the other hand the nay-sayers, the individuals al odds with their society and therefore outsiders and exiles so far as privilege, power and honours are concerned. (Said 1994: 39).


field, no one is pure. At the same time, even if there is no position of purity available, there is, in Bourdieu's opinion, the possibility of a more or less detached or distanced position. Whether or not they can actually achieve a position of (relative) detachment from which to scrutinise society, and how they might get there, is a recurrent issue for intellectuals, post-colonial and other. Said is a great believer in the possibility of this, but some of his critics have been less than convinced:


Here, the acquisition of critical perspective seems to be a function of a kind o f intellectual asceticism and to have less to do with position than with its







of distance

(geographical, cultural, hierarchical) from power, prestige or privilege could

Said's constant questioning of the role of the intellectual assumes - against the evidence and argument of his own book [Orienralismj - his or her ability to operate in a separate space independent from contemporary ideology, even without the customary benefit of the scientific knowledge of Marxism.... Said's difficulty is that his ethical and theoretical values are so deeply involved in the history of the culture that he criticizes that they undermine his claims for the possibility of the individual being in a position to choose, in an uncomplicated process of separation, to be both inside and outside his or her own culture (Young 1990: 132).

explain why post-colonial intellectuals could be better than average critics of the system (and, equally, why some would aim for the kind of dubious advancement noted by Spivak). For other theorists, critical distance can simply be a function of the practice of being an intellectual - though this may not in itself be absolutely straightforward. Glossing Bourdieu, Dick Pels says:

Although Robert Young identifies an area of difficulty in Said's thought, it is by no means certain that Said is as trapped as Young thinks. For example, the question is not necessarily one of simple voluntaristic selection: Said is

As soon as we begin to observe, we effect an epistemological break that is simultaneously a social break, because we withdraw more or less completely from the world. This posture of the 'impartial observer' is not only socially exceptional but is also supported by concrete social privileges (Pels 1995: 86).

concerned with where intellectuals are objectively positioned, not j ust where they might hope or choose to be. The more they occupy positions proximate

Whether the latter are quite what Said has in mind when he talks of

to, or within, structures .and systems of power (like Orientalism), the less they


can opt for "an uncomplicated process of separation". As Said discusses later

intellectuals is complex, and that privilege, even if unsought, may not be so


Representations of the Intellectual,






account reminds

us again that the



easily relinquished.

intellectuals which might create their critical distance comes more easily - if

The importance, indeed the crucial difference, of the post-colonial

that is quite the word - with the experience of displacement, migration,

perspective on these questions is brought out by Gayatri Spivak. Firstly, there

diaspora, or, in his favourite term, exile. These forms of dislocation, which

is her repeated call to intellectuals, especially in the West, to "unlearn" their

result in intellectuals belonging fully neither to their culture of origin nor to

privilege. This, if nothing else, implies (contra Bourdieu) the possibility - if

the one in which they find themselves, are widely recognised as both

also the difficulty - of members of the 'dominant-dominated' fraction aligning

formative and representative of the post-colonial world. Once again, however,

themselves with others who are in no way part of the dominant stratum,

Said chooses not to discuss this aspect, even though two of his three chosen

though it must be distinguished from the dangerously seductive 'spurious

exiles are paradigmatic post-colonials - CLR James and VS Naipaul.

marginality' which she warns of. Secondly, Spivak's work emphasises just

Somewhat more problematically, Said extends intellectual exile from the

how - far from constituting a 'more or less complete withdrawal from the

actual to the metaphorical :

world' - the act of observation, especially in the colonial context, represents a significant intervention in the world. The gaze of the ('impartiaJ') observer here is intimately bound up with imperial surveillance, the accumulation of

Patrick Williams


Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . .

knowledge as power, and the deployment of power as the freedom to observe at will. This in tum indicates how and why post-colonial intellectual activity must not simply replicate undifferentiated concepts of what it is that intellectuals do.

construction of friends and foes stretches right across the intellectual field, Bruce Robbins argues that this type of procedure may belong more to certain humanities, he suggests, it produces a 'rhetoric of praise and blame',

order to inscribe him and her as marginals, culture studies must use

determined by the prOfessional pact that the humanities have concluded with

specialisrns, but also actively frame and resist the tyranny of the specialist

'society at large' - a pact to transmit values from the past to a commercialized

1993: 74).

or dehumanized present seen as acutely in need of them - and therefore as

The use of the imperative - 'mus!...resist the tyranny of the specialist' - is significant. For Bourdieu, discussions of intellectuals slip inexorably from the descriptive to the prescriptive or, as he calls it, the normative. This is certainly true of Said, who moves from a broad descriptive category of intellectuals such as: "Today everyone who works in any field connected with either the production or distribution of knowledge is an intellectual in Gramsci's sense" ( I 994:

Although, as mentioned earlier, Bourdieu's account suggests that the

disciplines than others (and indeed perhaps not to all). Especially in the

To get a grasp on how the agency of the post-colonial is being obliterated in



7). to a narrower prescriptive one: "The intellectual's representations ...

are always tied to and ought to remain part of an ongoing experience in society: of the poor, the disadvantaged, the voiceless, the unrepresented, the powerless" (84). At the same time, this 'fall' from objectivity into involvement can seem appropriate in view of the increasingly acknowledged importance of the ethical dimension of post-colonial analysis - from Said's own early query as to the possibility of non-dominative knowledges, to the growing attempt to

invested with considerable social force (Robbins

1993: 101).

Robbins also notes the disciplinary pressure to produce such rhetoric, however little one wants to do so. The quasi-obligation to produce a discourse of value and valorised objects would then suggest one reason why intellectuals such as Dirlik continue to operate with the categories they do. The relation of such constraints to post-colonial intellectuals would once again be complex to the extent that they are removed from traditional disciplinary pressures, they have less need to operate in terms of praise and blame; at the same time, the circumstances in which they think and write - precisely post-colonial - are obviously a powerful incitement to the production of a discourse of value, with potentially a high 'praise and blame' level. Said of course has on various occasions strongly rejected what he sees as a useless - even directly harmful - 'politics of blame' or 'rhetoric of blame' as a

use Levinas' maximally ethical stance towards the Other as the basis for post­

strategy in the post-colonial context, though he has had rather less to say about

colonial practice.

the utility or otherwise of praise. In "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World"




subject to

the same


from the

he says: "I want first to consider the actualities of the intellectual terrain

descriptive to the normative which he identifies in others. In addition to

common as well

sociological descriptions of what intellectuals are and do, we find him - rather

especially concentrating on what in it gives rise to and encourages a rhetoric

ironically, and against his own best insights - asserting what they

must do

order to be proper intellectuals: To be entitled to the name of intellectual, a cultural producer must fulfill two conditions: on the one hand, he must belong to an autonomous intellectual world (a field), that is, independent from religious, political, and economic powers (and so on), and must respect its specific laws; on the other hand, he must invest the competence and authority he has acquired in the intellectual field in a political action, which is in any case carried out outside the intellectual field proper (Bourdieu 199 1 : 656).


as discrepant in the post-colonial cultural discourse,

as well as a politics of blame," (45) and goes on to offer a 'politics of secular interpretation' as a more rewarding alternative. It is interesting, however, that he should regard it as the internal features of post-colonial cultural discourse rather than the range of external forces acting on it, for instance - which are responsible for the rhetoric and politics of blame, and could this in turn be an indication of why he appears so little enamoured of post-colonial discourse ? Said briefly refers to some of the terminological debates surrounding post­ colonialism in the Afterword to the 1995 edition of


(wisely no doubt) he makes no attempt at summary


or intervention.

Nevertheless, this discussion of post-colonialism stands in sharp contrast to all

Patrick Williams

Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial . . .

he has written (or not) on the subject before or since. The manner in which he mentions post-colonialism in the interview quoted earlier locates it firmly and simply as a terrain of problems - incomprehensibility, irrelevance, superficial culturalism as opposed to political engagement - and leads us to expect something similar in the Afterword. What we initially frod is the following: "There has been [in the years since the publication of Orientalism] a revolution in the consciousness of women, minorities and marginals so powerful as to affect mainstream thinking worldwide. Two broad currents can be distinguished: post-colonialism and post-modernism... "(350). Although he sees the two emerging together in the 1 980s, Said clearly differentiates between them, unlike a range of critics who, on no good evidence, conilate or over-align them: "As a child of postrnodernism, postcolonialism too is expressive of the logic of this phase of capitalism .. "; "1 am reminded of something the Cuban-American critic Roman de la Campa said to me in conversation, to the effect that 'postcoloniality' is postrnodernism's wedge to colonise literatures outside Europe and its North American offshoots ... " ; "I would further offer that postcoloniality can only have meaning if we accept postmodernism as the only current legitimizing narrative.'" Said, on the other hand, despite recognising an occasional overlap, distinguishes for example: "This crucial difference between the urgent historical and political imperatives of post-colonialism and post-modernism's relative detachment..."(35 1). Similarly, even when post-colonialism, like post-modernism, interests itself in the local, the former "seems to me to be most interestingly connected in its general approach to a · universal set of concerns, all of them relating to emancipation, revisionist attitudes towards history and culture ... " (35 1 -2). Said further recognises the interdisciplinarity of post-colonial studies in its, for him, particularly interesting extension to questions of geography, and finally says of the field:

We are clearly a long way from the idea of post-colonial readings as offering Conrad as 'only despicable', precisely 'dishing the dirt' on him. What has changed ? And why - having made the quite startling claim for it as the more important partner in a global revolution of consciousness - does Said revert, in the interview quoted earlier, to the deeply negative, and worryingly superficial, version of post-colonial studies within the space of a year or two ? Although geography is only one of the disciplinary areas to be affected by post-colonial studies, or, conversely, on which work in post-colonial studies has drawn, it is interesting that the acknowledged interaction with such a (literally) materially-grounded field does not affect Said's later negative assessment of post-colonialism's apparent neglect of the material. Perhaps the most surprising of Said's positive evaluations of post-colonial studies in the Afterword is the perceived connection to 'universal concerns'. This is surprising firstly because elsewhere post-colonialism figures as negative, divisive or sectarian, productive Cas we have seen) of a politics or rhetoric of blame. It is also surprising because addressing universal concerns, or, even more so, upholding universal values, is for Said the epitome of proper intellectual activity: " [The intellectual's] raison d'etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug. The intellectual does so on the basis of universal principles ... " (Said 1 996: 9). In that sort of perspective, post-colonial intellectuals ought to be the contemporary intellectuals, rather than a group not worthy of consideration in their own right. (Certain forms of contemporary theory would of course be extremely unhappy with the idea of the actual or possible existence of universal values, but that is not the issue here.) For Bourdieu, defending 'the universal' is one of the most urgent tasks for intellectuals, but for him it is definitely not an ahistorical category:



one of the most interesting developments io post-colonial studies was a re­ readiog of canonical cultural works, not to demote or somehow to dish the dirt on them, but to re-iovestigate some of their assumptions, going beyond the stifliog hold on them of some version of the master-slave bioary dialectic (352-3).

' Dirlik (1994; 348), Ahmad (1995; I ), Davies ( 1994: 80).


Against a universal pragmatics in Habermas' sense, a politics oJ the universal should be proposed. Transhistorical universals of communication do not exist, but socially established forms of communication favouring the production of universals do exist. ( 1 99 1 : 661).

Post-colonial studies offers an important sense of what such a politics of the universal needs to address: From the standpoint of postcolonialism, it is today impossible to think about politics without invoking the category of universality. For in the postcolonial


Patrick Williams

Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem o f Post-Colonial . . .

world system, experience is mUltiply overdetennined, and not least by imperialism itself. Social identity has become world-historical in its constitution (Lazarus 1994: 2 1 9).

Lazarus, Neil ( 1 990), Resistance ill Postcolonial African Fictioll. New Haven: Yale University Press. Lazarus, Neil ( 1 994), "National consciousness and the specificity of (post) colonial intellectualism," in Colonial Discourse / Poslcolonial 17leory. ed. Francis Barker et.al. Manchester: Manchester University Press: 1 97-220. Morley, David, and Kuan-Hsing Chen, eds. ( 1 996), Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London: Routledge. Ngugi wa Thiong'o ( 1 986), Decolonisillg the Mind. London: James Currey Pels, Dick ( 1 995), "Knowledge politics and anti-politics," Theory and Society. 24: 79-1 04. Prakash, Gyan ( 1 992), "Postcolonial Criticism and Indian Historiography," Social Text. 3 1/2: 8-19. Rajan, Rajeswari Sunder ( 1 997), "The Third World Academic in Other Places; or, the Postcolonial Intellectual Revisited" Critical inquiry. 23 (Spring): 596-6 16. Robbins, Bruce ( 1 993), Secular Vocations. London: Verso. Said, Edward ( 1 978), Orientalism . New York: Vintage. Said, Edward ( 1 992), Culture alld Imperialism. London: Chatto and Windus. Said, Edward ( 1 994), Representations of the intellectual. London: Vintage. Said, Edward ( 1 995a), The Politics ofDispossession. London: Vintage, . Said, Edward ( 1 995b), "Afterword to the 1995 printing". Orientalism. London: Vintage,: 329-54. Said, Edward ( 1 986), "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World". Salmagundi. 7 1 /2 (Spring-Summer ): 44-8 1 . Said, Edward ( 1 990), "Third World Intellectuals and Metropolitan Culture". Raritan. IX , 3 : 8 1 -97. Said, Edward ( 1 998/9), "Edward Said, in conversation with Neeladri Bhattacharya, Suvir Kaul and Ania Loomba, New Delhi, 1 6 December 1 997," Interventiolls, 1 . 1 ( 1 998/9): 8 1 -96. Spivak, Gayatri ( 1 993), Outside ill the Teaching Machille. London: Routledge. Spivak, Gayatri ( 1 999) "The Labour of the Negative", illtervelltions, 1 , 2 Sprinker, Michael ed. ( 1 992), Edward Said: A Critical Reader Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Trotsky, Leon ( 1 973), In Defence ofMarxism. New York: Pathfinder. Young, Robert ( 1 99 1 ), White Mythologies. London : Routledge.

If some of the language here sounds a little old-fashioned, it is worth recalling the words of a resolutely internationalist - if not post-colonial intellectual: "Those who cannot defend old positions will never conquer new ones." (Trotsky 1 973: 1 78). It is the sort of sentiment with which it is difficult to imagine Said disagreeing, whatever qualms he might have about the author, not to mention some of the new positions currently being conquered.

WORKS CITED Ahmad, Aijaz ( 1 995), "The Politics of Literary Postcoloniality," Race and Class 30 (3): 1-20. Amove, Anthony ( 1 993), "Pierre Bourdieu, the Sociology of Intellectuals, and the Language of African Literature," Novel. 26, 3 (Spring): 278-96. Bauman, Zygmunt ( 1 987), Legislators and Interpreters. Oxford: Polity Press. Bauman, Zygmunt ( 1 992), "Love in Adversity: On the State and the Intellectuals, and the State of the Intellectuals," Thesis Eleven 3 1 : 8 1 - 1 04. Bourdieu, Pierre ( 1 990), In Other Words. Oxford: Polity Press. Bourdieu, Pierre ( 1 993), Sociology ill Question. London: Sage. Bourdieu, Pierre ( 1 99 1), "Universal Corporatism". Poetics Today. 12: 4 (Winter): 655-669. Boynton, Robert ( 1 995), "The New Intellectuals," A tlantic Montilly. March: 53-70. Davies, Carole Boyce ( 1 994), Black Women, Writing alld Identity. London: Routledge. Dirlik, Arif ( 1 994), "The Postcolonial Aura," Critical Inquiry 20 (Winter): 328-56. Goldfarb, Jeffrey C. ( 1 998), Civility and Subversion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hall, Stuart ( 1 996), "On postmodernism and articulation: an interview with Stuart Hall," in Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. eds. David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen. London: Verso: 1 3 1 - 1 50. Jacoby, Russell ( 1 995), "Colonial writers lost in the post," Times Higher. (December 29): 1 7 .


Chapter 3


Patrick Bralltlillger "What Is an Author?" Michel Foucault writes that "a person can be the author of much more than a book-of a theory, for instance, of a tradition or discipline within which new books and authors can proliferate." Foucault suggests calling such meta-authors "initiators of discursive practices," and he names as two prominent examples Marx and Freud ( 1 3 1 ). As does Foucault himself, both Raymond Williams and Edward Said come close to being "initiators of discursive practices." A case can at least be made that Williams initiated the discursive practice of cultural studies and that Said has, if not exactly initiated, certainly had a formative role in the discursive practice of postcolonial studies. Of course, as is undoubtedly true of all complex cultural formations, both cultural studies and postcolonial studies have multiple points of origin. Besides Williams, E. P. Thompson, Richard Hoggart, and Stuart Hall helped to initiate cultural studies as it took shape in and around the Birmingham Centre in the early sixties. A full genealogy of cultural studies would include, moreover, members of the Marxist historians group besides Thompson, as well as all of the intellectuals whose theories Williams analyzed in Culture and Society, from Edmund Burke and William Cobbett to R. H. Tawney and In

Patrick Brantlinger

Edward Said andlversus Raymond Williams

Christopher Caudwell. So, too, as Aijaz Ahmad notes, postcolonial studies in its American and European university settings arose only after the onset of "the second phase of decolonization" with the Cuban revolution of 1 958-59 ( 1 992: 39). By the time Said's Orientalism appeared in 1 978, a great deal of anti-colonial intellectual work, almost all of it outside western universities, had already been accomplished. In this regard, Frantz Fanon may have a greater claim to being the initiator of postcolonial studies than does Said. But despite these points, and also despite the many criticisms and reservations Ahmad has about Said's work, Ahmad writes:

the persistence and the durability of saturating hegemonic systems like culture," Said there declares, "when we realize that their internal constraints upon writers were productive, not unilaterally inhibiting." He continues: "It is this idea that Gramsci, certainly, and Foucault and Raymond Williams in their very different ways have been trying to illustrate. Even one or two pages by Williams on 'the uses of the Empire' in The Long Revolution tell us more about nineteenth-century cultural richness than many volumes of hermetic textual analyses" ( 1 993 : 14). Said returns to Williams a few pages later, at the end of the introduction to Orientalism, when, after noting the parallels between anti-Semitism and Orientalism as well as the irony that those parallels have for "an Arab Palestinian," he adds:


... Said is undoubtedly the central figure and ...he has at least influenced, if not always directly defined, virtually all the main positions which have had the greatest influence in determining approaches to questions of colony, empire, nation and postcoloniality as these questions have surfaced in literary theory since the publication of Orientalism in 1978 (14).

However complex the origins of the two movements may have been, prior to Orientalism, postcolonial studies in western universities did not exist, just as prior to Williams's Culture and Society cultural studies did not exist. Whether either cultural studies or postcolonial studies amounts to a "discursive practice" in Foucault's meaning of that phrase is debatable, though postcolonial studies has a more obvious, public, indeed global genealogy reaching far beyond the academy. Cultural studies, on the other hand, at least according to some perhaps ungenerous interpretations, remains both academically insular and inherently British in orientation. I will consider some of Ahmad's criticisms of Said's work later in this essay. Besides pointing to the major influence that Williams had on cultural studies and that Said has had on postcolonial studies, I will first review the personal and intellectual connections between Williams and Said and then, focusing partly on the chapter on Said in Ahmad's In Theory, examine some of the similarities and differences between cultural studies and postcolonial studies. Said has on many occasions acknowledged Williams's friendship and influence on his own work. As its title suggests, Culture and Imperialism in particular is a self-conscious extension and also critique of Williams's Culture and Society. In the introduction, Said writes: "I need hardly say that many parts of this book are suffused with the ideas and the human and moral example of Raymond Williams, a good friend and a great critic" (xxvii). Orientalism, too, reflects Williams's influence: " ... we can better understand


But what I should like...to have contributed here is a better understanding of the way cultural domination has operated. If this stimulates a new kind of dealing with the Orient, indeed if it eliminates the "Orient" and "Occident" altogether, then we shall have advanced a little in the process of what Raymond Williams has called the "unlearning" of "the inherent dominative mode" ( 1 993: 28).

In a brief account of his friendship with Williams, Said recalls that, when he was head of the English Institute at Harvard in the early 1970s, he invited Williams to participate. Williams declined, however, because of the Vietnam War. Williams later reviewed Said's The World the Text. and the Critic favourably - for the Manchester Guardian.' The two first met in London in 1 985, when they were panelists on a television program dealing with "intellectuals" (the other panelists were David Caute, Julia Kristeva, and Roger Scruton). They met again in 1 986 at a conference on "Cultural Studies, Media Studies and Political Education" held at the Institute of Education in London; a central attraction of the conference was the public dialogue between the two (the edited transcript of this dialogue appears as "Media, Margins and Modernily" in Williams, The Politics of Modernity). And on October 10, 1 989 Said delivered the first Raymond Williams Memorial Lecture in London, since published as "Narrative, Geography and Interpretation" in New Left Review. In his comments on his friendship with Williams, Said adds: "Along with E. P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, and one


Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford up. 1977.


Patrick Brantlinger

Edward Said ancl/versus Raymond Williams

or two others [Williams] was a member of the Friends of Bir Zeit University, so he was very sympathetic to our [Palestinian] cause." 2 The meeting, friendship, and intellectual relationship between Williams and Said seems, at least on first glance, an odd sorting out of destinies. And indeed there are major intellectual differences between the two that will be one focus of this essay. But the main similarity, and attraction, between the two is at once ethical and political, and is well-expressed by Said's defmition of the goal of all critical intellectuals as the production of "noncoercive knowledge ... in the interests of human freedom" ( 1 983: 29). Williams's moral and political example, including his long record of activism on behalf of democratic socialism, human rights, and nuclear disarmament, has been paralleled on an international scale by Said, including especially his advocacy of the rights to political, cultural, and media representation of the Palestinians. Furthermore, a number of key concepts developed by Said owe at least something to related ideas in Williams. Besides their general insistence that neither literature nor any other form of culture can be fully understood in isolation from the social context within which it is produced, and that therefore "secular criticism," as Said calls it, must necessarily be, in part, social criticism, Said's ideas of "filiation" and "affiliation," for example, are at least akin to Williams's "knowable community" versus its antithesis in the abstract, in some ways "unknowable" and anonymous experience of the modem city and of mass society ( 1 983: 1 7-2 1 ) . So, too, "travelling theory" is an extension, perhaps, of several patterns or lines of thought in Williams; Said makes Williams's reception of the Marxist-structuralist sociology of Lucien Goldmann a key illustration of what happens or can happen to theories as they "travel" from context to context ( 1 983 : 237-242). But if Williams is usually close at hand when Said is discussing such concepts, there are also differences-ones suggested by the contrast, which is potentially also an antithesis, between Williams's emphasis on "community" and Said's emphasis on "the world" and "worldliness." The main criticism that Said and other postcolonial intellectuals have had of Williams's work concerns what Said, in his Memorial Lecture, calls Williams's "stubborn" "Anglocentrism" (Said 1 990: 83). Only a rew passages in T7,e Long Revolution, The Country and the City, Orwell, and elsewhere mention imperialism, and Williams very rarely considered race and racism as

major factors even within the confines of British history and culture.' This limitation has led Paul Gilroy, among others, to see in Williams's work a source of the "doggedly ethnocentric focus" ( 1 993: I I ) of much cultural studies, at least within Britain. Needless to say, Gilroy has played a maj or role in changing that focus, moving cultural studies in the directions both of work on race and racism within Britain and of postcolonial studies. In their 1 986 dialogue, Said reminds Williams of the moment in Politics and Letters when one of the interviewers for New Left Review points to the omission of imperialism from Culture and Society. Said indicates that Williams responded by saying that his "Welsh experience ...hadn't been as important to [him] then as it later became" (Said and Williams 1 989: 196). Williams also said that, in Culture and Society, he had at least mentioned Thomas Carlyle's racism and, in the chapter on "industrial novels," had stressed emigration as an "escape" mechanism in Victorian fiction. Williams went on to tell his interviewers: The way I used the tenn corrununity actually rested on my memories of Wales .... But the Welsh experience was also precisely one of SUbjection to English expansion and assimilation historically. That is what ought to have alerted me to the dangers of a persuasive type of definition of corrununity, which is at once dominant and exclusive ( 1 9 8 1 : 1 1 8-1 19).

But "the Welsh experience" never did finally lead Williams to a full consideration of it as an outcome of imperialism. (One can only speculate that if Williams had been Irish instead of Welsh, the result might have been very different: compare Terry Eagleton's work on Ireland in Heathcliff and the Great Hunger and elsewhere.) Throughout his work, "the Welsh experience" continued to tum on the idea of a "knowable," close-knit, rural, and working­ class community that Williams, as in his novels Border Country, Second Generation, and The Fight for Manod, saw as disrupted by capitalist industrialization and modernization, without ever precisely connecting these with imperialism. Although he sympathized with and to a certain, rather aloof extent participated in the Welsh "neo-nationalist" movement (Williams 1 98 1 : 240), that aspect of his political activism is simply not comparable to Said's

3 2

This account is in the fonn of an e·mail message to me from Said, dated June 12, 1999.


It is symptomatic that, while there is an entry fOT "imperialism" in both the first ( 1 976) and second (1 983) editions of Williams's Keywords, "race" makes an appearance only in the second edition, under the heading "racial."

Patrick Brantlinger


Edward Said ancl/versus Raymond Williams

impassioned and very courageous participation in the Palestinian cause. Welsh











Viswanathan concludes, "suffers from the reintroduction of . . . economic and


ideological determinism in the absence of a relational and conjectural

(224). This is quite apart from the

synecdoche for, or particular instance of, British working-class experience,

[conjunctural?] analysis of imperialism"

coupled with the problem of maintaining the economic and cultural vitality of

quantitative short shrift Williams gives to imperialism, racism, and even

regions and local communities against the pressures of capitalist and

Ireland and the Irish throughout his work.'

governmental centralization. Far more tragically, "the Palestinian experience," as Said calls it in

The Question of Palestine

(ix), involves ongoing war,

genocide, and the direct, continuing imperialist appropriation of territory from

Viswanathan's critique, and others by Leslie Roman, Forest Pyle, and R. Radhakrishnan in

Views beyond the Border Country,

whether cultural

studies in general can serve as a basis for pursuing

raise the question of

the Palestinian Arabs by Israel, with the backing of American and European

postcolonial studies. To put this question differently, on one understanding

mass media, financial, and military support.

postcolonial studies is an offshoot of cultural studies, but on another it is

While capitalism and class conflict in the industrial era are central to

necessarily a distinct, in some ways even antagonistic, field of theoretical and

Williams's analyses of the dynamics of British "culture and society," for Said

practical debate and political struggle. The question cannot be adequately

imperialism takes priority, and not just because of his own experience as a

addressed without considering the roles that "diasporic intellectuals" such as

Palestinian. After all, as Marx understood, it was the "primitive accumulation"

Stuart Hall have played in the development both of the British New Left and

through early imperialist ventures, including the slave trade, that provided the

of cultural studies (Morley and Chen

1996: I I ). But the key issue has to do

financial basis for capitalist industrialization to develop (and not only in

with whether cultural studies has or even can shed the at least residual


organicism and "Anglocentrism" that cling to Williams's models of culture,

England, but elsewhere in western Europe). In her contribution to

beyond the Border Country, Gauri Viswanathan offers an extended analysis of

community, and communication.

what she calls "the limits of metropolitan cultural theory" in relation to British

Said himself comes close to making this point when, during his


"colonialism." According to Viswanathan: "we would have to go back

dialogue with Williams, he says, " for me ... culture has been used as essentially

to . . .Williams to trace the genealogy of a critical approach that consistently and

not a cooperative and communal term but rather as a term of exclusion.

Culture and Society

exclusively studies the formation of metropolitan culture from within its own

Certainly if you read

(2 1 8). As she notes, it isn't exactly that Williams completely ignores the imperial factor, but he minimizes it in a number of ways. In his most extended account of imperialism, at the end of The Country and the City,

exception all the maj or statements on culture in the nineteenth century by the

the stress is on British economic exploitation of its colonies. Viswanathan

of race" (Said and Williams

rightly complains: "In his analyses of British culture Williams radically

other factors, related to "exclusion," that inform his conception of culture as it


questions that same analytical framework of economic determinism by which he simultaneously explains British imperialism"

(225). In other words,

again, and take almost without

great sages and novelists, they refer to 'our' culture as opposed to 'theirs, ' 'theirs' being defined and marginalized essentially, in my argument, by virtue

1 989: 1 96). Said goes on to mention a number of

involves both race and imperialism: "And so I think culture has to be seen as not only excluding but also


there is this tradition [e.g., English

Williams understood imperialism as a one-way street-an imposition by the

literature] which you are required to understand and learn and so on, but you

colonizer on the colonized-without developing a model of "reciprocity" or

cannot really be of it; you can be in it but you are not

exile and immigration

of it.

... and then of

"hybridity" like that which characterizes his understanding of community,

course the whole problematic of

communications, class conflict, and even "neo-nationalism" in the British

people who simply don't belong in any culture; this is the great modern or, if


you like, post-modern fact, the standing outside of cultures." (Said and



reading of Britain

in relation to



On Welsh neo-nationalism, see Tom Nairn, The Break-Up of Britain, (1986: 1 96-2 1 5). On Said and "the Palestinian experience," see, besides Tire Question ofPalestine and Said's other writings on that topic, [he essay by Nubar Hovespian 1992, "Connections with Palestine."


enters into it, the

See Williams's remarks, however, about both Ireland and race/racism in Towards 2000. pp. 193-196.


Patrick Brantlinger

Edward Said ami/versus Raymond Williams

Williams 1 989: 1 96). Said doesn't mean, of course, that anyone is ever culture-less; he does mean that millions of people today suffer the experience of being "exiled" or "excluded" or otherwise alienated from dominant cultures they nevertheless fmd themselves living within or moving between. Nor are such people in the minority or "minorities." Certainly as the so-called Third World relates economically and culturally to the centres of European and American power, it is the vast maj ority who experience alienation, domination, exclusion. Said's postcolonial stress on the experiences of cultural exclusion, exile, and immigration have no parallel in Williams's work in part because, in contrast to "the Palestinian experience," what Williams has to say about Welshness always comes back to tradition, rootedness, and a sense of belonging, rather comfortably, to a minority "nationality" or culture within the so-called United Kingdom. At the same time, the sense of communal and cultural rootedness is part of what Said both admires and perhaps envies about Williams: "For all the great critics of the twentieth century ...Williams is, in my opinion, the most abiding, the most organically grounded in the profound and sustaining rhythms of human life ... " (Said 1 990: 82). Nevertheless, as Benita Parry notes, "Lodged within [Said's] handsome appreciation of Williams's pathbreaking studies is a commentary on the irrelevance of the colonial experience to his revisionist narrative of the making of English culture, the zones of exclusion staking out the ground on which Said offers an interpretation of imperialism as cOllstitutive of metropolitan cultures" ( 1 992: 2 1 ; her italics). It is precisely the "constituting" of European cultures through their empire-building, and as much from the "margins" to the "centre" as the other way around, that is the subject of Culture and Imperialism, making it also in various ways Said's rewriting-extension and correction-f Culture and Society.' And, inclusive or totalizing though Williams intended his conception of culture to be, exclusion is of major importance both in Said's thinking about how culture operates and more generally in postcolonial studies focused on imperialism, racism, and the many diasporas and migrations that are such major factors in a postrnodern world dominated by war, ethnic cleansings, and transnational capitalism. 6 Said comments directly both on his indebtedness to and on the limitations of Williams's work

at various moments in Culture and imperialism. Besides the introduction, which 1 ave already quoted, see Said's criticisms of The Country alld the Cily-a book he greatly admlTes­ on pp. 65 and 82-83 of Culture and Imperialism.


Much that is valuable in Williams's thinking arises from the increasing need that he saw to figure out the relationship, identity, or difference between culture and ideology. This theoretical urgency was a main form taken by his career-long negotiations with Marxism. In these negotiations, Antonio Gramsci's theory of hegemony came to serve Williams, as it has more generally served cultural studies, as a via media between the economic determinism of the base-superstructure model and the reduction of social class and power relations to mere functions of textuality or discourse, as is the case with Foucault and more generally with poststructuralist cultural criticism. This is also how Said uses Gramsci in Orientalism and elsewhere; the idea of hegemony is what allows him to do a sort of theoretical balancing act-what some of his critics, including Aijaz Ahmad, believe is a contradictory balancing act-between Marxism and poststructuralism. In White Mythologies, Robert Young, for example, considers Orientalism a Foucaultian project that dodges some of the main implications of Foucault's theorization of discourse and power. Thus, Young notes, Said "rejects Foucault's downgrading of the role of individual agency" ( 1 34). He quotes Orienta/ism: Unlike Michel Foucault, to whose work 1 am greatly indebted, I do believe in the determining imprint of individual writers upon the otherwise anonymous collective body of texts constituting a discursive formation like Orientalism


Said clearly wants to assign both agency and responsibility to authors for their roles in constructing, supporting, or contesting modes of cultural domination, including imperialism. He also wants to acknowledge literary or aesthetic quality and power. The dual aspects of art and literature, one aesthetic and the other ideological, are never separable from each other. From a very different perspective than Young's, Ahmad also criticizes Said's apparent privileging of canonical, western authors: " ...what is remarkable is that with the exception of Said's own voice, the only voices we encounter in [Orielltalism] are precisely those of the very Western canonicity which, Said complains, has always silenced the Orient" (Ahmad 1 992: 1 72). But Ahmad's reasoning here is tautological: both Orienlalism and Culture and Imperialism are perforce focused on "Western canonicity," because Orientalism and imperialism (as discursive or ideological formations) are western constructions and impositions on the rest of the world. Ahmad is

Patrick Brantlinger

Edward Said and/versus Raymond Williams

simply restating the major point that Said is making, while assuming that he can tum it into a valid criticism of that very point. Ahmad is no doubt right that Said is deeply indebted to the "High Humanism" of Eric Auerbach, Leo Spitzer, and others, as he is certainly right to praise Said for being, in "the field of Cultural Studies. . . our most vivacious narrator of the history of European humanism's complicity in the history of European colonialism" ( 1 63). But it would be fairer to stress, as does Said himself, that Said's critique of that "complicity" comes through cultural studies, or anyway through the work and influence of Raymond Williams, more obviously than through "High Humanism." This is all the more ironic, given the high praise that Ahmad accords Williams (46-49). Ahmad sees Williams as developing in an increasingly leftward, Marxist direction, and adds:

well as in Said, as a version of "postrnodem pastiche' (202 and elsewhere). But Williams himself, and more generally the cultural studies movement that he helped to generate, committed the (theoretical) sin of theoretical "eclecticism" many times over. Citing Said's insistence that texts must be studied in their "affiliations" with the social, economic, and political, Stuart Hall points out that eclecticism rather than theoretical consistency has been one of the strengths of cultural studies, part of what has allowed it to hold "theoretical and political questions in an ever irresolvable but permanent" and productive "tension" (Hall, "Cultural Studies" 1996: 271-272). That Williams never engaged in theoretical debate with Foucault, Derrida, or even Louis Althusser may be a virtue, but is more likely another limitation of his work (compare Said's critical engagements with especially Foucault and Derrida in The World, the Text, and the Critic, or Jiirgen Habermas's often analogous engagements with these and many other theorists in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, among many other places). But Williams's "culturalist" reformulations of the Marxist base/superstructure model and of certain Marxist conceptions of ideology as mere "false consciousness" clearly moved him, and cultural studies after him, in the direction of the poststructuralist emphasis on "discourse." This emphasis in tum allows both Williams and Said to focus on issues of representation and misrepresentation in the linguistic, cultural, and political meanings of these terms (see, for example, Said's "Representing the Colonized"). And poststructuralism has also supplied Said and many other cultural critics and theorists with tools for theorizing other forms of "difference" besides and in relation to social class. As for Williams, noting "the terror of economic reductionism" expressed by the founders of Cultural Studies, Jim McGuigan points to the many occasions when they have said, in effect, "The Marxist bases/superstructure paradigm is a necessary starting place for thinking about culture and ideology, but it is also too crude. The relations between cultures and economic modes of production are multi-leveled and reciprocal rather than straightforwardly deterministic." Williams makes these points in "Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory" ( 1 980: 3 1 -49) and also in Marxism and Literature, where he writes: "A Marxism without some concept of determination is in effect worthless. A Marxism with many of the concepts of determination it now has is quite radically disabled" (83).


The work of his last decade went from strength to strength... though the breadth of its engagements was hardly to be contained in a given book. In the process, Williams helped to sustain a level of critical discourse not easily dislodged by the kind of new fashions and new orthodoxies that came to dominate literary studies-in sections of the British Left itself but, even more, in the United States (49).

At the end of this passage, Ahmad expresses his Marxist hostility to the various versions of poststructuralist theory, including Foucaultism, that have challenged Marxist historical materialism in a variety of ways. Neither acknowledging the influence of poststructuralism on Williams's thinking, nor acknowledging the full influence of Williams on Said's thinking, Ahmad reaches what seems to me the mistaken conclusion that Orientalism and the later essays that went into the making of Culture and Imperialism are either Foucaultist in a doctrinaire way or marred by a "theoretical eclecticism [which] runs increasingly out of control: sweeping, patently poststructuralist denunciations of Marxism can be delivered in the name of Gramsci, using the terminology explicitly drawn from Althusser, and listing the names of communist poets like Aime Cesaire, Pablo Neruda and Mahmoud Darwish to illustrate the sites of resistance" (200). No doubt it would be unfair to Ahmad to infer from this statement that for any non-communist even to name "communist poets" is either a logical inconsistency or sacrilege. More to the point is the issue of theoretical "eclecticism," which Ahmad repeatedly dismisses, in Fredric Jameson, Gayatri Spivak, Ranajit Guha, and others as


Patrick Brantlinger

Edward Said and/versus Raymond Williams

For Williams, neither a crude economic determinism nor a complete abandonment of base/superstructure analysis made sense. To lose sight of the economic altogether, or even to treat it as another aspect of a given social formation, on a par with politics or religion, also meant losing sight of class conflict as the central dynamic of history. Yet Williams always insisted that culture is an active, productive process or set of processes that can challenge but that can't be neatly separated from economic factors. In a sequel to his "Base and Superstructure" essay, Williams examines "communication" as a "means of production" ( 1 980: 50-63). Given the proximity of the terms, one can substitute "culture" for "communication" and reach the same result. Williams writes that "communication and its material means are intrinsic to all ... forms of labour and social organization, thus constituting indispensable elements ... of the productive forces" (50). Though rejecting McLuhan' s "technological determinism" (52), Williams argues that "A theoretical emphasis on the means of communication as means of production ... should ...encourage new approaches to the history of the means of communication themselves" (53). Williams did not, of course, arrive at the facile conclusion that communication, or discourse, or textuality is all that there is. Gramsci's conception of hegemony allowed him to analyze various modes of cultural domination while continuing to assert quite logically that such analysis was both materialist and Marxist. At the same time, if instead of Foucault's "discourse," Williams continued to use and emphasize the term "culture," the differences between their theoretical positions were not finally, perhaps, very significant. And though Said, perhaps especially in Orientaiism, uses "discourse," "representation," and "culture" almost interchangeably, that is not necessarily a matter of theoretical inconsistency. For both Williams and Said, "culture" names the key site or condition of hegemonic struggles over economic resources, political power, and representation. For both, though no doubt in different measures and ways, culture is simultaneously inclusive and exclusive, the very stuff of modes of domination throughout history and at the same time the stuff of human hope and possibility. It is this last, positive or potentially positive aspect of culture that helps to explain why both Williams and Said privilege - if that is the proper term - great works of literature (whether western or nonwestern), even as they combine literary and social criticism. Just as the Frankfurt School theorists-Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, and more recently Jiirgen Habermas-have seen

in the "aesthetic dimension" a source of utopian possibility, so Williams and Said see such a source in great literature and art. Why else is it that so many novelists, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers have been censored, incarcerated, executed, or otherwise silenced by repressive regimes around the world and throughout history? Culture and Imperialism names many such writers, artists, and intellectuals. So do Said's numerous books and articles on the Palestinian struggle. But it isn't the "humanist" or "idealist" privileging of western, canonical literature that Ahmad finds most upsetting about Orientalism. It is instead what Ahmad calls Said's "breezy dismissal" of Marx as an Orientalist and even a collaborator with British imperialism:



So uncompromising is [Orientalism 1 in its Third-Warldist passion that Marxism itself, which has historically given such sustenance to so many of the anti-imperialist movements of our time, can be dismissed, breezily, as a child of Orientalism and an accomplice of British colonialism ( 1 95) .

But what Said actually says about Marx in Orientalism differs considerably from breezy dismissal: Karl Marx identified the notion of an Asiatic economic system in his 1853 analyses of British rule in India, and then put beside that immediately the human depredation introduced into this system by English colonial interference, rapacity, and outright cruelty. In article after article he returned with increasing conviction to the idea that even in destroying Asia, Britain was making possible there a real social revolution ( 1 53).

This passage is only a fraction of Said's treatment of Marx and Marxism in Orientalism. Marx, Said rightly insists, was at once passionately anti­ imperialist and yet also capable of "orientalizing" Asia in three major ways shared by other Orientalists such as John Stuart Mill. First, Marx identified a static mode of production-the Asiatic mode-that, he believed, held true throughout the Orient. Second, he translated this notion of economic inertia into the claim that all of Asia had no "history" worthy of consideration. And third, he believed that, however painfully and tragically, the road of progress for all of Asia was the road that capitalist imperialism was forcing it to travel. These are the same points that Brian Tumer, for one, makes about Marx in Orientalism, Pas/modernism alld Globalism. The conclusion is inescapable that "Marx. . . share[s] much of this Western legacy of perceiving the Orient as a

Patrick Brantlinger

Edward Said ancl/versus Raymond Williams

unified system, one characterized by stationariness, lack of social change, the




absence of modernization, the absence of a middle-class bourgeois culture,

1 994: 5). of Oriel!lalism

and the absence of a civil society" (Turner A number of Ahmad's criticisms

Ahmad, Aijaz have been made, more

temperately, by Turner, Robert Young, Lisa Lowe, and others, as well as by Said



that Said







collaborator with British imperialism is not a valid criticism. Rather, in


and many other places, Said expresses high respect for Marx, as

he does also for Raymond Williams. In

Culture and Imperialism,




of Western







departments," for being "blinded to the matter of imperialism." He goes on to cite Habermas's assertion, in an interview published in

New Left Review,


Frankfurt School critical theory has "nothing to say to anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles in the Third World,' even if, [Habermas] adds, I am aware .. .that this is a eurocentrically limited view. '" Said continues:

( 1 992), In 17Jeory: Classes, Nations Literatures.

London: Verso

Books. Brennan, Tim

( 1 992),

"Places of Mind, Occupied Lands: Edward Said and

Philology." Sprinker, ed.

Edward Said: 74-95.

( 1 993),views Beyond the Border Country: Raymond Williams and Cultural Politics. London and

Dworkin, Dennis L. and Leslie G. Roman, eds. New York: Routledge. Foucault, Michel


( 1 977),

Language. Counter-Memory. 1 1 3-138. 171e Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double

"What Is an Author?"

Ithaca: Cornell UP:

( 1 993), Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP. Habermas, Jurgen ( 1 987), 17,e Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Gilroy,


Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

(1 996), "Cultural Studies and Its Theoretical Legacies. Morley and Chen, eds. Stuart Hall: 262-275. Hall, Stuart (1 996), "The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual." Morley and Chen, eds. Stuart Hall: 484-503. Hovespian, Nubar ( 1 992), "Connections with Palestine." Sprinker, ed. Edward Said: 5-18. Lowe, Lisa ( 1 99 1 ), Critical Terrains: French alld British Orientalisms. Hall, Stuart

All the major French theoreticians except Deleuze, Todorov, and Derrida have been similarly unheeding, which has nol prevented their ateliers from churning oul theories of Marxism, language, psychoanalysis, and history with an implied applicability to the whole world. Much the same thing can be said of most Anglo-Saxon cultural theory, with the important exceptions of feminism, and a small handful of work by young critics influenced by Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall ( 1 993: 278). Said then asks, "iC European theory and Western Marxism... haven't in the main











imperialism... how has ... liberationist anti-imperialism tried to break [the] shackling unity" of western cultural, political, and economic domination? One answer to that question is through Said's own work, and more generally through the postcolonial studies movement which Said has done so much to shape and inspire. Whether such work is an extension of cultural studies or is instead a distinct development necessarily critical of cultural studies is fmally, perhaps, undecidable. What is at least clear is that, as far as Said himself is concerned, Marx, the Marxist tradition, and Raymond Williams as a major recent exemplar of that tradition must continue to be read, respected, and emulated for postcolonial studies to achieve its own goals of cultural critique and liberation from imperialist and racist domination.

Ithaca: Cornell UP. McGuigan,


(1 992), Cultural Populism.

London and New


Routledge. Morley, David, and Kuan-Hsing Chen, eds.

( 1 996), Stuart Hall: Critical

Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London: Routledge. ( 1 98 1 ), The Break-up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism .

Nairn, Tom

London: Verso. Parry, Benita

( 1 992),

"Overlapping Territories and Intertwined Histories:

Edward Said's Postcolonial Cosmopolitanism." Sprinker, ed. Edward Said: 1 9-47. Said, Edward ( 1 978), Orielltalislll. New York: Vintage Books. Said, Edward ( 1 979), "Orientalism Reconsidered." Race and Class 27:2 ( 1 985): 1 - 1 5 . Said, Edward ( 1 979), 17, e QuestiOIl ofPalestine. New York: Times Books.


Patrick Brantlinger

Said, Edward

( 1 983), The World, the Text, and the Critic.

Cambridge, MA:

Harvard UP.

( 1 990), "Narrative, Geography and Interpretation." New Left Review 1 80: 8 1 -97. Said, Edward ( 1 993), Culture and Imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Said, Edward, and Raymond WiJliams (1 989), "Media, Margins and Modernity." In Raymond Williams, The Politics ofModernism: 1 77-197. Sprinker, Michael, ed. ( 1 992), Edward Said: A Critical Reader. Oxford: Said, Edward

Chapter 4


Turner, Brian S.

( 1 994), Orientalism. Postmodernism and Globalism.


and New York: Routledge. Viswanathan, Gauri

( 1 993),


"Raymond WiJliams and British Colonialism: The

Limits of Metropolitan Cultural Theory." Dworkin and Roman, eds.

Border Country: 2 1 7-230. ( 1 980), Problems ill Materialism and Culture.

Williams, Raymond


Bill Ashcroft

Verso. Williams, Raymond

( 1 9 8 1 ) , Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left

Review. London: Verso. ( 1 983), Towards 2000 London: Chatto and Windus Williams, Raymond ( 1 989),Resources of Hope: Culture Democracy. Socialism. London: Verso. Williams, Raymond ( 1 989),The Politics of Modernism. Ed. Tony Pinkney. Williams, Raymond

London: Verso. Young, Robert

( 1 990), White Mythologies: Writing History and the West. New

York and London: Routledge.

Readers of this book will by now be aware of how complicated and paradoxical Edward Said's relationship with post-colonial studies can be seen to be. While we can never take any of Said's pronouncements on matters of contemporary theory as fixed in stone for all time, it is clear that he has neither a close acquaintance with post-colonial theory, nor, in many of his statements (because he hates all 'isms'), a clear understanding of its aims. Post-colonial theory itself, as we may deduce from Arif Dirlik's view of its supposed non­ materiality, is open to almost endless interpretation. So, not surprisingly, it is not at all clear what Said himself means by the term. Nevertheless, whether we accept the myth of Said's originary status or not, a close look at Said's writing, to assess what, exactly, is identifiably 'postcolonial' about his work, might prove to be of great benefit. Edward Said and


have become synonymous in contemporary

critical thinking. If any book has stood out as a pivotal text in contemporary cultural theory it is his ground breaking analysis of Europe' s discursive construction of the Orient. But this book, and indeed, all of Said's work, can only be understood fully in the context of his view of the role of the intellectual in contemporary society and the function of criticism itself. Despite the widespread celebration of


and its pivotal place in


Bill Ashcroft

post-colonial theory, it is the concept of 'worldliness' which stands as Said's most significant contribution to critical theory.' Apart from arguments about his status as a post-colonial intellectual, and whether he is aware of it or not, worldliness defines Said's post-coloniality. Worldliness underlies the project of Orientalism itself, and perhaps more importantly, represents a view of the text, of the material situation of writing, of the /ocatioll of literature, which will outlast the poststructuralist anxiety which often haunts contemporary critical practice. It is this dogged and unfashionable commitment to worldliness, rather than the immensely influential analysis of knowledge/power in Orientalism that best characterises Said's place in that shifting field called 'post-colonial theory. ' While Said's ' place' in post-colonial theory is controversial, both politically and historically, (and by most accounts constantly changing), there is no doubt that at the level of the materiality of the text, and the commitment to understanding writing as a political practice, his interests converge very strongly with post-colonial analysis. Said's own worldliness, the paradox of his identity, is so pronounced, and such a central feature of his cultural theory, that he forces us to re-assess the nature of the link between the text and its author. The controversies surrounding his position as a post-colonial intellectual, several of which are aired in this book, may well benefit from a consideration of the issue of worldliness. In the end, the proper assessment of Edward Said's relationship to post-colonial theory may not reside so much in his cultural criticism, in books such as Orienta/ism, as in his contribution to textual theory. Whatever his stated view of the critical landscape, worldliness is Said's most 'post-colonial' contribution to textual analysis. The trenchant consistency of Said's posi tion and the wide-ranging scope of his interests have been obscured by two things: the dominance of poststructuralism in textual analysis over the last two decades; and the extraordinary prominence of Orientalism in his reputation as a cultural critic. In the concept of worldliness we discover a principle which retrieves the materiality of the world for political and cultural theory and which offers a powerful resource in the post-colonial resistance to the poststructuralist dispersal of meaning. Said's insistence on the materiality of the text, the 'worldliness' of its production and reception, its being-in-the-world, pre-dates


This, and other aspects of Said's work, are more fu lly elaborated in Bill Ashcroft and Pal Ahluwalia, Edward Said: the Paradox of Identity London: Routledge 1999.



the euphoric reception of deconstruction by the American academy in the seventies which Said helped introduce ( 1 97 1 ; 1 97 1 a; 1 972). As post­ structuralism begins to wane, Said's commitment to 'worldliness' remains as strong as ever. Yet one more paradox in a paradoxical career, we find that Said's extensive reputation as a cultural critic is underpinned by his much lesser known intellectual position as a literary theorist, particularly his stance on textuality. The issues which stand out in Said's writing include: his concept of 'secular criticism,' by which he means a criticism freed from the priestly restrictions and unreflective certainties of intellectual special ization; his concomitant advocacy of 'amateurism' in intellectual life; a need for the intellectual's actual or metaphoric exile from 'home,' and his passionate view of the need for intellectual work to recover its connections with the political realities of the society in which it occurs, to recognize its 'worldliness.' It is the relationship of criticism to the world which underlies his exposure of the way in which the 'Orient' has emerged as a discursive construction, and how contemporary 'Islam' continues to evolve as an alien construction of the West ' indeed of the way the West continually constructs its others. The almost obsessive commitment to ' secularism' and 'amateurism' in critical practice and the suspicion of intellectual specialization this produces, puts Said in an ambiguous relationship with that discourse with which so many have connected him - post-colonial criticism. As Patrick Williams points out in this volume, Said's flirtation with the tenn in the 1 980s has turned to opposition, partly, as becomes clear, because he has not read much post-colonial theory, but mostly because he remains suspicious of ' specializations' of any kind. Hence, a discussion of 'Edward Said and the Postcolonial' is a far from simple or hagiographic activity. No contemporary cultural critic is more paradoxically located in a political and professional milieu. This paradox is the key to Said's own worldliness, for it leaves him in a certain antipathy, if we are to read the signs aright, with the very intellectual discourse which has been a major vehicle of his increasing stature as a cultural critic. This question of worldliness, of the writer's own position in the world, gets to the heart of another paradox central to this consideration of Edward Said's work - how do we read texts? For, any text, Said's included, is constructed out of many available discourses, discourses within which writers themselves may be seen as subjects 'in process', and which they may not have

Bill Ashcroft


had in mind when they put pen to paper. Worldliness begins by asking one of the most contentious questions in politically oriented theory: who addresses us in the text? And this is a question we must ask of Edward Said's work, for there is no other cultural theorist who so intimately constructs his identity through his own texts. Ultimately, worldliness is concerned with the materiality of the text's origin, for in this material being is embedded in the very materiality of the matters of which it speaks; dispossession, injustice, marginality, and subjection. In many respects it is this concept of worldliness, a commitment to which underlies his examination of Oriental ism, rather than Orielltalism itself which constitutes Said's most strategic contribution to post­ colonial theory. It is the approach to the text's worldliness, and the desire for criticism to actually speak to an intellectual 's public audience, that drives Said. All approaches to literary criticism, he claims, have fallen into the trap of specialization, a 'cult of professional expertise' which has rendered them marginal to the pressing political concerns of contemporary societies ( 1 983: I). In contrast, "Secular Criticism" dispenses with 'priestly' and abstruse specialization in favour of a breadth of interest and an 'amateurism' of approach which avoids the retreat of intellectual work from the actual society in which it occurs. No matter how much intellectuals may believe that their interests are of "higher things or ultimate values" the morality of the intellectual's practice begins with its location in the secular world, and is affected by "where it takes place, whose interests it serves, how it jibes with a consistent and universalist ethic, how it discriminates between power and justice, what it reveals of one's choices and priorities" ( 1 994: 89). The secular trinity he espouses - 'world', the 'text' and the 'critic' - is in direct contrast to the 'theologies' of contemporary theoretical schools which lead, he claims, to a continually inward-turning professional critical practice. American criticism, according to Said, had retreated, by the seventies, into the labyrinth of 'textuality', the mystical and disinfected subject matter of literary theory. Textuality is the exact antithesis of history, for although it takes place, it doesn't take place anywhere or anytime in particular. "As it is practiced in the American academy today, literary theory has for the most part isolated textuality from the circumstances, the events, the physical senses that made it possible and render it intelligible as the result of human work" ( 1 983: 4). Ironically, the increasingly complex and even dazzling program of contemporary theory has left it less and less to say to the society from which it

emerges. "In having given up the world entirely for the aporias and unthinkable paradoxes of the text, contemporary criticism has retreated from its constituency, the citizens of modem society, who have been left to the hands of 'free' market forces, multinational corporations" ( 1 983: 4). The alternative to such specialization is a form of criticism from which ambiguity and contradiction cannot be entirely removed but which happily pay that price in order to reject dogma. As lanMohamed puts it, within this paradoxical formulation "criticism functions to define that which is simultaneously to be affirmed and denied" ( 1 992: I l l ). Criticism is thus not a science but an act of political and social engagement, that is sometimes paradoxical, sometimes contradictory, but which tries to avoid solidifying into dogmatic certainty. The problem with Said, of course, is that his textual theory has developed no clear way of distinguishing dogma from commitment, nor has his own commitment always avoided the lure of dogma.



THE TEXT IN THE WORLD Structuralism radically disrupted the classical realist assumption that texts such as books were simple communications from a writer to a reader. But the legacy of its subtle and influential investigation of the structures of texts was the neglect of the fact that texts are actually located in the world. To treat the text as merely a structure of the paradigmatic and syntagmatic, say, is to divorce the text, which is a cultural production, a cultural aCI, from the relations of power within which it is produced. Such a tendency concretizes, and to some extent renders inert, the desire which drove the text into being in the frrst place: "a desire - to write - that is ceaseless, varied, and highly unnatural and abstract, since "to write" is a function never exhausted by the completion of a piece of writing" ( 1 983: 1 3 1). Thus, for Said, the notion of a text not only extends beyond its spatial and objective location in the work, as it does for Barthes, it extends beyond the material presence of the script. Writing is the complex, and generally orderly translation of many different forces into decipherable script, forces which all converge on the desire 10 write which is a choice made over the desire to speak, to dance, to SCUlpt (1983: 129). The failure to take this into account in literary criticism is not simply a problem for structuralist and poststructuralist analysis. In some respects much professional literary criticism has reduced the text to an object

Bill Ashcroft



and in so doing obscures its own real relations with power. But the concept of the text's worldliness is crucial, for any analysis of a discourse such as Orientalism: such a discourse both constructs and 'emerges' from a particular kind of world. It is the exposure of the link between academic textual practice and such relations of power which underlies Said's critique of Orientalist discourse. Clearly, in societies with no tradition of literary writing, the desire to write can become a highly charged and highly mediated political act. Why one form of writing and not another? Why at that moment and not another? Why literary writing anyway? The fulfilment of the post-colonial desire to write often occurs as a function of that ambivalence instituted by the disarticulation of colonialism itself. But in any case, there are sequences, constellations, complexes of rational choices made by (or for) the writer for which the evidence is a printed text ( 1 983 : 129). Writing is not some sort of second order representation of an experience which is already there, but it may be produced for something formed

in the writing

itself. We may thus dismiss the

idea of literature being a copy of an original experience, just as we may reject the idea of history as a line moving from origin to present. A text, in its actually

being a text is

a being in the world ( 1 98 3 : 33). That

is, it has a material presence, a cultural and social history, a political and even an economic being as well as a range of implicit connections to other texts. Any simple diametrical opposition asserted between, on the one hand, speech, bound by situation and reference, and, on the other, the text as an interception or suspension of speech's worldliness, is misleading. Texts have ways of existing which even in their most rarefied form are always enmeshed in circumstance, time, place and society, "in short, they are in the world, and hence worldly" ( 1 983: 35). This is crucial fact which has been obscured by the contemporary obsession with signification: while the meaning of the text might be deferable, its locatedness is not. Locatedness is the point from which the elaboration of meaning proceeds, not the unreachable point to which the understanding of meaning is directed. Like Derrida, Said disputes the idea that speech is prior to writing, that the written text merely reflects or reproduces the ideal spoken text. But Said rejects Derrida's proposition of the deferral of signification, the endlessness of interpretation.


for him,



their materiality,


worldliness by their situatedness in just the same way as speech. Rather than a separation from the world, or from speech, texts announce their link with

verbality. The structural


features of textuality are an extremely useful

analytical tool, but they run the risk of positing the social and political significance of the text as merely an effect of textuality, an invention of those textual strategies which inscribe it. Clearly, the political necessity of the text's worldliness is crucial for the post-colonial text in particular, not only for its capacity to represent the world but also for its aim to actually


in, to

intervene in the world. This worldliness is a feature of all texts as a feature of their way of being in the world, but it is obviously critical to those dominated societies attempting to resist and transform the discourses of the dominant. Theoretically, the key challenge for Said is to negotiate a path between two attitudes to the text which in different ways misrepresent how texts have a being in the world. On the one hand, the classical realist position sees the text as simply referring to the world 'out there.' Such a view fails to take into account the ways in which language mediates and determines what is seen in the world. On the other hand, a structuralist-inspired position sees the world as having no absolute existence at all but as being entirely constructed by the text. This view would not allow for any non-textual experience of the world, nor for any world outside the text. Said negotiates these extremes in this way: the text (and by this we can mean speech, pictures and all other forms of texts) is important in negotiating our experience of the world, but the worldliness and circumstantiality of the text, "the text's status as an event having sensuous particularity as well as historical contingency, are considered as being incorporated in the text, an infrangible part of its capacity for conveying and producing meaning" ( 1 98 3 : 39). This means that the text is crucial in the way we 'have' a world, but the world exists as the text' s location, and that worldliness is constructed within the text. The text has a specific situation which places restraints upon an interpreter, "not because the situation is hidden within the text as a mystery but because the situation exists at the same level of surface particularity as the textual object itself' ( 1 983: 39). The text does not exist outside the world, as is the implication in both the realist and structuralist positions, but is a part of the world of which it speaks, and this worldliness is itself present in the text as a part of its formation. Writing is ' affiliative' rather than ' filiative' with experience; it "counters nature." But in this affiliation with the social world, this production of experience Said sees one of the most resonant confirmations of the text's worldliness. While filiation (or inheritance) suggests a utopian domain of texts connected serially, homologously and seamlessly with other texts, in a body of


Bill Ashcroft







Literature, "




association) is that which enables a text to maintain itself as a text, the "status of the author, historical moment, conditions of publication, diffusion and reception, values drawn upon, values and ideas assumed, a framework of consensually held tacit assumptions, presumed background, and so on" ( 1 983: 1 74-5). The affiliations of the text constantly lead us back to its worldliness, for we are drawn to ask the questions "Where is the text taking place?" "How is it taking place?" (Ashcroft 1996: 6). Affiliation draws us inexorably to the location and the

locatedness of the text's production.

Affiliation sends the critical gaze beyond the narrow confines of the European literary canon, or any literary tradition, into this cultural texture. "To


turning, so the filiative connection of the intellectual to some professional specialisation seems to remove him or her from the very world in which the work of the







it prevents

professional practice from any recognition of the actual relations of power within which it operates. In both cases the filiative connection to some form of tradition removes the possibility, as it removes the desire, for agency, the possibility to speak truth to falsehood, oppression and inj ustice. Worldliness is affiliative, and the tendency for the critic to be locked into some limited professional identity must be resisted at all costs because it removes the critic from the a fundamental responsibility - to criticize.

recreate the affiliative network is therefore to make visible, to give materiality back to the strands holding the text to society, author and culture" (Said 1983:


175). This concern with the materiality of the text also allows Said to read the texts of English literature 'contrapuntally' ( \ 993: 59), to see the extent to


for Said,

is personal,


entwined with the


which they are implicated in the broad political project of imperialism.

implicated in its processes of representation, and committed to the notion that

Traditionally assumed to be connected filiatively to the discourse of 'English

the intellectual, through the operation of the oppositional, critical spirit, can

literature,' the text now can be seen to be affiliated with the network of

reveal hypocrisy, uncover the false, prepare the ground for change. The critic

history, culture and society within which it comes into being and is read.

operates within as complex a network of affiliations as does the text. Critics

Said has also used the concept to describe the way the network of

are not the simple translators of texts into circumstantial reality. The

affiliation links colonised societies to imperial culture. Cultural identities are

reproduction of textuality in criticism is itself bound up in circumstance, in

understood as "contrapuntal ensembles" ( 1 993: 60) and the often hidden

'worldliness.' Indeed, for both post-colonial writer and critic, this worldliness

affiliations of both

are amenable to a

is a crucial factor, for the manner and target of its address, its oppositionality,

contrapuntal reading. Clearly, the concept of affiliation is useful for describing

its revelatory powers of representation, its liminality, are fundamental features

the ways in which

imperial colonized

and colonial


societies replace filiative connections to

indigenous cultural traditions with affiliations to the social, political and

of its being in the world. Ontology and epistemology are joined: what it can know is indistinguishable from what it is

in the world.

That is to say that the

cultural institutions of empire. Affiliation refers to "that implicit network of

way in which the post-colonial text exists in discourse determines what can be

peculiarly cultural associations between forms, statements and other aesthetic


elaborations on the one hand and, on the other, institutions, agencies, classes,

Consequently, the 'worldliness' of the critic is just as fundamental as the

and amorphous social forces" ( 1 74). Said links the concept to Gramsci's

worldliness of the text. Thus, when we read Said's analysis of Orienta list

notion of hegemony by suggesting that the affiliative network itself is the field

discourse, or the link between imperial culture and imperial domination, or the

of operation of hegemonic control, and this may be evident particularly in the

continuation of this link in contemporary representations of Palestinians

case of the control of imperial culture. We can see the significance of Said's preference for affiliation extending into every aspect of his work. For just as the idea of the text related

( 1 980; 1 98 1), the issue of worldliness becomes a crucial feature of the


of those texts.


for instance, does not simply aim to

investigate the array of disciplines or to exhaustively elaborate the historical

' filiatively' to "English Literature" seems to sever it from its connection with

or cultural provenance of Orientalism, but rather to reverse the 'gaze' of the

the world, to the extent that critical appreciation becomes ever more inward

discourse, to analyze it from the point of view of an 'Oriental' - to "inventory

Bill Ashcroft


the traces upon. . . the Oriental subject, of the culture whose domination has

problems, values, even lives to be fought for" (1983: 28). Here, we find

been so powerful a fact in the life of all Orientals" (Said 1 978: 25). How Said,

encapsulated his view of the function of the public intellectual.


the celebrated American academic, can represent himself as a marginalised oriental, demonstrates how paradoxical worldliness can become.


This is a difficult, not to say determinedly heroic position, but it cannot be separated from the social historical conditions of his own location as a

The problem with contemporary criticism is an extreme functionalism

Palestinian speaking from the 'centre,' the elite metropolitan academy. That is

which pays too much attention to the text's formal operations, but far too little

to say, Said's own life has provided ample evidence of the need to aim one's

to its materiality. The result of this is that the text becomes "a kind of self­


consuming artefact; idealized, essentialized, instead of remaining the special

Palestinian politics, and the banning of his books in Palestine. Too often,

kind of cultural object it is with a causation, persistence, durability and social

oppositional criticism can become stuck in an uncritical and unreflective

presence quite its own" ( 1 983: 148). The materiality of the text refers to

ideological mire. For Said, criticism is by its very nature oppositional; "If

in every direction:


from Arafat,



various things: the ways, for example in which the text is a monument, a

criticism is reducible neither to a doctrine or a political position on a particular

cultural object sought after, fought over, possessed, rejected, or achieved in

question, and if it is to be in the world and self-aware simultaneously, then its

time. The text's materiality also includes the range of its authority. But these all locate it

in the world.

The need for criticism to return to the world is the desire of post-colonial

identity is its difference from other cultural activities and from systems of thought or of method" ( 1 983: 29). This is salutary advice for critical positions, such as post-colonial ones, which see themselves, if not exactly embattled and

criticism in general. It is all very well, for instance, to unravel the endless

marginalized, at least providing a venue for the critical work of those who feel

paradoxes involved in the question 'what is reality?' while safely ensconced in

culturally dominated.

the metropolitan academy. But if that reality involves material and emotional

Said's refusal of both the rarefied world of pure textuality and the

deprivation, cultural exclusion and even death, such questions appear self­

ideologically impacted world of political dogma, is the ground of his effort to

indulgent and irrelevant. This 'secular' return to the world captures the

reconnect literary criticism with the world of political and cultural reality. The

particular nature of the ambivalent relationship between post-colonial studies

essence of Said's critical spirit, despite his impassioned espousal of the cause

and contemporary theory, quite apart from Said's direct exposure of the

of those marginalized by what some have called "NATOpolitan" hegemony, is

constructions of the post-colonial world by the West. · For Said, criticism goes beyond specific positions. Criticism that is

the refusal to be locked into a school, ideology or political party, and his

"modified in advance by labels like "Marxism" or "liberalism" ( 1 983: 28)" (or

this to the extent he might have wished, particularly in his discussions of

"feminism" or, paradoxically, "postcolonialism" as well, we may assume), is

Orientalism and Islam, is debatable, but it does not diminish the fundamental

to him an oxymoron. "The history of thought, to say nothing of political

impetus of his desire to return criticism to the world.

determination not to exempt anything from criticism. Whether he has achieved

movements is extravagantly illustrative of how the dictum "solidarity before

The consequences of 'worldliness' are quite profound for the critic. Said

criticism" means the end of criticism" ( 1 983: 28). This really gets to the heart

introduces the disarming, not to say disconcerting idea of the critic as

of what Said means by 'secular criticism,' for it is not only the quasi-religious

'amateur,' by which he means that the critic must refuse to be locked into

quietism of complex and abstruse theoretical thought - that of the "priestly


caste of acolytes" which he rejects, but also the ideologically impacted and

vocabulary and speak only to other specialists. The cult of professional

impervious position of "the dogmatic metaphysicians" ( 1 983: 5). He takes

expertise in criticism is pernicious because it surrenders the actual material








criticism so seriously as to believe that "even in the very midst of a battle in

and political concerns of society to a discourse dominated by economists and

which one is unmistakably on one side against another, there should be

technocrats. This situation obtains in every developed nation in the world

criticism, because there must be critical consciousness if there are to be issues,

today, to the extent that economic and technological discourse is regarded not only as being the best and most canny representation of the real world, but the

Bill Ashcroft


only true reflection of human affairs. Questions of justice, oppression, marginalisation, or hemispheric, national and racial equality are submerged almost entirely beneath the language of money economy with its utopian dream that 'if the figures are right everything else will fall into place.' It is in such "amateurism" that the worldliness of the critic can be fully realised. This does not mean a superficial dilettantism but a reversal of the trend of literary theory (in particular) to tum its back on the circumstances and real events of the society for which criticism actually exists. The word 'amateur' is a useful one because its perjorative connotations disrupt our sense of the function that the intellectual fills in contemporary society. Asked why he used the term amateur rather than 'generalist', Said replied that he was drawn to the literal meaning of the French word which means a love of something, "very involved in something without being professional" (Ashcroft 1996: 8). Said's own work is ample demonstration of the somewhat ironically termed business of the amateur. His province has been everything from literary theory, to textual criticism, history, discursive analysis, sociology, musicology, anthropology, and all this emerging in a form of cultural studies which, above all, has highlighted the politics of cultural difference in the post­ colonial world. There is possibly no other contemporary cultural theorist who demonstrates so well the situatedness of the text of criticism, who reinforces so completely the need to consider the affiliations of criticism itself in any appreciation of its relationship with the text or texts it scrutinizes. The attempt to produce a criticism which engages the real material ground of political and social iife is one which persists unflaggingly over the last twenty years. For Said, criticism continually crosses the boundaries between academic and journalistic texts, between professional and public forums, and between professional specialisations for at base its character and purpose are urgent and immediate. "Criticism must think of itself as life-enhancing and constitutively opposed to every form of tyranny, domination, and abuse; its social goals are noncoercive knowledge produced in the interests of human freedom" ( 1 983: 29). The refusal of ideological or theoretical dogma also underlies Said's willingness to consider what normally might be regarded as conservative positions, particularly in relation to the efficacy of historical and empirical scholarship, alongside radical views of social and political relations.




When we talk about the affiliations of the critic, it becomes extremely difficult to relegate criticism to some idealized zone of textuality. For the critic, the affiliations within which he or she operates are crucial to what is actually produced. Said's own case is a consummate demonstration of this: occupying a prestigious position in a maj or university, he has become one of the most widely known critics in the world. In his own position as a powerful and prestigious academic, he must engage constantly on the one hand with the academic discourse which, in a sense, gave him intellectual birth and from which he speaks, and on the other hand with the extensively marginalised position of his own constituency - the Palestinian and Islamic world. Edward Said's own worldliness is marked by a series of contradictions, which, far from being debilitating, demonstrate the paradoxical nature of all identity formation, and in particular the identity of diasporic peoples. A great deal of the problem with 'regulated' identities, such as national, ethnic or religious filiations, is that the formula is generally unable to accommodate the actual disparate, contradictory and developing character of SUbjectivity. Because of his public profile Edward Said demonstrates these contradictions in full measure. But most significantly, he reveals that contradiction may well be an essential feature of identity, this is precisely why restricted notions of identity tend towards exclusion rather than inclusion. The celebrated American academic who passionately and paradoxically claims his status as a marginalised and besieged Palestinian, reveals contradictions at many other levels. The cultural critic reveals himself to be a cultural elitist in his tastes, preferring Western music and canonical literature; the cultural critic who repeatedly constructs himself as an exile has a home in Columbia University, indeed, could not live anywhere but New York. Lionized and famous yet victim of a "uniquely punishing destiny," the destiny of an exile, Edward Said demonstrates above all the paradox of the textual nature of identity, the worldliness he espouses so forcefully, being one which in his case is ' written' constantly, inscribed in all his criticism. Paradox and contradiction are the very essence of Said's own worldliness, because this 'world' is the world of the exile. For Said, exile is the key to the secular, non-partisan capacity of the public intellectual to criticize, to "speak truth to power," to expose sham and injustice in governing institutions. Perhaps the best conception of the world of the

Bill Ashcroft


critic's worldliness can be found in a passage from a twelfth century Saxon monk called Hugo of St Victor which Said uses more than once:

as well as that oppositionality and critical rebelliousness which is the very mark of the public intellectual. Perhaps the deepest paradoxes emerge from the intellectual's relationship to culture, because while he or she may be saturated by culture, the deep link between that culture and place locates the exile within the unsettling provisionality of a diasporic culture. The connection between culture and place does not refer simply to a connection with a nation or region, but includes "all the nuances or reassurance, fitness, belonging, association, and community, entailed in the phrase at home or ill place . . It is in culture that we can seek out the range of meanings and ideas conveyed by the phrases belonging to or ill a place, being at home ill a place" ( 1 983: 8). This places the exile in a singular position with regard to history and society, but also a much more anxious and ambivalent position with regard to culture:


The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong man has extended his love to all places; the perfect man has extinguished his (cited in Said 1984: 55 ).

"Only by embracing this attitude," says Said, "can a historian begin to grasp human experience and its written records in their diversity and particularity" ( 1 984: 55). So, paradoxically, to the critic for whom "the entire world is as a foreign land," the almost boundless affiliations of the text's worldliness are readily accessible. Such an attitude not only makes possible originality of vision, but also (since exiles are aware of at least two cultures) a plurality of vision that is essentially contrapuntal ( \ 984: 55). " Because the exile sees things both in terms of what has been left behind and what is actual here and now, there is a double perspective that never sees things in isolation" ( 1994: 44). Thus the form of contrapuntal reading which enables Said to explicate the deep embedding of imperialism in the Western canon in Culture and Imperialism, is posited as a habit of mind of the exile. But while exile is an almost necessary condition for true critical worldliness, "the achievements of any exile are permanently undermined by his or her sense of loss" ( 1 984: 49). While it is "the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place" ( 1 984: 49), nevertheless, the canon of modem Western culture "is in large part the work of exiles" ( 1 984: 49). This tension between personal desolation and cultural empowerment is the tension of exile in Said's own work, a tension which helps explain his own deep investment in the link between the text and the world. For that very worldliness is the guarantee of the invalidity of the text's ownership by nation or community or religion, however powerful those filiative connections might be. The most insistent of these filiations, that of nationalism, arises "to overcome some form of estrangement - from soil, from roots, from unity, from destiny" ( \ 984: 50) because j ust "beyond the perimeter of what nationalism constructs as the nation, at the frontier separating "us" from what is alien, is the perilous territory of not-belonging" ( 1 984: 5 1 ). It is the very risk of entering the territory of not belonging which the 'worldly' critic must take, because the frontier of the nation sets a limit to openness and originality,



Exile .. .is "a mind of winter" in which the pathos of summer and autumn as much as the potential of spring are nearby but unobtainable. Perhaps this is another way of saying that a life of exile moves according to a different calendar, and is less seasonal and settled than life at home. Exile is life led outside habitual order. It is nomadic, decentred, contrapuntal; but no sooner does one get accustomed to it than its unsettling force erupts anew ( 1 984: 55) .

Much of the contradictory nature of Said's view of the interrelation of exile, intellectual and culture, can be explained perhaps by the fact that for him exile is both an actual and a metaphorical condition: The pattern that sets the course for the intellectual as outsider is best exemplified by the condition of exile, the state of never being fully adjusted, always feeling outside the chatty, familiar world inhabited by natives . . . Exile for the intellectual in this metaphysical sense is restlessness, movement, constantly being unsettled, and unsettling others. You cannot go back to some earlier and perhaps more stable condition of being at home; and, alas, you can never fully arrive, be at one in your new home or situation (1994: 39).

One can detect a certain slippage even here between the actual and the metaphorical which suggests that for Said exile is also an act of will that the intellectual performs in order to stand outside the comfortable receptivity of home or nation. For it is difficult to see how far the idea of metaphoricity can be taken without dissolving the concept of exile altogether.

Bill Ashcroft


Certainly in the most powerful exilic influence upon Said, Theodor Adorno, the combination of separation from home and the willed distancing from the everyday world seems complete. The "dominating intellectual conscience of the middle twentieth century, whose entire career skirted and fought the dangers of fascism, communism and Western consumerism" (Said 1 994a: 40), Adorno is a figure whose intellectual and personal life has uncanny echoes in Edward Said's. But curiously, whereas Adorno is the consummate example of the exiled intellectual, he is also one who problematizes the notion, because:



Adorno was the quintessential intellectual, hating all systems, whether on our side or theirs, with equal distaste. For him, life was at its most false in the aggregate - the whole is always the unttue, he once said - and this, he continued, placed an even greater premium on subjectivity, on the individual's consciousness, on what could not be regimented in the totally administered society ( 1 994: 41).

In some respects, Adorno was an exile before he left home. To what extent actual exile exacerbated the tendencies of metaphoric exile already deeply embedded in his nature is a matter of conjecture. It is in exile perhaps, that the unresolvable paradox of Edward Said's worldliness is located. For the line between geographical displacement and intellectual distancing seems impossible to draw. The worldliness of the exiled intellectual does not exist outside textuality, and yet it is a reality which transforms our understanding of the text: while a text has a being in the world, all being is textual at some level. Said's identity is constantly written in his work in a way which blurs the edge between work and life. But that materiality within which the text and the critic must be addressed, that worldliness which disrupts the priestly program of textual analysis, is the key to Said's importance to contemporary cultural and literary theory. Like a cork continually bobbing to the surface, the passionate claim for the text' s worldliness survives all attempts to dissolve writing into the endless deferral of poststructuralist analysis. It is this worldliness which gives intellectual work its seriousness, which makes it "matter," which returns to writing its cultural and political force.


Ashcroft, B. ( 1 996), "Interview with Edward Said", New Literatures Review, 32: 3-22. JanMohamed, A. ( 1 992), "Worldliness-without-World, Homelessness-as­ Home: Toward a Definition of the Specular Border Intellectual" in Michael Sprinker (ed.), Edward Said: A Critical Reader, Oxford: Blackwells. Said, E. ( 1 97 1 ), "Abecedarium Culturae: Structuralism, Absence, Writing," TriQuarterly, (Winter). Said, E. ( 1 9 7 1a) "What is Beyond Formalism?" MLN, December 1 97 1 . Said, E . ( 1 972), "Michel Foucault as an Intellectual Imagil)ation," Boundary 2, (July) 1 : 1 . 1972. Said, E. ( 1 978), Orientalism, New York: Vintage Books. Said, E. ( 1 980) The Question 0/Palestine, London: Vintage. Said, E. ( 1 9 8 1 ) Covering Islam, New York: Vintage ( 1 997) Said, E. ( 1 983), The World, the Text and the Critic, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Said, E. ( 1 984), "The Mind of Winter: Reflections on life in Exile", Hmpers, 269: 49-55 . Said, E . ( 1 99 1 a), "Identity, Authority, And Freedom: The Potentate And The Traveler", Transition, 54: 4-1 8. Said, E. ( 1 993), Culture and imperialism, London: Chatto and Windus. Said, E. ( 1 994), Representations o/the intellectual, The 1993 Reith Lectures, London: Vintage Books. Said, E. ( 1 994a), The Pen and the Sword: Conversations with David Barsamian, Monroe: Common Courage Press. Said, E. ( I 994b), The Politics o/Dispossession, London: Chatto and Windus.

Chapter 5


Linda Hutcheon There is no doubt, as Robert Young ( 1 990: 126) and many others have pointed out, that Edward Said's Orientalism opened up the academic literary scene to the serious study of imperialism. It was both in itself a significant work of literary and cultural history and a self-conscious positioning of the very act of writing history within a larger context, a "strategic formation," as Said called it, that acquired "strength and authority" through its presence "in time, in discourse, in institutions" ( 1 979: 20). Nevertheless, unlike the traditional (usually national) histories that have aimed to legitimize their literatures and cultures through a teleological narrative of progress and development, ' this history's intent was more to "de-legitimize" (Clifford 1 9 8 8 : 266), and fittingly its narrative took a different form - that of an insistent and repetitive witnessing of the constructions and consequences of imperial power. What it de-legitimized was the way the "Orient" had been


On the continuing power of the teleological model in the writing of literary history even from the perspectives of what today we would call "identity politics," see Hutcheon, "Interventionist Literary Histories."

Linda Hutcheon

Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing

represented in the discourses of the "West.'" In so doing, it inaugurated a field of research known as colonial discourse studies - the examination of "how stereotypes, images, and 'knowledge' of colonial subjects and cultures tie in with institutions of economic, administrative, judicial, and bio-medical control" (Loomba 1 998: 47). Such an interrogation of colonial power can obviously be carried out from two opposite points of reference, however: that of empire and that of colony. If the latter is what we have come to call "postcolonial," then the former should most accurately be labelled as "postimperial" to signal its significant difference. It is in its concentration on the imperial discourses of the West that Orientalism constitutes a postimperial literary and cultural history rather than a postcolonial one. Its act of historical witnessing is different in focus and content from anything we could call postcolonial. I use the idea of witnessing here not in its religious sense, but in order to invoke instead its legal and especially its historical meanings. Literary and cultural historians like Said are analogous to the historians Dominick LaCapra calls "secondary witnesses" whose task it is to come to terms with "secondary memory" or "the result of critical work on primary memory" (LaCapra 1 998: 20) - that is, in this case, work on literary and cultural texts and their representations. Secondary memory is also what the historian "attempts to impart to others who have not themselves lived through the experience or events in question" (21). This is, in the end, why such histories are written: as testimonial witnessings of past traumatic encounters between colonizer and colonized. Although, as we shall see, the postimperial and the postcolonial represent constitutively different acts of witnessing, it is at once interesting and significant that Edward Said's various theoretical and political works have participated in and, indeed, been crucial to both. From a literary historical point of view, the founding moment of the postcolonial would be that of its contact with empire - a fact embedded in its very name. The witnessing of the impact of that traumatic encounter over time on the colony (and its discourses of both complicity and resistance) is the task of the postcolonial historian; the witnessing of the sometimes equally strong,

but totally different, impact of that encounter over time on empire (and its discourses of both dominance and decline) is what the postimperial historian undertakes. ' Making such a distinction might illuminate some of the confusions about and misdirected critiques of Orientalism over the last two decades. It might also allow some perspective on Said's complex self­ positioning in his writings. The term postcolonial is a contested one in literary circles these days; ' nevertheless, it has also come to provide a capacious space within which to negotiate a complex series of issues involving inequities of power within the colonial situation. But, in literary historical terms, the perspective taken on that colonial situation from a postcolonial point of view would be that of the culture both as colonized and after. A postcolonial cultural history of India, therefore, would not be an extended history of the nation's complex and multiple cultures, for such a history would clearly include much besides colonialism (Ahmad 1 992: 172); instead, it would be a record only of the impact on and resistances to the traumatic imperial legacy. (Settler-invader colonies would therefore have a different kind of historical narrative of witnessing than subjugated colonies, largely because they did not experience a specific traumatic cultural break with the imposition of empire.') While some have protested the use of the term postcolonial because it linguistically reproduces the centrality of the colonial narrative, surely that is the entire point. To call a history postcolonial (rather than Pakistani, Kenyan, or even Commonwealth) is precisely to state the intent to study the political, historical, aesthetic, and cultural impact of empire upon colony. To write a postimperial or literary history, on the other hand, is not only to study the ways in which imperial discourse constructs and represents the colonized; such a history would also trace the often occulted impact of colony



My quotation marks for this first usage of these two terms (to be dropped subsequently) are intended to signal my agreement with those critics of Said's text who see an essentiaiizing and stereotyping of the West into a monolithic whole that, in a sense, duplicates in reverse the work of Orientalism itself. For sample summaries of such responses, sec, for example, Buell (1 994: 38); Bhabha ( 1 986); Ahmad ( 1 992: 1 83).



A postcolonial perspective can also force a rethinking of imperial canons, of course: "In the very act of distinguishing the Western literary tradition from its other, one discovers unsuspected fissures and highly stratified levels of cultural sedimentatIon at its foundation," argues Moses ( 1 99 1 : 2 1 9). Different writers will look influential in different contexts (217). With a postcolonial focus, it might be Kipling and Conrad rather than Pound and James that become significant. Joyce might not be seen as a formalist modernist but as an Irish anti­ colonialist. , For overviews of these issues, see Shohat (1992); HUlcheon ( 1 995). 5 The native peoples of settler-invader colonies like Canada, New Zealand and Australia did, of course. experience such a traumatic break, but their continuing difficult position within these cultures suggests that postcolonial may be too optimistic a term,

Linda Hutcheon

Oriemalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing

upon empire. In each case, it is imperial discourse (frequently the canon-) that

Covering Islam ( 1 9 8 1 ), After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (1 986), or The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination


is the focus of attention and interrogation. Trauma is obviously something experienced by victims; but it also has an impact upon its perpetrators, as LaCapra has argued in his work on the vexed aesthetic, ethical and political relationship between memory and history in the context of the "transvaluing"

Orientalism Culture and Imperialism, Said

of trauma ( 1 998: 8-9). In

and in many studies since then,


has ably shown that, following the

colonial encounter, the perpetrator' s culture is never the same again either (though the difference is not only manifest in various forms of guilt). As Balachandra

Rajan . has







1969-1994 ( 1 994). Just as Said contains within his person and his intellectual formation the "traces" of both the Orient and the West and of both political activist and humanist theorist, so too his oeuvre contains within it both postcolonial and postimperial impulses. He writes from a plural space, a version of that "intermediary area" that Homi Bhabha calls the "middle of difference" ( 1 997: 435). While it is evident that the postcolonial and the postimperial are mutually implicated and mutually dependent concepts, they are also distinguishable one

interested in how imperial discourse fell apart than in how it came together.

from the other. After all, in conflictual historical encounters, those who are

But it had to come together in order to fall apart" ( 1 998: 494). It is precisely

subjected might well remember - and forget - differently than those who do

the task of postimperialist cultural historians to examine how imperial

the SUbjecting. As Said has shown, the cultural history of the Orient in the

discourse has come together. Interestingly,









West was written from the point of view of the "victors"; that history was also


at times conveniently forgotten by them. Historically, the winners "can afford

postimperialist and postcolonial historian. He asserts that one of his personal

to forget," argues Peter Burke, "while the losers are unable to accept what

reasons for writing


was to "inventory the traces upon me, the

happened and are condemned to brood over it, relive it, and reflect how

Oriental subject, of the culture whose domination has been so powerful a

different it might have been" (1 989: 106). As postcolonial cultural historian,

factor in the life of all Orientals" (1 979: 25). Yet Aijaz Ahmad and others are

Said does not so much brood, however, as witness - that is, remember and

not wrong in pointing, nonetheless, to the "overwhelmingly European" nature

analyse what happened to the colony, especially to Palestine; by contrast, as

of the book's cultural apparatus and the "authoritative presence" Said himself

postimperial historian, Said forces the winners not to forget, and does so by

commands within the Western academy (Ahmad 1 992: 1 7 1). Despite its postimperial





Orielllalism ' s


position is nonetheless postcolonial. The signs of such positioning - and address - can be seen everywhere, including in Said's decision to limit the definition of the Orient to the Middle East, and thus largely to ignore India, arguably the most significant of Britain's colonies in cultural terms. books and pamphlets that follow



As the

make clear, Palestine is the

personal focus of both Said's academic theorizing and his engaged politics. We need only recall such works as

The Question of Palestine ( 1 979),

showing them the consequences of imperial power on their own metropolitan culture's representations of both themselves and those oppressed by that power. From this perspective,


accomplishes what Said claims of

Fanon's work: it forces "the European metropolis to think its history



the history of colonies awakening from the cruel stupor and abused

immobility of imperial domination" ( 1989: 223). Said's use of the language of traumatic encounter here is ecboed by many who write about this same need to decolonize European thought: Robert Young writes that the "legacy of colonialism is as much a problem for the West as it is for the scarred lands in the world beyond" (1 990: 126). In each case, the stronger language of trauma



For a recent example of how much canonical discourses can teach about the impact of imperialism, see Rajan, Under Weslern £yes(2000). Lately. there have also bee� �orks that study non� canonical discourses-travel writing, political reports and speeches, religIOUS tracts. Sec, for instance, Teltscher ( 1 995). Schwarz articulates boldly the case for India: "India had experienced Westernization [and, he implies, Orientalization] out of all proportion to other colonized fannalions. There sim� ly was no equating colonial India to colonial Africa or colonial Latin American when evaluating the culrufal legacy" ( 1 997: 1 1 0).

("cruel stupor and abused immobility" or "scarred lands") is rightly reserved for the trauma of the victims, but that trauma is not without its effects on its perpetrators. It is, in part, these latter effects that


registers and analyzes. As

a postimperial work, it does not produce a postcolonial history of the silenced and the subjugated, that is, what Gayatri Spivak calls "a narrative, in literary

Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing

Linda Hutcheon


history, of the 'worlding' of what is now called 'the Third World'"


243-4). Despite its subject matter, its object o f lmowledge i s Western; its

Flaubert, Burton, Scott, Byron, Vigny, Disraeli, George Eliot, Gautier, Barres, Loti, T.E. Lawrence, Forster, and so on. Of course, what Said calls the "discursive consistency"

primary interest is openly in Orientalism not in the Orient itself. In their



( 1 979: 273) of


imperial representations within European culture can lead and have often led

individual Orientalists and on the discourses of Orientalism in general stand in

to an internalizing by the colonized of those stereotypes of (and imposed

contrast with, for instance, Bhabha's different - indeed, postcolonial - focus

judgments on) them. And this is where the postcolonial cultural history takes



strong judgmental


on the colonial impact of the "force of ambivalence" that he locates in

over from the postimperial; this, for example, is where Bhabha can analyse the

imperial discourse and that, he implies, gives it its stereotyping currency in

hybridization of the Bible as communicated to and understood by Indians (in

and power over the real (not only discursive) Orient In


"Signs Taken for Wonders"). Here the gaps in imperial discourse can be

(1986: 148-9).

Said never claimed to do other than study imperial

worked for their possibilities of resistance - from a colonial perspective. This

discourse, whatever his critics may have asserted (and however postcolonial

is also where Xiaomei Chen can theorize "Occidentalism" in terms of a post­

Culture and

Mao Chinese self-reappropriation of the West's appropriating construction of

his own self-positioning may be). In his introductory remarks to


1993, he addresses his earlier omission of Third World

Orientalism. This is postcolonial literary and cultural history - as Said too has

response and resistance to Western discursive domination (xii). While he

written it in those pamphlets and books on Palestine. Such is not the



voices a strong interest in the later work in what he calls a "contrapuntal"

postimperial space of

point of view that aclmowledges the reciprocity of colony and empire - as

itself as well as to others is as central to this different space as how empire

( 1 8) - his

represented its silenced "Other" to itself and the world. Orientalism, as Said

is still that of what he too refers to as

later put it, offered "a worldview with considerable political force not easily

opposed to a "politics of blame" or of "confrontation and hostility" position in that book, as in


the "post-imperial intellectual." Even if his intent is to study the "overlapping community between metropolitan and formerly colonized societies"

(1 8), as in

however. How empire represented itself to

brushed away as so much epistemology" ("Representing the Colonized"


- but that is as true in the imperial as in the colonized context. It is a question

his earlier work Said's main interest here is in questioning the cultural

of different acts of witnessing: rather than offering an inventory of the

categories of Western thought, including Western historiography. To that end,

traumatic traces of empire upon himself or other colonized peoples, in

he offers what Ahmad has called a "perfectly necessary rereading of the Western archive"

( 1 992: 63). This is what a postimperial cultural history takes

as its witnessing task, its opportunity, and its responsibility. If Said's later


Said actually inventories the perpetrator's traumatic acts of

discursive violence. The subsequent works on Palestine, however, then take up the other task of postcolonial witnessing. What

postimperial works do mention non-Western works, it is also the case that he


offers is an extensive cataloguing of the silencing,

does not always give them the kind of detailed scrutiny he gives to canonical

reifYing, essentializing, and stereotyping techniques of the imperial discourses

1992: 202). As Said claimed at the very start,

of both lmowledge and the imagination. It refers to, but does not document,

would contribute little of interest to the "lives, histories, and

the material effects on the colonized of those techniques which construct them

customs" of the Orient which "have a brute reality obviously greater than

as inferior, dehumanized, infantilized. The emphasis is on how empire inflicts

(1979: 5). In short, the

trauma, not on the trauma itself. I am using this (admittedly loaded) term

postcolonial was not its focus; instead it claimed to offer an analysis of the

trauma in an extended fashion, in full awareness of its associations with

discursive construction of the intellectual and aesthetic

psychoanalytic work done in recent years that has had a major impact on

Western ones (Ahmad


anything that could be said about them in the West"

authority o f the West over the Orient

superiority and

within Western culture ( 1 979: 19).

It is

literary studies.' Concepts of psychological

trauma have

already been

not Bengali or Egyptian writers and thinkers who are his focus, but the Europeans - Goethe, Hugo, Lamartine, Chateaubriand, Kinglake, Nervale,


See Hartman on what trauma studies appears to offer to literary studies: a connection or "a more natural transition to a 'real' world often falsely split off from that of the university, as if the one were activist and engaged and the other self-absorbed and detached" (1995: 543-4).

Linda Hutcheon

Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing

extended to include the social trauma of disaster (that both damages and

past within them - as scars of humiliating wounds" ( 1 993: 1 3) : "What an

creates communities), and some of the ways this has been done prove

Algerian intellectual today remembers of his country's colonial past focusses

suggestive for thinking about postcolonial and postimperial cultural histories:

severely on such events as France's military attacks on villages and the torture


I I ).


"traumatic experiences work their way so thoroughly into the grain of the

of prisoners during the war of liberation" ( 1 993:

affected community that they come to supply its prevailing mood and temper,

memories that the postcolonial cultural historian witnesses, the memories of

These are the traumatic

dominating its imagery and its sense of self, govern the way its members

those who have "suffered the sentence of history," to us Bhabha's felicitous

relate to one another" (Erikson 1995: 190).


The work on individual psychic trauma by Cathy Caruth and others is equally suggestive - again in extended terms - in conceptualizing that major originary moment of encounter for both postimperial

( 1 994:

1 72).

Or, in Gyan

Prakash's equally vivid



postcolonial "exists as an aftermath, as an after - after being worked over by colonialism" ( 1 997: 49 1).


The postimperial also exists as an aftermath, but the focus is very

and postcolonial


historical thinking. Theories of the way trauma works belatedly, even

different. There is no doubt that

transgenerationally, recall the belated or "aftermath" quality (Chambers 1998)

overtly politically engaged work in the decades since

shares with Said's even more

of cultural historical witnessing, of the narrating of the traumatic contact of

postcolonial indictment of what he later calls the "dreadful secondariness"

empire and colony - by those who "survived" the experiences of both

imposed upon the colonized, "fixed in zones of dependency and peripherality,

enduring and perpetrating the trauma. That originating traumatic moment

stigmatized in the designation of underdeveloped, less-developed, developing

becomes transformed, to borrow and extend Caruth's terms, into a narrative

states, ruled by a superior, developed, or metropolitan colonizer who was

1 978 a scathing

memory "that allows the story to be verbalized and communicated, to be

theoretically posited as a categorically antithetical overlord" ( 1 989: 207). But

integrated into one 's own, and others', knowledge of the past" ("Introduction:

the body of his actual analyses in


(as opposed to his statements of

Recapturing the Past" 1 9 9 5 : 1 53). But the stories of a postimperial history are

indictment) is centred on the causes of this situation, examined with a

going to differ in focus and emphasis from those of a postcolonial one.

postimperial focus. That these causes need to be examined is manifestly


both will presume

a reader

to whom the



remembering can be passed. As Caruth puts it, "the history of a trauma . . . can only take place through the listening of another" ("Introduction: Trauma and Experience" 1995:

1 1). This agency, this move outward to readers and

listeners, is one of the reasons why trauma can be called "not simply an effect of destruction but also, fundamentally, an enigma of survival" (Caruth 1 99 5 : 58). In a sense, then, postcolonial histories can also be interpreted a s forms of recovery narratives or "testimonial resolution" of witnessing (Felman and Laub 1992: xvii). Ania Loomba writes that colonialism "locked the original inhabitants and the newcomers into the most complex and traumatic relationships in human history" ( 1 998: 2). Her language here - like that of many others - reveals how postcolonial as well as postimperial discourses obsessively repeat these notions of trauma, degradation and humiliation (see Buell 1 994: 26; Cobham 1992: 56; Said 1993: 2 1 2). Postcolonial writers are said by Said to "bear their By "real" world, Hartman means mental health issues, but in my allegorical extension of the


use of the word trauma, here it would mean the encounter of empire and colony. The postcolonial obviously has no monopoly on trauma or its witnessing, and trauma takes many different fanTIS. The model for my historical extension here as been Holocaust witnessing (see LaCapra 1998) and AIDS survivor narratives, as theorized by Ross Chambers in his 1998 Northrop Frye Professorship lectures at the University of Toronto entitled "Death at the Door: Witnessing as Cultural Practice." But there are many others to consider: for example, for African Americans, it is slavery, not empire, that constitutes the historical trauma. (See Jackson 1 989 on this history and its relation to literary history. On the continued elision of the black diaspora and slavery from Eurocentric cultural historical discussions of modernity, see Gilroy (1993: 45ft). On the ignoring of black women in African American literary histories, see both Washington 1990 and Hull 1 990). For Chicanos and Chicanas, it is 1 848 that marks the date when Mexican citizens north of the Rio Grande became "conquered subjects-that is to say, Mexican Americans" (Martinez and Lomeli 1985: xi). It has been argued in fact that the history of the U.S. Southwest is one of multiple traumas: "the extermination of Native Americans, the enslavement of African-Americans, the subjugation of the Mexican-American people, the oppression of the working class, and the enforcement of patriarchy" (Saldivar 1 9 9 1 : 20). For those studying the cultural history of contemporary China, the Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 1989 "brought modem Chinese history to a standstill," claims Rey Chow. "This is the standstill of catastrophe" that she calls "the trauma of 'June 4'" (1993: 61). Perhaps the only difference between these examples and the postcolonial situation is that the latter is explicitly named in traumatic terms: postcolonial.

Orientalism as Post-Imperial

Linda Hutcheon

1 00



evident, but there is an equally strong argument to be made for the importance

representation o f an unchanging Orient might be seen to function as

o f differentiating between this postimperial examination and the postcolonial

compulsive repetitions that mark what LaCapra, adapting Freudian terms,

of those causes: the witnessing from the

calls an "acting-out" that can lead to a "working-through" of trauma. The

perspective of the victim of trauma understandably is not the same as that

text's verbal and conceptual repetitions tell their own story, in other words,

one that would study the


from the angle of the perpetrator. To construct the colonized as savage,

through their very repeating. So too do iterations of another kind: the (well

inferior, or degenerate in scholarly and imaginative discourses is potentially,

documented) rehearsal - in Said's own argumentation - of precisely what he

as Said has argued, to legitimate and facilitate political and economic conquest




humanism' s





and control. But while the ostensible object of study (Orienta list discourse)

systematizing and essentializing (see Ahmad 1 992: 1 67-83; Young 1 990: 127-

may be the same in a postimperial and a postcolonial cultural history, their

9 and 1 3 1 -2 ; Buell 1 994: 38).

actual subject would be entirely different because of the difference of focus

LaCapra argues that, as the "secondary witness" of trauma, the analyst or historian can counter compulsive acting-out (or the repeating of the trauma)

and perspective on the traumatic situation that is being witnessed. is the "strength of Western cultural

by means of working-through - defined in psychoanalytic terms by Laplanche

discourse," the "formidable structure of colonial domination" (25): "As a

and Pontalis as a process "expedited by interpretations from the analyst which

The stated subject of


cultural apparatus Oriental ism is all aggression, activity, judgment, will-to­

consist chiefly in showing how the meanings in question may be recognised in

truth, and knowledge" (204) with the purpose of raising "Europe or a

different contexts" ( 1 973: 488). (This describes to some extent exactly what

European race to domination over non-European portions of mankind" (232).


As LaCapra has pointed out, trauma's effects are felt in complex ways by

made possible for secondary witnesses by "informed, argumentative, self­

those who cause it as well as by those who suffer it: trauma "may raise

questioning" judgment ( 1 998: 196). Acting-out is thus checked through "the

problems of identity for others insofar as it unsettles narcissistic investments

role of memory and critical perspective, which are constituents of working

seeks to do in complex ways.) For LaCapra, working-through is

Orientalism marks and a working-through of the trauma of empire - but with a

and desired self-images, including . . . the image of Western civilization itself

through problems" ( 1 998: 206). From this perspective,

as the bastion of elevated values if not the high point in the evolution of

both an acting-out

humanity" ( 1 998: 9). This is arguably as true in the context of the trauma of

postimperial focus on the perpetrator's discourse. It could be argued that,

empire as it is in that of the trauma of the Holocaust. While Aime Cesaire

precisely as such, it is crucial for postcolonial history as well: if Said's

eloquently documented the traumatic objectification and dehumanization of

postimperialist work inaugurated colonial discourse analysis, it also set the


he also noted that the trauma of colonial brutality also

stage for and provoked postcolonial responses (and resistances) that in their

degraded the colonizer. For him, it made Europe decadent, indeed "morally,

turn looked in detail at the differing impacts of imperial discourses on the

the colonized,

diversely colonized. This detailed work of differentiation and discrimination

spiritually indefensible" ( 1 972: 9). Although a postimperial



obviously different

from a

postcolonial witnessing, its verbal form can also betray the familiar external or

within the colonized context is not the task


set for itself.

Nevertheless, once his postimperial task was complete, Said himself then

formal signs of trauma. Critics have frequently noted the tendency of

turned to the postcolonial in his work on Palestine. Yet, with



toward repetition (e.g. Ahmad 1 992: 1 77). Not only is this quality

Culture and

he later returned to the earlier postimperialist focus, this time

used for effective rhetorical insistence, but perhaps it is also the complex

arguing, however, for more of a "contrapuntal" perspective that would take

result of witnessing trauma: the constant reiterations of the thesis

both into account.












See also Fanon's analysis in Black Skins. White Masks of the inferiority complex created in a colonized society by the "death and burial of its local cultural originality" ( 1 967: 1 8). For Fanon, this was explicitly a form of psychic trauma.


his writing is

all witnessing acts have the power to engage

the historian

The passion with which Said has argued his case in palpable;

emotionally (LaCapra 1998: 12) - and in various ways that range from outrage to empathy. Historians like LaCapra who secondarily witness the

Linda Hutcheon

Orientalislll as Post-Imperial Witnessing

Holocaust are in a similar position. Rather than shy away from such full commitment, LaCapra implies, what is needed is a combination of that with "the roles or sUbject-positions of scholar and critical intellectual, a combination that does not dispense with rigorous scholarship or conflate critical reflection with partisan propaganda but does render allowable or even desirable modes of thought that often are discouraged in the academy" ( 1 998: 205). Precisely in this way Said's many statements on the necessary and inevitable "worldliness" of theory and criticism were greeted as undesirable by many in the academy who lamented what they saw as the resultant "politicization" of the literary. Yet, as Said put it, with characteristic force, in the early pages of Orientalism :

because of this majority/minority borderline quality and this mUltiplicity of positions, that Said's writing has had the enormous impact that it has." As a de-legitimizing postimperial literary and cultural history, Orientalism eschews the traditional teleological narrative forms of the past, and instead acts out and works through the trauma of empire through its witnessing iterations and insistences. As Rajan ( 1 998: 491) notes, the postcolonial resistance to this work has made it into a beginning, in Said's sense of the word - that is, "secular, humanly produced, and ceaselessly re-examined" (Said, 1 985: xiii) by both the academy and by himself. But the book's own iterative structure and repetitive rhetoric also contribute to this, because "beginning is basically an activity which ultimately implies return and repetition rather than simple linear accomplishment" (l985: xvii). That theorists and critics - both postimperial and postcolonial - also keep returning to Orientalism more than twenty years later suggests that something indeed was begun. If beginning is "making or producing differellce" ( 1 985: xvii), as Said claims, then Orientalism not only made difference but made a difference."


No one has ever devised a method for detaching the scholar from the circumstances of life, from the fact of his involvement (conscious or unconscious) witb a class, a set of beliefs, a social position, or from the mere activity of being a member of a society. These continue to bear on what he does professionally . . . . For tbere is such a thing as knowledge that is less, rather than more, partial than the individual (with his entangling and distracting life circumstances) who produces it. Yet this knowledge is not therefore automatically non- political ( 1 0).

Witnessing has always been a personalized form of political agency, and this would be as true in the postimperial as in the postcolonial cultural history. Recognizing that these are two different enterprises - by examining their different relationships to and positions within the trauma being witnessed does not simplify, but rather complicates our understanding of Said's own self-positioning in relation to both. As a prime example of what Bhabha calls a "state of acting from the midst of identities" ( 1 997: 438), Said writes from so many split subject positions that his identities are, in fact, multiple: he is at once Western and Oriental, Christian and Arab, American and Palestinian, observer and participant, humanist literary critic of the canon \ I and radical political analyst, postimperial historian and postcolonial activist. It is arguably


WORKS CITED Ahmad, Aijaz ( 1 992), In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures. London: Verso. Bhabha, Homi K. ( 1 994), The Location o/Culture. London: Routledge. Bhabha, Homi K. (1 997), "Minority Maneuvers and Unsettled Negotiations." Critical Inquiry 23.3: 43 1 -59. Bhabha, Homi K. ( 1 986), "The Other Question: Difference, Discrimination and the Discourse of Colonialism." Literature, Politics and Theory:



Brinner argues that, as a Palestinian Christian, Said is "thoroughly westernized" ( 1 982: 230)

compared to Muslim women anti-Orientalists like BinI al-Shaitai, but it is also significant that \{

In Beginnings, he writes: "My cultural biases are on the wh� le tinged with conse�vatism. as . the sheer weight in my text given over to the greal masterpieces of high modernism amply testifies" ( 1 985: xii). Many have suggested that the same is true of Orielltalism. But this is a complex issue: as he admits, his passion is for a Western culture that constructs him as Oriental.

Said's articles are widely read in Arabic newspapers such as ai-HOY_I. My thanks to Hos"


Abboud for this infonnation, A debt of gratitude is owed to those colleagues and friends who have inspired, corrected, and provoked me-but above all who been willing to talk and "work through" the issues explored in this essay: Suzanne Akbari, Ross Chambers, Chelva Kanaganayakam, Neil ten Kartcnaar, Jill Matus, and Balachandra Rajan.

Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing

Linda Hutcheon


Papers from the Essex Conference 1976-84. Ed. Francis Barker et al. London and New York: Methuen: 148-72. Bhabha, Homi K. ( 1 985), "Signs Taken for Wonders: Questions of Ambivalence and Authority under a Tree Outside Delhi, May 1 8 1 7 . "

Critical Inquiry

1 2. 1 : 144-65.

Anti-Orientalist." Islam, Nationalism, and Radicalism in Egypt and the Sudan. Ed. Gabriel R. Warburg and Uri M. Kupferschmidt. New York: Praeger: 229-48. Buell, Frederick ( 1 994), National Culture and the New Global System. Baltimore, Md.: John Hopkins UP. Burke, Peter ( 1989), "History as Social Memory." Memory: History, Cullure and the Mind. Ed. T. Butler. Oxford: Blackwell: 97-1 1 4. Caruth, Cathy ed. ( 1 995), Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins UP. Caruth, Cathy ( 1 996), Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins UP. Cesaire, Aime ( 1 972), Discourse On Colonialism. 1 950; New York: Monthly Review P. Chambers, Ross ( 1 998), "' Death at the Door': Witnessing as Cultural Practice." Northrop Frye Professorship Lectures, University of Toronto. Chen, Xiaomei ( 1 995), Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China. Oxford: Oxford UP. Chow, Rey ( 1 993), Writing Diaspora: Tactics of Intervention in Contemporary Cultural Studies. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Clifford, James ( 1 988), The Predicamelll of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP. Cobham, Rhonda ( 1 992), "Misgendering the Nation: African Nationalist Fictions and Nuruddin Farah's Maps." Nationalisms and Sexualities. Ed. Andrew Parker et al. London: Routledge: 42-59. Erikson, Kai ( 1 995), "Notes on Trauma and Community." Caruth, Trauma Brinner, William


( 1 982),



1 83-99.

Fanon, Frantz ( 1 967), Black Skins, White Masks. Trans. c.L. Markmann. New York: Grove P. Felman, Shoshana and Dori Laub, M.D. ( 1 992), Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. New York: Routledge.

Paul ( 1 993), The Black Atlantic: Modernity Consciousness. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP.



and Double

Hartman, Geoffrey H. ( 1 995), "On Traumatic Knowledge and Literary Studies." New LiterQ/Y History 26.3: 537-63. Hull, Gloria T. ( 1 990), "Rewriting Afro-American Literature: A Case for Black Women Writers." O'Malley et al. 99- 109. Hutcheon, Linda ( 1 998), "Interventionist Literary Histories: Nostalgic, Pragmatic or Utopian?" Modern Language Quarterly 59.4: 40 1 - 1 7 Hutcheon, Linda ( 1 995), "Introduction: Colonialism and the Postcolonial Condition: Complexities Abounding." PMLA 1 1 0. 1 : 7-16. Jackson, Blyden ( 1 989), A History of Afi'o-American Literature. Volume I: The Long Beginning, 1 746-1895. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP. LaCapra, Dominick ( 1 998), History and Memory after A uschwitz. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP. Laplanche, J. and J.-B. Pontalis ( 1 973), The Language of Psycho-Analysis. 1 967; New York: Norton. Loomba, Ania ( 1 998), ColonialismlPostcolonialism. London and New York: Routledge. Martinez, Julio A. and Francisco A. Lomeli, eds. ( 1 985), Chicano Literature: A Reference Guide. Westport, Conn: Greenwood P. Moses, Michael Valdez ( 1 991), "Caliban and His Precursors: The Politics of Literary History and the Third World." Theoretical Issues in Literary Theory. Ed. David Perkins. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP: 206-26. O'Malley, Susan Gushee, Robert C. Rosen, and Leonard VOgl, eds. ( 1 990), Politics of Education: Essays from Radical Teacher. Albany: State U of New York P. Prakash, Gyan ( 1 997), "Postcolonial Criticism and Indian Historiography."

Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives. Ed. Anne McClintock et aJ. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P: 4 9 1 -500. Rajan, Balachandra ( 1 998), "Excess of India." Modern Philology 95 .4:490500.

Raj an, Ba1achandra (2000), Under Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay. Durham, NC: Duke UP. Said, Edward W. ( 1 986), After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives. New York: Pantheon. Said, Edward W. ( 1 985), Beginnings: Intelllioll and Method ( 1 975) New York: Columbia UP.


Linda Hutcheon

( 1 98 1 ), Covering islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. New York: Pantheon. Said, Edward W. ( 1 993), Culture and imperialism. New York: Knopf. Said, Edward W. ( 1 979), Orientalism. 1 978; New York: Vintage. Said, Edward W. ( 1 994), The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination, 1969-1994. New York: Pantheon. Said, Edward W. ( 1 979), The Question of Palestine: A Political Essay. New Said, Edward W.

York: Times Books, .

( 1 989), "Representing the Colonized: Anthropology's Interlocutors." Critical inquilY 1 5.2: 205-25. Saldivar, Ramon ( 19 9 1 ), "Narrative, Ideology, and the Reconstruction of American Literary History." Criticism in the Borderlands: Studies in Chicano Literature, Culture, and Ideology. Ed. Hector Calderon and Jose David Saldivar. Durham, NC: Duke UP: 1 1 -20. Schwarz, Henry ( 1 997), Writing Cultural History in Colonial and Postcolonial India. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Shohat, Ella ( 1 992), "Notes on the ' Post-Colonial. '" Social Text 3 1132: 991 13. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty ( 1 985), "Three Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism." Critical Inquiry 12. 1 : 243-6 1 . Teltscher, Kate ( 1 995), india Inscribed: European and British Writing 011 India, 1 600-1800. Delhi: Oxford UP. Washington, Mary Helen ( 1 990), "These Self-Invented Women: A Theoretical Framework for a Literary History of Black Women." O'Malley et al. 8997. Young, Robert ( 1 990), White Mythologies: Writing History and the West.

Chapter 6

Said, Edward W.

London: Routledge.


Susalllle Zalltop ORIENTALISM-OCCIDENTALISM One of the underlying assumptions of Edward Said's pioneering study

Orientalism ( 1 978)

is that the "Orient" as discursively constructed imaginary

space as well as obj ect of knowledge, desire, and control has to be analyzed in conjunction with the "Occident," the place from which these projections were (and continue to be) articulated. Orient and Occident are bound to one another in dialectical, although not equi-valent tension: while the definition of one sheds light on the self-defmition of the other, the former, the Orient, is tied to the self-interest of the latter, the Occident-subjected to its needs, subsumed and appropriated. In Said's words, "The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of a complex hegemony . . . The Orient was Orientalized not only because it was discovered to be 'Oriental' in all those ways considered commonplace by an average nineteenth-century European, but also because it submitted to being-made Oriental"


be-that is,

(5/6). Orientalism then, corresponds less to

an attempt to explore and understand the empirical east (although this was the overriding motivation and intent of many travellers and scholars), than to the Occident's need to define itself in opposition to an extemal(ized) other. The "answer to Orientalism is not Occidentalism," Said concludes. "No former

Susanne Zantop


Europe's Occidentalisms

'Oriental' will be comforted by the thought that having been an Oriental himself he is likely-too likely-to study new 'Orientals'--{)r 'Occidentals'- of his own making" (328). In other words, by turning the tables, by resorting to reverse




binary-dialectical relationship



eliminated but perpetuated. In the over twenty years since their publication, Said's theories have received much critical attention, in the east as well as in the west. Critics accused him of doing precisely what he had denounced: namely of creating a monolithic,







deconstructing orientalist discourse as a totalizing static system (Bhabha 1983; Clifford 1988; Porter 1983; Ghandi 1998). They reproached him of remaining locked in the binary structures of Hegelianism or Manichean thinking, suggesting instead studies of Orientalism that took into account the roots and cultural specificity of discourse-formation and the psychopathology of the colonizing subject (Young 1 990; Ahmad 1992; Ahmed 1982; Mohanty 1984; Trotter 1990; Zonana 1993). Or they advocated an investigation of the heterogeneous approaches to



Orientalism-the struggle

between power and desire, attraction and rejection identified by Homi Bhabha as constitutive of colonial discourse-and


occidental cultures, as they

intersect at specific historical moments and for very specific politico­ ideological reasons.' More recent studies in post-colonial theory, such as Robert Young's (1995), or

Colonial Desire (1995), Anne McClintock's Imperial Leather Ann Laura Stoler's Race and the Education of Desire (1995), have

challenged the binary oppositions by highlighting their internal contradictions and tensions. Focusing on "colonial desire" as it was generated in the metropolis, they explore in detail how theories of race and miscegenation emerged with and produced colonial ventures, and how colonialist gender and race constructs are reinforced by popular culture or by other discourses. While these studies also branch out into different colonial scenarios, their focus is still predominantly on the European Occident, that is, England and France, and on British and French colonialist theory as it applies to the Orient, that is, Africa and Asia.


Mary Louise Pratt added a new challenge to the opposition between Occident and Orient and to the exclusive focus on British colonialism in postcolonial theory when she demanded, in a response to Edward Said at the 1993 MLA in Toronto, that the west of the European west, namely the Americas, be included in the theoretical models. As she suggested, the preoccupation with the Orient-Occident dyad tends to overlook that the "discovery" of a "New World" to the west of the Occident had already expanded and complicated any simple self-other, Occident-Orient dichotomies to include not just many others, but multiple, multivalent, constantly shifting Occidents.' The exclusive preoccupation with British and French 19th-century colonialism, she argued, has precluded a critical investigation of the many different manifestations of colonialism throughout history. Hence postcolonial critics have lost sight of the coexistence of colonialism in one part of the world with decolonization and neocolonialism in another-not to mention new forms of " Western" cultural imperialism. (A similar argument was made by McClintock 1992 and Shohat 1992.) In short, she suggested that Orientalisms be

studied in

connection and productive exchange with




Occidentalisms. Pratt's suggestion deserves to be heeded. Clearly, to speak of Orientalism or Occidentalism independently of one another makes no sense in view of the multinational entanglements of east and west, north and south, and the resulting mUltiple forms of subject constitution and othering. Said himself, in his

Culture and Imperialism,

alludes to this "globalized process set in motion

by modern imperialism," a process that produced "the interdependence of cultural terrains in which colonizer and colonized co-existed and battled each other through projections as well as rival geographies, narratives, and histories" (1993: xx). His analysis, in part, pays tribute to this globalization by including references to Latin America and the Caribbean, even though the Orient remains his main area of interest. It is important to emphasize, however, that the categories were never stable nor clearly separate. They always contained internal geographic and ideological dis-locations that undermined simple dichotomies: Orientalism actually never referred to the "east" of Europe, that is, the Russian Empire, but to an imaginary South of the east. Likewise, the Occident was never a unified


Lowe ( 1 9 9 1 ); Pathak et al (1991); Said himself addresses, for example, his reluctance to engage in issues of the collective unconscious, in his "Orientalism Reconsidere?," ( 1 985). Significantly, Leela Gandhi demands that critics not only "demonstrate the amb I valence of the oriental stereotype," but "refuse the pleasures of an Occidental stereotype" ( 1 998: 79).

geographical or even imaginary territory. For centuries it has consisted of "the


For a more recent discussion of this issue see Mignolo ( 1995).

Susanne Zantop

Europe's Occidentalisms

West," that is, Europe and North America, and "Latin America," a region considered not so much part of the West as of the "Third World"-a problem Enrico Santi tried to address by confronting Oriental ism not with Occidental ism, but with "Latinamericanism" (Santi 1992). These semantic pirouettes are all too familiar to those of us who devise college curricula and struggle with "non-Western" or "Western" requirements: where or what is the West, and what-in view of US cultural hegemony-is not? What is Eastern, now that the East is no longer "red" and no Iron Curtain literally divides the globe into two geographic-ideological halves? And what about China, where Westem ideas and lifestyles are coming from the east, from that distant empire of jeans and Coca-Cola across the Pacific? Is "the West now everywhere," as the title of a German novel of 1 994 suggests? (Baroth 1 994). In this paper, I am exploring-in a somewhat summary and schematic fashion- some of the complex interrelations between East and West, North and Soutb in an attempt to reorient postcolonial studies. The task of postcolonial studies, namely to de-centre Europe, can only be achieved, if we include the Americas, north and south, into our reflections. My focus is therefore the "New World," "America," "the West," as Europeans conceived, imagined, or represented it against the backdrop of the Old World and the Orient, "the East." As I argue, in consonance with a whole host of Latinoamericanistas from Edmundo O'Gorman onward, Europe's battle of projecting and positioning started as early as 1492 (O'Gorman 1 958). It produced not only rival narratives among colonizer and colonized, but rival "Occidentalisms" that competed, and at times overlapped with, European Orientalism(s).' If Oriental ism, as Robert Young has stated, is itself a "form of dislocation for the West" insofar as the Orient-if it does not really represent the east-"signifies the West's own dislocation from itself, something inside that is presented, narrativized, as being outside" ( 1 39), then European Occidentalism constitutes a double dislocation. It positions Europe not only in the Occident, in opposition to an externalized eastern other, but simultaneously in the West and to the east of "l'extreme occident" (Chadoume 1935),' a kind of Wild West, culturally and politically speaking. What

emerges is what Peter Schneider called, in reference to Germany, an extreme Mittel/age, an extreme position in the middle, an emphatic in-between location that characterizes not just Europe but practically all of today's cultures, irrespective of their geographic place on the globe (Schneider 1 990). As Paul Gilroy reminds us in Black AtlantiC, contemporary national identities and cultural practices have been constituted in interaction and interdependence, in and through the mutual and often violent exchanges between east and west, south and north.' Eurocentrism, I would argue, is the response to a pervasive sense of dislocation or dis-orientation that plagued Europe from the 1 5th century onward and that resulted in a constant renegotiating of its position vis-a.-vis multiple others.' The Occident's encounter with the Extreme-Occident can be divided into roughly two phases: the colonial period that lasted from Columbus's "Discovery of America" to the American independence movements in the late 1700s and early 1 800s and their reclaiming of a "Western Hemisphere," and the period of decolonization in the 1 9th century, which went hand in hand with European neo-colonialism and US imperialism and which is still ongoing. 1 776 is significant in this context insofar as it marks a break not only between Europe and the New World, England and its former colonies, but also between North and South. Whereas before, the term "American(s)" bad referred to the indigenous population of the whole continent-e.g. in Joseph Franyois Lafitau's Moeurs des sauvages ameriquains ( 1 724) or Comeille de Pauw's Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains ( ! 768)-after 1 776 Americans are exclusively those who have "inherited" the right to the land: the European colonists who, by shedding their blood on American soil and wrenching it from the hands of the British, believe to have established themselves as its rightful owners (see Menz 1 975: 60).

1 10



An illustration of this multiplicity within the occidentalisl stance is the book edited by James Carrier (1 995), in which the contributors explore the "images of the west" in British, French, South East Asian, Japanese and other anthropological discourses. The concept was picked up by Jean Philippe Mathy approaches to America.

(1 993) in his study of French intellectuals'




See Gilroy ( \ 993). James Carrier ( 1 995) points to the fact that "non-Western" cultures also

(re-)constituted themselves in often essentialist terms as a consequence of the colonial encounter. Silvia Spina ( 1 996), on the other hand, focuses less on the imaginary distinctions than on the processes of transculturation that were produced by the encounter between Western and non-Western peoples in "the West."



distinguishing here between Europe's self-centrcdness, which emerged during and in

response to colonialism, and "Eurocentrism" as "the 'nonnall view of history that most First­ Worlders, Second Worlders and even many Third Warlders and Fourth Worlders learn at school and imbibe from the media," as Robert Starn ( 1 995) puts it-not because they are different, but because the motivation for espousing Eurocentric views varies.

Europe's Occidental isms

Susanne Zantop

1 12

1 13


An anecdote related by Thomas Jefferson illustrates this sea change in terminology, menta]jty, and ideology .' Having moved to Paris in December of

1 776, where he would stay until 1 785, Benjamin Franklin invited the Abbe

European perceptions of and imaginary responses to the New World in the

Raynal and other Frenchmen for dinner one night. When the unfortunate Abbe

colonial phase can be explained by the nature of its discovery, conquest and

began to extol Buffon's and de Pauw's theory of the physical "degeneracy" of

colonization. Unlike the Orient, which Europeans had travelled, traded with,

the "Americans," his host suggested to resolve the matter "empirically":

and fought against for centuries, the occident was radically new, a "new

"Come," says he, "M. l'Abbe, let us try this question by the fact before us. We

world," hitherto unknown. Unlike the Orient's, its treasures were mostly its

are here one half Americans, and one half French, and it happens that the

"natural" resources: after conquerors had pillaged the indigenous peoples'

Americans have placed themselves on one side of the table, and our French

golden and silver artifacts, the settlers had to resort to working the land,

friends are on the other. Let both parties rise, and we will see on which side

setting up mines, or cutting trees for export, through exploitation of the

nature has degenerated." As it turned out, the American guests were "of the

indigenous work force. And unlike in the Orient, the European invaders had to

finest stature and form, " while the Frenchmen were "remarkably diminutive,

contend not with cultures experienced in century-old interaction with their

and the Abbe himself particularly, was a mere shrimp. " Whereupon Raynal

occident, but with peoples completely ignorant of European mentalities and

parried by pontificating about exceptions to the rule which in truth do not

European-style warfare, at least at first. As has been noted, despite heroic

affect philosophical laws.

resistance in some instances and willing collaboration in others, armed



struggles, forced labor, and diseases transmitted by the Europeans wiped out

tradition that had created its theories unconcerned with

large parts of the native population in the Americas (see, for example,









empirical facts, the anecdote highlights the shift in self-perception mentioned


1 992; Crosby 1 972).

above. Clearly, Benjamin Franklin and his compatriots felt personally attacked

It is therefore not surprising that despite myth transfer from east to west

by theories that had originally been directed at New World fauna, flora, and

and parallel conceptualizations-"Amazons," "cannibals," and "headless men"

indigenous populations

(see Zantop

1994). They were now the Americans with

claims to America, as was also suggested by the subsequent interpretation of





in both hemispheres-different



emphases would surface when it came to verbal and pictorial representations

1 823: to demand that America be "for Americans"

of the New World? The material conditions of the encounter-the novelty of

meant placing the whole continent, north and south, under United States

the New World, the vastness and exuberance of its nature and natural

hegemony.' The "Americans" of yore, on the other hand, became "Indians,"

resources, the hospitality of the indigenous peoples, and their military

without an India to claim as their own. Any attempt to identify Europe's

"weakness" in view of European aggression and greed-led to a textual

the Monroe Doctrine of

Occidentalism, that is, its discourse of the West, therefore has to distinguish

construction of the American Occident that was often diametrically opposed to

between the two phases and the two Occidents that emerged before and after

that of the Orient.


As Anne McClintock and others have pointed out, imperialist discourses persistently gendered the "imperial unknown:" "As European men crossed the dangerous thresholds of their known worlds, they ritualistically feminized borders and boundaries. Female figures were planted like fetishes at the ambiguous points of contact, at the borders and orifices of the contest zone"


For the following see Koch and Peden ( 1 944: 179). The anecdote is also related, in the context of de Pauw's theories, in Gerbi ( I 955: 265 and 265n). 8 While Monroe's original intention may have been to ward off European intervention and promote national self-detennination in the Americas, the claim "America to the Americans" was soon understood to support a US imperial imperative. See Lafcber ( 1 989: 8 1 -85).

(24). In that respect, imperialist discourse followed any militarist or power

9 On myth

transfer in the textual construction of "America" see Mason, ( 1 990); Marchand and Passman (1 994); see also the article by Mason in the same volume.

1 14

Europe's Occidentalisms

Susanne Zantop

discourse, which also gender(ed) winners and losers, insiders and outsiders, as

"nature." As an allegory of the New World,

Richard Trexler has reminded us (Trexler

unconscious of the Old.

1 995: 80). Yet the gendering of


1 15 in fact allegorized the

imperialist encounters in the west took different forms from those in the east.

Like all allegories of continents, Africa and Asia (and Europe) were also

Representations of the latter were dominated by the iconography of the veil

represented as women. Yet as Tiepolo's frescoes highlight, different colonial

and the topos of the harem: colonization implied "lifting the veil," entering the

relationships and different colonialist interests triggered different fantasies.

harem to explore its secrets, and wresting power from devious "eunuchs" or

The black African woman in elaborate gold jewellery rides not on a savage

aggressive, lascivious " Arabs." (See also McClintock

1 992: 3 1 ; Said 1978:

animal, but on a domesticated carrier of burdens, the camel (in repose!). She is

286; Ahmed 1 982). Representations of the former on the other hand hinged on

surrounded not by fierce warriors who shoot deer, carry off alligators, and

the notion of the "virgin land"-supposedly unclaimed territory which the

devour humans, but by Moorish servants and Arab traders who display the

"conqueror" strove to penetrate, take possession of, and render fertile. From

wealth of the continent: cloth, ivory, incense, and gold. As the association

Jan van der Straet's much-discussed depiction of Vespucci's "re-discovery of

with the three Oriental Kings suggests, a domesticated Africa will serve


Christianity, that is, Europeans, with goods and resources. Asia in tum is

( 1 575) to Cesare Ripa's Jcon% gia and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's allegorical frescoes in Wiirzburg ( 1 753), America was represented as a naked woman who invites (male) conquerors to share her riches (See Honour 1 976).

along the body of a man whose hands are shackled. She is, again, surrounded

Throughout the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, countless foundational

by richly clad "Oriental" traders who look down at a group of men -occidental

myths of native maidens willingly falling for the superior Europeans-from the

visitors or her own servants?-who kowtow to her (See Buttner

dressed in layers of precious cloth. She is sitting on an elephant that drags

1 980).

InkleNarico and John-SmithIPocahontas to Cora/Alonzo and Stedman/Joanna

Imperialist Europe, finally, like an absolutist queen, is surrounded by those

stories-served to reinforce the idea of "love at first sight" between colonizer

who made her the "superior" civilization: representatives of the churches, the

and colonized and the "child of nature's" voluntary surrender.1O Yet the

arts and sciences in the service of empire.

surrender of the virgin territory was not uncontested, neither in reality nor in

Again, the images are above all revealing of European fantasies. Even

the representations. The background to van der Straet's allegory is populated

though the lure of Africa and Asia is also depicted in terms of heterosexual

by natives who roast body parts on a spit; Pocahontas's tribesmen threaten to

eroticism (the naked, exposed breast or the veiled female body), when it

kill John Smith; and Tiepolo's "America" rides on a gigantic alligator whose

comes to the Orient the secret objects of desire are not lands but goods; the

huge open mouth suggests the dangers the European will face if he dares to

desired relationship is not complete surrender, but commercial exchange

penetrate the American jungles. Not far from Tiepolo's "America" on her

(trade); and the fear and hostility towards that imaginary space are not

natural throne lie a few decapitated heads, reminders of Europe's favourite

projected onto its fierce "nature," but on its powerful, "despotic" rulers, whom

fantasy: the horror of being savaged, cannibalized in the contact with the New

the Europeans cannot eliminate, but must negotiate with (Said

World. In the early modem European imagination, America was thus an


ambiguous female figure: both alluring (the hammock, the treasure chest, the

1 978: 237; 286-

The anxieties and ambivalences toward the New World, "the recurrent

cornucopia of natural produce) and threatening (the bow and arrow; the

doubling in male imperial discourse," as McClintock has termed it

alligator; the skulls). As an image of promise and menace, she embodied the

find expression in the image of the cannibal queen which harks back to earlier

( 1 992: 26),

desires and fears of European colonizers: the desire for land and the

mythical representations of threatening femininity or ambiguous masculinity:

exploitation of its resources, and the fears of being annihilated by engulfing

the sexually voracious witch who devours children, and the amazon who,

swamps, jungles, diseases or "cannibalistic" natives, in short, by the forces of 10

rejecting her natural role as wife and mother, joins a female warrior horde and copulates with men at her initiative, killing off any male offspring (see

See Hulme ( 1 986) and Zantop ( 1 997). A more recent study (HOlz 1 998), demonstrates how these European panems were perpetuated in 1 9th-century nationalist fictions in Latin America.


1 994: 1 -27). European authors of travelogues and accounts of the

New World resorted to these mythical images of androgyny or transsexuality

Susanne Zantop

Europe's Occidentalisms

supposedly because the "beardlessness" and long hair of the Amerindians as

the configuration of the "noble" vs. the "ignoble savage.,,\ 2 Throughout the

1 16









of clear gender

colonial period, descriptions of actual encounters with native tribes oscillated

boundaries (see de Pauw 1768). As Sigrid Brauner and, more recently,

between these two poles: there were those Indians who were "hostile" to

Richard Trexler, have pointed out, however, images of transgression were

European conquerors and settlers and those who were "hospitable," that is,

created in the service of imperial violence. To paint the indigenous as either

who traded with them and subjected themselves to Spanish or English

effeminate " sodomites," treacherous cannibals, or mannish warrior women

dominion without resistance.


Columbus's account, these two types figured

allowed Europeans to construct the "civilizing process," that is, the colonial


takeover, as a process of domesticating the savage other and of (re­

agriculturalists," the "Arawaks, " who live in an earthly paradise and whom the









)establishing a supposedly natural order based on heterosexuality and gender

Caribs seek to displace (Hulme 1986: 47). As Peter Hulme suggests, the two

hierarchy. Its corollary were the fantasies of domestication and marital bliss

names "mark an internal division within European perception of the native

mentioned earlier, in which European colonizers and native "princesses"

Caribbean, a division variously articulated in all European accounts, from

would found new, "natural" alliances based on love and submission. The most

Columbus's first jottings in his log-book to the historical and anthropological

popular of these, Marmontel's Les Incas of 1777, combines, once more, all the

works written today" (46). While the two also have gendered overtones-the

elements of pre-independence accidentalism: the "marriage" of conqueror and

compliant, sedentary savage is given traditionally female characteristics, the

conquered as a means to "pacify" cannibalistic savages and create a new order

fierce, nomadic one is gendered male-they undermine the notion that all

based on European supremacy and the natural subordination of the weaker,


i.e., the female or the effeminate male.

indeterminate. On the contrary: the true "natural" man is the free-roaming

This binary setup required that the ("natural") masculinity of the European adventurer/conqueror on the one hand, and the "femininity"








savage, not the European colonizer bound by his society's conventions.

or, rather,

supposed effeminateness (timidity, weakness, fear in battles, treacherousness,



the eighteenth century this reversed gender perspective becomes

operative, particularly in the "dispute of the New World" between Comeille de


irrationality, self-indulgence, and laziness) of the natives be highlighted-as

Pauw and Antoine Pemety, which was carried out at the court of Frederick

indeed they were. It furthermore explains why European accounts of Native

of Prussia, but which affected all of Europe (see Gerbi 1955 and Zantop

Americans were eager to stress the men's alleged lack of sexual appetite and

1994). If to the invaders from war-tom,

procreational passion: 11 as morc potent "real men, " Europeans were entitled by

seventeenth-century Europe, peaceful domesticated tribes living in paradisal

nature, so to speak, to replace the natives in the possession of the land, virgin


or otherwise.

intellectuals, tired of "effeminate" refmement of the aristocratic elites and of







sixteenth- and



political repression, the image of the free-roaming innocent, unrestrained by




The gender coordinates of the conquest model outlined above were, however, never fixed or stable. From their inception, they were undermined by another conceptual construct, one that in fact "remasculinized" the indigenous:

convention, held greater attraction (Charlton 1 984: 124). While both images reflected European dreams-dreams of plenty or dreams of freedom-they were also meant to legitimate a change in the power differential between colonizers and colonized. According to the earlier colonial model, the bad Indians were those who resisted assimilation; the good, peaceful Indians were those who were willing to surrender. Yet both kinds invited their displacement: armed resistance "justified" elimination; compliance facilitated instrumentalization


12 See de Pauw, Robertson, Pernety or Hegel on this topic. The alleged lack of the natives' sexual interest was a hotly debated issue among European "philosophes."

The myth of the noble savage has been treated most exhaustively and affirmatively by Stelio ero ( 1 990) and in his multiple other publications on the subject. See also Charlton ( 1 984: 1 15- 134), or Radcliff-Umstead (1992 - a review of Cro's work).

Susanne Zantop

Europe's Occidentalisms

and absorption into the colonial power structure. The new eighteenth-century

their mind, of a but dastardly spirit, more enslaved by pleasure and more sunk in indolence. Accordingly it is in the torrid zone that the Europeans have most completely established their dominion over America; the most fertile and desirable provinces in it are subjected to their yoke, and if several tribes there still enjoy independence, it is either because they have never been attacked by an enemy already satiated with conquest and possessed of larger areas than he was able to occupy, or because they had been saved from oppression by their remote and inaccessible siruation (Robertson 1 788, 2: 227-9. In the subsequent paragraph, Robertson modifies this simple dichotomy by naming exceptions to the rule).


"independence" model, on the other hand, elevates pre-social, pre-historical "primitive" man over the assimilated, integrated citizen: the Indian is now the new natural man, uncorrupted by the evils of society. Again, the projection is self-serving at best: as the glorified outsider to civil society and living at its margins, the noble savage can easily be marginalized. Neither scenario disputes the right of the European colonizer to the land-they only define different colonial relations and different modes of displacement. It is not surprising that the latter, Rousseauean image of the free-spirited noble savage would dominate the second half of the eighteenth century, when more egalitarian political models and independence movements made their presence felt on both sides of the Atlantic-and when Western expansion in North America drove native land-holders further to the margins of American society. The shift from the ideal of the domesticated communal noble savage to the independent nomadic subject therefore also constitutes a geographic shift: after 1776, the noble savage is to be found mostly in the north, where he could serve both as a symbol for the emerging new nation and as a projection screen for European fantasies of self-liberation. As William Robertson writes in his widely read His/ory ofAmerica of 1 777:

In surveying the rude nations of America, this natural distinction between the inhabitants of the temperate and torrid zones is very remarkable. They may accordingly be divided into two great classes. The one comprehends all the North Americans from the river SI. Laurence to the Gulf of Mexico, together with the people of Chili and a few small tribes towards the extremity of the southern continent. To the other belong all the inhabitants of the islands, and those settled in the various provinces which extend from the isthmus of Darien almost to the southern confines of Brazil, along the east side of the Andes. In the former, which comprehends all the regions of the temperate zone that in America are inhabited, the human species appears manifestly to be more perfect. The natives are more robust, more active, more intelligent, and more courageous. They possess, in the most eminent degree, that force of mind and love of independence, which I have pointed out as the chief virtues of .ru:n in his savage state. They have defended their liberty with persevering fortirude against the Europeans who subdued the other rude natIOns of America with the greatest ease. The natives of the temperate zone are the only people in the New World who are indebted for their freedom to their own valour. The North Americans, though long encompassed by the fonnidable European powers, still retain part of their original possessions, and continue to exist as independent nations . . . Whereas in the warmer regions, men are more feeble in their frame, less vigorous in the efforts of

1 19

The strong, active, intelligent natives, who are comparable to the European male, yet in an idealized state of nature, are now located in the temperate zones of the north; whereas the indolent, voluptuous, feeble peoples reside in the "torrid zones," that disorderly place to the south that elicits desire for conquest and possession. The north thus acquires all attributes of the noble savage: his indomitable spirit, his lone-ranger individualism, his sagacity and endurance-whether he appears in the guise of the Last Mohican and Chactas or dressed up as a cowboy or frontiersman. He stands for both the noble Indian who "must die" and for North America," the youthful, vigorous, unformed, yet independent nation. The south, in turn, retains all attributes of the ignoble "lazy native: " (Alatas 1977) it is prone to attacks of irrationality and treachery, the weapons of the weak. It is shaken by repeated revolutions. In Hegel's philosophy of history, the north has all the potential, whereas the south, having lost its past glory, is mired in the present. Significantly, this division of north and south is conceived of in physical terms: the north forms the head and the upper parts, the south the lower parts of the global body; the North is (as yet undeveloped) reason; the South, emotions, sexuality (Hegel 1957). Whereas the North invites Europeans to engage in male competition, the South beckons with female charms. The continental gender division that underlies occidentalist discourses after 1 776 is never complete and never clear-cut." However, in one way or

13 Washburn points to the "link between the myths of the vanishing Indian and the noble Indian," ( 1 983: 64), which appears throughout nineteenth-century literature in Europe as well as the United States. 14 Critics of US mass culture, for example, stress the "feminine" elements of North American society; and "male" power is supposedly undermined in the US by a particularly rabid form of feminist assertiveness, whereas the south is scolded for its caudillismo and macho culture. None of these discourses appear in pure fann, but in tension with one another. Also, it must

Susanne Zantop

Europe 's Occidental isms

another it affects all aspects of European fantasizing about the Americas: Europeans admire the "virility" of the new American nation, its irresistible urge to expand westward, as they decry its youthful ingenuity, its naivete. They describe the dynamism, the modernity of the new society, as they lament the materialism and brutal competitiveness of US capitalism. By the same token, they extol the lure/threat of the South: the tropical delights that await the weary traveller; the exuberance of its nature, the irrationality and fickleness of its politics, the "corruption" of its institutions-a corruption that also affects the transplanted European. Marketing agencies consciously appeal to these fantasies when they promote their US products in Europe with "Test the West," "Marlboro Man," or "Go West, Man" slogans, and their Latin American products with "hot rhythms," tropical drinks, or seductive female bodies. Rejuvenation, adventure, freedom, and competition are the dreams that fuel the identification with/as "the West;" sexual bliss, intoxication, physical comfort keep alternate longings ("the South") alive. As I have repeatedly pointed out, these gendered fantasies were and are never directly linked to a physical or historical reality "over there." They are effective counter images of the "over here"-in this case Europe, although they can be found in any "Western"--{)r should I say "Northern"?- society. They are no longer tied to colonialism, to a justification of violent land annexation or an overt displacement of its traditional owners, but correspond to a covert but no less effective takeover of the economies by international capitalist consumer imperialism. As such, they are now global fantasies that can be called up for any commercial purposes. When it comes to the Orient, we can also discern a geographic shift. This one, however, occurs not in the eighteenth, but in the twentieth century. It is "horizontal," marked by the physical distance to Europe (and ideological distance to the United States) and degrees of susceptibility to "Western" influences. In this new Orientalism, the Orient is subdivided into "Near East," "Middle East," and "Far East." Again, the three regions have gendered connotations. Whereas male-gendered over-sexed fundamentalist "Arab nomads" dispute any Western encroachments on their territories in the Near and Middle East, the "mysterious" but highly exploitable "Far East" opens its

doors to Western capital. " The pervasive feminization o f that region in order to promote sex tourism and other forms of "commerce" has been amply documented, as have the attempts to transform archaic, atavistic Arabic "fundamentalism" into a competitive structure to the West's supposed modern secularism (see Said 1 993b). As I have argued throughout this paper, it is important to consider Orientalism within a global framework, i.e., in its dynamic relationship with Occidentalism as well as North-South discourses. Only in its interaction with other discursive configurations will it disclose its internal instability, its overlaps with and difference from these configurations, and the changes it undergoes over time, as European interest shifts from one area of the globe to the next. It is, furthermore, paramount to focus on gender as one of the organizing principles of these phantasmagoric constructions, for gendered tropes provide us with access to the libidinal economy underlying and fuelling the political economy of imperialism. Undoubtedly, Orientalism as well as Occidentalism are the product of collective European fantasies-they engendered the "useful fictions" that combined erotic longing with hard-nosed economic interests.'· Fictions of the Orient and the Occident served not only to create the "community" of Occidentals vis-a-vis Orientals-to borrow Benedict Anderson's terminology-but also to define Europe in its precarious and shifting relations to the West, the Extreme-Occident, and the South." By gendering these relationships, Europeans were able to reveal and simultaneously mask the libidinal investment inherent in conquest and the appropriation of terrains and resources. Gender fantasies helped to naturalize and stabilize hierarchies that were not only unnatural and unstable to begin with, but constantly threatened to implode. Anne McClintock is certainly right in stressing that "the gendering of imperialism took very different forms in different parts of the world (McClintock 1992: 3 1 ). Her conclusion, namely

1 20

be borne in mind that "gender" is only onc of the many organizing principles affecting occidentalisms.



For the stereotypical image of "the Arab" in the Western media see Said, "An Arab Oriental is that impossible creature whose libidinal energy drives him to paroxysms of overstimulation-and yet, he is as a puppet in the eyes of the world, staring vacantly out at a modern landscape he can neither understand nor cope with" (1978: 3 1 2) See also ( 1 978: 237, 286). 16 I have taken the term "ficciones utiles" from Iris Zavala's discussion of O'Gorrnan's lIinvenci6n" (Zavala 1992: 2). 17 As a curious footnote to this process, see William 11, Former Emperor of Germany's 1928 essay entitled "The Sex of Nations" ( 1 928), in which he allies the masculine nations, such as

Susanne Zantop


Europe's Occidentalisms


that these distinctions "were symptomatic of critical differences in the

Baroth, Hans Dieter ( 1 994), Aberjetzt

legislative, economic and political ways in which imperial commodity racism

Bhabha, Homi ( 1 983), "The Other Question: The Stereotype and Colonialist


imposed on different parts of the



deserves an



ist iiberall Westen Berlin:


24, 6.


Brauner, Sigrid ( 1 994), "Cannibals, Witcbes, and Shrews in the 'Civilizing

Occidentalism(s) suggests that it was above all the power differential between regions of the world, the relative accessibility of their riches and the degree of

'Neue Welt'l'Dritte Welt'. Interkulturelle Beziehungen Deutschlands zu Lateinamerika und der Karibik Tubingen and Bas1e:

competition from their "natives" that determined to what extent Europeans











would construct one area as feminine and the other as masculine, one as seductive and the other as threatening, one as "virginal" and the other as

Buttner, Frank ( 1 980),

already "possessed". Furthermore, the shifts in gender attribution that we can

Carrier, James ( 1 995),

observe in Europe's relations with its others throughout history tell us not just about shifts in economic or military power along an east-west-north-south axis: they also unwittingly disclose the Europeans' fears of being, no longer, at the centre of the world. As the east (i.e. the Russian empire) is disintegrating; as the "Orient" is subdivided into the most diverse ethnic and .religious alliances; as the far east flexes its economic muscle; as military and economic power concentrate in the "Wild West;" and as Europe itself becomes

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Die Fresken in der Residenz

zu Wiirzburg Wurzburg: Popp. accidentalism Oxford: Clarendon. Chadourne, Marc ( 1 935), Extreme Occident Paris: PIon. Charlton, D. G. ( 1 984), New Images of the Natural in France: A Study in European Cultural History 1 750-1800 Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Clifford, James ( 1 988), "Orientalism," in: The Predicament of Culture Cambridge: Harvard UP. Cro, Stelio ( 1 990),

The Noble Savage: Allegory of Freedom


Wilfried Laurier.

"Orientalized" through the influx of people from the Balkans and North

Crosby, Alfred ( 1 972),

Africa, Europe, it seems to me, is struggling to consolidate its identity marked

Consequences of 1492 Westport: Greenwood. Late Imperial Culture London: Verso. de Pauw, Corneille ( 1 768), Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains Berlin: Decker, trans. as Selections from de Pauw's Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains Bath: CruttweJl ( 1 789). Gandhi, Leela ( 1 998), Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction New

by external and internal dislocation. Eurocentrism, then, becomes the ultimate fantasy of control or containment, the untenable geographical fiction of being Occident, North and Centre at once, and of relegating all others to the margms.

In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures

Gerbi, Antonello ( 1 955), London:

Verso. Ahmed, Leila ( 1 982), "Western Ethnocentrism and Perceptions of the Harem."

Feminist Studies 8,

de la Campa, Roman, et al. eds. ( 1 995),

York: Columbia UP.

WORKS CITED Ahmad, Aijaz ( 1 992),

The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural

3 (Fall): 5 2 1 -34;

The Myth of the Lazy Native: A Study of the Image of the Malays, Filpinos, i and Javanese from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century and its Function in the Ideology of Colonial Capitalism London:

Alatas, Hussein ( 1 977),


1 750-1900 Milano: Riccardo Ricciardi. Gilroy, Paul ( 1 993),

Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness

Cambridge: Harvard UP. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich ( 1 957), "Die Neue Welt," in:

der Geschichte. Ed. Johannes Hoffmeister.

Die Vernunft in

5fth ed. Hamburg: Felix


Das Fremde, das Eigene, das Andere. Die Inszenierung kultureller und geschlechtlicher Identittit in Lateinamerika Berlin:

Holz, Karl ( 1 998), Schmidt.

The New Golden Land: European Images of America from the Discoveries to the Present Time London: Allen Lane.

Honour, Hugh ( 1 976), Gennany and the United States, against the feminine "Latin" nations, such as France. I would like to thank my colleague Michael Ennarth for alerting me to this article.

La Disputa del nuovo mondo. Storia di una polemica

Susanne Zantop

Europe's Occidentalisms

Hulme, Peter ( 1 986), Colonial Encoulllers: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492-1 797 New York: Routledge ( 1 992). Koch, Adrienne, and William Peden eds. ( 1 944), The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson New York: Random House. Lafeber, Walter ( 1989), The American Age New York: Norton. Lowe, Lisa ( 1 99 1 ), Critical Terrains: French and British Orientals Ithaca:

Robertson, William (I 788),The History ofAmerica, 5th ed. London: Strahan. Said, Edward ( 1 993a) "The Phony Islamic Threat," New York Times Magazine, 2 1 (November): 62-65. Said, Edward ( 1 978), Orientalism New York: Pantheon. Said, Edward ( 1 985), "Orientalism Reconsidered," Cultural Critique I (Fall): 89-\07. Said, Edward ( 1 993), Culture and Imperialism New York: Knopf. Santi, Enrico ( 1 992), "Latinamericanism and Restitution," Latin American Literary Review XX, 40 (July/December): 88-95. Schneider, Peter ( 1 992), Extreme Mittellage: eine Reise durch das deutsche Nationalgefiihl ( 1 990). New ed. Hamburg: Rowohlt. Shohat, Ella ( 1 992), "Notes on the 'Post-Colonial'" Social Text 3 1/32, vol. 10, 2 & 3 : 99-1 13. Spitta, Silvia ( 1 996), Between Two Waters, Austin: Rice UP. Starn, Robert ( 1 995), "Eurocentrism, Polycentrism, and Multicultural Pedagogy.: Film and the Quincentennial," in de la Campa ( 1 995). Stannard, David ( 1 992), American Holocaust: T7,e Conquest of the New World Oxford: Oxford UP. Trexler, Richard ( 1 995), Sex and Conquest: Gendered Violence, Political Order, and the European Conquest of the Americas Ithaca: Cornell UP. Trotter, David ( 1 990), "Colonial Subjects," Critical Quarterly 32, 3 (Autumn): 3-20; Washburn. Wilcomb E. ( 1 983), "The Noble and Ignoble Savage," in Richard M. Dorson et aI., eds., Handbook of American Folklore Bloomington: Indiana UP. William II ( 1 928), "The Sex of Nations" T71e Century Monthly Magazine vol. 5 1 6, 94 (May-Oct.): 129-139. Young, Robert ( 1 990), White Mythologies: Writing, History and the West London, New York: Routledge. Zantop, Susanne ( 1 994), "Dialectics and Colonialism: The Underside of the Enlightenment," in W. Daniel Wilson and Robert C. Holub, eds. Impure Reason: Dialectic ofEnlightenment in Germany Detroit: Wayne State UP. Zantop, Susanne ( 1 997), Colonial Falllasies: Conquest, Family and Nation in Precolonial Germany, 1 770- 1870 Durham: Duke UP. Zavala, Iris ed. (1 992), Discu/'sos sobre la 'lnvencion de America ' Amsterdam: Rodopi.

1 24

Cornell UP. Marchand, Kathleen N. and Kristina M. Passman ( 1 994), "The Amazon Myth and Latin America," in Wolfgang Haase and Reinhold Meyer, eds. The Classical Tradition and the Americas Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Mason, Peter ( 1 990), Deconstructing America. Representations of the Other London: Routledge. Mathy, Jean Philippe ( 1 993), Extreme-Occident: French Intellectuals and America Chicago: U of Chicago P. McClintock, Anne ( 1 992), "The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term 'Post­ Colonialism'" Social Text 3 1 /32, vol. 10, 2 & 3: 84-98. Menz, Egon ( 1 975), "Die Humanitat des Handelsgeistes. Amerika in der deutschen Literatur des ausgehenden 18. Jahrhunderts," in Sigrid Bauschinger, Horst Denkler and Wilfried Maisch eds. Amerilca in del' deutschen Literatur. Neue Welt-Nordamerilca-USA Stuttgart: Reclam. Mignolo, Walter ( 1 995), The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P. Mohanty, Chandra Talpade ( 1 984), "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. " Feminist Review 30 (Autum): 6 1 88; O'Gorman, Edmundo ( 1 9 6 1 ), La invencion de America: La universalizacion de la cultura occidental ( 1 958), translated and augmented as The Invention of America: An Inquiry into the Historical Nature of the New World and the Meaning of Its History, 1 96 1 , reprinted 1 972 by Greenwood Press in Connecticut. Pathak, Zakia et al ( 1 9 9 1 ), "The Prisonhouse of Orientalism." Textual Practice 5, 2 (Summer): 1 95-2 1 8. Porter, Dennis ( 1 983), "Orientalism and its Problems," in: Francis Barker and Peter Hulme, eds. The Politics of T71eory Colchester: U of Essex P,: 1 791 93. Radcliff-Umstead, Douglas (1 992), "The Noble Savage: A Review Article," MLR 87, 2: 330-34 [a review of Cro's work].



Susanne Zantop

Zonana, Joyce (1 993), "The Sultan and the Slave: Feminist Orientalism and the Structure of Jane Eyre,"

Siglls 1 8,

3: 592-6 17.

Chapter 7


Pal AIzlu walia Where I think Orienralism was useful was in those works that looked at the cultural component of forms of domination as giving rise to Africanist, Indianist, Japanesist, etc. types of discourses; as having, in a very narrow sense, played an important constitutive role in talking about those places. You could no longer look at, say, descriptions by nineteenth-century explorers of Africa as if they were just seeing what they saw. There was the notion of collaborative enterprise baving to do with domination of a region. Orientalism gave rise to studies of tbat sort, which I think were salutary. Edward Said In

1 999, the

New York Times,



summary of the century's

achievements, declared Edward Said to be "one of the most important literary critics alive." Clearly, Said has crossed the apparent divide between academic scholarship and public recognition. This accolade reflects the impact he has had and continues to have on the contemporary cultural terrain. But it also demonstrates how relevant the concept of worldliness has become to our consideration of creative and intellectual work (Ashcroft and Ahluwalia, 1999). His influence can be discerned in virtual ly all the di sciplines of the humanities and social sciences and well beyond. In particular, the term

The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science

Pal Ahluwalia


"Orientalism" is now linked inextricably to the work of Edward Said. More

Kate Teltscher's

1 29

India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India

which first brought him

( 1 995). But it is not just among those who find Said's work particularly

into the limelight, remains an important albeit much debated book. Said has

helpful in untangling the impact of colonial culture on the former colonies that

emerged as a controversial figure who is both revered and reviled, but cannot

he has made an impact. Consider, for example, the need for right-wing

than twenty years after its publication,


magazines such as

be ignored.


to publish an essay denouncing


more than two decades after its publication (Windschuttle 2000). What clearly bothered the author of this essay was the impact that Said, the literary critic,






has had


had on the curators and patrons of an exhibition at the Art Gallery of New




contemporary thinking than almost any other book of the last twenty years. It has changed the way we think about cultural and political relations. No longer associated merely with the study of the Orient, it has come to be seen as a generic term about the manner in which "other" cultures are dealt with and represented. An illustration of how influential Said's ideas have become is found in Ato Quayson's comment on a half-serious, half-humorous article

South Wales in

1 998, entitled "Orientalism; From Delacroix to Klee". He

reports that the notes published in the exhibition catalogue were replete with insights from Said and this endorsement, "was strong enough to create a queue of buyers at the Art Gallery bookshop, all eager to procure the prominently displayed,

recently revised Penguin edition of Said's

Orientalism" (2 1).



That Said's work had penetrated the very inner sanctum of

the West's cultural institutions was, for Windschuttle, unacceptable.

which was widely circulated on the internet during the northern winter of

199516. In the article, the authors parody the American involvement in Bosnia


with the report that President Clinton had deployed vowels to the war torn


region giving Bosnians such as Grg Hmphrs the chance of becoming George Humphries, thereby fulfilling the American dream. Quayson shows how the

Edward Said's impact on contemporary literary theory has always been

relationship between knowledge and power in the distribution of the vowels is

overshadowed by the celebration of Orientalism. Worldliness has never been

linked to Said and concludes that what is particularly interesting about this piece, "is its nonchalant combination of discourse analysis it

la Said with what

taken up in the way or the degree to which Orientalist analysis has been adopted.


in what







we could take as a parodying of 'serious' media and diplomatic discourse"

generation, Said's insistence upon the worldliness of the text looks remarkably

6). Orientalism has come to signifY much more than an academic field

prescient. While 'worldliness' is a Saidian trademark, it is consistent with the


of study - it has become associated with a particular style of suspect thought

growing dissatisfaction with poststructuralism among contemporary critics as

which seeks to marginalise dominated peoples.

they search for a less abstract politics of the text, a greater sense of the text's












the methodology of Orientalism has been appropriated by a wide

variety of authors who have deployed it in various geographical locations, into many different contexts of cultural relations as well as different power struggles. Inspired by Said, Western accounts of representation have been challenged in such disparate selected works as V.Y. Mudimbe's

The Invention

of Africa ( 1 988) and The Idea of Africa (1 994), James Carrier's Occidentalism: Images of the West ( 1 995), Javed Majeed's Ungoverned Imaginings: JOllies Mill's HistOlY of British India and Orientalislll (1 992) and

place in the world. Although Said did not invent the desire, he has provided a readily identifiable precedent for placing the text in a material political and cultural context. Said's major influence has been unquestionably in the area of colonial discourse analysis, which he is regarded as inaugurating, and post-colonial theory, on which he has had a profound influence. Gayatri Spivak, a leading colonial discourse theorist, notes that, "the study of colonial discourse, directly released by work such as Said's has . . .blossomed into a garden where the marginal can speak and be spoken, even spoken for. It is an important part of

Pal Ahluwalia

The Evolution of Oriental ism and Africanist Political Science

the discipline now" (Spivak 1 993 : 56). The post-colonial historian Partha Chattetjee invites his readers to share the pleasures of reading Orienlalism, a book which has a deep resonance for him:



I will long remember the day I read Orielitalism ... For me, child of a successful anti-colonial snuggle, Orielltalism was a book which talked of things I relt I had known all along but had never found the language to formulate with clarity. Like many great books it seemed to say to me for the fust time what one had always wanted to say ( 1 992: 194).

Ironically, Chattetjee's pleasure in reading Said is reminiscent of Said's own recollection of fust encountering the literary texts of the Western canon with which he subsequently has had such an ambivalent relationship (Ashcroft and Ahluwalia, 1999). The methodological affiliations between colonial discourse analysis and the theory of the French intellectuals Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault have allowed Robert Young ( 1 995) to proclaim a "Holy Trinity" of colonial discourse theorists which includes Edward Said, Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak. However, Said's disillusionment with Foucault as well as post-structuralism, for its lack of ' worldliness', means that his role as a colonial discourse theorist, or at least as a member of the 'Holy Trinity,' is uncertain at best. In the years after the publication of Orientalism, particularly in the 1 990s, Said became affiliated increasingly with versions of post­ colonial theory. The term 'post-colonial ' had a long history and did not really come to prominence until the late 1980s (Ashcroft et al 1998: 1 86-92). In a relatively short time, due to the historical influence of the many critics who had studied the works of British Commonwealth writers, post-colonial theory emerged with a focus on questions of empire and colony. It would be wrong to assume that this means the concerns of post-colonial theory are restricted only to questions of identity politics. Post-colonial theorists have taken to heart Said's criticism that, "students of post-colonial politics have not, I think, looked enough at the ideas that minimize orthodoxy and authoritarian or patriarchal thought, that take a severe view of the coercive nature of identity politics" ( 1 993: 264). If Said seems to have jettisoned colonial discourse analysis and his work appears resonant with recent post-colonial theory, it is precisely because such theory is attuned increasingly to his notion of worldliness.

13 I

The charge that Said levels against Orientalist discourse applies just as well to area studies, which have tended to treat non-Western societies as "alien" entities. From this perspective, they have revolved around a central juxtaposition of "us" and "them," where knowledge about "them" is accumulated by and reported to "us." This juxtaposition, central to Said's work, is instructive when we examine African Studies and the manner in which it has chosen to identify, describe, characterise and represent a continent that has been marginalised particularly in the last century. Jean Copans' periodisation of African Studies is as convenient a field of study as any other to examine the hegemony of Africanism. Copans argues that the discipline can be delineated in a chronological classification of roughly five periods which correspond with dominating disciplines: To 1 860. Exploration o f Africa - Literature, philosophy, travel writing; 2. 1 860-1920. Colonial conquest - Ethnography, ethnology; 3 . 1 920-1945. Development - Ethnology, applied anthropology; 4. 1 945-1 960. De-colonization - Sociology; sociology of underdevelopment; and 5 . 1960-? Neo-colonialism. Anthropology, sociology, political economy ( 1 977: 20). 1.

Although it is clear that it is not possible to neatly differentiate between the different phases of African studies, and that it would be easy to point to areas of overlap between the periods delineated and the dominating disciplines, this periodisation nevertheless is illuminating. It shows the centrality of the discipline of anthropology to the discourse of Africanism until the 1960s. There is now a considerable literature on the role of anthropology and its linkages to imperialism (see for example Said, 1989; Ahluwalia, 1996; Moore, 1 993). Said has observed that perhaps "anthropology as we have known it can only continue on one side of the imperial divide, there to remain as a partner in domination and hegemony" ( 1 989: 225). It is the role of political science, however, which needs to be examined more closely. For the discipline of political science has had a phenomenal impact on African studies and, indeed, has usurped anthropology's role in this field since

Pal Ahluwalia

The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science

at least the 1 950s. A clear gauge of the impact of political science can be gleaned from the statistic that in 1 990 there were more than 1 ,950 members of the US African Studies Association of which 23 percent, the largest disciplinary grouping, were political scientists (Sklar 1 993: 83). In his chapter on the contributions of Africanist political scientists to the discipline of political science, Richard Sklar paints a very bleak picture. He writes that:

science became increasingly important to students of politics. In what can be described as an empirical turn in politics, the over-emphasis on moral and normative principles was questioned. However, the need to be scientific was certainly not new. In her study of travel writing, Mary Louise Pratt demonstrates how natural history which was essentially a universalising project based upon European knowledge established a new form of Eurocentred planetary consciousness. This new planetary consciousness, she suggests, "is a basic element constructing Eurocentrism, that hegemonic reflex that troubles westerners even as it continues to be second nature to them" (1 992: 15). These natural historians, inspired by Linnaeus, spread out around the globe in order to classify and categorise, in universal terms for the European, any known species (Curtin, 1 964). It was this systematising of nature which represented a new form of European planetary consciousness for Pratt. It is this Eurocentred planetary consciousness which anthropologists brought with them into African studies and the discourse of Africanism. In her excellent exposition of anthropology's role, Trinh T. Minh-ha argues that:

1 32

...few Africanists in the profession of political science are highly regarded for their ability to communicate to the heart of their discipline. By and large, Africanists in this discipline are esteemed mainly for their analyses of Africa's political experience. Their works are read by those who seek knowledge about Africa, itself, rather than knowledge of the discipline or its theory ( 1 993: 83).

Sklar can see no incentive for university appointment committees to hire an Africanist political scientist because he "cannot think of a widely recognized problem or theory, of concern to political scientists generally, that requires African area expertise to either explore scientifically or explain to students" (84). He goes on to write that: Heretofore, the best-known and most carefully studied political problems in Africa have not been specifically or generically African problems. A representative list of such topics would include parasitic statism, militarism, dictatorship, public corruption, the insufficient accountability of public officials, ineffective political socialization, and differential incorporation of ethnic groups resulting in conflict, among many others (85).

I have dwelt on Sklar's views not because I agree that students of African politics have failed to make any impression on their discipline but rather to illustrate how a leading Africanist political scientist, can reach such a conclusion. What lies at the heart of the problem, one that Sklar has been seduced by, is the desire of political science to operate at the level of grand theory. In short, I want to suggest that there are inherent methodological flaws in the manner in which political science has been appropriated to the study of Africa. The dominance of political science within African studies occurred at roughly the same time that the discipline itself was undergoing significant changes. It was in the middle of the twentieth century that the notion of

1 33

Anthropology is defined as a science of I/Ia/l or 'a study of tbe nature of the human s-p-e-c-i-e-s'. Next to the mind doctors-the psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and psychologist-is the anthropologist, who also pretends to the precision of a zoologist or a botanist. As a purveyor of 'truth', he has moved from the absolute to the relative and now assumes the role of purveyor of 'certain truth', pursuing a 'perspectivistic knowledge' while keeping an eye profoundly glued on 'scientific objectivity' as methodological goal ( 1 989: 55).

It is this quest for scientific objectivity which becomes an important part of Africanist political science and one that we should certainly add to Minh­ ha's list. The application of scientific methodology which was viewed as an effective means to discovering principles in nature was seen as an important tool to help uncover principles in political behaviour which would be vital in the making of right social choices. Hence, j US! as in the natural sciences, it was argued in political science that data could be collected, classified, used to formulate generalisations and predications and verified as generalised laws or tendencies. It was the behavioural school of political scientists who adopted the empirical turn with a vengeance and dominated Africanist political

Pal Ahluwalia

The Evolution of Oriental ism and Africanist Political Science

science. Their most profound influence was in the forging of a development

representativeness by directing a program of economic development on behalf of the nation. The former cOlUlected, as in any liberal form of government, the legal-political sovereignty of the people. The laner connected the sovereign powers of the state directly with the economic well­ being of the people (203).





grew out of the

nationalist project where

nationalism served a hegemonic function to effect decolonisation. The goal of such incipient nationalism was independence. Once this independence was achieved, the nationalist project rapidly collapsed and was "disciplined and normalized under the conceptual rubrics of 'development' and 'modernization'" (Chatterjee 1993: 3). The normalisation process was one that usually began well before independence and was part of the decolonisation process. One only has to examine the recent example of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa to realise how the ANC was disciplined prior to the first national election in 1 994 through a process of "rational" planning in which this party articulated its goals and aspirations in its Reconstruction and Development Programme. The plan not only illustrated how the goals of the ANC were to become synonymous with the South African state but also the process whereby the South African state was permitted to become part of the global system under the regimentation of the West's hegemonic power. As Partha Chatterjee notes, "the very institution of a process of planning became a means for the determination of priorities on behalf of the 'nation'" ( 1 993:

202). The planning process serves an important function of power in that it removes the allocation of productive resources from the political process and hence the goals of the state become conflated with those of the nation.


The conflation between the nation and the state led to tensions between the aspirations of the people and the state and, hence, in most post-colonial states those detracting from state ideology were, and are, being repressed. This, it is claimed, is necessarily so because the state has to subsume particular interests in the general interest. One need only think of the example of any number of African countries to recognise the zeal with which development ideology is applied by the state while at the same time rnarginalising the political process. The developmentalist ideology is not restricted to socialist or capitalist states. The essential difference in the former, as Arif Dirlik points out, was the desire on the part of the socialist leadership to forge, "a new culture which is neither of the West nor of the past" ( 1 9 9 1 :

400). The nationalist proj ect and



nationalism which


generated sought to create a national culture which would enable colonial subjects to attain independence and decolonise their minds. It was a process that Frantz Fanon considered essential, arguing that this could only be achieved through struggle. For Fanon a national culture:

.. .is the whole body of efforts made by a people in the sphere of thought to describe, justify and praise the action through which the people created itself and keeps itself in existence ( 1 967: 1 88).

This is necessarily so because part of the nationalist project was to demonstrate the manner in which the colonial state inhibited development and

Following decolonisation, the post-colonial state has to create a new

therefore the post-colonial state "represented the only legitimate form of

national culture which can legitimate its rule. As noted above, the post­

exercise of power because it was a necessary condition for the development of

colonial state achieves this through the exercise of planning and conflating the

the nation" (203). Once again, the South African case is instructive. The ANC

values of development with the values of the nation. The key tenets of the new

had to demonstrate how the apartheid state economically marginalised the

national culture, then, are a reworking of the centrality of development and

majority of the population and the major goal of the post-colonial state was to

modernisation, the twin planks for the justification and civilising mission of

economically empower the majority infusing a developmental ideology for the


state in the process. Chatterjee argues that:

generated by the anti-colonial nationalism.

The state

effectively dismantles the liberationist potential

In Africa, with the possible exception of the settler colonies such as The state was connected to the people-nation not simply through the procedural forms of representative government; it also acquired its

Kenya, Zimbabwe and Algeria, independence was attained not through a

Pal Ahluwalia



The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science

liberation war but through negotiation. The decision of the colonising power

in the spirit o f Truman's

to hand over government to African successors was based on the perception

hemisphere as "underdeveloped" areas:

1 949 speech which described the Southern

that these new leaders would reflect and protect their interests. In economies ravaged by colonialism, the new African leadership faced with a situation of diminishing resources opted for the ideology of development to deflect attention away from the vital tasks of redistribution and transformation. As we have noted, development was part and parcel of the nationalist claim for independence which was to herald a new era where the African leaders promised that they would deliver what the colonial power had denied the population. The idea of development and partnership in development was one that was promoted also by the colonial powers as they sought to disengage themselves from direct rule. As Claude Ake has noted:

Modernisation theory is rooted finnly in liberal theory and is based on the notion that there is an original state of backwardness which is initially

In this supportive international environment, African leaders adopted the ideology of development to replace thaI of independence. BUI as il turned out, what was adopted was nOI so much an ideology of development as a strategy of power that merely capitalized on the objeclive need for development ( 1 996: 9). After independence, development



African leaders proclaimed the importance





Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and more prosperous areas. For the ftrsl time in history humanity possesses the knowledge and the skill to relieve the suffering of these people ... I believe that we should make available to peace­ loving peoples the beneftts of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better Iife .... Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace. And the key to greater production is a wider and more vigorous application of modem and scientiftc knowledge (as cited in Escobar 1995: 3).

universal. It is the West which has overcome this original state and it is a process which all "backward" underdeveloped countries can replicate. The theory is reliant on an evolutionary schema which sees the West as the pinnacle of development and one which all countries could emulate. It was the of


independence. In the rhetoric which followed, it was hard work and self­ reliance which became the catch-cry of the new development strategy. At the same time, a host of development plans were enacted on a five-year basis. These plans reflected ihinking in the West with an emphasis on whatever development strategy was deemed appropriate by donor countries and agencies. In short, a thriving development industry on both sides the imperial divide emerged. But it was in the West that the development paradigm was articulated, namely under the rubric of modernisation theory. It was in this context that Africanist political science has had its greatest impact. The contribution of Africanist political science needs also to be evaluated against the backdrop of the Cold War and the West's determination that the new states did not succumb to communism. The establishment of the United States Social Science Research Council's (SSRC's) Committee on Comparative Politics in 1 954 under the chainnanship of Gabriel Almond can be seen as the formative period where modernisation theory became the prescriptive solution for Third World development strategies. This committee was clearly working

economists who initially dominated development thinking with an absolute commitment to economic growth and its "trickle down" effects. But it was the political scientists who sought to delineate non-economic factors in the modernisation attitudinal


and value








cultural, behavioural,

characterised "backward" and

"advanced" nations in order identify the relationship between economic growth and cultural change. This type of research allowed the political scientists to see themselves as belonging to a discipline which was relevant and one which was based on scientific methodology and hence capable of and relevant to policy formulation. Modernisation theory in the hands of political scientists led to the adaptation of the evolutionary schema with the formulation of "ideal types" and the characterisation of societies as either "traditional" or "modem". Traditional


were portrayed






development. The task was to remove those institutional obstacles which were an impediment to progress and to create a cultural environment which was conducive to development. It was in this light that Edward Shils denounced all things traditional in the hope of showing that the adoption and infiltration of Western values and institutions was the only mechanism to modernity. He sought to identify "modernizing agents" to which resources were to be

Pal Ahluwalia

The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science

disproportionately distributed in order to quicken the pace of development. He

counts as knowledge by setting the agenda - be it "basic needs", "sustainable

noted that:

development" or "good governance" - which in tum legitimises their very



authority. This can be discerned in the following extract from a World Bank

The most enthusiastic support for industrialization and modernization comes from those who have been in contact with the West, either in Europe or America or through intrusions and representations in their own country. The accepted contact with the West has been predominantly through Western educational institutions and ... Western-inspired colleges ... at home ( 1 958: 233).

document where the latest "fad" is popular participation:

Fostering popular participation is a deeply serious matter, but it is not rocket science. When the reams of paper are put aside, we development professionals sense intuitively that participation is a good thing, and we know how to foster it...(Dichter 1992: 89).

In short, the goal which traditional societies needed to set themselves was to aspire to Western society. During the 1960s, the SSRC's Committee on Comparative Politics came to dominate modernisation theory with the publication of Almond and Coleman's (1960),


The Polilics of Developillg

This work was infused strongly with functionalist theory, "process" and

behaviourism. Almond explained that the





It is



that deeply


within these ideas of

development is the sense of Western superiority, as is the case in the discourse of Orientalism. The linkage between Oriental ism and modernisation theory is obvious and it is one that Said himself has established albeit in a different context.

"encouraging the development of theory which would enable political science to deal more adequately with the causation of political phenomena and with


the variety of political forms" (1966: 36). Almond was concerned with classifying political systems believing that

In Coverillg Islam, Edward Said points out that the representations of

there was a universal political process and political culture which could be

Islam in the post-War period need to be viewed against the backdrop of the

empirically studied. Political scientists were engaged in developing macro­

investment made by the United States in the doctrine of modernisation which

level theory which was able to incorporate the many dimensions of the

was and is still supported unashamedly by very large sections of the academy.

development process.


A major consequence of modernisation theory was the manner in which it

"political development" which was the movement of traditional societies

classified the bulk of the Third World as backward and in need of

Africanist political




towards liberal democracy and encapsulated the problems of nationhood,

modernisation. The representation of Islam has been prone to generalisations

national identity, integration and national unity (Binder, 1963). As Dodd has

which appear to be all the more bizarre given the complexities of a










transformation undergone in Europe and subsequently in most parts of the

contemporary world which is no longer comprehensible by simply applied, universally-constructed propositions.

world since the Renaissance" (1972: 12-13). Although modernisation theory

Nowhere were these problems more aptly demonstrated than in the case of

was challenged significantly in the late 1960s and 1970s in the face of the lack

Iran. On the one hand, the Shah appeared to be the quintessential modem

of "development" in African countries, development theory remained locked

ruler, and Iran a confirmation of the assertions of modernisation theory. On

into defming development in terms of a Western ideal type. What changed

the other hand, after his downfall, the country was demonised as a bedrock of

was perhaps the mechanisms and conceptions of the assumed ease in which a

fanatical Islamic fundamentalism threatening not only the region but the entire

society could transform itself from "traditional" to "modem". Nowhere is this










more clearly manifested than in the ideology of the World Bank and the IMF

modernization theory dovetailed nicely" (30). The Shah of Iran could be seen

which have become the major proponents of contemporary modernisation

to be "delivering" his people - modernising and Westernising them. The

theory. Policy makers in these institutions have the power to determine what

Iranian revolution became a glaring proof of Islam's fundamentalism. There is

Pal Ahluwalia

The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science

little account of the work of Iranian critics, like Ali Shariti, who were arguing that, "Islam had to be lived as an invigorating existential challenge to man, not as a passive submission to authority, human or divine" (68). Said points out that most analysts failed to comment that, in nearby Israel, the Begin regime was "fully willing to mandate its actions by religious authority and by a very backward-looking theological doctrine" (31). It is clear, for Said, that there are double standards involved in the Western press: Israel's religious proclivity is rarely mentioned while Islam is the all-consuming reason for the inherent problems of the Middle East and terrorism in the West.

worldliness that one can achieve non-coercive knowledge. The production of such knowledge is the challenge which African Studies must embrace.


CONCLUSION The evolution of Orientalism from being the study of the Orient to a more generic term which captures the notion of a suspect type of thought is testimony of the impact of Edward Said's Orienta/ism. As the epigraph of this chapter suggests, his work has been critical in exposing Africanist, Indianist and Japanesist discourses. While much work has been carried out to illustrate the linkages between anthropology and Africanism, what is perhaps less known is the role of political science. Africanist political science and its linkages in particular to development theory have been and continue to be at the forefront of Africanism. Africanist political science has failed to account for the cultural specificity of post-colonial African nations preferring instead to portray "development" as a universal rational discourse which is applicable to "developing nations". By employing " ideal types" and reifying the West as a model which all others are to emulate, Africanist political science has an inherent Western logocentric disposition in which the West is unproblematically privileged. As Kate Manzo has pointed out, "the majority [of developmentalists] never classified the countries of Western Europe, the United States or Great Britain as 'developing' or 'modernizing' societies; they belonged to the realm of logos, or pure and invariable presence in need of no explanation" ( 1 99 1 : 10). To address this problem, it is important to examine how Said himself has moved from colonial discourse analysis to post-colonial theory. The task, for African Studies, is to engage in efforts which can overcome the limitations of colonised imaginations such as development theory. For Said, it is through


WORKS CITED Ahluwalia, Pal ( 1 996), Post-colonialism and the Politics ofKenya, New York: Nova Science Publishers. Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Tiffin, Helen ( 1 998), Key Concepts ill Post-colonial Studies, London: Routledge. Ashcroft, Bill and Pal Ahluwalia ( 1 999), Edward Said: The Paradox of Identity, London: Routledge. Ake, Claude (1 996), Democracy and Development in Africa, Washington: Brookings Institute. Almond, Gabriel and Powell, G.B. (1 966), Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach Little Brown, USA. Almond, Gabriel ( 1 954), The Appeals of Communism, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Binder, L. ( 1 963), "Political Modernization and National Integration", Economic Development and Cultural Change, Vol. I I , No. 3 , pp. 327332. Carner, James ed. ( 1 995), Occidelltalism: Images of the West,Oxford: Oxford University Press ChatteIjee, Partha ( 1 992), "Their Own Words? An Essay for Edward Said" in Michael Sprinker, (ed.) Edward Said: A Critical Reader, Oxford Blackwells. ChatteIjee, Partha ( 1 993), The Nation and its Fragments, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Copans, Jean ( 1 977), "African Studies: a periodization", in Peter Gutkind and Peter Waterman, (eds.), African Social Studies: A Radical Reader, London: Heinemann. Curtin, Philip ( 1 964), The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1 7801850, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Dichter, A. ( 1 992), "Demystifying Popular Participation: Institutional Mechanisms for Popular Participation" in Bhatnagar and Williams, (eds.), Participatory Development and the World Bank, Discussion paper No. 1 83, Washington: World Bank.

Pal Ahluwalia

142 Dirlik, Arif

( 1 99 1),

The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science

"Culturalism as Hegemonic Ideology and Liberating

The Nature and Context ofMinority Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press. Dodd, C.H. (1 972), Political Development, London: Macmillan Escobar, Arturo ( 1 995), Encountering Development, Princeton: Princeton Practice", in Abdul Jan-Mohamed and David Lloyd, (eds.),

University Press.

(1967), The Wretched of the Earth, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Majeed, Javed. ( 1 992), Ungoverned Imaginings: James Mill's History of British India and Orientalism Manzo, Kate ( 1 99 1 ), "Modernist Discourse and the Crisis of Development Theory", Studies in Comparative International Development, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 3-36. Minh-ha, Trinh T. (1 989), Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Moore, Sally Falk. ( 1 993), "Changing Perspectives on a Changing Africa: The

Fanon, Frantz.

Work of Anthropology", in Robert Bates, V.Y. Mudimbe, and Jean 0'

Africa and the Discplines: i The Contributions of Research in Africa to the Social Sciences and Humanities, Chicago: The University of

Barr, (eds.),

Chicago Press. Mudimbe,


(1 988), The Invention of Africa,



University Press. Mudimbe, V.Y.

( 1 994), The Idea of Africa,

Bloomington: Indiana University

Press. Pratt,


Louise. ·

( 1 992),






Transcu/turation, London: Routledge. (2000), Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process?,

Quayson, Ato.

London: Polity Press.

( 1 98 1), Covering Islam, New York: Vintage ( 1 997) Said, E. ( 1 989), "Representing the Colonized: Anthropology's Interlocutors", Critical Inquiry. 15, Winter: 205-225. Shils, Edward ( 1 958), "Intellectuals, Public Opinion, and Economic Development", World Politics, Vol. 1 0 No. 2, pp. 232-255 . Sklar, Richard, L. ( 1 993), "The Afiican Frontier for Political Science", in Robert Bates, V.Y. Mudimbe, and Jean 0' Barr, (eds.), Africa and the Disciplines: The Contributions of Research in Africa to the Social Sciences and Humanities, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Said, E.

Spivak, Gayatri

( 1 993), Outside in the Teaching Machine,


New York:

Routledge. Teltscher, Kate

( 1 995), India Inscribed: European and British Writing on

India . Windschuttle,







Quadrant, January-February 2000, pp. 2 1 -27. ( 1 995),Colonial Desire " Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race, London: Routledge.

Young, Robert

Chap/er 8


Elleke Boehmer Oh, Easl is Easl and West is Wesl, and never Ihe Twain shall meel Rudyard Kipling, 'The Ballad of East and West' ( 1 892) I want to begin with an account of the remarkable critical reception of an Indian woman poet, Sarojini Naidu ( 1 876-1 949), 'the little Indian princess', in London in the 1 890s.' Born in Hyderabad into a prominent intellectual Bengali family (the Chattopadhyays), Sarojini Naidu as a girl showed an extraordinary precocity in writing poetry, mainly in imitation of British Romantic writers - her ambition was to be 'a Keats for India' (Gosse 1 9 1 2 : 7). At fifteen she was sent to England, to King's College, London, and then Girton in Cambridge, both to continue her education, and - her parents' explicit desire - to separate her from her future husband, a non-Brahmin who was deemed unsuitable as a marriage partner. In 1 892, the same year that Kipling was writing 'The Ballad of East and West' from which my epigraph is taken, the remarkable facility and I Naidu's poetry appeared in four collections published between 1 895 and 1 9 1 7 : Songs, The Golden Threshold ( 1 905), The Bird o/ Time ( 1 9 1 2), and The Broken Wing. The 'Iinle Indian princess' is Yeats's term, according to Maud Gonne ( 1 938: 3 3 1 ).

Elleke Boehmer

Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and . . .

seemingly effortless mimicry of Naidu's poetry, collected in Songs ( 1 895), her first book of poems, came to the attention of some of the foremost English critics of the day, including Edmund Gosse and Arthur Symons. Edmund Gosse later described his encounter with this 'most brilliant', 'most original' work, and its outcome, an equally remarkable mimicry in reverse which he was to encourage:

bells somewhere in the distance'. She instead began to produce, no doubt to a great extent uncynically, a very different type of pastiche, yet one which was ironically, and symptomatically, another imitation of a Western invention. In effect she was to recreate again the 'tone of the mockingbird with a vengeance', though one reverberating from a different vantage point: not the West as the East due to its colonial education believed it was to be seen, but the East as seen by the West, represented by an Eastern woman writing from the perspective of the West. In her second and third collections, The Golden Threshold ( 1 905), and The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death and the Spring ( 1 9 1 2),' Gosse writes, Naidu no longer concealed 'the exclusively Indian source of her inspiration'. Addressing herself to 'emotions which are tropical and primitive', she now became, through her Western make-over, 'fully' native: 'she springs from the very soil of India'. Combining technical skill learned outside 'the magic circle' of the Orient, with inside knowledge, her poems, Gosse believes, will be found 'as luminous in lighting up the dark places of the East as any contribution of savant or historian' (Gosse 1912: 6). The bizarre and disturbing force of Naidu's ventriloquism is a fascinating instance of the double-voiced and indeed doubled colonial mimicry of a European aesthetic. This complicated mimicry is worth an extended study in itself, and is probably only fully heard in juxtaposition, when we read her poetry side-by-side with an awareness of her nationalist involvements and rhetoric urging a 'battle' for India (Tharu and Lalita 1 99 1 : 329-40). What I am immediately interested in here however is not so much Naidu's response as such, as the Orientalising and implicitly coercive terms of Gosse's critical appreciation. These were terms that were echoed in the praise she also received from the symbolist Arthur Symons who appreciated in particular the sinuous sensualisms not only of her work, but of her physical presence (Introduction 1 905: 9-10; 1 8) . They are also terms, I want to suggest, which have repeated themselves across the century in Western readings of foreign, especially perhaps Indian, writing. It seems to me that it is possible to find in recent criticism of postcolonial work a configuration of cultural differences between West and East, or North and South - between 'village bells' and bazaar cries - not entirely dissimilar from that within which Gosse and


By some accident. . . Sarojini was introduced to our house at an early date after ber arrival in London, and she soon became one of the most welcome and intimate of our guests. It was natural that one so impetuous and so sympathetic should not long conceal from her hosts the fact that she was writing copiously in verse

- in Englisb verse. I

entreated to be allowed to see

what sbe had composed, and a bundle of MSS. was slipped into my hand. bastened to examine it as soon as

I I was alone, but now there followed a

disappointment, and with it an embarrassment.. . . The verses which Sarojini had entrusted to me were skilful in fonn, correct in grammar and blameless in sentiment, but they had the disadvantage of being totally without individuality. They were Western in feeling and in imagery; they were founded on reminiscences of Tennyson and Shelley; [ am not sure that tbey did not even breathe an atmosphere of Christian resignation. . . . this was the note of the mockingbird with a vengeance (Gosse

[912: 4-5).

Disappointed, Gosse then took it upon himself, as he goes on to recount, to give Sarojini some fatherly advice: she should make herself over again, reconstitute herself as 'a genuine Indian poet of the Deccan', not 'a clever machine-made imitator of the English classics': I ventured to speak to ber sincerely. I advised the consignment of all that she had written, in the falsely Englisb vein, to the waste-paper basket. I implored ber to consider that from a young Indian of extreme sensibility, who had mastered not merely the language but the prosody of the West, what we wished to receive was ... some revelation of the heart of India. some sincere penetrating analysis of native passion, of the principles of antique religion and of sucb mysterious intimations as stirred the soul of the East long before the West had begun to dream that it had a soul...


Confronted with this 'sincere' request - in effect a demand from the authoritative 'we' of Western literary opinion, sanctioned by the promise of its still qualified praise - Sarojini did indeed 'docilely', in Gosse's words, work to shed the trappings of her Romantic masquerade, 'to write no more about robins and skylarks, in a landscape of our Midland counties, with the village


2 Sarojini Naidu, The Golden Threshold (1 905), intro. Arthur Symons, was dedicated to Gosse and brought together the poems written since his intervention.


Elleke Boehmer

Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and . . .


Symons were working.' In sometimes imperceptible ways, the past of colonial


discourse appears in certain instances to be repeating itself upon the present

narrative' (Beer

that is postcolonial criticism. Despite postcolonial ism's anti-colonial agenda,

intricacy and play are then seen as strikingly contrasted with the disturbing







1 997; Truax 1 997; see also van Straaten 1 997). The verbal

and its intersection with other liberatory theories such as feminism and

subject matter, the 'intimate and revealing portrait of the caste-system', in

minority discourses, forms of the criticism appear to have inherited still

particular the focus on the 'forbidden' sexual touch of the untouchable, and on

unexamined categories of the past, and to be reiterating, certainly in their

the horrific punishment which follows (as well as the novel's interest in child

journalistic manifestations, its objectifications of otherness.

molestation and incest between twins) (Moss A3 and Truax

5). In some

I want to engage in an exercise of j uxtaposition: to keep the

reviews, the layerings and interconnections of contrasting experience, of

phrases and images used in the appreciation of Naidu's work in mind, and tum

physical wounding and linguistic artistry, of pain accented by play, and play

1 990s, one

hollowing out pain, are considered as being further elaborated in the cultural

hundred years on from the time of Gosse's ardent appreciation of Naidu, this

and political layerings of the narrative; the minglings of Hindu ritual,

At this point

to look at the critical reception of an Indian woman writer in the

English but 'un-English Oriental'. The writer is Arundhati Roy, much-hyped

especially Kathikali dance, Marxist activism and Christian proselytizing that

1 997 Booker prize for her best-selling first novel, The God ofSmall Things (1 997) ' In the paragraphs that follow, I should immediately say, I want to set to

characterise social life in Kerala in

and hailed as the long-awaited female Rushdie even before winning the

1 969.

Critical elements highlighted in the above overview, we cannot fail to notice, have as it were resonated down the century, from the time of the

one side the criticism of Roy's writing as lushly overwritten, overwhelmed by

critical reception of Naidu. These features are concentrated in particular in the

its poetic effects - though it is important to signal that such criticism certainly

conflation of biography, body, and writing which characterises the terms

1 997; Clark, 1 997; Gorra, 1 997; Moss 1 997). Instead I

through which the works of both Naidu and Roy are perceived. Noteworthy,

want to focus on the elements that have repeatedly been accentuated in the

though not always typical, is the singling out of a slight body shape as

critical promotion of Roy in the West. First, most prominently, there is, at the

somehow corresponding to stylistic whimsicality, or as worth mentioning in

does exist (See Chew

time of writing, her being female in a group of predominantly male younger

relation to it. More pervasive is the way in which the decorated writings of

Indian novelists (Vikram Chandra, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Amitav Ghosh,

both poet and novelist are regarded as being both appropriate to their Eastern

Salman Rushdie, Shashi Tharoor), and, related to this, her intensely feminine

subject matter, including caste restrictions, and also as interacting evocatively

elfin beauty.' Another feature of her experience that is marked out, is her own

with the distress that is described: her 'lyric energy', Gosse writes of Naidu,

cross-caste, hybrid background (which is to an extent reflected in the central

has an intensity imparted by the sorrow implicit in her subject matter, and

drama of the novel, the love affair between Ammu, the single mother of twins,

present in her life - the words could be a paraphrase of comments made about

and the 'untouchable' Velutha). Added to this complex of promotional

Roy (Gosse

features, is the 'overwhelmed' response of some of its first British readers to

1 9 1 2 : 7-8).

The first thing to remark about these to me intriguing parallels is that there

the novel, especially that of David Godwin her agent.' This powerful effect is

is of course very little that is new about a woman writer being either censured

critically accounted for by reference to the novel's 'original' use of English, its

or praised, and, either way, objectified, on the basis primarily of her gender

3 I am here fol l owing Arif Dirlik's definition - 'North connotes the pathways of transnational capitalism, and South, the marginalized populations of the world, regardless of their location' - though 'South' can also be read less metaphorically in so far that the rich countries of the world tend to be concentrated in the northern hemisphere (Dirlik 1996: 3 1 J). 4 Page references will be included in the text. Before 1 8 October 1997, the novel was already reputed to have sold 500, 000 copies in 1 8 languages. S Sec, for example, 'Interview', Vrij Nederland 1 8 October 1997: 1 8- 1 9. (own translation) 6 See 'CV: David Godwin', Independent 20 October 1 997: BS.

parallel instances however is how the several interconnections converge in the

(reinforced by race or ethnic) identity. What is especially striking in these notions, on the one hand, of lyric complexity and emotional intensity, and, on the other, of singular femaleness. In the case of Naidu, this convergence is explicitly also tied in with her being Oriental, and her explicitly Orientalized poetry. For Gosse she is the foremost Indian poet in English because her 'technical skill' illuminates her authentically 'tropical and primitive' emotion,

Elleke Boehmer


that 'magic circle' of India present in her verse. To this sultry delicate magic her femaleness is then particularly appropriate. The Orient with its perfumes and ardent sensations is for Gosse and Symons classically conceptualised as feminine. But Naidu's femininity also marks her out as a creature apart. As a woman poet of the Deccan she stands out as almost entirely unique. In her imitativeness, she is in some sense, safely inimitable - or more explicitly, un­ imitatable: there will be few more like her to intervene in Western aesthetic perceptions of the East. In Roy's case, the Western projection of an Eastern identity onto an Indian writer appears to be less in evidence. Yet arguably, both in the attention paid to her ornate linguistic effects, and in the acceptance of its excesses (which is what is clearly involved in the book's popularity and success), there is a tacit understanding that this style in some way suits, while also contrasting productively and provocatively with, the Indian subject matter of the novel. The deft verbal play is set against the brutal ravages of caste prejudice, seen since the

1 700s as an essentially Oriental problem. Involved with this

acceptance is also that excitement over Roy's unique position as a girl among the 'new boys'. In Roy's situation as in Naidu's, therefore, the critical interest in verbal effects, and the general responsiveness to their emotional, indeed

Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Saroj ini Naidu and . . .


harrowing themes and verbal extravagance with her Indian and feminine identity (with comparatively little regard for the regional complexities of 1969 Kerala with which the novel is so intensely concerned)? To this a response might be that an appreciation of Roy or of other Indian writers which lays a positive accent on the feminine qualities of the writing could justly be regarded as an inversion of conventional gendered values. In my view, however, any such inversion by a postcolonial text must be considered in the particular postcolonial context of its production and reception.










characterisation of an Oriental feminine in some postcolonial critiques (of which

I am taking the critical reception of Roy as symptomatic), not leave

embedded entrenched differences between an exotic and impassioned East and a consuming West, interested in yet distancing itself from the East's enticements and intensities? And does this characterisation not reinforce ways in which the West has always scrutinised and objectified the other, whether the East in the case of India, or the South more generally? Aren't there elements of this criticism that create a profound sense of


vu: Indian

writers have been feted and exceptionalized in this way before, at the height of Empire, and feted in very similar terms?

'tropical', intensity, is significantly inflected and perhaps also intensified by

Following on from this, the tendency I want to underline is a critical

their being women writers, which is related to their writing as women, from

inclination to regard as more culturally alive, interestingly authentic and

women's, and particularly domestic, perspectives. (In this we might think, for example, of Naidu's concern with purdah and child marriage, and Roy's with

intensively postcolonial than other kinds of international writing, the ' extravagant realism and exuberant word-play associated with certain Indian

female frustrations in the domestic context, and with the status of the single

writers, including Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. What we seem to be

mother in southern Indian society.)

up against in this criticism is a replication of inherited categories of colonial

Bearing in mind how Naidu's poetry was seen to require a more Oriental

difference - in particular the objectification of otherness memorably described

slant and how the Orient of her verse was conceived of in feminine terms, I

by Edward Said in

now want to go on to ask whether, in the postcolonial reception and

becomes particularly noticeable, and worth questioning, when a woman writer

perception of Roy, we cannot see a similar conflation taking place? It is a



conflation which might most succinctly though also I admit sweepingly be ' described as new or neo-Orientalist. Even as she herself emphasises that the India she writes about is not extraordinary but ordinary, could the critical perception of Roy in Western critical circles not be said to intersect her



OrienlalislII the

( 1 978). It is an objectification that perhaps







characterisations of the eternal feminine and the eternal Oriental - an equally traditional interconnection which produces a gendered notion of Orientalist typicality that has shifted, as it were, from racial character to writing. To overstate the matter in order to make my point: the writing that is deemed most interesting seems to be a writing that is perfumed, decorated, sinuous,

7 Gayatri Spivak 1 993: 277, and 1 99 1 : 226-227, has used the term new oriental ism to describe

the homogenising, de-contextualizing effects of late-twentieth-century multi-culturaHsm. As will become clear later in this essay. I prefer neo-orientalism, by analogy with neo­ colonialism.

sensuous, plural, unruly - most intensely and appropriately so when produced


Accentuated of course by the famously erratic capitalisation of The God ofSmall Things.

1 52

Elleke Boehmer


Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and . . .

by a woman. Overdetermined in all its strangeness, abstracted from its local









context, stereotyped and re-stereotyped, the exotic attraction of the once­

multiplicity to become not only too expected as being always already there,

colonized appears therefore, through a complicated process of transference, to

but also in consequence to be seen as self-sufficient in their displacement from

have been imported into postcolonial criticism, and, in the process, to have

and confounding of a Eurocentric history. In a post-modem context of

been commodified and made safe for a Western readership.

shattered temporalities and rejected essences, it has now become almost

I want to

customary to view migrant or Third World texts as having the potential to

explore in the last portion of this paper - the neo-Orientalist underpinnings of

undercut or reverse the West's foundational concepts, primarily on the basis of

This critical interest in a still feminised Orient lays bare what

postcolonial literary criticism from the West, in particular its location in neo­

the writer's syncretic or migrant vantage point. This trend is exacerbated by

imperialist centre. Colonial modes of seeing and knowing were notoriously

the redemptive story of progress which postcolonial criticism in the Western

articulated through gendered metaphors of penetration and so on. It is

liberal academy and in publishing circles, tells itself: its self-representation as

therefore important for us to ask whether the privileging of postcolonial

advanced, advancing and democratising because voices from the margins are

women writers as more fully, authentically or differently representing their

being given a hearing. So a female Indian writer wins the prestigious prize

alterity than others, can be taken as it we would want to take it - as a justified

which Rushdie first claimed for India not so long ago, establishing if there

privileging? Or do Western critics in the process risk deploying native

were any remaining doubt about the matter, the cultural striking back of the

women, as before, to signify that which is most exotic, intriguing and strange


about once-colonised cultures? Does the gendered primitive remain, though in

To generalise therefore: where postcolonial critical attention touches

a magic realist or post-modernised guise, the bearer of the West's exotic

down, in East or South, there is a tendency for mixing and multivocality, a

interests and subversive desires? In this regard it is worth reminding ourselves

feminine polymorphousness, to reproduce itself whatever the historical or

The God ofSmall T1zillgs tells a heated tale of multiply forbidden desire, a

cultural location. And the impression which results is of an energetic if

tale which, exquisitely narrated from a feminine point of view, takes place

bewildering babble of novelistic voices which can be best organised it seems,

against the luxuriant tropical backcloth of south India.

simply by placing it under the title, postcolonialism, like sweepings under the


In attempting to foreground the neo-colonial and gender biases of the

carpet: India in effect remains the teeming spectacle of the Grand Trunk Road

criticism, I am, I should perhaps belatedly stress, having to bracket the


complicities and nuances of tone through which Roy's prose, as well as

typically strenuous essay, 'the whole of the "Third World", . . . singularized into

Kim ( 1 90 1),

viewed god-like from on high. As Aijaz Ahmad puts it in a

Naidu's writing, may subversively confuse and throw sand in Western eyes. In

an oppositionality, [is] idealized as the site, simultaneously, of alterity and

paragraph after paragraph of Roy's dense experimental writing, we see the

authenticity' (Ahmad

English language - the language bequeathed by the British coloniser, as she

Arif Dirlik has also pointed out, that postcolonial literary studies have

1 992: 33).

With this scenario in mind, it is significant, as

has recognised - expanded, distorted, excavated, disconcerted. There is to my

emerged at a time when global capitalism continues to generate stark

mind no question about the energy and oppositionality of this writing. But

economic and power imbalances between different parts of the world, in other


is up

for scrutiny are the evaluative vocabularies and critical techniques

1996: knowing

words, produces a neo-colonial marginalisation and dependency (Dirlik

which, in the academy and in the critical columns often supplied from the


academy, are used to represent, for instance, Roy's work. Can these become

complicity between postcolonial studies and global neo-colonialism. Yet it

correspondingly oppositional and sensitive to creative ambivalence, without

does seem to me that postcolonial criticism

I do not want to go as far as Dirlik in suggesting a

is related to,

and representative of,

falling into the trap of objectifying difference? In exploring the theoretical and institutional determinants of this siruation a little further, we have to recognise how the mostly very enabling currency of Homi Bhabha's theories of the hybrid, as well as of Bakhtin's ideas about

9 The very phrases used to articulate this advance are often expressive of Western Christian humanist values. ]0 this sense we might want to apply Terry Eagleton's line describing the

persistence of total systems in a postmodem world, to postcolonialism: 'The term 'post', if it has any meaning at all, means business as usual, only more so' ( 1 990: 380-1).

1 54

Elleke Boehmer

Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and . . .

the continuing dominance of the formerly imperial metropolis. The dominance

related lines, Gayatri Spivak has usefully warned that any postcolonial reading

is indicated not only by the persistence of a (neo-)Orientalist rhetoric, but also

must be approached as a continuously self-critical, contextualizing, and

by such factors as the location of critics, the subsequent direction of the

intensively 'inter-literary' rather than a conventionally 'comparative' exercise

postcolonial gaze at already 'othered' cultures, and the relative neglect of


transnational capitalism as a subject for discussion and critique. Yet it is


1 993: 277).

To circle round to where I began, it is finally essential to remember that

contexts. I I

precisely because of this emphasis on the textual over the contextual that

resistances do manifest in



layering and contortion of accepted meanings, postcolonial fictions, plays, and

camouflage for a still-powerful centre, and a subterfuge: an 'opportunistic

poems, whether in English or in other languages, continually chafe at Western

studies can

in certain respects


to resemble both

[adjustment) by the centre of power to accommodate changes of power without loss of authority' (Hamilton

1 996: 1 78, and 149- 1 5 0).10

To say it another way again, postcolonial criticism has landed in terrain which under another aspect it knows all too well. Here is the familiar city - the


as well as in

Through a restless

self-reference and convention. Emerging from beyond established cultural borderlines, such texts assert an irreconcilability, an 'enunciatory disorder', as Homi Bhabha puts it: a strangeness which antagonistically and creatively interrupts Western forms of understanding (Bhabha

1 995: 126-7).

appropriative metropolis; over there, beyond the city walls, are lions and other

The mention of disorder and creative interruption finally returns me to

exotic phenomena, the other against which the imperial city defines itself, and

what I mentioned earlier with regard to the wayward intricacies of Roy's

which it tirelessly monitors and seeks to control in order to maintain its


ascendancy. The difference now is that certain individuals and texts from out

consistency' of her writing, to adapt a quotation from the text itself

there, promoted perhaps by their class positions or other elitist structures, have

poems and the poetic exercises in prose of Naidu and Roy respectively, their

been admitted to the city the better to ensure the efficiency of its monitoring.

stilted and skittish burlesques, and the evasive or over-stylised arabesqueries












The question must then be, are there ways of cutting through this neo­

of their language, demonstrate a subtle subversion that at once co-operates

Orientalist bind in order to give the very real vitality of postcolonial literatures

with and exceeds the defmitions criticism imposes. There is something

their due regard? It is evidently true that no cultural or academic interest in

chillingly composed if not congealed in a poem of Naidu's like the two-part

reversed values or subversive texts will of itself reverse hierarchies in the

'Songs of my City' from

world, especially where these postcolonial interests themselves work within

obediently perform a pastiche of a many-textured spice-rich India which, in

hierarchies which still exclude East and South. Yet a criticism that remains

each one of the paired poems, comes to rest on images of silence and

continually vigilant about what I have called the neo-Orientalist aspects of its

confinement or death (Boehmer

own interpretative terms, and of its neo-colonial context, will go some

The Bird of Time ( 1 9 1 2),

in which different voices

1998: 3 1 4-15).

Differently though relatedly, Roy's writing persistently works at unsettling

distance towards at least confronting if not challenging those hierarchies. In

and undoing the English language. Strange attractions are created between

order to effect this vigilance it may be necessary to set up provisional

words through rhyming and alliterative patterns. Grief-stricken, the mother

narratives of historical change - relatively unbroken temporalities, in other

Ammu's eyes are 'a redly dead', a 'deadly red'

words - which would reveal, for example, the social and cultural determinants

which her mother died, Rahel too is at 'a viable, die-able age'

(3 1 ).

Having reached the age at


with many

which have shaped, and continue to shape, what we now can postcolonial

repetitions). Most predominantly, the childish play on language of the seven­

hybridity. But alongside this, and at least as important, postcolonial readings

year-old twins at the centre of the story shockingly literalises conventional

also demand a sensitivity to location and agency, including women's agency,

actions and sayings, including phrases from Kipling ('we be of one blood, thou

and an effort to relate interpretative practices to local cultural knowledge. On




For their comments on postcolonialism's neo-colonial complicities, see also: Loornba 1 998: 245-258, and Moore-Gilbert 1 997: 3-4, 1 7-21 .


so exposing hidden cruelties. At the film of 'The Sound of Music', the

For a useful overview of the different axes inscribed or ascribed by postcolonial criticism, see Siemon 1995: 1 5-32.

Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and " .

Elleke Boehmer

1 56

Orangedrink Lemondrink Man 'moved Esta's hand up and down [his penis]. First slowly. Then fastly'

( 1 03).

Ammu, forced to leave Ayemenem after the

discovery of her love affair, has to 'pack her bags and leave. Because she had no Locusts Stand l'

( 1 59).

As the narrative voice remarks: 'Only the Small

Things were said. The Big Things lurked unsaid inside'

( 1 73).

Throughout the

novel insists on this co-existence and sometimes forgotten interaction of great and little 'gods', of small and large forces, grand and petit narratives, if you like. In a country such as the one Rahel comes from, 'various kinds of despair competed for primacy'. Personal despair is caught up in and seemingly dwarfed by 'the public turmoil of a nation':

. That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded deification. Then Small God (cosy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity ( 1 9).

Moore-Gilbert, Bart


(1 997), Postcolonial T7leory: Contexts, Practices, Politics

New York and London: Verso. Moss, Stephen


( 1 997),

'A contest won in a vacuum',

T7le Guardian



Naidu, Sarojini

( 1 905), The Goldell T7lreshold,

intro. Arthur Symons London:

William Heinemann.

( 1 997), The God ofSmall Things London: Flamingo. SIemon, Stephen ( 1 995), 'The Scramble for Post-Colonialism', De-Scribing Empire, eds. Chris Tiffin and Alan Lawson, London: Routledge. Spivak, Gayatri ( 1 99 1 ) , 'Neocolonialism and the Secret Agent of Knowledge', interview with Robert Young, The Oxford Literary Review: Neocolonialism 1 3 : 226-7 . Spivak, Gayatri ( 1 993), Outside in the Teaching Machine London: Routledge. Symons, Arthur ( 1 905), introduction, T7le Golden Threshold, by Sarojini Roy, Arundhati

Naidu London: William Heinemann.

Ahmad, Aijaz

(1992), In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures New York and

London: Verso.

( 1 997), quoted in The Guardian October 1 5 1 997: A3. (1 995), The Location of Culture London: Routledge. Elleke, ed., ( 1 998), "Sarojini Naidu," Empire Writing,

Beer, Gillian

Bhabha, Homi Boehmer,


Oxford UP.

( 1 997), 'The house in Kerala', Times Literary Supplement 30 23. Clark, Alex ( 1 997), 'Fatal Distractions', The Guardian 19 June: B4; Dirlik, Arif ( 1 996), 'The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism', Contemporary Postcolonial Theory, ed. Padmini Chew, Shirley May:

Mongia, London: Arnold.

( 1 990), The Ideology of the Aesthetic London: Blackwell. (1938), A Servallt of the Queen London: Victor Gollancz. Gorra, Michael ( 1 997), 'Living in the Aftermath', London Review of Books 1 9 June: 22-23. Gosse, Edmund ( 1 9 12), Introduction, The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death and the Spring, by Sarojini Naidu, London: Heinemann. Hamilton, Paul (1 996), Historicism London: Routledge. Loomba, Ania ( 1 998), Colonialism/Postcolonialism London: Routledge. Eagleton, Terry

Gonne, Maud

(1991), Women Writing in India: 600 B.C to the Preselll, vol. 1 Delhi: Oxford UP. Truax, Alice ( 1 997), review of The God of Small T7lillgs, by Arundhati Roy, New York Times Book Review 25 May: 5. van Straaten, Floris ( 1 997), 'Wreedheid als sleutel tot de liefde', NRC Handelsblad [Amsterdam] 1 7 October: 10. (own translation).

Tharu, Susie, and K. Lalita, eds.,


Chapter 9


Mustapha MarrOIiChi The botanical gardell oj my childhood is all enormous expanse oj land, Edenic in my mem01y. Jamaica Kincaid. My Garden (Book)

Goethe may first have spoken, in the afternoon of the millennium, of "world literature," but its existence is quite recent; it was born with Modernism, and now thrives in an age of Post-Modernism. When writers became exiles or


when they began to write in their second or even

third language, and above all when the experience of displacement became the subject of their work, then world-literature was born, for better or worse. Post­ colonial writers are probably the purest example of this negative liberty­ literally homeless, they write repeatedly about the actual and figurative centrifuges of modem life; infamous as writers to millions who have never read them, they are celebrated by thousands who cannot read them, for the hybridity of his narrative, which "is not only double-voiced and double­ accented," Mikhail Bakhtin informs us, but is also double-languaged; for in it there are not only (and not even so much) two individual consciousnesses. two voices, two accents, as there are [doublings of] socio-linguistic consciousnesses, two epochs . . . that come together and consciously fight it out on the territory of the utterance . . . . It is

1 60

Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory

the collision between differing points of view 00 the world that are embedded in these forms . . . . Such unconscious hybrids have been at the same time profoundly productive historically: they are pregnant with potential for new world views, with new "internal forms" for perceiving the world in words ( 1 989: 25).

beyond both the national and international contexts to become embedded in a travelling narrative. As we make our global leap into the next century, one example in particular of the post-colonial writer as displaced intelligence emerges most forcefully. The example in question is Edward Said. "Regard experiences then," Said wrote in the conclusion to his Culture and Imperialism, "as if they were about to disappear: what is it about them that anchors or roots them in reality? What would you save of them, what would give up, what would you recover?" ( 1 993: 336). In May of the same year, he started his "archaeological prying into a very distant and essentially irrecoverable past," (Said 1 999: 2 1 6). The experiences it digs for have of course disappeared, but also has their context, their location, their writer's only resource is memory. Born into a family more or less "out of place" wherever they found themselves: Palestinian, Lebanese, but American on their passports; Anglican in their worship, but otherwise unconnected to England; Francophone, but Arabic-speaking amongst themselves--custom-built Levantines, in a word, Said maintains that it is "better to wonder . . . , not to own a house, and never to feel too much at home anywhere" (294). He praises exile, and the process of intellectual discovery which relative rootlessness gives us, without ever glibly glossing over its pain or the cushioning effect of privilege. He no longer has the need to feel "at home." Although Said enjoys living in New York as a "gateway city that's so much part of the world, I still feel New York isn't home," he writes. "I don't know where home is, but it certainly isn't here" (294). His comments on the experience of mUltiplicity as both gift and loss are delicate and subtle and can be seen as offering an original reading of Proust's suggestion that true paradises are lost paradises:

This hybrid, also known as 'cultural amphibian,' like the test-tube baby, is a miracle of the twentieth century, or, in a darker light, a curious effluent, an unwitting by-product of the great technological, industrial and economic projects of a tumultuous age; an age in which both nations and families are being flung apart by the forces of history; an age in which everything seems to be "shifting, changing, getting partitioned, separated by frontiers, splitting, re­ splitting, coming apart" (Rushdie, 1 999: 322). Straddling the border without even trying, this off-the-edge writer, who travels to Paris, London and New York for an assault on the cultural capital, is as ill-equipped as Balzac and as restless as Conrad, since he or she has only genius to declare. Such a writer arrived at the right time, coinciding with an explosion of the discipline called Theory, which deflated traditional philosophy and literature in a such a way that a Jacques Derrida, for example, would henceforth appear as a new combination of writer and literary critic. At the same time there was a huge expansion of the university system so that a new public of students was available for the new writing and the new kind of theoretical journal. As a result, the traditional separation between writer and critic was broken down. It makes perfect sense; free from anything extraneous--certain specifics of time and place-so as to be "glocal," this "new" writer is writing not for a local audience but for a global one. In the process, he or she finds him or hersel f touring the world doing promotion gigs of one sort or another. The irony of this event called "touring" lies in the writer being encouraged almost not to write, and to spend all the time just talking about what he or she writes about to different audiences. This writer may have started a new genre, similar to the one we find in The Information by Martin Amis, which is mostly about room service, radio stations and transit lounges. Pushed by publisher(s) and afflicted by the pressures of being successful and having to go to Singapore, Norway and Brazil, among other places, the transplanted writer must disseminate as well as publicize his. In so doing, he becomes affected by the new environment he finds himself in: airplanes, airports, hotels, university campuses. The chief anxiety caused by dread of crossing the borderline moves


Exile is predicated on the existence of, love for, and a real bond with one's native place; the universal truth of exile is not that one has lost that love or home, but that inherent in each is an unexpected, unwelcome loss ( 1 993: 336).

This is a truth for those who have lost their love and home, and for those who have not; and for those who have returned to them. Exile, as Said suggests, can be a happy and an unhappy condition, a chance of belonging to more than one culture. It can be suffered or sought, or imaginatively borrowed. It is a way of understanding loss and a way of knowing what there is to lose, the paradise that cannot exist until it is gone (Wood 1 994). Or, to put it otherwise, home, homeland, place (of the mind) is, as Said insists, crucial to the

Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory

construction of one's identity. But it exists not only as a detennining but as a detennined cultural location, as a space of memory that alters the identity of the person inhabiting, viewing, passing through, or writing about it as Said does in Out of Place. While this remembering might be attributed to any number of factors, I have found it to become most visible when remembrance, especially nostalgic remembrance, is regularly intimate with forgetting. Said represents his mi(/ieux) de memoire as a haunting place, an expanse that contains botb joy and sadness. Said grew up in times that had all the more influence on him because they were conservative and he was not. He remained constantly open-almost to a fault, given the confusion of mind it was capable of producing in him-to what was being thought or written and what was happening privately and publicly around him. Whoever chooses to write on his childhood in Jerusalem, Cairo and Dhour in our own day and age is duty bound to make less of the idiosyncrasies-the three piece suits, the pipe, the field sports, not forgetting the occasional amours-so fatuously overdone in the past and more of how he related to the social, aesthetic and political ideas that came and went in the Middle East in the 1 940s and 50s. It suited him well as a rebel to mediate between the two environments known to him: at horne and outside of it-the one rough but in its way supportive, the other civilized, mind-sharpening but also callous. And as with dissonant milieux, so it was with individuals: here, too, Said, when he writes, portrays himself as brokering an annistice between parties who could never in reality get on. If having been born astride two worlds was the unmaking of him as a child, it was the making of him as a writer and as someone who, when the moment came, threw in his lot politically, and instinctively one can but add, with the democratic Left. The lifelong "reve du bon," which kept him writing year in year out, and which he feared he could not give up on without lapsing into wordless depression, may look flimsy, escapist even, when set against the social and political facts it could do little to mitigate. But, dreamer or not, he had become, with Sartre, Sir Bertrand Russell, C.L.R. James, James Baldwin, one of the "happy few" great consciences of the age. In his essay on laughter, Bergson argues that comedy is chastening, not charitable. Laughter is defined by a certain absence of sympathy, a distance and disinterestedness, the philosopher tells us. A world that contained only pure intelligences would probably still include laughter; a world made up of pure emotionalists probably would not ( 1 962: Ch.2). Bergson appears to have

been universalizing from the example of Moliere, and in so doing produces a description of comedy that is mightily contradicted at almost every station of literature. For literature's greatest category might be precisely one of systematic comedy: in particular, that paradoxical shuffle of condescension and affiliation we are made to feel by Bottom the weaver, or Don Quixote, or Uncle Toby, or Zeno, or Pin. Such characters have busy souls. They are congested by aspiration, an aspiration that outstrips their insight. They claim to know themselves, but their selves are too dispersed to be known. It is we who know them, because we know at least something about them: that they are self-ignorant. They are rich cavities, into which we pour a kindly offering: if we are the only ones who can provide the knowledge they lack about themselves, then we ourselves have become that lack, have become a part of them. Edward Said, both as narrator and as character in Out of Place, belongs to this company. Along with language, what else is at the core of his memory? Where does geography-especially in the displaced fonn of departures, arrivals, farewells, exile, nostalgia, homesickness, belonging and travel itself­ fit in? How do we gel from the lone, fragile child to the consummate intellectual who is in place among the truly important intellects of our century? Is the canvas he paints in Out of Place the necessary outcome, the "truth," of Said the heroic dissident child? To put it in Hegel's tenns: how does the ethically impeccable "noble consciousness" imperceptibly pass into the servile "base consciousness"? Of course, for a "Post-Modem" Third Way reader immersed in New Age ideology, there is no tension: Said is simply following his destiny, and deserving of praise for reclaiming a transcultural and often painful upbringing, the experience of multiplicity, its tonnents and confusions, but also its liberation and possibilities. To read his memoir is to come to know his family and his younger self as closely as we know characters in literature, and to be shown, intimately and unforgettably, what it has meant in the last half century to be a Palestinian. We live in a period of memoir writing (which James Merill jokingly called the "me-moir"), in which the narrator is often a victim (of abuse, punishment, neglect ) . In the culture of complaint it is enough to give voice to a little schrei-ing without seeking to understand the sadistic parents or teachers, and certainly without ever perceiving how so much distress might have left one defonned. Reading Oul of Place, one cannot help but think of Foucault's Surveiller el pl/llir, and indeed in the last section of that book,



The Site of Memory

Mustapha Marrouchi

1 64

1 65

Foucault studies the various systems invented by a reform school for invading and colonizing a little truant's mind. As Said writes, " . . . by the age of nine right through my fifteenth birthday I was constantly engaged in private remedial therapies after school and on weekends: piano lessons, gymnastics, Sunday School, riding classes, boxing, plus the mind-deadening rigors of relentlessly regulated summers" in a dreary Lebanese resort town, Dhour el­ Shweir. This regimentation was internalized and "produced in me a fear of falling back into some horrible state of total disorder and being lost, and I still have it."

( 1 999: 34). These feelings of fear were heightened by his family: a

closed-off private corporation. The memoir restricts itself to what Michael Holroyd calls "a good walk-on part," assigning the leading roles to its author and his family. Avowedly happier with the lives of others than with his own, Said remains as close as the circumstance permits to the condition of


watcher. The memoir had

formerly provided an "exit from myself," he observes. "These details are important as a way of explaining to myself and to my reader how the time of the memoir is intimately tied to the time, phases, ups and downs, variations in my illness" ( I I ) . The narrative shows Said stepping from his own life into other people's where there seemed to be so much more going on. In doing so, he suggests that in the first instance conveying the story to the reader was a crucial part of his larger mission as a witness to a period long gone both in time and space, and,


. . . the memory of man plays strange tricks when he tries to recall the events of his childhood; for it depicts some incidents as clearly as though they had happened a short time before, whereas it blots out others as though they had never passed within his ken ( 1 997: 2 1 1 ). When the man "recalling the child is so complex a mixture of scholar, political activist, aesthete and self-analyst as Edward Said, the processes of selection and distortion are immeasurably elaborated. We all tell stories about ourselves which involve elements of retrospective self-fashioning and cannot easily be disentangled from any "straight" recall of the past." (see Howe

1 999: 2-4)

Moreover, our families and communities, even nations, forge collective narratives into which they expect us to fit. As Said writes: "All families invent their parents and children, give them each a story, character, fate and even language." He continues, movingly and tellingly,

There was always something wrong with how I was invented and meant to fit in with the world of my parents and four sisters. Whether this was because I constantly misread my part or because of some deep flaw in my being I could not tell for most of my early life. Sometimes I was intransigent, and proud of it. At other times I seemed to myself to be nearly devoid of character, timid, uncertain, without will. Yet the overriding sensation I had was of never being quite right. ( 1999: 3).

and perhaps more importantly, reminding us,

so he maintains, of St Augustine, who observes: "When I am recollecting and

A Conradian scholar, Said is also, like the subject of

telling my story I am looking at its image in present time," and Said often

a sick man who is nevertheless determined to live until he dies. One of the

The Nigger of Narcissus,

rather delicately directs our attention to his memorabilia (photographs,

many things to be said about

anecdotes, pen, paper, manuscript); all this is happening, we are to believe, as

writing against death. Reminiscent of Proust's great novel-cycle because of its

Oul of Place

is that it is a heroic instance of

he writes. He will suddenly say of some object like the batch of films, each

own recapturing of lost time; and of Balzac, for the clarity of its social and

one carefully encased in the white and blue boxes, left over from the past, "I

historical perceptions, the narrative repeatedly explores the negative effects of

touch them with my fingers"-they are there on his desk or at the bottom of

exile, division and estrangement, shifting focus from Cairo to Beirut with

one of his nondescript cupboard boxes, provoking his curiosity every now and

Jerusalem in the middle, with provocative ease between collective and

then as to what portion of his life is preserved in them as they slowly sink into

individual consciousness. As its beginnings show, it is keenly aware of the

oblivion and final disuse; he remarks their present in thinking of their past.

inventions, blurrings and imagination - figments that go to make up our sense

One's angle of vision on the past varies along with the passage of time, always

of ourselves and our kin. It knows everything there is to know about

present and always giving the past a different appearance or history.

displacement, about rootings and uprootings, about feeling wrong in the

In AI-Ayam (The Days), the first modem Arab autobiography,

and also the

world, and it

absorbs the reader precisely because



first modem Arabic literary work to gain international attention, Taha Hussein

experiences lie at or near the heart of what it is to be alive in our jumbled,

urges that

chaotic times.

1 66

Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory

The creative wholeness which connects Said's early emotional experiences with the political form of adult imagination makes it clear that a chronic and consuming need to be "located" (to use his word) in a known possessed place encourages the writer to under-analyze his politics, and to simplify his way to ambiguity. This is not a sly way of saying that Palestinian nationalism is a neurosis, and that Said's fear of dislocation could be resolved more effectively by visiting a therapist than by writing about the oppressed and the silenced. It is, however, to respect the honesty of his acute observation that he remains faithful to much received thinking about Jerusalem, because the brokenness of the Palestinian past, as understood through a quasi­ nationalist perspective, matches his sense of self: ". . . its fragmentations extended into mine," he maintains ( 1 999: 1 89). There is a duality to place. By this Said means that a place which develops in time both happened and happens to us, but also that, because the imagination mediates such happenings, Cairo is inseparable for him from another familially significant site, hundreds of miles away, where the extended members of his family spend their summer holiday. Said writes movingly about Dhour as "fragile and transitory" (209). He makes us freshly aware of how this place composed of lives in a state of process occupies a transitional zone not just between town and country but between the young vitality of new families shouting and calling far into the summer night and the quiet of streets with mature gardens from which children have gone. For him, the temporality of Dour is most to be valued, however, because it is open to space-time border-crossings. But even there, Said cannot write of "permanence" without qualifying it as "illusory." It is as though, by thinking about dislocation in time as well as space, he has translated unhappiness at exile into anxiety about time. Out ofPlace underlines a line in a poem by Philip Larkin: "They fuck you up, your mum and dad . . . " ( 1 99 1 : 26). lt [the memoir] is a candid and searing examination of parental effect, told with a mixture of love, perplexity and resentment. It is also a story of cultural displacement and historical crisis, but, overwhelmingly, private life dominates public events. The Said family were Palestinian by origin, largely resident in Cairo and possessors of American passports-except the mother, who was in consequence like a soul in limbo, forced to wail for a passage across the Styx. They are Christian Arabs, who alternate between speaking Arabic and English, they are wealthy amid the poverty of the Levant. They have a foothold in several cultures, and an abiding home in none. And all around, their world is in ferment. Yet, given all

this rootlessness, the directing force of Said's growing up in Cairo is intimate and familial: the personalities of his parents, who had a good many houses, having been, originally, a family of substance and talent. Here their history, both as it was and as it was sometimes falsely represented, is told at some length. Said, a lover of documented fact, does them proud in a literary sense insofar as they step from the page. Both father and mother loom largest in the recollected narrative, prompted, as Said poignantly states, by the diagnosis of the incurable illness which has afflicted him for the past seven years, and which he likens to the "sword of Damocles." The memoir, the most intimately personal book of his 1 7 to date, and a conscious effort at a more literary form, covers his life until the early 1 960s, and forms a record of a lost world. Its initial spur was personal grief. "My mother was dying [of cancer] at the time and I thought, there's an end to a special part of my life" ( 1 999a: I I ). Like the narrator's mother in Proust's A Ie recherche dll temps perdu who leaves the love bits out, in case her cosseted boy is not yet ready for them, Hilda Said had a "fabulous capacity for letting you trust and believe in her, even though you knew that a moment later she could either tum on you with incomprehensible anger and scorn or draw you in with her radiant charm. 'Come and sit next to me, Edward,' she would say, thereby letting you in her confidence, and allowing you an amazing sense of assurance" ( 1 999: 60). The rich and attractive portrayal of Hilda as energy itself is the record of a muddled life lived with an estimable generosity and resilience that you do not have to read every word of Ollt of Place to form an altogether higher opinion of the person who went through it ceaselessly probing, judging and even possessing her enfant terrible, who grew up to be the Arab world's paragon. At times, though, you begin to ask yourself whether the portrait the author draws of her (so sedative is the effect of her voice on her jumpy Edward) has turned not on memory, but on the bilateral relationships between mother and son, "a constellation only she could see as a whole," which so dominates the narrative that it rather resembles a double bed of which only one side has been slept in (64). She rises off these pages as powerfully as, perhaps more powerfully than, her son rises off his. It is the varieties of Hilda's vicariousness that make Edward so full of comedy and mischief. Though his representation of her is often warm, it is rarely needy; there is never a doubt in our minds that it is this teenaged boy, the eldest, and only son, who has the greater power-the power to excite, to disappoint and to impress his mother. He explains: "By the time I was fully conscious of speaking English fluently,


Mustapha Marrouchi


The Site o f Memory

1 69

if not always correctly, I regularly referred to myself not as 'me' but as 'you.'

Said's relationship with his father, though more intimidating, is still a

'Mummy doesn't love you, naughty boy,' she would say, and I respond, in

matter of subdued will. Wadie is seen to be both funny and pathetic in his

half-plaintive echoing, half-defiant assertion, ' Mummy doesn ' t love you, but

desire that his son should not follow his own downward path. He-who called

Auntie Melia loves you . . . .' 'No she doesn't,' my mother persisted. 'All

himself William to emphasize his adopted identity-is a powerful but silent

I would conclude,

presence in the narrative. Tall, taciturn, overbearing and uncommunicative, "a

rescuing something from the enveloping gloom" (4-5). In one sense, then,

devastating combination of power and authority, rationalistic discipline and

Edward outgrew his mother before he himself grew up; and if this is the case,

repressed emotions," Wadie is portrayed as a laconic man whose Victorian

right. Saleh [Auntie Melia's Sudanese driver] loves you,'

then he had always outgrown his mother, because his mother's emotional need

strictness instilled in Said "a deep sense of generalized fear which I have spent

of him had always been more acute than his of his mother. This outgrowing of

most of my life trying to overcome" (7 1). He never told his son more than " 1 0

his mother naturally produces at times a stiff loneliness, as when Said writes

or I I things about his past" (82). As a result, Said Sr. comes across as

to one of his sisters that his mother's devotion to him makes him feel both

agonized, introspective and to a considerable degree self-regarding. An uneasy

loved and sad. At other times, that loneliness-{)r perhaps "singleness" is the

person sprung from an uneasy background.

better word--erupts into a slightly grotesque hypertrophy of authority, in which the teenager feels impelled to instruct his mother. Hilda Said, whom Edward worshiped, is an extraordinary mixture of

Generous, combustible, nobly hysterical, facetious when he would like to be solemn, stoical in resolve but crumbling in practice, free in spirit but actually tied to the train of his destiny by the modesty of his ticket, Wadie is in

Out of Place,

naivete and sophistication. She smothers her only son with attention and

fact an affecting father, one who has a kind of anxious serenity.

concern, but her ambivalence has him in a constant state of uncertainty. At

a very moving book, shows that he was less naive, much less unlettered and

one moment she is all admiration and affection; at another she is cold and


dismissive. He is for ever in pursuit of her approval. "As I look back over the

delightfulness, and are, at the same time, stalked by an ungoverned anxiety.

years," he writes with gripping affection,

worldly than his


but the two men share an


Dad is an overflowing spirit, breathing the germs of vicarious aspiration over his clever and dutiful son. There is often a hope, however unwitting, that the

can see the real anxiety induced in me by my mother's withdrawal, where the need to reconnect with her was kept alive paradoxically by the obstacles she placed before me. She had become a taskmaster whose injunctions I had to fulfill. Yet the emptiness into which I fell during and after my errands when she gave little warmth or thanks genuinely bewildered me. The intelligence of our relationship was temporarily gone, in Dhour replaced by the series of drills set for me to keep me out of everyone's way (1999: 1 56). I

son may not resemble the father, who grounds his own dreams in his liberated and intelligent Edward.

In some respects Wadie Said must have been an ideal

father: on the one hand, he existed to be outgrown, and knew it; and yet on the other, his support of his five children was absolute, and could never be outgrown, or even rivalled. His love was greater than his authority: thus he was never paternally ex


but always instead a kind of civilian in

fatherhood, an amateur at paternity. What is delightful about the father who

In later life, she tells him: "My children have all been a disappointment." He is devastated, and reflects with the wisdom of adult vision that her overwhelming effect has had shattering results on his ability to form mature relationships with other women. But she is also his mentor and support. Brilliant and manipulative, Hilda divided her children, always keeping Said Jr. and his sisters "off-balance," neurotically difficult to please, giving always the impression that "she had judged you and found you wanting" yet instilling in him the love of literature and music on which he built a career (2 1 1) .

lives in these pages is that unlike most ambitious parents, he does not squeeze his son for guilt. Quite the opposite. He does not envy his son his experiences, or reproach him for them, but instead identifies with them so strongly that he shares them, takes them over. It is as if Dad, in dispensing advice so freely and confidently, has already lived, in a previous incarnation, the experiences he so longs to hear about; his son is his avatar. It is here that Edward Said combines analysis with reverence for his domineering father and vivid, evocative prose, as in this passage:

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The Site of Memory

In June of 1957, when [ graduated from Princeton, it culminated in my

provoke his warmth. In time, he learned to perform, to act a part. Again, one

father's insisting on taking me to a brace and corset maker in New York in order to buy me a harness to wear underneath my shin. What distresses me about the experience is that at age twenty-one


uncomplainingly let my


has the impression of a true self, a writing self, kept in the wings. In the upshot, his father battled to mould him, to create the "Edward" he

father feel entitled to truss me up like a naughty child whose bad posture

imagined as his only son. Yet, by forcing his extremely unwilling departure to


Mount Hermon at age



character trait that required scientific

punishment. The clerk who sold us the truss remained expressionless as my father amiably declared, "See, it works perfectly. You'll have no problems" ( 1 999: 64).

And, of course, Dad


later engineering his exile from Cairo and

supporting him financially throughout his student years, he made possible for him to shake free of that very mould, to discover his hidden self. His mother, simultaneously cherishing and undermining him, was yet the foundation for


really lived these experiences, because he has

imagined them so many times. There is a nobility in this attitude, a mental triumph. Dad is the victor of systems, because his fantasy is an army, running on a thousand legs. As a result, the son who caught these balloons of aspiration and advice at Harvard and Princeton seems at first unrelated to his emotionally ragged Father. He tends to board himself where Dad spreads himself. While Wadie is amiably generous to all, Edward can be royally haughty to others. While Dad is uncertain, burying his fragility in a muff of warm advice, the son seems adamantine, extraordinarily confident and penetrating for his years. While the father is lavish with banality, the son's responses are defined by the thrift of their omissions. One has a sense of a young man reserving the self for his work, and sharing only his dilutions with his family. Edward does eventually reveal himself in time, and the reader is able to discern an anxiety and pride that seem reminiscent of his father's. "r only realized years later, when r had gone my own way: that there was more to 'Edward' than the delinquent yet compliant son, submitting to his father's Victorian design" (79). In America, young Edward already has an incipient aristocratic liberty of mind, while his father has laboured all his life for his small


of liberty. The

difference derives in part from the fact that the son, unlike his father, is able to feel free on so little freedom. The passing respect of a



because such gestures are essential to Edward's sense of life, but not to his sense of self. Dad's political metabolism is, by comparison, inefficient; his sense of freedom too clumsy and massive to be nourishing. There are too many wants to please. Edward' s wants are superbly narrow: he wants to be respectfully left alone, so that he can concentrate his self-originated freedom, and convert it into writing. "r wanted to get beyond the various cages in which r found myself placed, and which made me feel so dissatisfied, and even distasteful to myself' (3 I ) . His family, and especially his abundant mother,

the sustaining passions of his life: language and music. Throughout the memoir Said examines their characters in detail, generously, trying to see and represent them as their own selves, linked to but apart from the personae they were as his parents. In effect, while his body and blood are subject to the most detailed medical analysis and procedure, himself and those he holds dear are subject to the most detailed psychological and historical analysis. How it must hurt.

Out of Place

is essentially a record of the emotions. The plot has been

determined by others: fate, history, politics, his parents. The bonds in Arab families usually extend far beyond parents and siblings. Said convinces us that he regarded his aunt's house as "home" even if it was not his actual domicile. The nostalgia for it persisted. As time went by, the life with his extended Jerusalem family acquired a languid, almost dream-like aspect for him, in contrast to the more tightly organized and disciplined regime with his parents and sisters, who are a shadowy presence in the memoir. Edward was the central figure, that is made clear. During a surnrner vacation in Dhour, in retreat from Victoria College (Cairo) where he had done less than brilliantly in his first year of school, Said found himself talking to Zeine Zeine, professor of history at the American University of Beirut. As he explains, he sensed, at the time, a power in the encounter. Now it strikes him with the force of a delayed remembering. "A gifted storyteller, Professor Zeine went with me on my first museum visit, to Cairo's Wax Museum, where in the funereally still, empty rooms framed by elaborate wax scenes from modem Egyptian history, Zeine would speak grippingly about Muhammad Ali, Bonaparte, Ismail

Pasha, the Orabi rebellion, and the

Denshawi incident" ( 1 66). Another no less important person in Said's life as a child is his Jerusalem aunt Nabiha, his father' s sister. She is an emblem of all the realities abstracted from the Jerusalem-Cairo axis. She stands for the sufferings of ordinary folk-not least because, according to Said, she was the first person to give shelter to the many displaced Palestinians who flocked into

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The Site of Memory

1 73

Cairo after 1 948. One advantage of reading about her is that the narrative

careers out of transmitting, interpreting and debating representations of the

allows us to identify the grounds of al-manfa (exile and estrangement), where

native "Other," it is also used by Said who, in placing him or her in the

the complexity of collective history meets, and is partly defeated by, her

margins of his memoir's characterization and action, exults in the role of the

investment in a psychology of belonging. Said's engagement with Palestine,

dominant master.

as he describes it, drew on deep emotional roots, particularly his affection for

at seven-thirty, what I witnessed was invariably stamped with night's end and

Out of Place provides

a fierce instance: "As my day began


his aunt. "Whatever political ideas she may have had were hardly ever uttered

day's beginning-the black-suited

in my presence: they did not seem necessary at the time. What was the central

divesting themselves of blankets and heavy coats, sleepy-eyed

or evening watchmen, slowly


importance was the raw, almost brutal core of Palestinian suffering, which she

shuffling off to market for bread and milk, drivers getting the family car

made it her business to address every morning, noon and night" ( 1 54). Later,

ready. There were rarely any other grown-ups about at that hour" (37).

Said would observe that it was both the annexation of Palestine by Israel in

Narratives like this one strike the reader as a portrait of the native servant as a

1948 and the sheer scale of the Arab defeat in 1 967, with the new wave of

resourceful Sam Weller or a solid Nelly Dean even if Said gets a good deal of

refugees it unleashed, that reconnected him with his former self.

quiet, sometimes slightly pained, fun out of it.

Augustine, patron saint of confessional telling, also writes about its

Holding and discovering secrets, the servants' disclosures are often the

paradoxes. "I can be far from glad remembering myself to have been glad, and

means of the plot's resolution. The relation the reader perceives between them

far from sad when I recall my past sadness." Said's account of his family

and those they serve are dense with complexity and sophistication. Their

home emphasizes its constant moody temper and its joyless eccentricities, but

presence creates space in which the narrative is at liberty to move beyond

he recounts them with suave good humour as if they had by now become

itself: they provide another way of seeing the motivation and action of the

enjoyable and even funny. Indeed, this is a book that from the outset rejoices

dominant class represented here by Wadie Said (male, learned, comparatively

quietly and continually in the painful idiosyncrasies of the family. It [the

wealthy, or to put otherwise, a successful Willy Loman). The dust jacket of

book) impresses its family portraits upon us as well as teaches us a good deal

the American edition blithely exhibits the order of things: the poorly dressed

about bourgeois behaviour creeping into the narrative through the servants'

faithful figure wearing a

entrance. The note is perfectly struck in the descriptions of the




standing alone in front of the main branch

of the Cairo Standard Stationery Company on Malika Street (Cairo) embodies

the underclass of Egyptian Muslims who are made to serve, clean, wait on,

silent gestures toward the overpowering Wadie Said (in a bow tie standing in


house maids,

the doorway) who is seen to relish his narrative mission of bringing

chauffeurs, gardeners, hurrying messengers and other unlettered characters do

Imowledge and order to the world. It is this resilience that defines the literary

not get to represent themselves or tell their stories. In fact, they are scarcely

representation of the servant, who is often the interface between the reader and

perceived as capable of having stories, which are not so much refused as ruled

the text's scheme of values, which is regularly undercut by his, or her, canny

out by the author. It is in keeping with Said's carefully controlled tone that he

presence, still winking at the reader.

baby-sit Edward and

his sisters. Kitchen


makes as little as possible of their presence, except, that is, as subalterns

operating from below.

His ability to discern and identify the hidden political

The strong heritage of servants means that the narrative's pretensions to realistic truth are challenged by their presence. The servant's disobedience, or


even fidelity, becomes a means of breaking free from the ground rules of

colonial plantations that guarantee the domestic tranquility and harmony of

realism. Freedom within service is marked in his or her language. Full of

Mansfield Park to the hundreds of the Egyptian lives sacrificed before the

proverbs (the proverbial

imperial spectacle marked by the composition of Aida-the opening of the

malapropisms, quotations and garrulous eccentricities, the language of the

Suez canal-falters when it comes to servant figures, acting as doubles, who, it

servant can express a refusal to follow directions issued from above.

agendas and contexts in the canons of Western culture, from the





is as old as Sancho,

a given language,"


or older)



seems, played a maj or role in the making of their betters. They come across as


unimaginable pieces of history. If the East was used by Europeans to make

experiences therefore are had, absorbed, and recalled in that language" ( 1 999:


Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory

xiii). More telling still are the assumptions that underlie the servant's language. Here, Said knows that it is not his vocation to speak for the domestic minor and the marginal. He sees himself fulfilling the task of writing a memoir (which he conceived as a testimony to his children) from a position of cultural ascendancy, and seems untroubled by the thought that his dismissal of the other narrative, that of the faithful servant, might in itself dwindle into the marginalized utterance of a lost cause. This is what Slavoj Zizek has aptly called the "interpassive socialism" of the Western academic Left. These leftists are not interested in activity-merely in "authentic" experience. They allow themselves to pursue their well-paid academic careers in the West, while using the idealized Other (servant in this case, in other instances, it could be Cuba or Nicaragua) as the stuff of their ideological dreams: they dream through the Other, but tum their backs on it if it disturbs their complacency by abandoning socialism and opting for liberal capitalism (see Zizek 1 999). If all there was to Said were his stories of an edifying Western bourgeois liberalism, of the sort Zizek describes, then we could safely abandon him to a museum-case, but he is of course a creation of a time and a place. And at the time and in that place he was as enmeshed within family life as any of us. The conception of Out of Place arises, too, out of a personal situation. Diagnosed with leukemia and struggling with side effects of the treatment, Said decided to use the writing of the memoir as therapy and an introspective journey into the past. It is the private view of a public man. The impression which endures is of a restless spiritual energy ceaselessly grappling with the contradictions, complexities and injustices of the world from the perspective of privileged minority he inherited from his wealthy but dislocated family. The circumstances in which the book was written, in periods of remission or between bouts of chemotherapy, add to its testamentary force. "Despite the travail of disease and restrictions imposed on me by my having left the places of my youth, I can say with the poet: 'Nor in this bower, / This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd / Much that has soothed me'" ( 1 999: I I). Out of Place is not an apologia hastily assembled to counter Zionist polemics. It is a powerful and, at the most fundamental level, a thoroughly convincing statement about a man who has helped to illuminate our crisis-ridden world. All Post-Modem autobiographers seem to think of themselves as outsiders, drifters, solitaries, especially if they were writers before they turned to self-revelation. Certainly this book is written. For all the evidence that the

atmosphere of his home was saturated with unhappiness the book that describes it sounds reasonably contented. It (home) was material for a narrative that tries as hard as possible to be a set of "biographemes," in Barthes' formula. The calm, though, belongs to the writer at his desk, remembering pain with a pleasure not immodestly insisted on, and enhanced by a liberal use of legitimate real voices. At its centre, Out of Place turns out to be a stirring coming-of-age story, detailing the writer's journey from youngster to university student to full-fledged artist. Inventive in its style and technique, Said's narrative paints a moving portrait of its hero' s quest to create his own character, language, life and art; "to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race" (Joyce, 1 999: 23). It is an irony worth noting by way of an epilogue that in the summer of 1999 Said found out that his past had been rewritten-that he had not been schooled at the school he attended; that he had not lived in and been obliged to leave Jerusalem; that he and his family were not refugees from Palestine; that he was a "liar"- by someone he had never heard of while attending Daniel Barenboim's master classes in Weimar with 90 Arab and Israeli musicians, including his 1 0-year-old great nephew, a piano prodigy from Amman. Following the attack, Said who is usually one of those people who speaks as though he is at a poetry recital and exudes calm authority, appeared stung, rummaging through papers that illustrate he is who he says he is, and very obviously aware of the bleak absurdity of a situation in which he is forced to do so. Disarming, Said reveals why he believes he has become the American Right's andlor Zionist's latest hate figure: "I symbolize the things Zionists are afraid of. I don't believe in partition, and that is why I am dangerous to them.'" For him, the attack was recognition of his growing currency within Israel, where he has been more visible, writing and narrating a BBC documentary Edward Said: A VelY Personal View of Palestine,' which was timed to commemorate 50 years of Israeli occupation, and championing the

1 74


1 75

Quoted in Ed Vulliany. "Disarming-and Dangerous?," The Observer Review 29 August 1999: 2. See also, Maya Taggi, "Out of the Shadows," The Guardian 12 September 1 999: 12-14; Julian Borger, "Friends Rally to Repulse Attack on Edward Said," The Guardian 23 August 1999: 7; Christopher Hitchens, "Whose Life Is It Anyway?," The Nation 4 October 1999: 9. Nowhere is the attack on Said more disfiguring than in Charles Krauthamrner, "The Case of the Suspect Bios," Time 4 October 1999: 84. Krauthamrner makes his findings fiasco the cornerstone for his edifice of misrepresentations, misreadings and ultimately his pervert ire. 2 The documentary program was aired by the Public Broadcasting System (on WNET on July 5, 1999) under the title, "In Search of Palestine."

1 76

Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory


cause of reparation; where even far-right Zionists, he believes, are "less rabid

for Public Affairs, which employs Justus Weiner.' Suffice i t to add that

and more in touch with reality" than those who live in the U.S. Said, who has

Conrad Black, the owner of

long pleaded for both sides to recognize the other's history, rebuffed his

attack in Europe, also owns

enemies' attack in multiple ways. The most sound and unequivocal of them is


Out of Place,

Binyamin Netanyahu, who in

which stands as a corrective; it rectifies what is amiss. "My

parents moved there [to Zamelek) Cairo in

1 937, when I was two" (22). Said 1 935, but

goes on to explain that his parents had already lived in Cairo since

T7ze Daily Telegraph, which TI,e National Post (Canada)

carried most of the and

The Jerusalem

which supports the right-wing Likud Party of former Prime Minister

1 988 refused to sit with Said in the same studio

during a debate on Night Line, hosted by Ted Koppel (NBC, New York). His argument was that Said was a terrorist intent on killing him.' Said, on the

decided that he should be born in Jerusalem: an earlier child, born in a Cairo

other hand, remains scornful of the suggestion that he wields great power in

hospital, had developed an infection and died. To avoid another disaster, his

the media: "The mainstream press makes use of you when it wants to, as a

parents decided that he should be born at "home" in Jerusalem, where he was

token or a symbol, but you have no access," he opines in an interview (ibid.).

delivered by a Jewish midwife. The home he refers to was the ancestral family

No major US paper, he adds, would publish his response to Weiner, though it

home, lived in by his aunt Nabiha and his cousins, an "upperclass Jewish

appeared in the Arab press,

neighborhood," but prior to

1 947 lived in exclusively by Palestinian Christians. That "home" was lost in 1948, when his aunt and cousins became


Al-Hayat, for which he has written regularly since 1 993. It was also published in Hebrew in the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha 'aretz. There is definitely more than an overtone of exclusion, racism and

xenophobia in some of the language used in Weiner's essay and letter.' The

"A lie can get halfway around the world," Mark Twain once observed,

critique is marked by a violence of language and mindless destructiveness the

"before truth has even put its boots on." So it has proved-but only so far-in

likes of which I have yet to encounter in any other literary culture--certainly

the matter of Justus Weiner versus Edward Said. Here we approach the crux of

not with such a sustained intensity, not even during violent social revolutions

the matter. Is it seriously proposed that Said's out-of-place early life, spent

when the slightest ambiguity in ideological content of a work of art is seized

partly in Jerusalem, partly in Cairo, somehow disqualifies him from speaking

upon as proof of dangerous, subversive sympathies. This violence has become

as a Palestinian? That it is fine for Weiner, an American Jew transplanted to

competitive to such an extent that Weiner even proudly labelled himself

Israel, to speak as an Israeli, but not for Said, a Palestinian re-rooted in New

"scholar" and "journalist" in order to place himself beyond any form of rules

York, to speak for Palestine? What Weiner has in fact done is to hijack a

of combat or knowledge of its subject. With typical Zionist parochialism and

reputation for Zionist ends. For when a distinguished writer, as distinguished

self-obsession, Weiner's argument runs as follows: "I cannot state this often

as Said is, is attacked in this fashion-when his enemies set out not merely to

enough or emphatically enough, nothing alleged in Said's own rebuttal or by

judge his books but to sentence and sully his name-then there is always more

his defenders shakes my findings by as much as an iota"

(2000: I I ). This

at stake than the mere quotidian malice of the world of literature. Justus Weiner's







1999), which made a previous effort at slandering

Commentary Said 1 0 years

ago, when it labelled him "professor of terror," despite his consistent rejection of terrorism or a military solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, are, I believe, an extension of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict masked as an argument against public misbehaving; it is drenched in the usual hypocrisy about norms of conduct, a tactic employed by publicists who try to hide their real agenda. For who appointed Weiner to research Said's past anyway? Milken, the former junk bond dealer who was imprisoned in

1 9 9 1 for insider

trading. He is also the leading donor of "Special Gifts" to the Jewish Centre


1 have read Justus Reid Weiner, "'My Beautiful Old Home' and Other Fabrications by Edward Said," Commentary (September 1999): 23-32, with care and enthusiasm only to discover how Dr. Weiner manages skillfully to bring forward what suits his hogwash thesis and bury everything else, which confirms that Said did indeed attend SI. George School, that the Saids were well known as an old Palestinian family. At least one of the students who studied with Edward said as much to Dr. Weiner, who conveniently failed to mention the fact in his attack. Other errors are to be noted: Weiner quotes only those whose theses consolidate his own. • Piali Roy interviews Edward Said for "Ideas," CBC 23 November 1999: 9-10 P.M. The interview is detailed, sharp and up to date with Said's views on various topics: peace in the Middle East, the vocation of the intellectual, reparation, the crisis of the Arab intellectual, Arafat. S Weiner's language comes across as noisy. vindictive and pushy. His ideas are put in the conceptual marketplace with all the fervour with which others peddle second·hand Hoovers.

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Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory

whole by-now discredited charge rests on a misguided critique would need to be launched from some metaphysical outer space, for it shares the delusion of the reality it detests. The very idea that somebody from Palestine, from the ex-colonial jungle should ( 1 ) speak and challenge a colonial power like Israel in such an urgent way and (2) even propose the idea of return and reparation for his people is anathema to Weiner, who writes: Let me close, then, by restating my conviction that the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, to which so many of them assert their devotion, is not well-served but-to the contrary-traduced by an attachment to historical ties. The fact is that the "best-known Palestinian intellectual in the world" (as he was recently described on the BBC) made wholesale political use of the supposed circumstances of his childhood, weaving an elaborate myth

of paradise



from paradise

out of one

or two

circumstances and a raft of inventions. That myth has been exposed, and its purveyor has been revealed not as a refugee from Palestine, but as a refugee from the truth. To judge by the way he and his supporters have responded, be, and they, are still on tbe run (2000: 16).

This is Weiner's own denigration of Edward Said. Let us split it into two. There is first Palestine and there is secondly the representative of this Palestine. And that representative also happens to be that same individual who opposed the peace process-at least who is held responsible for disagreeing with its content-and therefore has become an ogre to the outspoken "conscience" of Zionism and its doyens. I will not pursue here the mixed career of Weiner's newly-discovered vocation in journalism-the sweeping generalizations, misquotations, the impudence of claims which masks disinterest in and/or ignorance of the variants on the Said story, cavalier imposition of far-fetched parameters to provide a veneer of studiousness and research-, except to mention the gratuitous violence of approach, in the violent appropriation of literary material and its violent mutilation.' For many readers, both the article and/or letter is a grudge and frontal attack, the upshot of which is: if everyone in the world must nowadays be a victim of something, Weiner is a self-confessed 6

There is too much of a cultural sheep or lemmings mentality among those who, like Weiner, engage in slanderous misrepresentations of others. Tn a series of audacious bounds, Weiner refers to Said's memoir, which was originally called Not Quite Riglrl, as "radically revised . . . in favor of the truer one presented in Our ofPlace" (2000: 12).

1 79

victim of his own assumptions, which exert their mindless tyranny over him as ruthlessly as Stalin held sway over the kulaks. For him, nothing in the world could count as evidence for one's aciila (authenticity, originality), since what we gullibly call the world is simply a construct of it. He forgets that identity is a constitutive of the self, and so cannot be critically questioned by it. And so it goes on, when you are Palestinian, the question of identity becomes a disturbing one. You must rehash the same narrative in order to reassert your aciila as if it never existed before. This is what Said aptly called "beginning and beginning again to tell my story and that of my people to the world" ( 1 987: 34). Additionally, the notion that Said has been vocal, persistent and compelling is even more troubling to Weiner & Co. This is the spillover from the whole of that standing up to a cause: that of the Palestinian people anxious to determine their own fate without being pushed over, bullied, misrepresented, maimed, imprisoned, deported without trial, or simply killed. Weiner, who accuses Said of straying from the truth, is mealy-mouthed about it. For what is at stake here is the question of authenticity, a faulting that goes beyond the lines of his laborious article to the arbitrary codes and signifiers that define identity, which is the yardstick we use to determine who is and who is not eligible for inclusion in the panoply of tribes that are available to us such as class, religion, race, ethnicity and region. It provides the parameters for describing who we are, and often what we can say. The consequences of these issues are far from academic. In Israel a debate is raging over who, for purposes of immigration, qualifies not as a citizen (regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, elective affinity) but as a Jew. Since the country's law of return was passed in 1 950, anyone with even one Jewish grandparent has an automatic right to Israeli citizenship. As a result, all Palestinian property was unilaterally converted into Israeli property robbing therefore the Saids and other Palestinian families like them of their homes, lands and homeland. This assault leaves the field clear for Weiner's round of rape on the literary products of Said, which "raised doubts" about the latter' s credentials as a "refugee" as a means of trying to discredit his entire body of work. "[ had never had much respect for the intellectual integrity of Professor Said," a spokesman for the former right-wing Israeli government said. "This proves that my suspicions were not groundless.'" The affront put Said in the '

See Gary Younge, "Struggles of the Artist," The Guardian 1 7 January 2000: 3.

1 80

Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory

Kafkaesque situation of brandishing documents to prove that he is in fact who he has always said he was. But there was more at stake, he believes, than his own integrity. "It is an attempt," he notes,

andlor it descends to such contemptible tactics, I believe that he or it really should be drummed out of the profession. I am convinced that it is because of the disgust and outrage felt by many readers that Commentary felt bound to print some of the responses to Weiner's article. Non-committingly, of course, because "dog does not eat dog." But in doing so, the monthly journal wanted to make some kind of back-handed-but not complete-amends, by returning to and writing about Said in a positive and conciliatory fashion. The felicitous upshot is that any individual, I do not care if he or she is the greatest genius ever invented in the world, that any one individual should have the power to actually label a writer and close down his work of sweat and imagination just on a whim is a sign of our imperfect times. That kind of power is pathological, perverse and obscene. In no other place in the world does this kind of affront to human creativity take place. Not even Commentary deserves the tyranny of Weiner. The sad part of this kind of defamation lies in the acknowledgment that he is not alone. There are many other self­ proclaimed "critics" and "scholars" who have missed their calling. The Pipes, the Podhoretzes, the Zions, the Krauthammers, among others, come to mind. Beneath these pundits' reactionary commitment to universalist progress and commonality of the intellectual process, let us never dismiss the possibility of opportunism, sordid self-interest and plain will-to-power. Anyone is, of course, free to choose his weapons, but let no one think that the use of any particular weapon is the monopoly of the unprincipled, championed here by Daniel Pipes who goes so far as to allow himself to announce quite shamelessly that Said's memoir is a work of "dissimulation.'" Pipes, a mind­ suppressor, will not hesitate to use any weapon in order to aspire to mediocre intellectual respectability. It is regrettable that a mere dismissal as an inept zealot will not suffice for the case of Weiner & Co. It will not explain why the pages of his essay and letter are drenched in so much bile, why such virulence dominates even his few instances of arguable criticism, why smear and sneer are substituted for clarity or precision of attack. It would be futile to deny the sickness of '''My Old Beautiful Home'" insofar as it has nothing to do with strict disputation in the realm of ideas, of urgent but far-reaching causes which might even be traced to purely human motives such as frustrated ambitions. This leaves Weiner in the odd position of accruing capital to himself by engaging in

to pre-empt the process of return and compensation for the Palestinians . It is a way of furthering the argument that the Palestinians never belonged in Palestine. . . . If someone like Edward Said is a liar, runs the argument, how can we believe all those peasants who say they were driven offtheir land? . . It is part of the attempt to say that none of this actually happened (2000: 3). Or, to put differently, undermine Said's authenticity, went the logic, and you undennine the credibility of the Palestinian cause. Only the desperation of a mercenary hatchet-man could produce the series of constant initations to people, who like Said, continue to stand on the margins. The burden of representation on people who do emerge from desperate circumstances is a heavy one. But that is no excuse to try to deny the validity of their voice. In the case of Edward Said there is, of course, no such thing as the Palestinian experience but, instead, several Palestinian experiences (family, birth, name, baptism, life, death, burial) or, what Abdelkebir Khatibi has aptly called "Said pluriel." To refer to Weiner the "scholar," however, is to reveal the fact that in publishing his essay, Commentary has allowed his lies, insults, abuses, short­ sightedness, misinformation of his own readers to remain. In doing so, both the self-fashioned "scholar" and "journalist" as well as the small conservative American Jewish monthly have behaved with complete professional irresponsibility. For them, it was enough to say, "Edward Said is a liar." Here as usual, Weiner's rather stagey relish for the defamatory posture leads him astray. It prevents him from seeing that a certain capacity for critical self­ distancing is actually part of the way we are bound up with the world, not some chimerical alternative to it. His case fudges the question of how people come to change, not necessarily for the better, just as it adopts an untenably provincial view of the relations between a specific identity system and particular bits of evidence. It also suggests that we cannot ask where our identity come from because any answer to this question would be predetermined by our sense of belonging. In academia, you can hammer your colleagues, safe in the knowledge that, since you all suhscribe to the same professional rules, it does not really mean a thing. But when a man andlor a literary journal descends so low, when he


See Christopher Hitchensl uWhose Life Is It Anyway? " The Nation 4 October 1 999: 9.


1 82

Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory

disfiguring Said, a native of Palestine, whose ancestors were born and lived there








1 948



compromisingly subjective language, without the slightest iota of respect for literary truth or objective content. As Said has clearly stated in his rebuttal of Weiner's article (Said 2000),

1 83

I can't help but dream about a kind of criticism that would not try to judge,

but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires,

watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea-foam in the breeze and scaner it. It would multiply, not judgments, but signs of existence; it would summon them, drag them from their sleep. Perhaps it would invent them sometimes-all the bener. All the bener. Criticism that hands down

this charge is not new to him or to his readers who feel angered on behalf of

sentences sends me to sleep; I'd like a criticism of scintillating leaps of the

all Palestinian refugees, who have been savaged in many ways, unnecessarily

imagination. It would not be sovereign or dressed in red. It would bear the

and unjustly savaged, simply because of the psychological warp of Weiner and, of course, his cohorts, many of whom, , am certain, take their lead from him. It is an anger against an assault aimed at preventing understanding and reconciliation between the victims and the victims' victims.


knowing this, has a moral and social responsibility to avoid assigning its precious pages to "critics" and "journalists" like Weiner with oversize egos and a dishonest outlook on the facts of life. After all, it is a fact that on November 25, 1935, in the early hours of the morning a baby boy, named "Edward," was born in Jerusalem. The

droit du sol

alone, which, in case

anyone is in doubt, is more than enough for Said to speak about

his Palestine.

It is this authenticity, above all, that places him in a privileged position of reclaiming his identity. Few writers are as profoundly engaged with their native land as Said, a Palestinian,








mythologizing, to write Palestine into fierce, lyrical being. Yet this same Edward Said also writes: '" have always advocated the acknowledgments by each other of the Palestinian and Jewish peoples' past suffering. Only in this way can they coexist peacefully together in the future" (2000: 4). It is startling to find an admission of something close to generosity. Yet this perhaps is the only kind of genuineness andlor vision a writer like Said can afford. In this respect, he offers discord, rags. That is why his writing makes great noise in the mind, the heart. Lastly, and perhaps sadly for many of us who have lived by the example of Edward Said, is that when people "criticize" a Man of Letters like him, when they "denounce" his ideas, when they "condemn" what he writes, I imagine them in the ideal situation in which they would have complete power over him. . . . And I catch a glimpse of the radiant city in which the intellectual would be in prison, or, if he were also a theoretician, hanged, of course.

Iigbming of possible storms (Foucault, 1980:


Said, a Renaissance apparition with an identifiable moral authority in these times of high specialization, has survived harsh judgments and threats, hence a sort of anxiety that finds expression in innumerable symptoms, some funny, some not. Hence, too, on the part of those who, possessing nothing of their own, write,-are determined to thwart his vision and barricade the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, accuse him while fancying that they can gain a reputation for justice by crying out that they have been robbed-, a sense of impotence when confronted by the naked truth as his memoir attests. All of life, it seemed, could tum into a performance piece, as it seemed to be for Said when he decided to rebuff his accusers, which was seen as a defence of what he stands for, of the world he has hoped for decades to argue into being: a world in which Palestinians would be able to live with honor and dignity in their own country, indeed, but also a world in which, by an act of constructive forgetting, the past can be worked through and then left in the past, so that Palestinians and Jews can begin to think about a different kind of future. In the process, if he comes across a bit of a historical revisionist, chiding his forebears for their Victorian ways and designs andlor enemies for their intransigence, he is also apprehensive about the future. A world tS passing away, Said writes. "A form of freedom, I'd like to think, even if I am far from being totally convinced that it is. That scepticism too is one of the themes I particularly want to hold on to. With so many dissonances in my life I have learned actually to prefer being not quite right and out of place" (1 999: 295).

Out of Place,

like the end of the millennium, which has become a

marketing opportunity; it sells anything - olive oil, Colgate and Chanel No. 5 ; Nike shoes, Tiger Woods and "The Spice Girls," even in the TV ads Uncle Ben's rice, closes on a note of sombre foreboding. The erstwhile outsider that is Said, then, has now placed himself boldly at the fons

et origo,


ai '/issGn

(the tongue) as always-already his own

from the outset. It is hard to know quite how

Out of Place

is the origin andlor

Mustapha Marrouchi

The Site of Memory

product of transplantation, but in any case Said has dug down with his pen to the first stratum of the language and appropriated his birthright in al-Quds (Jerusalem). As Harold Bloom might less decorously put it, the belated offspring has now installed himself as the founding patriarch. It might be argued that Said's anxious need for this move to be legitimated is a sign of the cultural colonization it aims to overcome. Yet, having reversed his cultural dispossession, he then in a lcind of moclcing pseudo-Hegelian negation of negation, reverses the reversal. In searching for the pitch or enabling note of the work, he finds it in the weighty, big-voiced utterance of some family relatives like that of his aunt Nabiha. Having lcicked free of Palestine soil into the upper air, he now has the confidence to touch down on it again. The result is a marvelously sturdy, intricate reinvention, which betrays its author's poetic dabs less in its earthiness than in its airiness. It is the canny colloquialisms and certain spoken phrases in Arabic like tislamU or mish 'aifa shu biddi 'arnal? or rouh 'ha or Khalas, which are most Saidesque, not the smell of the soil of Palestine. If the stark subject-matter is redolent of "Between Worlds," the treatment has the mild touch of insouciance of an earlier collection like After the Last Sky. This writer is so superbly in command that he can risk threadbare, throwaway, matter-of-fact phrases like "of no small importance" or the "best part of the day" ( 1 999: 175). The narrative, as Georg Lukacs once observed, requires historical conditions which the steam-engine and the telegraph put paid to (1 999: 34). Mechanically-reproduced commodities have lost the aura of ancient objects, just as the self-conscious fictions of modernity have lost what Zizek calls "attempts to escape the logic of globalism" ( 1 999: 2). But modem objects, typified for Lukacs by Charles Bovary's extraordinary, convoluted, visually unpresentable hat, have also shed what seems to us the unalienated candour of material things in OUI ofPlace, which exist more as narrative elements than as literary enigmas. In any case, we no longer believe in heroism, or that the world itself is story-shaped, and we ask of literature a phenomenological inwardness which is of fairly recent historical vintage. All of this is a signal (mis)fortune for Edward Said, an artist so exquisitely gifted and imaginatively capacious that only a work of mightier scale would answer to his abilities as a ghareeb (an exile), who has been forced to see himself as marginal, non-Arab, non-American, alienated, marked on both sides of the cultural dividing line. The following paragraph expresses the pain of this exclusion best:

The school [Victoria College] itself was closed for the Friday holiday, but I persuaded the gatekeeper to let us in anyway. As we stood in my oid classroom, which seemed a good deal smaller than I remembered, I pointed out my desk, the teacher's platform from which Griffiths had expelled me, and the Iinle room where we had imprisoned poor old Mr. Lowe. At that moment a very angry-looking woman wearing a head covering and Islamic-style dress swept into the room demanding to know what we were doing. I tried to explain the circumstances ("Use your charm," said my daughter, Najla) but to no avail. We were trespassers, and as school director she was demanding that we leave immediately. She refused my extended hand, staring at us with a surfeit of nationalist hostility and unbending zeal as we shuffled out, rather cowed by her evident outrage. The British Eton in Egypt had now become a new kind of privileged Islamic sanctuary from which thirty-eight years later I was once again being expelled (Ibid., 2 1 3). [Emphasis added]

1 84


This is it: to voice rejection and (un)belonging, uncannily, Said locates in the language into which he is metamorphosing himself the precise equivalent to the stroke of local colour in the original home (Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, the U.S.). The paradox is this: in Joyce, in Nabokov, the polyglot impulse generates a superabundance of stylistic invention; the voices grow more and more voluminous. In Said, the exact opposite occurs; out of an extreme pressure of language means a nakedness is born. There is a precedent to this paring down in Conrad, whom Said treasures. Yet the sense of a certain routine, of the formulaic, nags: the omission of connective parts of speech, of punctuation; the insistence on the monosyllabic. That bicycle race is there, with its faintly circularity and ennui. As he has observed: "This is what dislocation and insecurity breed, this need to hold onto one's position of authority indefinitely, this feeling that one is indispensable. I am torn about this" (1 996: 15). Will his pessimism change? Or will it come to be known as a despairing afterward to the emptying of man in early twenty first-century globocracy and genocide? It is difficult to say. But how much richer, though no less subversive, a Said radiates, darkly if you will, out of (even) the most laconic of parables.

WORKS CITED Bakhtin, Mikhail ( \ 989) T7le DialogiC Imagination: Four Essays. Trans. Caryl Emerson. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Mustapha Marrouchi

1 86 Bergson, Henri ( 1 962),

The Two FOrtllS of Memory

(trans. Nancy Margaret

Paul and W. Scott Palmer) London: George Allen. Foucault, Michel ( 1 980),

Politics, Philosophy, Culture. Interviews and Other

Writings 1977-1984,

ed. Laurence D. Katzman. New York & London:

Routledge, ( 1 988) Howe, Stephen (1 999), "An Outsider's Inside Story,"

The Independent29

September 1 999: 2-4 Hussein, Taha ( 1 997),

17le Days.

Trans. Kenneth Gragg & Hilary Wayment.

Cairo: American University in Cairo Press

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Joyce, James ( 1 99 1 ),

New York:


Everyman Larkin, Philip ( 1 9 9 1 ) , Collected Poems New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Rushdie, Salman ( 1 99 1 ), "On Palestinian Identity: A Conversation with Edward Said." In

Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-

1991. London: Granta Press, 1 99 1 : 1 66-1 87. Said, Edward ( 1 987), "Cairo Recalled: Growing up in the Cultural Cross Currents of 1 940s Egypt." House and

Garden (April

1 987): 32-45.

Said, Edward ( 1 988), "The Voice of a Palestinian in Exile."

Third Text

(Spring/Summer 1 988): 23-4 1 .

Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestill ian Questioll. Eds. Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens. New

Said, Edward ( 1 988), York: Verso.

Said, Edward ( 1 992), "Palestine, Then and Now: An Exile's Journey through Israel and the Occupied Territories."

Harper 's Magazine


1 992): 47-5 1 . Said, Edward (1 993), Said, Edward ( 1 999).

Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf. Out ofPlace: A Memoir. New York: Knopf.

Said, Edward ( 1 999a), "Living by the Clock," LRB 29 April 1 999: 9- 1 2.

The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations London: Dover

Twain, Mark ( 1 999),

Weiner, Justus ( 1 999), "'My Beautiful Old Home' and other Fabrications by

Commentary (September): 23-32. Weiner, Justus (2000), [Letter], Commentary (January 2000): 9-1 6 Wood, Michael ( 1 994), "Lost Paradises," The New York Review of Books Edward Said,"

3March 1 994: 44-46 Zizek, Slavoj ( 1 999), " 'You May ! ' : Slavoj Zizek writes about the Postmodern Superego," LRB 1 8 March: 3-6.

Pal Ahluwalia teaches politics at the University of Adelaide. He is the

Post-Colonialism alld the Politics of Kenya ( 1 996), Edward Said: the Paradox of Identity ( 1 999) and Politics and Post-Colonial Theory: African Inf/ectiolls (200 1 ). author and co-author of several books including

Bill Ashcroft teaches in the School of English at the University of NSW.

He is the author and co-author of several books, including the seminal 17le Empire Writes Back ( 1 989), The Post-Colollial Studies Reader( 1995), The Gimbals of Ullease: The Poetry of Francis Webb ( 1 996) Key Concepts ill Post-Colonial Studies ( 1 998), Edward Said: the Paradox of Identity ( 1 999) and Edward Said (2000). His most recent works are Post-Colollial Transformation (200 1 ) and 011 Post-Colonial Futures (200 1 ).

Colollial and Postcolonial Literature ( 1 995), Empire, the National alld the Postcolonial (2002), and of three novels, including Bloodlines (2000). She has edited Empire Writing ( 1 998), and coedited Altered State? Writing and South Africa ( 1 994) as weU as a special issue of Interventions on Transnationalism (200 1 ). She has published Elleke Boehmer is the author of

numerous essays and articles on postcolonial writing and theory and is the Professor

of Colonial







University, UK. Patrick Brantlinger is Rudy Professor of English at Indiana University.

Rule Of Darkness: British Literature Fictions of State: culture and credit in

He is author of several books, including

And Imperialism 1830-1914

( 1 988),

Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim

Notes on Contributors

Britain, 1 694-1994 (1996) and, most recently, Who Killed Shakespeare? What 's Happened To English Since The Radical Sixties (200 1 ).

is the author of several books, including Colonial fantaSies: conquest, family, and nation in precolonial Germany, 1 770-1870 ( 1 997); Kolonialphantasien illl vorkolonialen Deutschland (1770-1870) ( 1 999); Zei/bilde: Geschichte und Literatur bei Heinrich Heine und Mariano JosE de Larra ( 1 988). She is the editor and co-editor of several books including The imperialist imagination: German colonialism and its legacy ( 1 998). She was tragically killed in 2000. A volume co-edited by her, Germans and Indians: fantasies, encounters, projections will be published in 2002.

1 88

Arif Dirlik is Knight Professor of History and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oregon. His most recent publications are Postmodernity's Histories: The Past as Legacy and Project (2000) and The Postrevolutionary Aura (in Chinese) (200 1 ). He is also the editor most recently of Chinese on the American Frontier and (with Roxann Prazniak) Places and Politics in an Age

of Globalization. is University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto and past President of the Modem Language Association (2000). Her books include Irony's Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony ( 1 994), Splilling Images: ContemporQ/Y Canadian Ironies ( 1 991), The Politics of Postmodernism ( 1 989), A Poetics of Postmodernism: His/OIY, Theory, Fiction ( 1 988), The Canadian Pos/modern ( 1 988), A Theory of Parody ( 1 985), Formalism and the Freudian Aesthetic ( 1 984), Narcissistic Narrative ( 1 980). She has edited and co-edited numerous books and has published many articles on topics ranging from Canadian literature to the representation of the body in opera. Linda Hutcheon

teaches Arabic language and literature at Dartmouth College. He is currently completing a book tentatively titled, "The Poetics of Colonialism: The Arab Literary Response to European Colonialism." Hussein Kadhim

lives in Toronto. He is the author of several seminal articles including "Decolonizing the Terrain of Western Theoretical Productions" ( 1 997), and most recently, Signifying with a Vengeance: Theories, Literatures, Storytellers (2002). His book on Edward Said, Presence ofMind, is due in the new year. Mustapha Marrouchi

is Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at Nottingham Trent University. His books include Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory ( 1 994); Introduction to Post-Colonial Theory ( 1 996); Ngugi wa Thiong'o ( 1 999); and a 4-volume edited collection on Edward Said (Sage 2000). Patrick Williams

Susanne Zantop

1 89


authenticity 1 79

A Achebe, Chinua 43 Adorno, Theodor 88 affiliation(s) 67, 80 affiliative 79 African National Congress 1 34 African Studies 1 3 1 , 1 32 Africanism 140 Africanist pol itical science 1 40 Ahmad, Aijaz, xii, 4, 3 8, In Theory 58, 65, 94, 1 53 Aida 1 7 3 Ake, Claude. 1 3 6 Althusser, Louis 66 amateur ix, 1 5 , 83, 84 amateurism x, 75, 76, 84 Amerindians 1 1 6 Amis, Martin 1 60 Anglocentrism 60, anthropology 1 3 I Appiah, Anthony 3 8 Amove, Anthony 43 Augustine, St. 1 64, 1 72

B Bakhtin, Mikhai1 45, 1 52, 1 59 Baldwin, James 1 62 Bauman, Zygmunt 3 8 beginnings 27 Bergson, Henri 162·3 Bethune, Norman 20 Bhabha, Homi 35, 97, 1 52, 1 5 5 binarisms 3 binary 1 1 6 border 1 60 borderlands 6 Bourdieu, Pierre 32, 38, 43, 44·54 Brauner, Sigrid 1 1 6 British Commonwealth writers 130 British Romantic writers 145 Burke, Peter 95

c Cabral, Amilcar I I cannibal queen 1 1 5 capitalism 36, 62

Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim

192 Carrier, James



Arif 38, 40, 5 1 , 73, 153

Caruth, Cathy 98

discourse 67, 68

Cesaire, Aime

discursive consistency


Chatteryee, Partha Chen, Xiaomei

130, 1 34

5, retreat from 6, 8, 9, 43 class analysis 1 9 class conflict 62 class positions 20 Cold War 1 3 6 colonialism 36, 3 7 colonization x Commonwealth literary study x

33, Nigger of Narcissus 1 65, 1 85 contrapuntal 2, 10, 24, 86, 96 contrapuntal ensembles 80 contrapuntally 80 critic, the 8 1 criticism, and the world 8 1 , 82, its oppositionality 83, situatedness 84 cultural capital 45, 1 60 cultural studies 47, origins 57, 58, and postcolonial studies 63 culturalism 46 Conrad, Joseph


De Pauw, Corneille decolonisation

135 Derrida, Jacques 130, 160 development 1 38, 140 development strategy 1 3 6 developmentalist ideology

E 1 6, HeathclijJe alld the Greal HUllger 61 essentialisms 3 ethnicity 7 Eurocentrism I , 1 1 1 , 1 22, 1 3 3 Eurocentric history 1 53 exile 2, 23-26, and places of origin 23, and immigration 63, 166 Extreme-Occident I l l , 1 1 3, 1 2 1 Eagleton, Terry


diasporic culture


diasporic intellectuals


Habermas, Jurgen 67

Kipling, Rudyard

Hall, Stuart 4,


20 Hegelianism 108 history 9 1 Holroyd, Michael humanism

Lacan, Jacques

1 30 LaCapra, Dominic 92 Latinamericanism 1 1 0 Leninist 6 liberation 24 locatedness 78, 80 Loomba, Ania 39, 98 Lukacs, George 22, 1 84



Hugo of St Victor Hulme, Peter


1 17

Hutcheon, Linda xiii,

1 88

hybridities hybridity


20 3, 5

M Majeed, Javed


Fanon, Frantz I I ,

1 6, 1 9, 58

34 filiative 79

1 28 Manichean 1 08

1 79

IMF (International Monetary Fund)



JanMohamed, Abdul

myth of origins xi

imperialist discourse, as gendered




1 13 indigenous popUlations intellectual

globalization glocal

1 12

3 1 , 44

intellectual specialization intellectuals


1 60

Godwin, David

148 Goldman, Lucien 22 Gosse, Edmund 146 Gramsci, Antonio 44,


36, 37, 42 20


5, 8, 2 1 , 36, 109

J Jacoby, Russell

66, 80


James, C.L.R. x, I I ,

Franklin, Benjamin 1 1 2 functionalist theory

57, 66, 1 30 68, 70

Marx 62,

19, 34, 65, 70 materiality 82 McClintock, Anne 1 08, 1 1 3, 1 2 1 McGuigan, Jim 67 McLuhan, Marshal 68 memoire writing 1 63 memory 163 mimicry 147 modernisation theory 1 36, 1 37, 1 3 8 , 139 modernism 1 5 9 Modernity 120 modernizing agents 1 3 7 Monroe doctrine 1 1 2 Mudimbe, V.Y. 128 multiple allegiances 3

63, 86-88 imperial surveillance 50 imperial unknown 1 1 3 imperialism 7 , 36, 37

Foucault, Michel

Manzo. Kate 140 Marxism I I ,


Frankfurt School

153, 155

34, 67

1 14


global capitalism 41

1 34, 1 3 5


Hatem, George

ghafJeers 1 73 Gilroy, Paul 6 1 ,

1 17










1 93



48, 162 24, 25, 77 Jefferson, Thomas 1 1 2

1 94


Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim



Nabokov, Vladimir 1 8 5 Naidu, Sarojini 1 4 5 , and ' ventriloquism' 147, and Roy 149, Naipaul, V.S. 48 nation 5 national identity 1 2 national liberation 3 , 4, 7, 2 1 nationalism 5 , 1 6 nationalist independence 1 6 NATOpolitan hegemony 83 neo-orientalist 145, 1 54 neo-orientalist rhetoric xiv New World xiii, dispute of 1 1 7, Ngugi wa Thiongo 43, Decolonising the Mind 46, Nkrumah, Kwarne x noble savage 1 1 7-1 1 9, nomadic 24

Palestine 1 3, annexation 1 72 Palestinian 1 66, 1 79 Palestinian cause 1 2 Palestinian experience 64 Palestinian identity, ix, 1 3 , 19, 28, 1 86 Palestinian intifada 1 7 Palestinian nationalist 22 paradox, of identity, ix, 1 , 1 6, and contradiction 24, 74, 85, 88 paradoxes 1 0 Parry, Benita 64 Pels, Dick 49 Pernety, Antoine 1 1 7 place 166 placelessness 20 places 20 PLO 1 7, 33 politics of blame 96 postcolonial 3, 92, 93 postcolonial cosmopolitanism 22 postcolonial criticism 5, 1 5 post-colonial cultural discourse 5 1 postcolonial cultural history 93 postcolonial histories 98 post-colonial intellectuals 32, 37, 4 1 , 46, 74 post-colonial states 1 3 5 post-colonial studies 5 3 post-colonial theory vii, ix-xii, 35, 36, 73-76, 108, 1 29, 1 30, 140, and jargon 35, 36 post-colonial writer, displaced intelligence 1 6 1

o O/Gorman, Edmundo 1 1 0 O'Brien, Connor Cruise 3 7 Occident 1 07, 1 1 3 Occidentalism 1 07, 1 09, and gender divisions 1 1 9 oppositionality 1 5 2 organic intellectual 44 Orient 1 07, 1 20 oriental 1 5 1 Orientalism 109, reI. with Occidentalism 1 2 1 , 127, 139, 140

postcolonial ism 8, 1 8, 24, 34, 40, and postmodernism 52, and neo­ orientalism 145-57 postimperial intellectual 96 postimperial xiii, 92- 1 03 postimperialism 37, 40 post-modem autobiographers 175 Prakash, Gyan 42, 99 Pratt, Mary Louise 1 09, 1 3 3

Q Quayson, Ato 1 28

R Rajan, Balachandra 94, 103 resistance, discourse of 38 revolution 3, 5, 6, 8, 1 7, 20, 2 1 , 52, 53, 69, 1 3 9 Ripa, Cesare 1 1 4 Robbins, Bruce 5 1 Robertson, William 1 1 8 Roy, Arundhati 148- 1 5 5 Rushdie, Salman 1 5 1 Russel, Bertrand 1 62

s Said, Edward, 4, and post-colonial theory 3 1-56, objections to theory 35, and 'possessive insiderism' 38, as ' meta-author' 57, filiation and affiliation 60, and Williams 6 1 , and Marx 69, and location of literature 74, and 'isms' 82, 'speak truth to power' 85, importance in contemporary theory 88, 127, relationship with


mother 1 67, language and music 1 7 1 ,' ' Intellectuals in the PostColonial World' 5 1 ; After the 19, 95; Last Sky 1 3-14, Beginnings x; Covering Islam 1 39; Culture and 95, Imperialism 2, 15, 1 8, 35, 37, 38, 39, 58, 64, 65, 69, 70, 86, 94, 95, 96, 1 0 1 , 1 09; Orientalism x, xiii, 1 6, 18, 39, 52, 58, 59, 65, 68, 69, 73, 8 1 , 9 1 , 92, 95, 96, 97, 99, 1 00, 1 0 1 , 1 28, response in Quadrant 1 29, and 'Africanism' 140, 1 5 1 , 1 6 1 ; OUi of Place xii, xiv, 1 59-185; Representations of the Intellectual 12, 48; The Politics ofDispossession 95; The Question ofPalestine 19, 62, 94, 95; The World. the Text and the Critic 59, 67 Said, Hilda 1 68 Santi, Enrico 1 09 secondary memory 92 secular criticism x, 60, 75, 76, 82 secular trinity 76 secular, intellectual ix, Shariti, Ali 140 Shils, Edward 1 3 7 Sklar, Richard 1 32 Spivak, Gayatri 4, 35, 49, 94, 129 Stoler, Ann Laura 1 08 structuralism 77 subaltern historians 9 suffragi 1 70 symbolic power 39 Symons, Arthur 146, 147

Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim


Culture and Society 57-58, 63, The Long Revolution 59, The Politics of Modernity 59, and 'knowable community' 60, The Country and the City 62, 65; Marxism and Literature 67

Williams, Raymond xi, 1 6,

T Teltscher, Kate 1 29 testimonial resolution 98 text 76, and writing 77, being in the world 78, textuality 76, and the world 79, Third World 2, 1 39 Third world intellectual 22 Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista 1 1 4- 1 1 6 transnational capitalism 64 trauma 97, of empire 1 0 I , 1 02 travelling theory 60 Trexler, Richard 1 1 4 Trinh T. Minh-ha 1 33 Turner, Brian 69 Twain, Mark 1 76

witnessing 1 02 World Bank 1 3 8 worlding 96 worldliness 60, 74-89, and orientalism 78, 1 27, 1 29 world literature 1 5 9

y Young, Robert 48,


Mythologies 65, 9 1 , 94, 108, 1 1 0, 1 30

u uniquely punishing destiny 85 utopianism 1 8

z Zeine Zeine 1 7 1

v Victoria College 1 7 1 virility 120 Viswanathan, Gauri 62, 63

w Weiner, Justus 1 76-9 West, 'the' 43 Western literature 34 Williams, Patrick xi, 75, 1 88

Zionism 1 78 Zizek, Slavoj 174, 1 84