Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual (Academic Monographs)

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Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual (Academic Monographs)

Edward Said Edward said.indd i 30/7/07 7:41:42 AM Edward said.indd ii 30/7/07 7:41:42 AM Edward Said The Legacy

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Edward Said

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Edward Said

The Legacy of a Public Intellectual

Edited by Ned Curthoys and Debjani Ganguly

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MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY PRESS An imprint of Melbourne University Publishing Limited 187 Grattan Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia [email protected] www.mup.com.au First published 2007 Introduction © Ned Curthoys and Debjani Ganguly 2007 Text © individual contributors 2007 Design and typography © Melbourne University Publishing Ltd 2007 This book is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 and subsequent amendments, no part may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means or process whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publishers. Every attempt has been made to locate the copyright holders for material quoted in this book. Any person or organisation that may have been overlooked or misattributed may contact the publisher. Designed by Phil Campbell Typeset in Utopia by J&M Typesetting Printed in Australia by Melbourne University Design and Print Centre National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry: Edward Said: the legacy of a public intellectual. Bibliography. Includes index. ISBN 9780522853575 (pdf ). ISBN 9780522853568 (pbk). 1. Said, Edward W.—Criticism and interpretation. 2. Intellectuals—Political activity. I. Ganguly, Debjani. II. Curthoys, Ned. III. Title. 305.552

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Contents Acknowledgements

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Contributors

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Introduction Ned Curthoys and Debjani Ganguly

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Representing public intellectuals 1 Edward Said and the style of the public intellectual Saree Makdisi

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Edward Said and the sociology of intellectuals Sean Scalmer

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Blogging Said: Public intellectuals in the Internet age Gerard Goggin

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Exile and representation: Edward Said as public intellectual 75 Bill Ashcroft

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Reluctant prophets and gadfly laureates: The Australian writer as public intellectual Brigid Rooney

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Humanism as worldly affiliation 6 The worldliness of intimacy Lisa Lowe

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Edward Said’s unhoused philological humanism Ned Curthoys

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Edward Said, world literature and global comparatism Debjani Ganguly

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Contrapuntal rhythms: Music as critical metaphor 9 Edward Said and Theodor Adorno: The musician as public intellectual Peter Tregear 10

Said, Grainger and the ethics of polyphony Ben Etherington

Europe, orientalism and popular culture 11 Orientalism and mass market romance novels in the twentieth century Hsu-Ming Teo

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The question of Europe: Said and Derrida John Docker

Palestine and settler-colonial contexts 13 Interacting imaginaries in Israel and the United States Lorenzo Veracini 14

Palestine, Project Europe and the (un-)making of the new Jew: In memory of Edward W. Said Patrick Wolfe

Index

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Acknowledgements We wish to thank the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University for hosting the symposium ‘Edward Said: Debating the Legacy of a Public Intellectual’ in March 2006. The symposium was convened by us and opened by Professor Ian Donaldson, Director of the HRC. Many of the chapters in this book draw on papers presented at this conference. We also wish to acknowledge the support of the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research at the Australian National University. We are grateful to our contributors for their efforts in making the publication of this book a relatively smooth process. We would like to thank them for their cooperation and enthusiasm throughout the project. We would also like to thank Ann Standish at MUP for her proactive interest in such a volume and to Cinzia Cavallaro at MUP for her unstinting support. We wish to acknowledge the anonymous readers of our manuscript for their perceptive comments and suggestions. Finally we wish to acknowledge our friends, family and interlocutors on this project for their enthusiasm and engagement over a lengthy period. Particular thanks in the preparation of this volume go to John Docker for suggesting the initial idea of the symposium and for his helpful suggestions, Ian Donaldson, Leena Messina, Caroline Turner, Howard Morphy, Barry Hindess, Dawn Mirapuri, Shino Konishi, Peter Manning and Ghassan Hage. Ned Curthoys Debjani Ganguly Australian National University

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Contributors Bill Ashcroft is a founding exponent of postcolonial theory and coauthor of The Empire Writes Back (Routledge, 1989), the first text to systematically examine a field that is now referred to as ‘postcolonial studies’. His other publications include: The Post-colonial Studies Reader (Routledge, 1995); The Gimbals of Unease: The Poetry of Francis Webb (CASAL, 1997); Key Concepts in Post-colonial Studies (Routledge, 1998); Edward Said: The Paradox of Identity (Routledge, 1999); Edward Said (Routledge, 2001); Edward Said and the Post-Colonial (Nova, 2001); Post-colonial Transformation (Routledge, London, 2001); On Post-colonial Futures (Continuum, 2001). He teaches at the University of Hong Kong. Ned Curthoys is an ARC postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Cross Cultural Research, Research School of Humanities, Australian National University. His project analyses the recuperation of Goethe’s 1827 proposal of a ‘world literature’ in the twentieth century by anti-fascist emigrant philologists such as Erich Auerbach and Leo Spitzer. John Docker is adjunct senior research fellow in the Humanities Research Centre, Research School of Humanities, ANU. Since the publication of 1492: The Poetics of Diaspora (Continuum, 2001), he has researched and written on monotheism and polytheism and, most recently, on genocide in relation to the Enlightenment and to colonialism. He has recently published Is History Fiction? (UNSW Press and University of Michigan Press, 2005), a book he co-authored with historian Ann Curthoys. Ben Etherington completed his masters degree on Edward Said’s musical criticism at the University of Cambridge in 2006. He is writing a PhD at Cambridge on aesthetics and imperialism in early twentiethcentury fiction, working with faculty from English and music. He will be a visiting researcher at the Townsend Center at the University of California, Berkeley in 2007–08. Debjani Ganguly is head of the Humanities Research Centre in the Research School of Humanities at the Australian National University. A literary and cultural historian, she has published in the areas of

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postcolonial studies, global Anglophone writing, caste and Dalit studies, cultural histories of mixed-race, Gandhi and nonviolence and Indian literary criticism. Her recent publications are Caste, Colonialism and Countermodernity: Notes on a Postcolonial Hermeneutics of Caste (Routledge, 2005), Pigments of the Imagination: Rethinking Mixed Race (co-editor; Journal of Intercultural Studies, 2007) and Rethinking Gandhi and Nonviolent Relationality: Global Perspectives (co-editor; Routledge and Orient Longman, 2007). Gerard Goggin is an ARC Australian research fellow in the Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney. His books include Internationalizing Internet Studies (ed. with Mark McLelland; Routledge, 2008), Mobile Phone Cultures (ed.; Routledge, 2007), Cell Phone Culture (Routledge, 2006), Virtual Nation (ed.; UNSW Press, 2004), and, with Christopher Newell, Disability in Australia (University of New South Wales Press, 2005) and Digital Disability (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). Gerard is editor of Media International Australia. Lisa Lowe is professor of comparative literature at the University of California, San Diego. Her research and teaching interests include modern French, British and American studies, and Asian migration within European and American modernity. She is the author of Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Cornell University Press, 1991) and Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 1997) and The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital (coeditor; Duke University Press, 1997). She is working on a study of the historical convergence of African slavery, native genocide and Asian indentureship in the colonial Americas as the conditions of possibility for modern liberal reason. Saree Makdisi is professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s (University of Chicago Press, 2003) as well as articles in scholarly journals and edited collections. He has also published articles and commentaries on current affairs in the London Review of Books, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

Contributors

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Brigid Rooney teaches Australian studies at the University of Sydney, and has published in such journals as Australian Feminist Studies, Southerly, Australian Literary Studies, JASAL and Antipodes. She is writing a monograph based on her study of some contemporary Australian writers who have performed as public intellectuals. Sean Scalmer is senior lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of Dissent Events: Protest, the Media and the Political Gimmick in Australia (University of New South Wales Press, 2002). In 2006 he also published a co-authored book, Activist Wisdom: Practical Knowledge and Creative Tension in Social Movements (University of New South Wales Press), and an edited collection, What If? Counterfactual Essays in Australian History (Melbourne University Publishing). He is writing a book on the global circulation of Gandhian non-violence. Hsu-Ming Teo teaches in the Department of Modern History, Macquarie University, Sydney. She co-edited Cultural History in Australia (University of New South Wales Press, 2003) with Richard White and has published articles on the history of travel and tourism, romantic love, popular fiction and the culture of British imperialism. She is working on a book about historical representations of Arabs in Western women’s popular culture. She has published two novels, Love and Vertigo (Allen & Unwin, 2000), winner of the Australian–Vogel Literary Award, and Behind the Moon (Allen & Unwin, 2005). Peter Tregrear is Dean of Trinity College, University of Melbourne, where he is also an honorary fellow of the Faculty of Music. Peter’s published works include articles for Cambridge Opera Journal, Renaissance and Modern Studies, Times Literary Supplement, the Literary Review, Beethoven Forum and The Oxford Companion to Australian Music. His recent research interests include the reception of classical music in America after 9/11. His forthcoming book is on the composer Ernst Krenek. A performer as well as an academic, Peter was awarded the Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize in 2003 by the Australian Music Foundation. Lorenzo Veracini is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. He has written on the colonial features of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: Israel and Settler

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Society (Pluto Press, 2006) and is working on an ARC-funded project on the history of settler-colonial phenomena. Patrick Wolfe is an ARC research fellow at Victoria University, Melbourne. He has written and taught on race, colonialism and the history of anthropology. He is working on a comparative history of racial regimes in Australia, the USA and Brazil.

Contributors

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Introduction Ned Curthoys and Debjani Ganguly

Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual is a volume that reflects on the complex and refractory legacy of Edward Said, a luminous public intellectual, political activist and humanist. It seeks to illuminate Said’s oeuvre as generated by two key aspects of his public persona: a brilliant literary critic and humanist on the one hand and an outspoken public intellectual who kept the truth of Palestine alive on the other. For Said the two roles existed in a continuum rather than in opposition. His vision of humanism drew on an ethos of worldly engagement influenced by political exile and émigré experiences, especially the dispossession of the Palestinian people, and recuperated for the field of literary studies vanishing cultural histories and versions of intellectual struggle embodied in the exilic philological virtuosity of such humanists as Giambattista Vico, Leo Spitzer and Erich Auerbach. It is an extraordinary testament to the ‘worldliness’ of Said that our volume has crossed many borders in order to rise to the challenge of his textured oeuvre, with contributors assessing his impact on fields such as sociology, political activism, literature, humanism, philology, musicology, settler-colonial history, orientalism and popular culture, Internet and media studies, Judaeo-Arabic history and Zionism. In preparing this volume we have been constantly surprised and

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delighted by the ways in which Said engages our contributors, who mostly write from a country, Australia, that Said himself never visited. In this introduction we illuminate the inspirational power of Said’s legacy in an Australian settler-colonial context. We discuss Said’s comparativist ethos and reprisal of humanism and philology as a resonant contribution to theorising the historical imaginary that should inform intellectual work. In the process, we foreshadow how our contributors explore the strengths and shortcomings of Said’s representations of the intellectual in light of his tenacious fidelity to a cultural hierarchy privileging literature and music, a hierarchy that perhaps devalues the iconophilia of media, the Internet and popular cultures. Finally we remark on a little-discussed aspect of Said’s oeuvre: his creation, in the spirit of Deleuze and Arendt, of ‘conceptual personae’ (Vico, Auerbach, Adorno), those ambiguous figures of thought whose life and idiosyncrasies stimulate a worldly and spatial critical consciousness suspicious of reified abstractions. Said once lamented to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram that the USA has not been able to figure the genocide of Native American peoples and the enormous fact of slavery into a national consensus; as a republican imperium, the USA refuses to fold colonial injustice and indigenous ownership into its historical consciousness and political imaginary. Said rued his adopted country’s abnegation of Vico’s depiction of historical time as cyclical and recursive, whereby periods of cultural creativity and civic constitution are succeeded by barbaric destruction and the banal repetition of folly. As a Palestinian, Said was keenly aware that his own people had been effectively erased by settler-colonial consciousness in the USA, that Euro-Americans identified with the Zionist Sabra or ‘new Jew’ whose Adamic potential to colonise virgin lands at the expense of an indigenous people mirrored the USA’s own manifest destiny and structuring optimism. Acutely aware of the continuing power of ‘terra nullius’ as a dominant settlercolonial imagining of Australia as functionally uninhabited—uncultivated and without governance—Australian-based and diasporic Australian scholars respond vigorously to Said’s creative historicity and affiliations to decolonising struggles as a political catalyst and comparative context for historical, literary and cultural analysis. This is an acute issue in Australia, in which the power of colonial invasion,

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nationalist amnesia and continuing indigenous dispossession is contested by postcolonial visions and decolonising critical energies. The eagerness with which our contributors took up the challenge to assess the significance of Said’s influential contributions to the ethics of public intellectual life and the worldliness of criticism suggests the potency of historical consciousness in Australian public culture. Our contributors intervene in efforts by a relatively recent settler-colony to think the constitutive violence of its own founding; they are mindful of the emergence of strong indigenous voices in Australian academe and the resounding impact of multiculturalism and postcolonial criticism on intellectual life in Australia. If, as Said once mused, the burden of history weighs far too lightly on the shoulders of many institutionally ensconced academics, the contributors to Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual respond sympathetically to Said’s evocative coordination of humanist interpretive practice and a sometimes tragic, but always enabling and disseminating, historical consciousness of colonial dispossession, imperialism and decolonising resistance movements. Our contributors respond energetically to Said’s visionary depiction of a dynamic historical sensibility as one of the ‘changing bases of humanistic study and practice’ as enunciated in his late work Humanism and Democratic Criticism: ‘[Said’s version of humanistic practice] sees history, even the past itself, as still unresolved, still being made, still open to the presence and the challenges of the emergent, the insurgent, the unrequited, and the unexplored.’1 Said’s humanism was a challenge to youth and innovation: ‘It is true to say that the new generation of humanist scholars is more attuned than any before it to the nonEuropean, genderized, decolonized, and decentered energies and currents of our time.’2 Said’s critique of privative and exclusive versions of humanism has an ethical affiliation to a sentient Erasmian blend of porous acculturation, rhetorical exuberance and sensitivity to paradox. Said remained loyal to the vision of the early eighteenth-century humanist and historicist Giambattista Vico. Vico’s pluralist recuperation of diverse histories and life worlds was evoked in a lively, inquisitive and sociable genre of philological commentary. The humanist, Said writes, is ‘always restlessly self-clarifying’, and the self-education their work adumbrates involves ‘widening circles of awareness’ that allows the

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contemporary humanist to ‘cultivate [a sense of ] multiple worlds and complex interacting traditions’. Far from engaging in an aggressive politics of identity buttressed by essentialist narratives, Said’s Benjaminian desire to redeem those victimised by the ‘storm of progress’ continues to confront the constitution of bounded communities and exclusive histories by instrumentalist historicisms and nationalist imaginaries. Our contributors respond to this pluralising, open-ended historical sense with their own supple explorations of the relationship between intellectual praxis and historical memory.

Comparative settler-colonialisms Our book is written in a now-time of historical crisis, in which comparativism challenges received histories. In many of the contributions an acute perception of settler-colonialism forms a context of relationality across cognitive and disciplinary boundaries. In ‘Palestine, Project Europe and the (un-)making of the new Jew’, Patrick Wolfe registers his disappointment with Maxime Rodinson’s dated Eurocentric description of Zionism’s provenance in his germinal Israel: A Colonial-Settler State? A transnational comparativist, Wolfe is disappointed with Rodinson’s inattention to the specificity of settlercolonialism: ‘I would like a general account of settler-colonialism to be able to include relationships such as those between Chinese and Tibetans, Tswana and Khoi-San, Russians and Chechens, or Indonesians and Papuans. It should also be able to accommodate settler-colonialisms that are internal to Europe, such as those imposed on the Irish, Basque or Sami peoples.’ Wolfe makes the point that Palestinian rights do not depend on whether ideas of transfer and expulsion originated in nineteenthcentury Europe; this ‘quagmire’ of voluntarism is best avoided in favour of an ‘approach that relates historical outcomes to the practical logic of the human activities that produce them’. Settler-colonialism cannot be reduced to the logic of an event or the ideality of a home-grown enterprise. It is a labile structure of invasion and elimination, sometimes calculated, sometimes opportunistic. It calls for a relational interpretation mindful of the suffering of indigenous victims and the ongoing genocidal relation of coloniser and colonised, a relation palpable today in occupied Palestine. Cross-cultural work on settler-colonialism challenges the self-sufficiency of any history of

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ideas, enabling Wolfe’s brilliant insight that ‘ideas do not have lives of their own. They are born, reproduced, discarded and transformed in and through human activity.’ In his chapter ‘Interacting imaginaries in Israel and the United States’, Lorenzo Veracini ponders an incipient and staunchly resisted reconfiguration of Israel in the popular imaginary as an apartheid state, remembering that black South Africans had ultimately received the support of US public opinion because their struggle was capable of affecting ‘the imaginations and dreams of the entire world’. Palestinians too need to activate civil rights images and agendas. Yet perceptions of Israel in the USA as less a particular nation state than an ‘isopolitical’ imaginary can be ascribed to ‘shared settler-colonial narrative regimes’ predicated on a sense of an Elect people free to enact their exalted destiny in a chosen land that is only contingently and superficially inhabited by an indigenous people. Veracini remarks that if it was ‘God’s American Israel’ that was founded by Puritans on Massachusetts Bay, it is God’s Israeli America that a specific constituency is seeing founded on the hilltops of the West Bank. By honestly facing up to the intersections and entanglements of Israeli and US colonial traditions and imaginative investments, perhaps a once strong and still surviving anti-colonial and anti-racist rhetorical and narrative tradition in the USA can be mobilised. For Veracini and Wolfe, analysing the interaction of settler imaginaries can help articulate resistant perspectives to the plethora of mystifying cliché that dominates discussion of Israel/Palestine, shaping different affective possibilities and visions of coexistence. Brigid Rooney analyses the esteemed poet and activist Judith Wright in the context of Said’s later, inclusive representation of the intellectual as a writer who has a special duty to address the constituted and authorised powers of one’s own society. How did Australia’s once poet laureate and national bard recast herself as a permanently ‘amateur’ and unhoused writer-activist, dissident towards the parochialism of the settler nation and with multiple affiliations with environmental activism, Aboriginal struggle and transnational literary networks? Contrary to the tendency of the poet to seek honours and state largesse, Wright was so angry at the nationalism of the 1988 Australian Bicentenary of white founding that she refused further anthologisation of one of her early poems, ‘Bullocky’, issuing thereby

Introduction

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a public challenge to the ‘complacency of white Australians’. Wright, in uncompromising mood, later derided this much-loved romantic nationalist poem as ‘hyperbolic’ and ‘obviously bad’. In Rooney’s hands Wright emerges as an ornery and vitally engaged writer-intellectual whose commitment to the openness of the past and disdain for mythologisation was responsive to Said’s call in Humanism and Democratic Criticism for the intellectual to perform on many fronts, keeping in play the sense of opposition and engaged interpretation, always discerning the possibilities for active intervention. One of Said’s most eminent interlocutors and adapters is the Iraqi–Jewish Israeli postcolonial critic Ella Shohat, whose recent collection of essays Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices (2006) brilliantly inflects Said’s concern to work ‘along the seam lines of theoretical frameworks’ and to historicise in such a way that one thinks in terms of a ‘dialogical relation within, between, and among cultures, ethnicities, and nations’.3 Shohat evokes a Said whose ‘relational’ and worldly energies and insistence on the importance of intellectual work’s historical location and political imbrications exist uneasily alongside the theoretical aura of the ‘postcolonial’, whose disciplinary privilege in the USA, Shohat warns, is often divorced from US racial politics and its militant struggles, and continues to be benignly aloof from the global ‘implicatedness of the US’ in the present. In his chapter ‘Exile and representation: Edward Said as public intellectual’, Bill Ashcroft, unlike Shohat, appears less concerned with this tension between the theoretical Said as the locus of canonical postcolonialism with its emphasis on the power of discourse and representation and the worldly Said who located himself at the heart of Palestinian history with its deadly agonism of exile and dispossession. For Ashcroft the two are inseparable, and the wars of history are wars of representation. Disciplinary postcolonialism and its ethical imperative of speaking truth to power through ‘counter-representation’ is judged by Ashcroft to have as much relevance as ever in this era of neoliberal capitalism’s conflict with alternative imaginaries. As he says, ‘the extraordinarily simplistic images by which Islam and Palestine are “covered” in the media—beards, veils, bombs and wildeyed craziness—are a model for the hegemony of signs in the new empire. The principle Said [espouses] is the idea (or hope) that hegemony can be countered by a form of counter-representation.’

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Extra-territorial philological humanisms Our contributors respond vibrantly to Shohat’s challenge to resist decontextualised deployments of postcolonial theory. Shohat finds in Said’s oeuvre the desire to discern other historical cartographies and ‘relational maps of knowledge’, in which theories, actions and forms of struggle can be translated across contexts rather than referred to normative Western paradigms. A pertinent example is Said’s inflection of an extra-territorial philology that reaches across time, encompassing a generation of German–Jewish émigré philologists, such as Erich Auerbach and Leo Spitzer, born in the late nineteenth century, whose ‘extra-territorial’ attention to language and culture constituted an ethic of hospitality and communicative immediacy towards other cultures that revived the dream of Goethe’s Weltliteratur. Said’s adumbration of philology also reaches back towards those systems of humanistic education and Islamic interpretation of the Koran that enriched southern Europe and North Africa in the twelfth century. As discussed later in the volume, Said recalls the cross-cultural heritage of philology in order to decouple the term ‘fundamentalist’ from ‘Arab’. He restores ‘al-qaeda’ to its philological function as the word for grammar or base of language, while jihad is reclaimed for ‘secular’ usage, contextualised as a commitment to hermeneutical community that might be combined with a component of extraordinary commitment and personal effort in interpretation; that is, itjihad.4 We suggest that ‘Saidian philology’ reflects a Benjaminian politics of memory as translatio across contexts, an attempt to disrupt the identification of language with a people or nation, to deontologise language study and pluralise critical consciousness beyond the limitations of a more recently constituted, nation-centric, linguistically demarcated idea of ‘English’ or literary studies. Saidian philology inhabits Benjamin’s ‘now-time’ (Jetz-Zeit) of the historical imagination in which the past illuminates the present at a ‘moment of danger’. In this case the normativity of Zionism and Israel to the Jewish community is put in question as a generation of non-Zionist and cosmopolitan diaspora Jews (Auerbach, Spitzer, Victor Klemperer, Benjamin) are evoked in their cultural pluralism and heterogeneous comparativism, their disdain for Zionist romantic nationalism and their openness to heterodox versions of the past. Proponents of fundamentalist versions of Islam are reminded of a syncretic Andalusian

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cultural heritage in which Arabic was the quotidian and philosophical language of both Arab and Jew, and individual interpretation and creative commitment were not inimical to the Islamic faith. In his chapter ‘Edward Said’s unhoused philological humanism: Vico, Spitzer, Auerbach’, Ned Curthoys discusses Said’s desire to rehabilitate philology as a critical praxis of exile, enabling Said to offer a history of the ‘dramatic and unstable’ conditions under which humanist criticism has been produced, in so doing underscoring the achievements of particular personalities living in a critical, unresolved relationship with their homeland and cultural inheritance. Curthoys discusses Said’s reprisal of Auerbach’s concept of Ansatzpunkt or a critical point of departure, suggesting an intellectual initiative that is passionate about intervening in the present by asking resounding questions of the past, sustained by active and individual research that is not limited to one field of specialisation. Debjani Ganguly, in her chapter on Said’s legacy in the field of global comparativism and world literature, uses our present postCold War era as a critical point of departure. From this vantage point she assesses the relevance of Saidian philological and comparative humanism, especially as articulated in his posthumously published Humanism and Democratic Criticism, a work that expressly takes up the challenge of rethinking the world humanistically since the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11. She notes the value of Said’s extrapolation of literary and philological comparativism to a broader, interdisciplinary framework of humanistic scholarship in our age of enhanced world connectivity and conflict. But she also highlights the limits of such extrapolation as seen in Said’s reluctance to critically comment on visual and electronically mediated modes of cultural production in our digital age. The literary and cultural comparativist of the twenty-first century can scarcely afford to be oblivious of the aesthetics and related humanist ethics of this iconophilic age. To that extent, Ganguly argues, Said’s vision of a philological humanism for the post-9/11 world, with its high modernist ‘literary’ and ‘musical’ touchstones, might be somewhat out of joint with the times. But it is also precisely this untimeliness of the ‘late’ Said that has merit in other respects. In tracing the conjuncture of several ‘world’ models of literary and cultural analysis in this Jetz-Zeit of global crises, Ganguly signals the singular importance of Humanism and Democratic

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Criticism in articulating a vision of humanism for the new millennium that is consciously at odds with dominant political and economic registers of the ‘global’. Said’s extra-territorial, comparativist, intercultural, translational and philological approach to global difference and interconnectivity cuts through the belligerent political dichotomies of global capital: Huntington’s ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis, Barber’s Jihad versus McWorld or Al Qaeda’s the Muslim ummah and the infidel West. Such false dichotomies, coded with notions of incompatibility and non-comparability, have become palpable handmaidens of terror and warfare in our age. Said’s generous humanism is indeed a salutary ‘worldly’ intervention. A deeper historical provenance to Said’s notion of ‘worldliness’ is accorded by Lisa Lowe in her chapter, ‘The worldliness of intimacies’. Revisiting the emergence of liberal philosophy, and especially the notions of human freedom, bourgeois individuality, and interiority and intimacy in the West, she is at pains to give these abstractions a ‘world’ by embedding them in a narrative of African slavery and Asian indentured labour in the colonised Americas. In doing so, she expressly admits her indebtedness to Said: ‘In an inversion of the presumed universality of metropolitan culture and the particularity of colonies, Said commented that worldliness … was a ”vast ocean of human effort in which official culture exists like an archipelago”. In this tribute to Said, I treat the liberal narrative of European freedom as an archipelago within the vast human efforts of African slavery and Asian indenture in the European colonized, “new world” of the Americas.’ Invoking Said allows Lowe to meticulously trace transcontinental interdependencies between Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas in colonial economies of slavery and indenture. More specifically, through a detailed reading of colonial archives, Lowe excavates a conception of ‘worldly intimacy’ that is juxtaposed with the abstracted colonial bourgeois sense of privacy and domesticity. This is the ‘intimacy’ of interracial adjacency through forced transportation of African and Asian labour to the Americas, of rape, domestic servitude and concubinage, and finally of coexistence and contact among ‘slaves, indentured and mixed free peoples living together’. This spectrum of worldly intimacies finds no place in the Hegelian analysis that conceptualised ‘intimacy’ as the property of the

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bourgeois individual (man) within the confines of his domesticity in civil society. Lowe’s analysis of the occlusions and remainders of liberal humanist philosophy, its ‘coeval violence of affirmation and forgetting’, as she puts it, and her retrieval of its past conditional temporality—’what could have been’—is a powerful testament to the legacy of Edward Said’s intellectual labour on behalf of those disenfranchised by colonial and neocolonial modernities.

Representations of the intellectual A major part of this volume investigates the ongoing significance of Said’s sometimes idealistic representations of the brave, independent and refractory intellectual who is often depicted as enabled and protected by the autonomous quasi-utopian space of the university. Sean Scalmer’s chapter ‘Edward Said and the sociology of intellectuals’ asks how Said’s representations of the intellectual can offer a fuller picture of contemporary intellectual activity and challenges to that activity. How do notions of representation, amateurism, affiliation and speaking the truth to power enable a sociology of intellectual labour? Scalmer notes that for Said the obligation of the intellectual to ‘represent’, without simply identifying with a constituency, transcends the limitations of a functional professional life and the always marginal position of the ‘critic’; Said’s own troubled and shifting affiliations with the Palestinian movement enriched his theoretical excursions on this important and problematic topic. Yet Scalmer too is restless with Said’s university-centred portrait of the intellectual; what of movement activists and their representative function? Are they intellectuals? Is there an ‘activist wisdom’ that does not need to be mediated by an elite aesthetic sensibility? Contemporary representation is assayed and truth sought in the fields of journalism, politics and the culture industries of cinema and music. Do Said’s elite musical passions perhaps leave aside the mission of the hip-hop lyricist to represent, and the folk-troubadour to challenge, the seats of the powerful? Saree Makdisi aptly envisages these problematics of the Saidian public intellectual persona as a question of ‘style’. In his chapter, ‘Edward Said and the style of the public intellectual’, he raises the pertinent question of whether Said’s high modernist invocation of the ‘amateur’ intellectual fiercely at odds with institutions of power and embodying a unique personal aesthetic, a signature ‘style’ as a

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romantic, charismatic genius, is actually suited to our digitised, decentred, post-individualistic and democratised age. ‘Style’ in the modernist sense could not be disembedded from the substance of the creative, political or intellectual interventions of a Genet, a Picasso or an Adorno. But in the image-imbued information age of late capitalist global modernity, it is precisely ‘style’ that is in danger of being commodified as a detachable ‘image’ and free-floating signifier. Said’s confidence in a high modernist confluence of the aesthetics and politics of intellectual/creative labour, Makdisi argues, is ill at ease with our postmodern, late capitalist age. In analysing the question of ‘style’ in the context of intellectual work, Makdisi also interestingly signals a contradiction that lies at the heart of Said’s notion of the intellectual: on one hand Said hoists the figure of a solitary demiurge with a contradictory, alienated relationship with established orders of society and polity; on the other he urges intellectual labour to be accessible, open and ‘public’ in the broadest democratic sense of the term. The tensions generated by this contradiction also inform Gerard Goggin’s ‘Blogging Said: Public intellectuals in the Internet age’. Goggin’s analysis oscillates between the Said who inspires a diversified conception of intellectual intervention and the Said whose imaginative lacunae and disconnection with the decentred, democratic spaces of our information age trouble and disturb. How, Goggin asks, does Said’s work enable reflection on the Internet’s central role in contemporary public intellectual practice? Certainly Said took pleasure in the rapid dissemination of his own writings into multiple cyber publics and suggested that the Internet forces us to modify our post-Foucauldian ideas of discourse and archive; his pleasure in media democratisation resonates with the new ‘commons’ that the Internet represents, with its ideas of cooperative practice, sharing and gift economy. Said’s dynamic notion of intellectual performances of representation on many fronts and of the creative intellectual as ‘lookout’ for possibilities of public intervention resonates with the casual, quixotic reportage of a blog. Goggin worries, on the other hand, that Said’s model of the heroic intellectual remains silent on how new technology constitutes new social relations, and what concepts and tools we might need to grasp this.

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Said and the question of culture Our contributors also wish to reflect on and question the cultural hierarchies that permeate Said’s aesthetic preferences, such as his confession that popular music, including the Palestinian and Arabic music he grew up with, meant nothing to him, as well as Said’s inattention to popular genres. For example does Said’s preference for classical music endanger his extraordinary and creative attempts to deploy musical terminology, such as the ‘contrapuntal’, for the purposes of critical praxis? Hsu-Ming Teo’s chapter ‘Orientalism and mass market romance novels in the twentieth century’ is critical of Said’s construction of orientalism as a masculine enterprise. Hsu-Ming rehabilitates an ambiguous history of Western female travel in and representations of the Orient, representations that give impetus to discourses that demonise the patriarchal Orient to further a Western feminist project, but that might also deploy the Middle East as a mise en scène for a romantic chronotope of social exploration and the cross-cultural agonism of lifeworlds and ideas. Hsu-Ming’s attention to the femaleauthored ‘sheik’ romance genre questions Said’s author-centred depiction of the high modernist ‘Orienteur’ as necessarily male; Said exampled writers such as Flaubert and Nerval whose ‘eccentricity and style of individual consciousness’ could alone be sympathetically juxtaposed to the ideological agenda of academic and scientific modes of orientalism.5 Hsu-ming counterposes a reading of contemporary orientalisms that is attentive to the fluidity and self-reflexivity of popular culture. Ben Etherington’s chapter ‘Said, Grainger, and the ethics of polyphony’ grapples with Said’s fascinating, perplexing and suggestive attempts to imbue literary and cultural criticism with a lexicon and interpretive impulse derived from music, usually the classical music of Bach, Beethoven and Glenn Gould. Etherington reads the growing presence of music in Said’s work as an ‘idealistic aperture’, a move beyond the ethical ambivalences and textual labyrinths that Said identified in Foucauldian discourse analysis and deconstruction. Counterpoint and contrapuntal analysis forge a receptive ethic less interested in the composer’s authority over the material that in nondevelopmental musical techniques of repetition, variation and elaboration. Etherington traces Said’s theorisation of contrapuntal analysis

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as formative for Culture and Imperialism in which an ‘exfoliating’ structure of variations enables the contestation of Conrad’s chthonic Africa by African rewriting and the ‘journeying into’ metropolitan space by African authors. In comparing Said’s contrapuntal ethics to the complex and disturbing polyphonic vision of the Australian-born composer Percy Grainger, Etherington worries that Said’s insistence on a ‘developed’ aesthetic sense projects a bourgeois subject and a less than democratic humanism. Said’s Adorno-like suspicion of popular musical forms and his investment in the modernist notion of music (primarily in its Western classical manifestation) as the ‘most specialized of aesthetics’ are also discussed by Peter Tregear in his chapter, ‘Edward Said and Theodor Adorno: The musician as public intellectual’. Tregear, however, is at pains to distinguish Said from Adorno by noting the former’s emphasis on the performative dimension of music as a space for critical intervention. Adorno abjured the space of performance and accorded supreme value only to the composer as auteur and the composition as legitimate aesthetic object. Said on the contrary emphasised the importance of the space of musical performance as interpretive, critical and oriented towards the social. In his view performance brought to life the protean, mobile, multiply nuanced, even capricious nature of music. It prevented music from being marked as the particular preserve of one or other culture; or, as he told the Jewish conductor Daniel Barenboim, his collaborator on an Arab–Israeli orchestral initiative, performances have an extra-territorial dimension: ‘they help put identity to one side in order to explore the other’. Said’s own predilection for Western classical music, after all, could hardly be attributed to his cultural inheritance as a Christian Arab growing up in Jerusalem and Egypt. It was a case of putting his identity to one side. The one outstanding manifestation of Said’s belief in the critical, transgressive and extra-territorial power of musical performance was his establishment of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with Barenboim. The orchestra was made up of young musicians from Israel and the Arab world and was set up in 1999 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Goethe’s birth in Weimar. The name itself was derived from Goethe’s Westöstlicher Diwan, a collection of poems inspired by the fourteenth century Persian poet Hafiz. As a transcultural and transhistorical enterprise, the West-Eastern Diwan Orchestra

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is vintage Said, as much a contrapuntal intervention in the domain of Western classical music as a mode of thinking and performing comparatively, expansively, non-coercively.

Conceptual personae It is perhaps not too wayward, given what Emily Apter has felicitously described as the ‘shock value’ of Said’s critical practice of unusual cultural comparison and surprising juxtaposition—Jewish and Arabic philology, his own exile relayed to that of Erich Auerbach, the sudden disinterment of the classical rhetorical term inventio with its Sophistic inheritance, the claim to be the last wandering Jew—to discern in Said’s recursive attention to the life story of certain favoured intellectuals (Vico, Auerbach, Adorno) the development of what Deleuze and Guattari have termed ‘conceptual personae’. Such conceptual personae as Plato’s Socrates or Dostoevsky’s Idiot, write Deleuze and Guattari, ask the question of thought’s relationship to the earth and the formation of territories, and their existence is as much allegorical as empirical: ‘If we say that a conceptual persona stammers, it is no longer a type who stammers in a particular language but a thinker who makes the whole of language stammer: the interesting question then is “What is this thought that can only stammer?” ’6 Conceptual personae constitute modes of existence and points of view that are not amenable to abstraction and deterritorialisation. They remind us that thought can have antipathetic inspiration and contradictory animation; Socrates never managed to ultimately distinguish himself from his rival Sophists; Vico’s philological inquiries were enraptured by late Renaissance humanist sympathies other than the antiquarian; Hannah Arendt’s Rosa Luxemburg in Men in Dark Times draws on the humane and worldly milieu of her formative years to challenge and adapt the rigidity of Marxist–Leninist theory. Conceptual personae signify immanent movements across doxographies and cultures; they are not leaders, teachers of schools, founders of orthodoxies. Said’s exquisite portrayal of exile constructs conceptual personae who can have sympathetic relays and highly charged disagreements across time and space. In ‘The question of Europe: Said and Derrida’, John Docker initiates a thought experiment, a confrontation between two eminent conceptual personae, Edward Said and Jacques Derrida, discussing

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the thinkers in the spirit of Arendt’s Men in Dark Times, in terms of biography, sensibility and anecdote. The relationship to disciplinarity is telling: Said was trained as a literary critic who wished to be interdisciplinary and worldly in his wide-ranging interests. Derrida was close to Euro-American literary critics like de Man and remained lifelong a self-identified philosopher. Docker wants to consider the two personae as traversed by various doxographies; what was their relationship to carnivalesque and popular culture? The power and history of religion? What of questions of Zionism and Israel, critical to both intellectuals who were both largely based in the world’s most proZionist society, the United States of America? What do we make of Derrida’s uneasy relationship to his Algerian origins, and what of his claim that he could bear nothing but a pure, classical French? Was Derrida Said’s historical betrayer? Several chapters extend and question Said’s recursive deployment of conceptual personae and the life circumstances and changing predilections they traverse. Peter Tregear explores parallels and differences between Edward Said and Theodor Adorno’s exile and critical trajectories. Both were significant musicians in their own right, born into comparatively wealthy families and social worlds that had effectively dissolved by their early teenage years. Exile and alienation catalysed distrust for the ‘rationality of the real’ and encouraged shared scepticism towards simple, neat narratives in politics and culture. Yet while Adorno was Eurocentric and prone to totalising theoretical gestures, Said used his own position as an outsider to the Western tradition to reject theoretical totalising and to impress the labile and dynamic cross-cultural potential of musical performance. Where Adorno’s unrelenting critique became parasitic on the degenerate situation it attacked, Said’s ‘worldly’ energies and alertness to the confluent streams of human historical activity contributed to an adversarial and transformative political commitment. Ned Curthoys illuminates the productive, unresolved antinomies in Said’s persona of the philological, historicist intellectual whose articulations are of ‘aesthetic and historic power’ and who combine critical rigor and imaginative synthesis. Said’s desideratum is for performative or self-dramatising intellectuals who reveal something of the world-historical forces in which they are enmeshed and who, at least in the case of Auerbach, both affirm and complicate the

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principles of Western literary performance ‘in the very act of doing them’. As cathected to particular, restless personalities, and to the confessional register of their writings, philology is both an affirmation and corrosive questioning of intellectual traditions and literary histories. In praising migration as a means by which the humanist reckons with different audiences and discovers new intellectual pathways, producing an ‘inner activity’ that compensates for the external distress of displacement, the ever-surprising Leo Spitzer critiqued those of his fellow scholars who refused to relate their intellectual practice to their life worlds and political situations, content merely to live in the ‘paradise of [their] ideas, whether this be accessible to [their] fellow men or not’. Discussing Said’s work through the prism of conceptual personae proliferates challenging questions about Said’s legacy; for example, does Frantz Fanon, the anti-colonial hero of Culture and Imperialism, emerge as a many-sided persona in Said’s work? Does Said’s relative silence about Fanon’s biographical trajectory from Martinique to Algeria, and thus from the autobiographical writing of Black Skin, White Masks to the more ideologically honed and dogmatic pronunciations of The Wretched of the Earth, obscure the everpresent possibility that the stateless exile might also become zealous convert and self-styled Mosaic prophet of a fallen people? Were not Fanon’s normative nationalist prescriptions of FLN-sponsored anticolonial violence challenged inside and outside Algeria? Is Said’s Fanon less a complex and stratified persona than teleological prophet and teacher of anti-colonial orthodoxy? In sum, our book has sought both to illuminate and to interrogate Said’s multifarious intellectual and political legacy. In the spirit of Said’s own resistance to finite, reconciling, harmonising models of knowledge-making, the volume opens up ‘Said’ as conceptual persona to myriad, often unreconciled worldly interpretations that give body to his own experience of himself as ‘a cluster of flowing currents’ that are ‘ “off” and may be out of place’, but that are ‘always in motion, in time, in place … [in] all kinds of strange combinations moving about, not necessary forward, sometimes against each other, contrapuntally yet without one central theme’.7

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Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 26. Ibid., p. 27. Shohat, Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices, p. xvi. See also Apter, ‘Theorizing Francophonie’ and ‘Saidian humanism’. Said, Orientalism, p. 158. Deleuze & Guattari, What is Philosophy? pp. 61–85. Said, Out of Place, p. 295.

Bibliography Apter, Emily, ‘Saidian humanism’, Boundary 2, vol. 31, no. 2, 2004, pp. 35–53. ——‘Theorizing Francophonie’, Comparative Literature Studies, vol. 42, no. 4, 2005. Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Félix, What is Philosophy? (trans. Graham Burchell & Hugh Tomlinson), Verso, London, 1994. Said, Edward W., Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2004. ——Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (first published 1978), Penguin Books, London, 2003. ——Out of Place: A Memoir, Viking, Penguin, New Delhi, 1999. Shohat, Ella, Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, and London, 2006.

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Representing public intellectuals

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1

Edward Said and the style of the public intellectual Saree Makdisi

One of the primary concerns of Edward Said’s work is the extent to which intellectuals are, in one way or another, directly involved in the manufacture of worldly realities, or essentially—to borrow a phrase from Shelley—the real unacknowledged legislators of the world. The main argument of Said’s best known book, after all, is that abstractions like ‘the West’ and ‘the East’ must be actively invented by scholars, artists, poets and historians, and then gradually modified, adjusted, reinvented over time. According to Said, then, scholars and writers, and intellectuals in general, far from being merely the dispassionate detached observers they so often pretend to be, are complicit in the production of the very worldly realities that they claim merely to be faithfully representing. While such a proposition makes it difficult, or impossible, to locate a single objective standpoint from which to accumulate knowledge and evaluate the truth, it also pushes us to consider the extent to which particular intellectuals are involved in either helping to maintain and extend various state policies—of conquest, brutalisation, military occupation, injustice—or helping to contest them, and hence participating in the struggle to create an alternative world of freedom, equality and justice. Clearly, Said himself not only believed in but also actively demonstrated the ways in which an intellectual can play such an

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oppositional role. And in his book Representations of the Intellectual he elaborates the ways in which the intellectual ought to fashion himor herself to play such a role.1 His understanding of the intellectual involves something of a synthesis of the positions of Antonio Gramsci and Julien Benda, whom he discusses in the opening pages of the book. From Gramsci, Said accepts the notion that intellectuals compose a large and variegated social body, connected to classes, movements and traditions and fulfilling all kinds of social roles, including the production and reproduction of official ideologies and worldviews. But at the same time he finds deeply compelling Benda’s much more restricted notion of the intellectual as a member of a small, embattled, morally driven group speaking out against prevailing opinions regardless of the consequences to themselves. Most intellectuals, according to Said, perform the social role ascribed to them by Gramsci; only a tiny minority are able and willing to elevate themselves to the heights prescribed for them by Benda, to become, in Said’s words, one of those beings ‘set apart, someone able to speak the truth to power, a crusty, eloquent, fantastically courageous and angry individual for whom no worldly power is too big and imposing to be criticized and pointedly taken to task’.2 What I want to question in this chapter is whether Said’s radicalised version of the Bendaian intellectual, compelling and inspiring as it is, is as applicable to our own time as it so clearly was to the intellectuals of a previous age—the one in which Said received his own formation and formed himself in turn. For a number of reasons, as this chapter will try to explain, such intellectuals may no longer exist, or at least they may no longer exist in the way Said described them. And while we may still derive inspiration from Said’s vision of the embattled intellectual, it may no longer be possible to model ourselves precisely along the lines that he prescribed. There is, of course, no question that it remains possible for someone occupying what Gramsci considered the conventional social role of the intellectual—a teacher, a writer, an artist—to develop ways in which to critically consider, even to contest, social and political power, including the very power that endowed the intellectual with his or her sense of place and privilege in the first place. Such a public intellectual—one willing to speak up, to challenge prevailing social, cultural and political norms and conventional wisdoms of all sorts—

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is, according to Said, ‘an individual with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to, as well as for, a public’. This role, he continues, ‘has an edge to it, and cannot be played without a sense of being someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to be someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d’être is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.’3 Said acknowledges, of course, that such an intellectual, while taking the side of the weak and downtrodden against enormously powerful social and political forces, is hardly free from social constraints himself or herself. But while Said points out that it is difficult, if not altogether impossible, to speak today of a genuinely independent, autonomous intellectual, one not beholden to or constrained by various social institutions (universities, publishers, media outlets), he insists that the prime threat facing intellectual freedom of expression today comes not from these external forces but rather from a much more insidious pressure: the seduction offered by silence and compromise, or in other words what he distinguishes as the dark side of professionalism, ‘thinking of your work as an intellectual as something you do for a living, between the hours of nine and five with one eye on the clock, and another cocked at what is considered to be proper, professional behavior—not rocking the boat, not straying outside the accepted paradigms or limits, making yourself marketable and above all presentable, hence uncontroversial and unpolitical and “objective” ‘.4 Said is neither romantic nor naïve about the pressures of specialisation and professionalisation and the whole cult of expertise, but he argues that ultimately the most effective way to resist these pressures is to insist on also—over and above one’s work as a professional—retaining a certain degree of amateurism. What Said distinguishes as amateurism, however, involves only in part the capacity to allow one’s work as a critical intellectual to be driven by care and affection rather than profit or specialisation. For, as opposed to specialisation, Said’s version of amateurism also involves a wilful transgression of institutional lines, which he identifies as interference, a ‘crossing of borders and obstacles, a determined attempt to generalize exactly at those points where generalizations

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seem impossible to make. One of the first interferences to be ventured’, Said adds, ‘is a crossing from literature, which is supposed to be subjective and powerless, into those exactly parallel realms, now covered by journalism and the production of information, that employ representation but are supposed to be objective and powerful.’5 Here I am quoting not from the book on intellectuals but rather from a piece that I believe was Said’s first sustained elaboration of the role of the public intellectual, namely, the essay entitled ‘Opponents, audiences, constituencies and community’, which he originally published in 1982. It is my conviction [he writes in that essay] that culture works very effectively to make invisible and even ’impossible’ the actual affiliations that exist between the world of ideas and scholarship, on the one hand, and the world of brute politics, corporate and state power, and military force, on the other. The cult of expertise and professionalism, for example, has so restricted our scope of vision that a positive (as opposed to an implicit or passive) doctrine of non-interference among fields has set in.6 The problem here is not just that matters of public policy are left to so-called ‘experts’ and ‘insiders’ who are close to power, but also that academic professionals who insist on their own hyper-specialisation end up folding in on themselves, confining themselves and their work to an increasingly withdrawn and remote constituency of fellow experts, and abandoning the wider world of what they regard as brute politics to others. Said argues that such a withdrawal was particularly evident among intellectuals in the humanities after a certain kind of critical theory took hold of the academy in the 1980s; an event that seemed to prompt in some intellectuals ever further hyper-specialisation, a process intensified by the proliferation of a formidable technical jargon, which, according to Said, led to a smaller and smaller circle of critics producing more and more books and articles for each other and seeming to care little about anything or anyone else;7 so that, far from the non-specialised amateurism and border-crossing interference espoused by Said, the particular mission of the humanities seemed at

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that point to represent precisely a kind of non-interference in the everyday world; a non-interference that, as Said puts it, meant a kind of laissez-faire: ‘ “they” can run the country, we will explicate Wordsworth and Schlegel.’8 The larger point of Said’s argument, of course, is that although academic professionals in the 1980s may have taken solace in their illusory separation from the ugly worldly political realities of the Age of Reagan, that separation also helped make the Age of Reagan possible in the first place, because academics—especially those in the humanities, with their formidable interpretive, representational and communicative skills—had abandoned the field to the political forces that brought Reagan to power. Such wilful non-interference—which continues in the Age of Bush, of course—takes many different forms, from the cloistered academic’s naive sense of detachment from the social and political realities surrounding him or her to an even more deliberate fear of, or turning away from, political commitments. Indeed, if for Said the ultimate choice faced by the intellectual is not merely the one between interference and non-interference, but rather the one between being a professional supplicant or an unrewarded (if not altogether stigmatised) amateur,9 nothing can be more reprehensible in his view than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you need the approval of a boss or an authority figure; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the respectable mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship. For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence.10 The proper role of the intellectual, then, according to Said, is to maintain intellectual and political integrity, and to speak out, like one of

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Benda’s lonely clerics, against all the odds, and despite all costs to oneself. Speaking the truth to power—actively interfering with it—is something Said saw as a moral obligation once one is in a position to do so. Once one is comfortably tenured at a major university, say, and enjoying the freedom and relative security that go along with such a position, it would be, for Said, not just irresponsible but also a kind of moral failing not to speak out on public matters, especially the ones that urgently require intervention. Few intellectuals choose to take on such a public role, of course, much less to associate themselves with embattled or marginalised positions (by speaking out against imperial power or military occupation, or on behalf of brutalised and dispossessed peoples). Because being an intellectual in this genuine sense involves a deeply personal choice—a matter of ethics in the true, rather than the watered down and fashionably depoliticised, sense of that term—Said argues that it is only the rare individual who possesses the integrity and commitment necessary to carrying out such a cultural and political mission. Thus, given the individual pressures and commitments required—above all, the highly individual moral and political choice between choosing to remain critical of power, and hence paying the price associated with such criticism; or, alternatively, accepting the seductions and emoluments of power, and going along with it—the vocation of the genuine oppositional intellectual is by definition a solitary one. Moreover, for Said, the genuine intellectual is an individual par excellence, someone who generally shuns participation in organised parties, organisations, networks. In the case of Said himself, such individuality was perhaps nowhere more visible than in the public positions he took against the official Palestinian leadership after it entered into the secret—and disastrous—series of capitulations to Israeli power beginning with the Oslo Accords of 1993–95. After Oslo, Said found himself battling not only the injustice of Israel’s policies and the historical injustice of Zionism itself but also the corruption, ignorance and poor judgement of the Palestinian leadership. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that being an intellectual involved for Said not merely being a lonely outsider and a consummate individualist—however committed to larger, more public goals, and however dedicated to a wider constituency and public— but also developing a deeply distinctive, even unique, individual style. 26

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In this sense, Said’s elaboration of the role of the intellectual was profoundly modernist in its conception; it was, in other words, as much an aesthetic as a political project—so much so that it was virtually impossible for Said to imagine separating an individual’s political positions from his or her unique personality, as much as it would be impossible to separate the literary or artistic creations of, say, Pound, Joyce, Eliot, Picasso or, for that matter, Miles Davis from the distinctive style, mannerisms and personalities of their creators. ‘When I read Jean-Paul Sartre or Bertrand Russell’, Said writes, ‘it is their specific, individual voice and presence that makes an impression on me over and above their arguments because they are speaking out for their beliefs. They cannot be mistaken for an anonymous functionary or a careful bureaucrat.’11 That’s why what he specifically singles out as the ‘personal mannerisms’ of particular intellectuals are so important for Said.12 In an impersonal age of anonymous functionaries, the genuine intellectual, with his or her distinctive charisma, not only can but also must claim a unique, individual style or signature, so that his or her work can be identified in precisely the same way that a sentence written by Conrad, a line drawn by Picasso or a note played by Miles Davis can be instantly and unmistakably identified with, respectively, Conrad, Picasso, Davis. Just as it is hardly a coincidence that so much of Said’s work was devoted to modernist aesthetic figures like Joseph Conrad and Glenn Gould, it is hardly a coincidence that the intellectuals to whom Said refers most often are precisely charismatic modernist figures of this kind and, inevitably, men with whom Said identified himself in one way or another: Sartre and Russell, as well C. L. R. James, George Antonius, Frantz Fanon, Antonio Gramsci, Jean Genet, Aimé Césaire: each of them associated with certain political and cultural positions, of course, but also with an extremely idiosyncratic personal style, a unique personal aesthetic, a profound personal presence and of course enormous charisma: the very features many of us so fondly recall when we remember Edward Said himself; his passion; his unflinching commitment to a forsaken people and their cause; his charm; his anger; and, yes, his beautiful Savile Row suits and hand-stitched English shoes. Style for Said, in any case, is certainly something more than merely aesthetic; it is inherently political: it is a way not merely of asserting individuality but also of transgressing cultural and political Edward Said and the style of the public intellectual

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norms, of resisting domination, ultimately of contesting socially constituted reality itself. This is especially true of what he identifies in his final book as the eponymous ‘late style’, which, as he puts it, ‘is what happens if art does not abdicate its rights in favor of reality’.13 He is thinking in this context of Adorno’s elaboration of the late Beethoven— the Beethoven of the Ninth Symphony, of the Missa Solemnis, of the final piano sonata, opus 111. In Adorno’s directly aesthetic terms, such late style is evident when a great artist, fully in command of his form and medium, ‘nevertheless abandons communication with the established social order of which he is a part, and achieves a contradictory, alienated relationship with it’. Being late here means not being at the end of one’s career but rather in a more specific sense being at odds with one’s own time;14 or, as Said puts it himself, ‘late style is in, but oddly apart from, the present’.15 Late style thus involves not merely what Ernst Bloch once famously called the synchronicity of the non-synchronous, but also a more explicit refusal of aesthetic compromise, as for example, when Beethoven refused to let opus 111 conform to the standard expected of the sonata form, to produce in his final piano sonata a pleasing but ultimately bankrupt summary of his successes to date; thus opus 111 marks an opening out further, rather than a conclusion, a closure, a form of easy satisfaction. But lateness in Said’s sense is something far more than merely aesthetic: it involves, as we might recognise in William Wordsworth at his best—or in William Blake throughout his career—a refusal of cooptation, a refusal to go with the stream, a refusal to pledge allegiance, and a contrary insistence on heterodoxy, differentiation, unassailability, resistance. Late style expresses, in other words, not merely a certain cultural politics but a politics as such. This is why Said urges us to recognise the style of the oppositional intellectual as such a central feature of his or her broader position. The genuine intellectual’s style sets him or her apart: it registers not merely a unique differentiation from a surrounding present of ever-greater homogenisation, specialisation and professionalisation but also a refusal to accept the prerogatives, inducements and pressures of power. Here it may be worthwhile to recall Fredric Jameson’s assessment of the personal styles of the great modernist writers and what

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he calls the sheer autonomy of their aesthetic, their refusal to go along with the tendencies of a modernising economy—the very kind of refusal that Said intends in his discussion of late style. Jameson points out that such unassailability was often manifested in the modernism unto itself of the ‘isolated genius’ and the great Work, and what Jameson identifies as the moment of the great demiurges and prophets—’Frank Lloyd Wright and his cape and porkpie hat, Proust in his cork-lined room, the “force of nature” Picasso, and the “tragic,” uniquely doomed Kafka’.16 But Jameson insists that we should disabuse ourselves of the lament that, ‘from the hindsight of postmodern fashion and commerciality, modernism was still a time of giants and legendary powers no longer available to us’. For, he adds, ‘if the poststructuralist motif of the “death of the subject” means anything socially, it signals the end of the entrepreneurial and inner-directed individualism, with its “charisma” and its accompanying categorical panoply of quaint romantic values such as that of the “genius” in the first place.’ Seen thus, he concludes, the extinction of the “great moderns” is not necessarily an occasion for pathos. Our social order is richer in information and more literate, and socially, at least, more “democratic.” … [it] no longer needs prophets and seers of the high modernist and charismatic type, whether among its cultural producers or its politicians. Such figures no longer hold any charm or magic for the subjects of a corporate, collectivized post-individualistic age; in that case, goodbye to them without regrets, as Brecht might have put it: woe to the country that needs geniuses, prophets, Great Writers, or demiurges!17 It is in fact with Jameson’s argument in mind that we must note a somewhat profound contradiction in Said’s assessment of the intellectual. For while on the one hand he emphasises the solitary, prophetic role of the intellectual not merely as non-cooptable but also as a kind of unapproachable, forbidding figure (‘a being set apart, someone able to speak the truth to power, a crusty, eloquent, fantastically courageous and angry individual’), or, in other words, precisely the kind of demiurge or charismatic prophet whose disappearance

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Jameson says we need not lament, Said at the same time always insisted on the paramount urgency for an intellectual to be clear, accessible, non-specialised, serving and enabling a public, an audience, a constituency. After all, his argument against falling into an earnest circle of specialised critics who produce work accessible only to a narrow coterie of fellow initiates was precisely that they lock out everyone else. What, he asks in the 1982 essay that I quoted earlier, ‘is the acceptable humanistic antidote to what one discovers, say among sociologists, philosophers and so-called policy scientists who speak only to and for each other in a language oblivious to everything but a well-guarded, constantly shrinking fiefdom forbidden to the uninitiated?’18 As we know, of course, Said’s work offered us the very antidote to which he was referring: interference, transgression, a breaking out of the confines of tiny specialised disciplinary audiences, and speaking to a broader public. The question now is to what extent this openness and accessibility are consistent with—or at odds with— what I have been arguing is Said’s highly modernist conception of the forbidding, charismatic, crusty, angry intellectual. Jameson’s point, after all, is not only that our open, collectivised and post-individualistic age no longer requires the services of such a modernist giant but also, beyond that, that there is no room for such a figure in the contemporary world. Jameson’s argument prompts one to ask, then, how relevant Said’s highly modernist conception of the intellectual with a unique and distinctive signature and personal aesthetic might be to our own jaded, image-driven age. Even at a single glance, it ought to seem obvious that the whole question of modernist style seems inappropriate to our own time. The politics and commitments of Genet, for example, may have been inseparable from his personal style or image, but that is because in his age, the personal aesthetic or image was just as inseparable from the underlying political position; it was not capable of reification, detachment, circulation, even commodification; the style and image of Genet in the 1950s or 1960s was inseparable from his underlying politics. Indeed, this absolute confluence of aesthetics and politics is, as I have been arguing, essential to Said’s understanding of the intellectual. It would, however, hardly be an original observation to point out that in our own postmodern age, not only has style become

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inseparable from image but also the production and circulation of images relies almost entirely on the separability of image from underlying political or cultural positions or associations. What this means is not merely that a personal aesthetic or image can circulate in a context entirely at odds with its original cultural and political associations. (Surely the most obvious evidence of such a disassociation is that practically universal image of Che Guevara, which is now used for all sorts of brands and marketing ventures, or simply as a commodified image in itself, rather than an evocation of what Che actually stood for politically and culturally.) It also suggests that success these days has at least as much to do with one’s image—or even, in effect, brand—as with one’s actual political or intellectual positions. It is worth asking, I think, just how possible it is for an intellectual to fashion him- or herself along the lines that Said prescribed in an intellectual, academic and publishing marketplace increasingly driven by brands. But there are other problems confronting the intellectual in the postmodern age. In fact, several factors must be taken into account in distinguishing the modernist intellectual as elaborated by Said from the postmodern intellectual of our own time. There is, first of all, the question of publishing. The modernist intellectual could circulate his or her work in a publishing environment that was not entirely driven by and subject to commercial criteria. Specific publishing houses, journals, newspapers, magazines could be—and often were—identified with specific political or cultural issues or causes (Tel Quel is of course one classic example; the Beirut journal Mawaqif is another). By contrast, what little one can say about the distinctive political or cultural orientations of the publishing houses Pantheon, Random House, Vintage, Doubleday or Knopf is eclipsed by the material fact that they are all today nothing but subdivisions of Bertelsmann; and it goes without saying that Bertelsmann’s primary commitment is not to ideas or positions—to which the giant global corporations like Bertelsmann, Disney, Time Warner or News Corp refer dismissively, if not altogether contemptuously, as ‘content’—but rather to revenues (17 billion Euros for Bertelsmann in 2005) and the corporate bottom line. Indeed, it is unlikely that Edward Said himself would have achieved his global intellectual status had his books been published by an obscure and

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financially limited—however politically committed—press rather than by a transnational giant like Bertelsmann. Perhaps that’s because even Edward Said himself had become—regardless of his own intentions—a kind of brand by the end. The second urgent matter in this context is the virtual, if not absolute, disappearance of independent intellectuals. Susan Sontag’s death may have marked the end of an era. There may be a few genuinely independent intellectuals left, but most intellectuals today are affiliated with, if not entirely beholden to, media organisations, thinktanks or increasingly corporatised universities; indeed, the most powerful intellectuals today are, arguably, not even individual human beings but rather the giant global corporations themselves. None of this closes the door to free or critical thinking, of course; but the point is that the situation facing the intellectual today is hardly the same as the one at the peak of the modernist moment. Finally, all of the institutions harbouring intellectuals these days are facing not just mounting pressure but also in many cases a frontal assault designed to break them down and to transform them beyond recognition. There is, for example, an unprecedented assault on academic freedom in the USA, and on the very institution of the university as we know it. (I will confine my remarks on the university to the USA not because I think it is an exemplary case but simply because it happens to be the case with which I am most familiar.) Much of this assault has taken on a right-wing tilt, but the process of undermining academic and hence intellectual freedom was initiated—and is today still most heavily orchestrated by—the sprawling network of individuals and organisations working to defend Israel’s interests in the USA. The Israel on Campus Coalition, for example, whose aim is, in its own awkward prose, ‘to intelligently impact a pro-active pro-Israel agenda on campus’, brings together under one umbrella thirty distinct organisations whose aim is to disseminate pro-Israeli propaganda and to suppress criticism of Israel on American university campuses; its members and affiliates include the formidable Zionist lobby organisation AIPAC, the Israeli media-monitoring organisation CAMERA, the Zionist Organization of America, the Israel Project and the David Project. Many of these organisations, particularly the David Project, were centrally involved in the upheaval in 2004 at Columbia University— Said’s long-time home—in which three faculty members were singled 32

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out for attack by a coalition of media outfits, pressure groups and politicians (including a member of Congress) largely because of their criticisms of Israeli policy. Under immense pressure from donors and lobbyists, the university president failed to stand up for his faculty members’ academic freedom. In the end, the attack failed to accomplish its objectives—principally the firing of a vulnerable assistant professor—but it was a frightening example of the new atmosphere of political surveillance into which academic institutions have fallen. ‘Academic colleagues, get used to it,’ warned the pro-Israeli agitator Martin Kramer, who was involved in the attack on Columbia. ‘You are being watched. Those obscure articles in campus newspapers are now available on the Internet, and they will be harvested. Your syllabi, which you’ve also posted, will be scrutinized. Your websites will be visited late at night.’19 One of the focal points of the campaign to monitor universities is the ongoing attempt to pass legislation at the federal level that would in effect not only impose state monitoring of academic programs all the way down to the level of classroom assignments and reading lists, but also make the academic mission of universities receiving federal funds subservient to the national security of the USA and Israel. It is striking, in fact, that in the congressional debates concerning the best known of these legislative packages, US House of Representatives Resolution HR 3077 (2003), the work of Said himself was exhibited in order to back up the spurious claim that, under the guise of post-structuralist and postcolonial studies, anti-Israeli and anti-American radicals had taken over the American academy, or at least all the major centres for international and Middle East studies. Here is the centrepiece of the congressional testimony of one of the bill’s advocates, a Hoover Fellow ironically named Kurtz: The ruling intellectual paradigm in academic area studies (especially Middle Eastern Studies) is called ‘post-colonial theory.’ Post-colonial theory was founded by Columbia University professor of comparative literature, Edward Said. Said gained fame in 1978, with the publication of his book, Orientalism. In that book, Said equated professors who support American foreign policy with the 19th century European intellectuals who propped up racist colonial empires. The core premise of post-colonial theory is that it Edward Said and the style of the public intellectual

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is immoral for a scholar to put his knowledge of foreign languages and cultures at the service of American power.20 The solution called for by this Kurtz and various defenders of Israel led by Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes (another lapsed academic, who founded Campus Watch in the 1990s to monitor US universities for criticism of Israel)—and backed by the full strength of Israel’s lobbying agencies in Washington—is the imposition of a stateappointed body to monitor international studies programs. Appointees would be political, not academic: they would be assigned by the leaders of the House and Senate as well as the Executive Branch, and would include two representatives from ‘agencies responsible for national security’. With the ample backing of Israel’s lobby groups, the bill passed the US House of Representatives by a wide margin in late 2003, only to die in a Senate committee. Its language was revived in 2005–06, however, and repackaged in new bills (Senate bill S1614, House Resolution HR609) that again passed House and Senate committees with comfortable majorities in 2006. The Republican-controlled Congress failed to bring the bills to a vote, however, and while it is not clear what the status of these bills will be in the new Democraticcontrolled Congress, it is likely, given the persistence of their backers, that they will be reproposed and perhaps passed; and if they do, the American university system will have crossed a threshold from which, in today’s poisonous atmosphere, it is unlikely ever to recover. In addition to the other somewhat more theoretical questions I already mentioned, these added political mobilisations and pressures make it much more difficult to imagine the success today of the kind of modernist charismatic giant essential to Edward Said’s conception of the intellectual—especially the public intellectual. Said himself frequently came under attack by powerful interests, of course. But he was already a giant when he came under attack; the question now is whether it would be possible for a new giant to emerge under today’s altered circumstances or whether, instead, it would be better for us to imagine new ways of imagining the role of the intellectual, retaining the oppositional energies and ethical commitments championed by Edward Said, but tempering them with Jameson’s assessment of the place (or lack of place) of yesterday’s modernist giants in today’s world and, as I’ve been trying to suggest, a sense of the unique challenges

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facing intellectuals in our altered social and political situation. The kinds of commitment, courage and solidarity with the downtrodden and the dispossessed that Edward Said advocated are still, I believe, the indispensable requirements of the oppositional public intellectual today. But we should perhaps be wary of trying to fashion ourselves along the modernist lines advocated by Said himself. Notes 1 2 3 4 5

6 7

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Said, Representations of the Intellectual. Ibid., pp. 7–8. Ibid., p. 11. Ibid., p. 74. Ibid., pp. 81–2; Said, ‘Opponents, audiences, constituencies and community’, p. 157. Said, ‘Opponents, audiences, constituencies and community’, p. 136. See, for example, Said, ‘Opponents, audiences, constituencies and community’, p. 140. Ibid., p. 156. See Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 83. Ibid., pp. 100–1. Ibid., p. 13. Ibid. Said, On Late Style, p. 9. Ibid., p. 22. Ibid., p. 24. Jameson, Postmodernism, p. 305. Ibid., p. 306. Said, ‘Opponents, audiences, constituencies and community’, p. 143. Dobbs, ‘Middle East studies under scrutiny in US’. www.house.gov/ed_workforce/hearings/108th/sed/titlevi61903/kurtz.htm.

Bibliography Dobbs, Michael, ‘Middle East studies under scrutiny in US’, Washington Post, 13 January 2004. www.house.gov/ed_workforce/hearings/108th/sed/titlevi61903/kurtz.htm, viewed 20 February 2006. Jameson, Fredric, Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 1991. Said, Edward W., ‘Opponents, audiences, constituencies and community’, in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (ed. Hal Foster), Bay Press, Port Townsend, WA, 1983. ——On Late Style: Music and Literature against the Grain, Pantheon, New York 2006. ——Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures, Pantheon, New York, 1994.

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2

Edward Said and the sociology of intellectuals Sean Scalmer

Edward Said is remembered for his terrifying erudition, unflagging scholarship and brave, yet clear-eyed, political commitment. He was invariably well placed in surveys of ‘influential intellectuals’,1 and he reflected, on many occasions, on the responsibilities and rewards of intellectual life. Said therefore seems uniquely situated to explain the activity and purpose of contemporary intellectual labour. What can he teach us about ‘the intellectual’? And what lessons do his writings and example conceal? In this chapter, I try to find out. Briefly, I expound on Said’s account of ‘the intellectual’, explain its significance and explore its basis in his life and struggles. I go on to measured criticisms and to suggest how Said’s key insights might be twisted and sometimes elaborated to offer a still fuller picture of contemporary intellectual activity and challenge. Said’s example, I conclude, serves as the basis of a renewed, politicised, critical sociology of intellectuals.

Background and originality What is an intellectual? Scholars, writers and revolutionaries have been arguing over the matter for a century and a half. Broadly, two ideal-typical answers predominate. These might be called the

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‘normative’ and the ‘materialist’.2 Normative approaches present intellectuals as the possessors of particular individual virtues that grant them a special or elevated moral status. Such a view, for example, might reserve the label of ‘intellectual’ for scholars especially committed to ‘the truth’, or prepared to speak out against authority, or free from the stain of self-interested behaviour. (Anti-intellectualism, it might be noted parenthetically, typically represents a mirror image of this normative portrait, in which intellectuals are cast as intrinsically venal, selfish, power-hungry or otherwise morally suspect.) An alternative, ‘materialist’ tradition largely sets aside such normative questions. As the label implies, this approach is inspired by a broadly Marxist spirit. It was developed most famously in interwar writings by Antonio Gramsci and (to a lesser extent) Walter Benjamin.3 The materialist school apprehends ‘the intellectual’ simply as an actor who performs certain roles and social functions. Most often, these are thought to include: knowledge production, symbol manipulation and class organisation. Such activities are neither inherently good nor bad, so the argument goes, and the moral characteristics of those who perform them are not a primary concern. How have these distinct traditions unfolded? The intellectual marched on to the stage of history as an unashamedly normative figure, opposing injustice and declaiming a commitment to truth and fair dealing.4 Into the twentieth century, even critics of contemporary intellectual ‘treason’ have used this account as a normative hurdle that those true to their vocation should be expected to clear.5 The most lionised intellectuals continue to be associated with dissidence and public controversy: Sartre, de Beauvoir, Vidal, Havel, Sahkharov, among others. However, recent decades have witnessed something of a sea change. Apparent truth-telling has increasingly been depicted as selfserving or distortive. Petitions have gone out of fashion; those who claim to speak for the silenced have themselves been accused of oppression or of a poorly disguised ‘will to power’.6 The unconscious masculinism of the truth-telling, heroic thinker has been rightly challenged by feminist scholarship and further disrupted by the rise of intellectual workers who also happen to be women.7 The assumptions that underpin traditional normative approaches to intellectuals have therefore suffered, and the hard realism of the materialist has

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come to dominate. In this way, the label of ‘intellectual’ has been transformed—a passionate badge of identification has become a kind of unwanted, antiquarian or scholarly insult. Edward Said was always quick of perception, and he observed this important shift as early as 1988: ‘I’ve noticed that among the left the use of the word intellectual has fallen into disrepute and disuse. And what instead has appeared are words like professional and scholar and academic … I think it’s partly because of the refusal of American Left intellectuals to accept their political role.’8 Said, of course, could not be accused of such refusal. In sometimes painful struggle he sought both to reclaim the role of ‘the intellectual’ and to reinstate its political purpose. In his writings, meanwhile, he not only restored the normative dimensions of the intellectual’s calling but also combined this moral clarity with a realistic and subtle assessment of the institutional circumstances under which intellectuals laboured. How did he manage to do so? And what were the key elements of his theory of ‘the intellectual’?

Said on intellectuals: Key themes Put simply, Said emphasised six elements of intellectual practice: representation, truth-telling, opposition, affiliation, irreconcilability and amateurism. First, and most centrally, the Palestinian scholar suggested that intellectuals could be identified as those individuals endowed with ‘a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message’.9 The social function of the intellectual, therefore, was the representation of a standpoint of some kind.10 For Said, however, this was a normative demand as much as it was a social role or function. Representation ensured that the intellectual would not be reduced to being simply a ‘faceless professional’.11 It required identification with a constituency and therefore the transcendence of the position of ‘the critic’—a figure ‘always outside the group’.12 By representing, the intellectual also connected with others and stood beside them, too. Representation did not imply that the intellectual was merely a ‘hired gun’ or a salesperson for a cause. On the contrary, Said depicted intellectuals as truth-seekers. The basic question for the intellectual, he suggested, was ‘how does one speak the truth? What truth? For whom and where?’13 This kind of question led directly to the rejection of dogmatism and party lines.14 It led further to a search for universal

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standards that all societies should be required to meet,15 and thence to the defence of categories such as ‘right’, ‘wrong’ and ‘justice’ as legitimate guides to everyday political conduct.16 This was an invitation to oppose. For Said, the whole point of being an intellectual was to be ‘embarrassing, contrary, even unpleasant’.17 The intellectual’s animating spirit was opposition rather than accommodation18 and group loyalty needed to take second place to the critical sensibility.19 Tyranny, domination and abuse were the enemy, wherever they might appear.20 For the professor from Columbia, taking on the authorised powers of one’s own society was nothing less than a ‘special duty’,21 and it is one that Said discharged as both an American and a Palestinian. However, Said’s normative portrait was also matched by a forensic interest in the messy, material realities of everyday intellectual practice. Here, his chief contribution to understanding was the original concept of ‘affiliation’. What exactly does this intriguing term mean? Uncharacteristically, Said’s customary precision sometimes deserted him on this matter, and the usually careful scholar was occasionally elusive or contradictory in his pronouncements. Routinely, he used the term ‘affiliation’ to emphasise the political commitments of intellectuals and the deliberate proclamation of solidarity with a cause or institution (such as his own relationship with the Palestinian Liberation Organization or the Palestine National Council).22 This use of the term harmonised with Said’s insistence that a scholar could not be detached from ‘the circumstances of life’23 and that ideas were always more than ‘just ideas’.24 Such insights were further developed in The World, the Text and the Critic (1983). At some length, affiliation was here presented as an alternative (and an historical successor) to the relation of ‘filiation’, or belonging through birth. The former was also a version of belonging or attachment. However, whereas filiation was natural or organic, affiliation was cultural and social.25 It involved ‘voluntary effort and willed deliberation’.26 According to this veteran of many causes, the term was supposed to make explicit ‘all kinds of connections that we tend to forget and that have to be made explicit and even dramatic in order for political change to take place’.27 Somewhat confusingly, however, affiliation was not just a synonym for ‘commitment’ or political belonging. When challenged, Said

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resiled from such associations, and argued: ‘It’s closer to the notion of alignment than it is to commitment. It has also to do with larger degrees of involuntary association and unconscious (or sometimes hypocritically concealed) association, complicity, and so forth than it does with active commitment.’28 But, even more confoundedly, affiliation was sometimes depicted as part of a ‘new system’ as well as a ‘new form of relationship’ or connection.29 Specifically, Said argued that the act of affiliation helped to create a new cultural order—’something resembling a cultural system’. Furthermore this ‘affiliative order’ required the installation of a fresh hierarchy, in which a community’s ‘values’, ‘ideas’ and ‘systematic totalizing world-view’ sat in the watchful position that ‘the father’ had once occupied.30 Belonging, in short, also brought with it the creation of cultural authority. Affiliation implied hierarchy. In this situation, literary critics faced a choice. Some might labour to build the new system, or even to police its borders: ‘literally a midwife’, this kind of critic would encourage ‘reverence for the humanities’ and for ‘the dominant culture served by those humanities’.31 The affiliated would here be the servant of the freshly installed cultural order. However, Said believed that those scholars truly devoted to the values of truth-seeking and opposition would doubtless be called to a different path. This was to show the process of affiliation at work and to search out and recuperate what had been excluded or marginalised from the new, affiliative cultural world.32 To summarise, the concept of affiliation was something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde. It was applied by Said to many different kinds of relationships and cultural systems; it could be used to suggest brave moral commitment and dangerous, facile capitulation. Some might express frustration at the slippery, sometimes paradoxical nature of Said’s formulations. As a social theorist, however, the literary scholar was comfortable with contradiction. In fact, Said’s account of ‘the intellectual’ was strongly influenced by Theodor Adorno’s exilic, fragmentary and discontinuous example. Like the gloomy German, the irrepressible Palestinian sought the jagged edge rather than the smooth surface. He was drawn to contradiction: ‘There are certain contradictions, what I call antinomies, that cannot be resolved, and it’s important to explore and to

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deepen investigation of them. I would say, well, they’re here, we can’t wish them away, we can’t reconcile them under duress, as Theodor Adorno says.’33 The mission of the intellectual, as Said understood it, was one of ‘clarifying’ and ‘dramatizing’ such irreconcilabilities.34 As he put it directly: ‘We have to be able to make them more apparent, to make their influence more profound and more felt, which requires more work and more of an understanding of different kinds of political organizations and intellectual efforts.’35 But how might the intellectual do so? And what barriers might first loom up to block the way? This was Said’s final theme: the danger of ‘professionalism’ and the virtue of ‘amateurism’ as a path away from its immobilising bulk. ‘Professionalism’, characteristically, was defined by Said as an attitude rather than an activity or status. ‘By professionalism’, he elaborated, ‘I mean thinking of your work as something you do for a living’; that is, something done ‘between the hours of nine and five’, undertaken ‘with one eye on the clock, and another cocked at what is considered to be proper, professional behaviour—not rocking the boat, not straying outside the accepted paradigms or limits’.36 This was an attitude nurtured by a number of social forces: the tendency to narrow specialisation among contemporary scholars; the cult of the expert; and the (somewhat inevitable, Said thought) drift of thinkers and writers towards power and authority.37 Together, these forces challenged the intellectual’s ‘ingenuity’ and ‘will’,38 sapping the weak-kneed or vulnerable of moral independence or commitment. Hence, Said hazarded, professionalism and its allies constituted the most ‘particular’ threat to the fulfilment of the intellectual’s true calling.39 In this context, what could the sincere scholar do? It was impossible to pretend that such pressures did not exist or to simply deny their influence. Rather, it was necessary to cultivate a different set of values and prerogatives.40 Said called them ‘amateurism’, a term that was meant to imply any activity fuelled by affection and care, and opposed to the motives of profit, selfishness or narrow specialisation.41 The amateur questioned professional routines, raised moral issues and pursued original and personal questions.42 This was an ethical response to material constraints: a choice to put a narrow career

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aside for an intellectual adventure. Edward Said championed the rewards of that adventure and lived out its difficult pleasures, too. Cumulatively, Said presented a daring and original portrait of contemporary intellectual life. The Palestinian professor created a new union of normative and materialist traditions, inspired (as he made clear in the first pages of Representations) both by the firm principles of French conservatives like Julian Benda and by the realistic social insights of the Sardinian Marxist Antonio Gramsci.43 This was a conception of the intellectual that broached the messy machinery in which brain-power and rhetorical arts were pressed into service. But it also deferred to the overriding importance of ethical and political standards. How was this creative coupling possible? From whence did it spring? Here, Said ventured his own hypothesis. It was the fractured textures of his particular experience, combined with a continuing meditation on its most lingering legacies, that Said believed was the basis of his most original ideas.

From experience to theory Edward Said was born in Jerusalem in 1935. He was brought up first in Egypt, then schooled and settled in the USA, and did not return to the land of Palestine for forty-five years. Economic privilege eased the pain of separation; still, the pressures of this exile made the writer and the man. As rendered in his memoir, Out of Place, expulsion nurtured an ‘unsettled sense of many identities’.44 Was he ‘Edward’, the English-speaking aspirant for higher honours, or ‘Said’, the displaced Arab youth?45 The exile is condemned to live among outsiders and to ‘endlessly’ define ‘what is yours on the inside’, Said later explained.46 Cut off from history, the bonds of belonging inevitably slip.47 The truth of what has happened to you is suppressed and distorted,48 and policy experts make careers out of confirming your stricken fate as isolated and stateless.49 For those marked by such terrible displacement, truth-telling is likely to seem an urgent necessity, rather than an epistemological quandary. Said sought to tell the truth of what had happened to his people and to ‘inventory’ the traces of power that had made him an ‘Oriental’ subject of the West.50 At the same time, expulsion from the routines of a settled life also liberated him from the expectations of a conventional career.51 In this way, he observed and navigated the

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entanglements of professionalism and found his way towards the deeper and more rewarding practice of ‘representation’. Ultimately, Said came to accept his disjointed status and to declare his preference for being ‘not quite right’, permanently ‘out of place’.52 Exile was by now not simply a burden but also a vantage. In Said’s later career, he considered it a metaphor for the ethical position of the most authentic of intellectuals: those who ‘remain outside the mainstream, unaccommodated, unaccepted, resistant’.53 The failure of formal political institutions confirmed this mission. Said resigned from the Palestine National Council in disgust at what he considered Yasser Arafat’s capitulation to Israel and the USA over the Oslo Peace Accords. He spoke up against the deprivation of civil liberties within the Palestinian Authority’s provenance, and never tired in his scrutiny of political friends as well as enemies.54 Even the ‘endless repetition’ of ‘well-known arguments’ among Palestinian insurgents attracted his ire.55 Understandably, this was a disappointment of hopes. As the years passed, so the opportunities for official political affiliation also declined: ‘Arafat is corrupt. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are no alternative,’ Said pronounced in 1995.56 Yet he still managed to maintain a political affiliation of a certain, if unorthodox, kind: ‘I have a constituency, and I feel that I am attached to a movement. The problem is that it’s not a very clear movement. It’s not a movement with leaders and parties.’57 The hard lessons of such political experience had more than an immediate or tactical significance. They also gave Said a deeper understanding of the complex place of the intellectual within political life. His own troubled and shifting affiliations thereby provided the raw materials for the subtle excursions on this topic that so often flowed from his pen. The tears of his political fights, in short, also watered the blooms of his theoretical garden. Exile, defeat and disappointment helped Said to develop a fresh approach to intellectual life. The specificity of his often heartwrenching experience served as the inspiration for his keenest insights. But was it also the source of limitations? Could his very particular path have concealed as much as exposed? Said’s conceptualisation of ‘the intellectual’ suffers from two principal weaknesses. Each of them can, in fact, be traced back to the selective nature of his intellectual experience and interests.

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Limitations Said’s theory of the intellectual suffers from his over-identification with the university and fixation with the literary. These shortcomings rest on the generalisation of his own, singular experience to the entire field of ‘truth-seekers’ or intellectuals. The personal basis of the Palestinian professor’s theory is therefore a weakness as well as a strength. First, Said’s work is strongly invested in the university as a site of intellectual discovery. Despite radical involvements, Said was always a creature of the campus. He spent most of his life in the congenial surrounds of the American ‘Ivy League’ colleges; the seminar room and the library were his most familiar environs. His scholarly career was stellar: studded with academic prizes, punctuated by honours, capped with ascension to the prestigious post of ‘University Professor’ at Columbia in New York. ‘Truth-seeking’, then, did not overly impede his climbing of the academic ladder. Unsurprisingly, the student of literature was grateful for such recognition, and he affirmed on many occasions that his ‘intellectual work’ had been enabled by his ‘life as a university academic’.58 Generalising from this experience, Said also waxed rhapsodic about universities of other kinds: ‘the American university’, he argued (singling out his own as a particularly outstanding case), ‘is still one of the few remaining places in the United States where reflection and study can take place in almost a utopian fashion.’59 At other times, he pushed the singularity of the campus even further: ‘the university is in a sense a protected space. Without wishing to romanticize the university, the university is the last remaining protected space.’60 Said’s identification of the university as the principal site of free intellectual work will doubtless cause many of those who scurry from overcrowded lecture to interminable meeting to raise at least one eyebrow. Without question, the view from the common room in Upper Manhattan is somewhat different from the provincial degree factory that runs over summertime and disciplines its members to ‘key performance indicators’. Less obviously, perhaps, Said’s proclamation of the university marginalises those who pursue truth outside its borders. This is an important historical oversight. Even in the nineteenth century, Ron Eyerman tells us, emergent intellectuals set themselves against

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‘academicians’ and the ‘establishment’ of the universities.61 Today, representation is assayed and truth sought in the fields of journalism and politics, and even in the culture industries of music and cinema. How might these knowledge producers fit into Said’s formulations? Are they intellectuals? Is it possible for them to pursue the search for truth or maintain a spirit of ‘amateur’ endeavour? Would they face special difficulties in such a quest, outside the ‘protected space’ of the campus? Might they develop a different model of how an ‘intellectual’ works? Said’s own experience provides no guidance on these matters, and he does not broach the issue directly. Readers are left with a ‘scholarly’ model, which may or may not be relevant to particular worlds that lie outside the campus. Said’s model is also based on the specific figure of the writer. Representations of the Intellectual does not consider the work of painters, film-makers, musicians or digital artists. His most important cases constitute a familiar roll-call of modernist writers: Sartre, Auerbach, Adorno, Benda and Fanon. In later publications, this narrow preference even hardened into a theoretical axiom. Said’s contribution to The Public Intellectual (2002) introduced the concept of the ‘writer-intellectual’.62 The neologism at least publicised the literary prejudice, but it also confirmed rather than challenged the restricted scope of his analysis. Given Said’s musicological passions, such narrowness is especially surprising. It leaves aside not just the mission of the hip-hop lyricist to represent, or the folk troubadour to challenge the seats of the powerful (doubtless not to Said’s forbiddingly classical tastes), but also the political documentaries of the last decade and the persistent power of the photographer to enlighten and disturb. Even more broadly, it also overlooks other tasks that intellectuals dedicated to the struggle for truth must also discharge with sensitivity, knowledge and care. In the hurly-burly of political battle, Edward Said sometimes recognised that intellectual labour could take many forms. When he railed at the failures of the Palestinian political leadership in 1995, it was the absence of disciplined intellectual work that seemed most troubling: ‘We have to feel that we are equal’, he affirmed, ‘that we can fight them [i.e. the Israeli government] on technical and scientific grounds, that we know what we are talking about—that we have

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discovered the information that we have for ourselves.’63 The discovery of such information—’technical and scientific’—could come only from the disciplined application of the intellect. However, it was precisely this kind of mental labour that was excluded from Said’s theoretical model by his fixation on the ‘writer-intellectual’. In addition to technical and scientific research, struggles for political justice require a great variety of mental application. Newspapers must be edited; speeches delivered; alliances struck; evidence assembled; meetings organised; supporters encouraged; demonstrations planned; marches choreographed; and strategies formulated. The disaffected must be coaxed back and would-be initiates wooed; the ignorant educated and the strident kept in line. Such activities rely at least partially upon the skills of ‘representation’ and the respect for truth. However, they go beyond the facility with words and the fidelity to principles that Said so artfully practised, and they raise broader questions of intellectual capacity. Edward Said had little to say of these matters, and this lessened the scope and persuasiveness of his theoretical pronouncements. The limits of Said’s model are starkest when the specific case of the social movement intellectual is considered in some detail. This designation would include giants of twentieth-century history, such as Mohandas Gandhi and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin; it would extend to the office-holders of political institutions, such as trade unions, and thence to the numberless readers, thinkers and truth-seekers that sustain the vibrancy of grassroots campaigns. The intellectual credentials of such a band are beyond question. Social movement activists produce knowledge and perform a ‘representative’ function.64 As Said predicts, they are also strongly affiliated with institutions (whether formal organisations, such as political parties, or informal networks of a fragmentary and transient nature). Beyond this point, however, they diverge from the expectations that this sincere academic laid out so clearly in Representations of the Intellectual. Activists need to organise, plan and mobilise, as well as to represent. While ‘truth’ is a frequent aspiration, they are typically oriented towards ‘strategic dilemmas’ rather than abstract questions of ‘rightness’ or authenticity.65 Such problems as ‘How do I build unity but maintain respect for difference?’ or ‘Can I expand organisation but maintain democracy?’ are usually more pressing than Said’s most

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basic question of intellectual practice: ‘How does one speak the truth? What truth? For whom and where?’66 Indeed, ‘truth’ is only one of the norms that the activist must consider. Others include: openness and discipline; individual and collective rights; and violence and non-violence, among others. Even more disturbingly, sometimes these norms run counter to each other. In this event, simply declaiming an adherence to ‘truth’ is unlikely to resolve competing claims. Neither is it likely to help arbitrate the difficult compromises that the political vocation requires. Like Said’s writer-intellectual, then, the social movement activist is familiar with the jagged edge of the irreconcilable and inconsistent. However, for such an activist, ‘irreconcilability’ does not derive from the disjunctive force of exile or the painful experience of displacement. Neither is it a condition to be celebrated as intrinsic to intellectual identity. On the contrary, for the activist ‘irreconcilability’ derives from the pull of opposing political forces and the appeal of rival principles. Contradictions emerge from the everyday chaos of a political campaign. They are both crippling and mundane. Consider some classic dilemmas: is violence defensible if it is used to accomplish the removal of some discrimination or inequality? Can the temporary suspension of democracy be justified if it allows for increasing political efficiency, order and success? Should a deal be struck with the powerful? And if it is, should those insurgents who reject it be somehow policed or held in check? These questions haunt the grand alliance and the local struggle alike. Individual activists are sure to have differing views on these questions, but they will be neither more ‘truthful’ nor more compromised than those of their antagonists. Successful activists will need to find a way of addressing such diversity and of managing the tensions around these painful, irrepressible conflicts. For the activist faced with such contradiction, a temporary reconciliation of disputants is the aim, not a clarification of incipient tensions (as Said would suggest). Equally, it is practical (and temporary) unity rather than absolute ‘truth’ that is the central object of concern. What will be the eventual outcome of this kind of intellectual struggle? In a previous study (jointly written with Sarah Maddison), I dubbed the knowledge improvised within social movements ‘activist wisdom’.67 Unlike the episteme of the laboratory or the lecture hall,

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activist wisdom is practically oriented and contextually bound. Although painfully acquired and artfully deployed, it is seldom recognised as an intellectual achievement. It does not come with a certificate. And activist wisdom is confirmed by swelling crowds and political victories rather than by the receipt of fresh publications or the distribution of academic laurels. Said’s neglect of this wisdom, I believe, seriously limits the breadth of his vision. Simply adding ‘activists’ to the assembly of cases will not address these shortcomings. The intellectuals of the social movement are but an example, and the specificity of the newsroom, the artist’s workshop or the television studio could be explored to similar effect. Consideration of each would complicate the unyielding focus on the values of ‘representation’ and ‘truth’ that defines Said’s approach to ‘the intellectual’. The underlying problem is that Said’s expectations of intellectual conduct and context are established on the very narrow base of the scholar and writer. Broadening the angle of vision beyond the campus and the garret therefore necessitates a substantial renovation of his theoretical framework, too. How might that be accomplished? And what resources might be harnessed to such a labour? As we shall see, other elements of Said’s writings are thankfully useful for such a purpose. Specifically, the concept of ‘affiliation’ is of particular assistance.

‘Representation’ + ‘affiliation’: Navigating the intellectual labour process The task of ‘representation’ is performed in many locations across complex societies. These include: educational bodies (such as universities and schools); elite cultural institutions (such as literary journals, galleries and museums); the popular journalism of the daily press; the culture industries of television, film, radio and popular music; social movements; religious institutions; and the businesses of the knowledge economy (including advertising and public relations). Each of these organisational environments is structured by particular aims, which bend ‘representation’ to a specific purpose. Educational bodies aim to instruct, for example, while social movements aspire to mobilise, religious institutions to foster worship, culture industries to incite consumption, and so on. Representation always implies more than the articulation of a message, and this

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places an uneven, variegated pressure upon those devoted to its difficult arts. Equally, these institutional domains are also ordered by differing forms of rule. They range from the clear hierarchies of an academic institution (in which the elder professor sits at the top) to the managerial prerogative of the businesses that make and advertise culture (the hegemony of the ‘bottom line’), and extend to the more democratic and inclusive world of social movements and political parties (although there will be differences between organisations within each of these fields, too). Location therefore matters—a point made in recent studies of intellectual work.68 Intellectuals affiliated with popular journalism will be enmeshed in a different kind of professional direction from priests or painters, for example. This will shape their opportunities for free expression and the conditions under which they fight to seek the truth. Finally, the separate worlds of ‘representation’ also possess differing traditions of intellectual behaviour. Such traditions enfold distinctive skills, styles and career paths. They are marked out most obviously by the exemplars of outstanding achievement and commitment that loom up within a particular field. Kant is esteemed within the university, for example, while Picasso’s committed experiments define the field of modern art. Walter Lippman’s career towers over contemporary journalism; Bob Dylan motivates the intellectuals of popular music; Martin Luther King Jr’s prestige in the struggle for social justice is unquestioned; while Charles Saatchi’s smooth presence serves to inspire those who create and manipulate images for sale. Each of these figures is a paradigm of ‘the intellectual’, shaped by the constraints and possibilities of a distinctive environment. Their struggles, achievements and concessions are resources for the scholar in search of understanding. They are also models for the aspiring intellectual to emulate and rework. Many readers will blanch at the inclusion of at least one of the notable figures cited above (I have a particular dislike of Saatchi, myself ). However, this is precisely the argument for the consideration of such cases. A contemporary sociology of intellectuals needs to encompass diversity. Restricting the model of ‘the intellectual’ to the narrow headlands of the university and the writer simply leaves the broader continent of ‘representation’ uncharted. Intellectual

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activities have multiplied over the last few decades, and the varieties of the intellectual have expanded, too. It is up to the student of ‘representation’ to try to catch up and thereby to begin to piece together a theory that includes as well as explains. The dangers of over-extension are more than outweighed by the perils of contraction. But once persuaded as to the merits of such a broad approach, how, precisely, might it be organised? By what conceptual devices? How can an exploration of the multiple words of representation be more than a descriptive and evocative journey? What will guide the analysis? A few scholars are beginning to study these questions. The most promising approach rests upon a close analysis of the ‘intellectual labour process’—an examination of how intellectuals use tools or techniques to transform cultural materials into new, valuable forms. Studies of the labour process are traditionally popular in industrial sociology and conventionally focus on the noisy clatter of the production line or the bureaucratic routines of the office.69 However, there are also studies of the laboratory organised in this fashion,70 and the approach has recently been extended to computer contractors,71 academics72 and knowledge workers of other kinds.73 Most impressively, Raewyn Connell and her collaborators have begun to produce a series of more expansive portraits of the labour process as it occurs in intellectual work upon nature, the economy, social relations, and knowledge and symbolism.74 This research has emphasised the importance of institutional environments, as well the disruptive force of market logics.75 However, it has expressly rejected conceptual attention to the individual intellectual (for an emphasis on collective production),76 and has not considered intellectual work that occurs outside market or employment relationships (such as the work of activists or affiliated artists). As a result, it still leaves many important areas unexplored. Those influenced by Said will still feel compelled to ask further questions: is it possible to examine the art of representation, the individuals who do the representing, and the contexts in which they do that work? Is there some way of preserving a simultaneous interest in the ethics of individual intellectuals? And can the processes of intellectual work outside the employment relationship also be directly considered? In my view, the concept of ‘affiliation’ is especially pertinent in this context. It can be thought of as a useful resource in the study of

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the intellectual labour process. The concept is a fruitful addition to a still-developing theoretical vocabulary: a flexible means of considering the multiple relationships that exist between intellectuals and the broader environment. How so? In Said’s hands, the concept of ‘affiliation’ suggests that the intellectual is independent, yet connected; responsible for individual moral choice, yet tied to the operation of institutions; capable of representation (and other tasks), yet partially answerable to the demands of others. In short, the concept suggests an intellectual labour process while also combining ‘materialist’ and ‘normative’ emphases. And the act of ‘affiliation’ is theoretically possible to any kind of institution: religious, political, cultural, educational or whatever. The many-sidedness of ‘affiliation’ is central to its conceptual appeal. It is also the source of its sometimes frustrating opacity. For this reason, some clarification is required. As explained earlier on, Said applied the concept in three distinct ways throughout his many writings and occasional comments. First, he treated affiliation as a form of willed political commitment; second, an involuntary or concealed tie; and third, a project to build a new cultural hierarchy (or ‘affiliative order’). Thought of in more abstract terms (which might be applied to fields other than literature), the idea of ‘affiliation’ therefore includes three different forms of relationship: • • •

commitment: the deliberate attachment of an intellectual to an institution membership: the involuntary attachment of an intellectual to an institution promulgation: the authoritative relationship between an intellectual and the ruling ideas of an institution.

In addition, embedded in Said’s broader discussions of intellectual conduct is a fourth relationship, which also deserves attention: •

critique: the questioning of an institution’s ruling ideas by an intellectual.

Together, commitment, membership, promulgation and critique specify the most important connections between an intellectual and

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an institution. Obviously, they are likely to operate differently in discrete organisational contexts. And this is precisely where the student of the contemporary intellectual will need to start digging: searching for comparative cases and trying to understand the many forms of representation and connection. Applying the concept of ‘affiliation’ to the multiple worlds of ‘representation’ is a tall order. If taken seriously, it implies at least seven discrete analytical tasks: to document its numerous forms; to apprehend how they shape the activity of representation; to inventory the supplementary tasks also dictated within each domain; to appreciate the norms that jostle for dominance; to investigate the tensions and dilemmas inherent in them; to trace through possible responses; and to analyse how affiliation thereby helps to produce different versions of what ‘the intellectual’ might be. It is only after this kind of research has been performed that a wider theory of the contemporary intellectual might be specified, rather than generalised from a narrow, elitist base. The challenge is exciting. Research informed by Said’s concept of ‘affiliation’ promises to expand our understanding of the processes that shape contemporary culture and politics, as well as the actors who populate it. It follows Said’s example, in searching for a sociology that is both materialist and normative. And it honours his spirit, in seeking to understand the operation of political power and in nurturing the forces that might oppose and upset it. The example of Edward Said revived the figure of the oppositional intellectual in the contemporary world. The concepts he developed provide a means to understand and question it. Now, it is the responsibility of his admirers to try to scrutinise and extend it. Acknowledgements Special thanks to Raewyn Connell, Nathan Hollier, Hsu-Ming Teo and an anonymous referee for helpful comments on an earlier draft. Thanks also to Ned Curthoys and Debjani Ganguly for tolerance and technical assistance. Notes 1

Posner, Public Intellectuals. The data is available publicly at http://home. uchicago.edu/~rposner/publicintellect.htm.

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2 3

4

5

6

7

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

I owe this useful distinction to Eyerman, Between Culture and Politics. See Benjamin, ‘The author as producer’, and Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Bourdieu, Rules of Art, offers a detailed discussion on these matters, focusing on the interventions of Zola around the Dreyfus affair. See p. 129 especially. This is most evident in Benda’s famous portrait of the ‘treason of the clerks’. See Benda, The Betrayal of the Intellectuals, and Aron, The Opium of the Intellectuals, for a slightly later account that focuses on Marxism. This view is put most famously in Foucault’s interview, ‘Truth and power’, available in Lemert, French Sociology. An extreme version is found in Bové, Intellectuals in Power. For more on the gender dynamics of contemporary intellectuals, see Connell, ‘Core activity’. Said, ‘American intellectuals and Middle East politics’, pp. 44–5. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 9. Ibid., p. 10. Ibid., pp. 8–9. Said, ‘American intellectuals and Middle East politics’, p. 45. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 65. Ibid., p. xi. Ibid. Said, ‘American intellectuals and Middle East politics’, p. 51. Said, cited in Bayoumi & Rubin, Edward Said Reader, p. xiii. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. xv. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 30. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, p. 241. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, pp. 72–3. For example, see: ibid., p. 80; Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, pp. 438–9. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, p. 76. Ibid., p. 115. Ibid., p. 239. Ibid., p. 240. Said, ‘American intellectuals and Middle East politics’, p. 48. Ibid. Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic, p. 19. Ibid., pp. 19–20. Ibid., p. 24. Ibid. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, pp. 423–4. Ibid., pp. 437–8. Ibid., p. 424. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 55. Ibid., pp. 56–9. Ibid., pp. 56–7. Ibid., p. 55.

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40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62

63 64

65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74

75

76

Ibid., p. 61. Ibid. Ibid., pp. 61–2. Ibid., p. 7. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, p. 401. This is discussed in Turner, ‘Edward Said and the exilic ethic’, p. 127. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, p. 271. Ibid., pp. 279–80. Ibid., pp. 24–5. Said, ‘Orientalism once more’, p. 873. Said, Orientalism, p. 25. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, pp. 379–80. Ibid., p. 415 Ibid., p. 373. For example, see Said, ‘Cry Palestine’. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, p. xi. Said, ‘Cry Palestine’, p. 27. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, pp. 438–9. Said, ‘Orientalism once more’, p. 870. Ibid. Said, in Bayoumi & Rubin, The Edward Said Reader, p. 436. Eyerman, Between Culture and Politics, p. 39. Said’s contribution is entitled ‘The public role of writers and intellectuals’. See Small, The Public Intellectual. Said, ‘Symbol versus substance’, p. 65. For a fuller argument on these matters, which focuses especially on intellectuals of the labour movement, see Irving & Scalmer, ‘Labour intellectuals in Australia’. See Jasper, ‘A strategic approach to collective action’, on this issue. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 65. See Maddison & Scalmer, Activist Wisdom, especially chapters 1 and 2. Connell & Crawford, ‘Are we postmodern yet?’. The most famous example is Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital. The most notable case is Latour & Woolgar, Laboratory Life. Barley & Kunda, 2004. Tancred-Sheriff, ‘Craft, hierarchy and bureaucracy’. Alvesson, Knowledge Work and Knowledge-Intensive Firms. See Connell, ‘Core activity’; Connell & Wood, ‘Globalization and scientific labour’; and Connell & Crawford, ‘Are we postmodern yet?’. For example, see Connell & Crawford, ‘Are we postmodern yet?’; Connell, ‘Core activity’. This argument is most developed in Connell & Crawford, ‘Intellectual workers and their work’, but the emphasis on collective ties and projects is also evident in Connell, ‘Core activity’.

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Bibliography Alvesson, Mats, Knowledge Work and Knowledge-Intensive Firms, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004. Aron, Raymond, The Opium of the Intellectuals, Doubleday, New York, 1957. Barley, Stephen R. & Gideon, Kunda, Gurus, Hired Guns, and Warm Bodies: Itinerant Experts in a Knowledge Economy, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2004. Bayoumi, Moustafa & Andrew Rubin (eds), The Edward Said Reader, Vintage Books, New York, 2000. Benda, Julian, The Betrayal of the Intellectuals, Beacon Press, Boston, 1955. Benjamin, Walter, ‘The author as producer’, in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, Schocken, New York, 1986. Bourdieu, Pierre, Rules of Art, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1996. Bové, Paul, Intellectuals in Power: A Genealogy of Critical Humanism, Columbia University Press, New York, 1986. Braverman, Harry, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1974. Connell, Raewyn, ‘Core activity: Reflexive intellectual workers and cultural crisis’, Journal of Sociology, vol. 42, no. 1, 2006, pp. 5–23. Connell, Raewyn & June Crawford, ‘Are we postmodern yet? The cultural politics of Australian intellectual workers’, Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 40, no. 1, 2005, pp. 1–15. ——‘Intellectual workers and their work: An empirical examination’, unpublished manuscript. Connell, Raewyn & Julian Wood, ‘Globalization and scientific labour: Patterns in a life-history study of intellectual workers in the periphery’, Journal of Sociology, vol. 38, no. 2, 2002, pp. 167–90. Eyerman, Ron, Between Culture and Politics: Intellectuals in Modern Society, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1994. Gramsci, Antonio, Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1971. Irving, Terry & Sean Scalmer, ‘Labour intellectuals in Australia: Modes, traditions, generations, transformations’, International Review of Social History, vol. 50, no. 1, 2005, pp. 1–26. Jasper, James, ‘A strategic approach to collective action: Looking for agency in social movement choices’, Mobilization, vol. 9, no. 1, 2004, pp. 1–16. Latour, Bruno & Steve Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts, Sage, Beverly Hills, CA, 1979. Lemert, Charles (ed.), French Sociology: Rupture and Renewal Since 1968, Columbia University Press, New York, 1981. Lenin, V. I., What is to be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement, Foreign Languages Press, Moscow, 1947. Maddison, Sarah & Sean Scalmer, Activism Wisdom: Practical Knowledge and Creative Tension in Social Movements, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2006. Posner, Richard, Public Intellectuals: A Study in Decline, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2002.

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Rabbani, Mouin, ‘Symbol versus substance: A year after the declaration of principles’ (interview with Edward Said), Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 60–72. Robbins, Bruce, ‘American intellectuals and Middle East politics: An interview with Edward W. Said’, Social Text, no. 19/20, 1988, pp. 37–53. Said, Edward W., ‘Cry Palestine’, New Statesman and Society, vol. 8, no. 378, 11 October 1995, pp. 24–7. ——‘Orientalism once more’, Development and Change, vol. 35, no. 5, 2004, pp. 869–79. ——Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient, Penguin Books, Ringwood, Vic., 1995. ——‘Projecting Jerusalem’, Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, 1995, pp. 5–14. ——‘Punishment by detail’, Monthly Review, October 2002, pp. 23–8. ——Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures, Vintage, London, 1994. ——The World, the Text, and the Critic, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983. Small, Helen (ed.), The Public Intellectual, Blackwell, Malden & Oxford, 2002. Tancred-Sheriff, Peta, ‘Craft, hierarchy and bureaucracy: Modes of control of the academic labour process’, Canadian Journal of Sociology, vol. 10, no. 4, 1985, pp. 369–90. Turner, Bryan S., ‘Edward Said and the exilic ethic: On being out of place’, Theory, Culture and Society, vol. 17, no. 6, 2000, pp. 125–9.

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3

Blogging Said Public intellectuals in the Internet age Gerard Goggin

The emancipatory potential—and the threats to it—of this new situation mustn’t be underestimated. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism. The most obvious characteristics of new things—characteristics that make a blog, for instance, appear to behave like prior forms, like diaries and journalism, etc.—are often concealments, protecting the form until a time when its strength is assured.1 The topic of public intellectuals and their role in contemporary societies is one of considerable importance and interest. As this volume testifies, the figure of Edward Said remains an exemplary one in imagining practices of public intellectual life, and his work offers a rich set of resources with which to return to continue such discussions. Above all, what Said signifies for me is a set of ruminations, provocations and strictures on the absolute worth and vitality of independent thinking, and of the desire to communicate with various publics. How does Said’s work, then, enable reflection on the Internet’s central role in contemporary public intellectual practice? To set the

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scene for such a consideration it is important to understand a little about the history of the Internet and what it has come to represent.

The Internet’s transformation of intellectual practice The Internet is often invoked in discussions of public intellectual practice and performance; indeed it is often indicated in discussions of Said’s work and legacy as a way forward. The Internet is very often seen to hold great promise as a site of opposition as well as offering new circuits of and modes for the circulation and representation of ideas, as well as for new forms of governance, resistance and democratic practice. As historians of the Internet have shown,2 the emergence of the Internet has been associated with various oppositional or contrarian values, drawing from the countercultural movements of the 1960s.3 The Internet has also been characterised by decentralised forms of organisation and structures and flows of power, which distinguish the way the Internet has been organised compared to, say, large media corporations or telecommunications carriers. Decisive also in the shaping of the Internet have been the open, deliberative and relatively democratic processes of discussion and consultation in its technical standards and governance. We also see the importance of ideas of cooperative practice, sharing and gift economy, whether through open or free source software or notions of the commons.4 Another motif in how the Internet has been characterised is the emphasis placed on its potential to offer alternative media and information sources, to supplement or counteract the lack of diversity in mainstream media. Finally, there has been growing evidence of the Internet’s capacity to provide a platform for the articulation, preservation and representation of subcultures and minority cultures (and languages).5 Intellectuals have avidly taken up the Internet, although many still remain cautious or suspicious. Scientists were the first, as they were directly involved in the creation and shaping of the Internet, and so devised and used various applications along the way, whether computer sharing, file transfer, email or games. By the 1980s the Internet provided a way for intellectuals to make available writings and other material by placing them on computer servers and sharing them, not least through email lists on particular topics. With the

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choking of email boxes by spam and viruses by early 2000, new cultures of use arose around email lists that were enormously important for intellectual life and action. Letters, postal services and mail had long been pivotal to intellectuals, especially those in exile, but email and email lists offered a new way to broadcast, circulate and publish ideas. When the World Wide Web began to be used by what eventually became billions of people, the tools of publishing and distribution were radically democratised, opening up new forms of cultural exchange and intellectual possibility. Educational, cultural, artistic, governmental and intellectual institutions have all to varying degrees been recast with the web. To take one example, the universities are saturated with Internet and other information and communication technologies in ways once provocatively imagined by Mark C. Taylor and Esa Saarinen in their 1994 Imagologies, but which now are quite unremarkable. So, to make a long story short, the conditions of intellectual life have significantly changed. Many intellectuals conceive and distribute their work via the web and Internet, where much critical comment and conversation also transpires. Notions of intellectual performance itself, as well as the relationship between intellectuals and the academy, have significantly altered. To consider this further, I now wish to discuss what Said has to say directly about the Internet.

The new public sphere and its ‘oratorical machines’ In his writing Said was not especially preoccupied with the Internet; nonetheless it is very interestingly referred to at length in one of his final pieces: ‘The public role of writers and intellectuals’, the coda to Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004). Finished in May 2003 and based on lectures he gave at Columbia, Oxford and Cambridge universities, Said characterises the contemporary scene as one in which the networked mode is decisive. Reflecting on the ‘new public sphere dominated by globalization’, Said suggests that this is a ‘wider setting’ in which both writers and intellectuals act, despite their differences elsewhere.6 Although Said does not ‘want to give up the possibility that there remains an area outside and untouched by the globalized one’, his main concern—and critique—is ‘with the writer’s role squarely within the actually existing system’.7 It is in this

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context that Said makes some apposite remarks about the implications of the Internet: Let me say something about the technical characteristics of intellectual intervention today. To get a dramatically vivid grasp of the speed to which communication has accelerated during the past decade, I’d like to contrast Jonathon Swift’s awareness of effective public intervention in the early eighteenth century with ours. Swift was surely the most devastating pamphleteer of his time, and during his campaign again the Duke of Marlborough in 1713 and 1714, he was able to get 15,000 copies of his pamphlet ‘The Conduct of the Allies’ onto the streets in a few days. This brought down the Duke from his high eminence but nevertheless did not change Swift’s pessimistic impression … that his writing was basically temporary, good only for the short time that it circulated.8 Said contrasts the ‘running quarrel between ancients and moderns’, and the longevity in this of such writers as Homer, Horace and Dryden, with the Internet: In the age of electronic media, such considerations are mostly irrelevant, since anyone with a computer and decent Internet access is capable of reaching numbers of people thousands of times greater than Swift did, and can also look forward to the preservation of what is written beyond any conceivable measure. Our ideas today of archive and discourse must be radically modified and can no longer be defined as Foucault painstakingly tried to describe them a mere two decades ago. Even if one writes for a newspaper or journal, the chances of multiplying reproduction and, notionally, at least, an unlimited time of preservation have wrought havoc on the idea of an actual, as opposed to a virtual audience.9 The fact that the idea of ‘an imagined community has suddenly acquired a very literal, if virtual dimension’ not only makes shared

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assumptions between writers and their audiences moot, it also poses difficulties that go to the heart of style: ‘Writing in this expanded new space strangely does have a further unusually risky consequence, which is that it is easy to be encouraged to say things that are either completely opaque or completely transparent, and if one has any sense of the intellectual and political vocation … it should of course be the latter rather than the former.’10 What has emerged, however, are the new possibilities for writing against the grain: While it is true and even discouraging that all the main outlets are, however, controlled by the most powerful interests and consequently by the very antagonists one resists or attacks, it is also true that a relatively mobile intellectual energy can take advantage of and, in effect, multiply the kinds of platforms available for use. On one side, therefore, six enormous multinationals presided by six men control most of the world’s supply of images and news. On the other, there are the independent intellectuals who actually form an incipient community, physically separated from each other but connected variously to a great number of activist communities shunned by the mainstream media, and who have at their actual disposal other kinds of what Swift sarcastically called oratorical machines. Think of the impressive range of opportunities offered by the lecture platform, the pamphlet, radio, alternative journals, occasional papers, the interview, the rally, the church pulpit, and the Internet, to name only a few … I am suggesting that by taking advantage of what is available in the forms of numerous platforms (or stages-itinerant, another Swiftian term) and an alert and creative willingness to exploit them by an intellectual … it is possible to initiate wider discussion.11 This calls for sustained intellectual work of great creativity and energy in many modes and contexts: One hypothesizes a better situation from the known historical and social facts. So, in effect, this enables intellectual

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performances on many fronts, in many places, many styles that keep in play both the sense of opposition and the sense of engaged participation … Therefore, film, photography, and even music, along with all the arts of writing can be aspects of this activity. Part of what we do as intellectuals is not only to define the situation, but also to discern the possibilities for active intervention … the intellectual as lookout.12 What is notable is how Said frames the Internet as one among many platforms, machines or stages, to be taken advantage of by a ‘mobile intellectual energy’, piecing together communities. Here Said is mindful of the power relations of media, as well as being attuned to what distinguishes media in the present conjuncture dominated by globalisation. With these comments of Said in mind, I turn now to a particular Internet technique or architecture of contemporary intellectual performance: blogging.

‘Stages-itinerant’: on blogging The beginnings of blogs are in online diaries, which date back to 1994, and the term weblog (‘blog’) is believed to have been coined in 1997 and popularised in 1999.13 Indeed it was in the late 1990s that blogs began to become popular, with the advent of blogging sites and technologies, such as Open Diary, LiveJournal, blogger.com, Pitas, Blogger and WordPress. What also emerged were new, innovative ways of linking and referring to, and commenting on, blog entries through permalinks, blogrolls, trackbacks (originally developed as a feature of the blog software Movable Type in 2002) and blog-dedicated search engines. As pioneer blogger Rebecca Blood observes: ‘In September of 2000 there are thousands of weblogs … Each is evidence of a staggering shift from an age of carefully controlled information provided by sanctioned authorities (and artists), to an unprecedented opportunity for individual expression on a worldwide scale. Each kind of weblog empowers individuals on many levels.’14 By 2001, blogs had begun to take on a wider cultural significance as a phenomenon, especially in the USA, in two related yet quite distinct senses. First, blogs offer new possibilities for writing about everyday life. Blogging is often prosaic, routine, unremarkable and

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diaristic, and aimed at intimate and micro-audiences as much as at wider publics. Second, blogs contribute to the reshaping of public spheres in the sense that Said alludes to above, when he talks of a ‘new public sphere’. For instance, there soon emerged a number of widely read and influential blogs by intellectuals, such as the gay, conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan’s AndrewSullivan.com (now The Daily Dish). The second Gulf War also gave impetus to the rise of blogging, with a host of blogs dedicated to commentary on the war on Iraq, so much so that these were termed ‘war blogs’.15 What particularly propelled the spectacular rise of blogs was their ability to provide a nearinstant as well as quickly and widely diffused commentary on unfolding events. A celebrated case of this is the blogging of US Senator majority leader Trent Lott’s alleged racist comments at a function honouring his once pro-segregationist colleague Senator Strom Thurmond. The rapid, widespread discussion of these remarks on blogs resulted in mainstream media outlets picking up the story, and eventually to Lott’s resignation. Since then blogs have often had a significant role in selecting and shaping news, and have also contributed new ideas and practices of journalism. The relationship of blogs to other media forms and organisations is now a much-debated one, not least because mainstream media as well as conventional politicians have incorporated blogging into their communication strategies. Very quickly blogging became regarded as a peculiar realm of its own, dubbed the blogosphere, glossed neatly here by Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs: The blogosphere, understood as the totality of all blogs and the communicative intercast between them through linking, commentary, and trackbacks, is perhaps unique in its structure as a distributed, decentred, fluctuating, ad hoc network of individual Websites that interrelate, interact, and (occasionally) intercreate with one another. And it is here, rather than in individual blogs, where the power of blogging is situated … In this environment, anyone with access to the network can participate; the barriers to entry are low, and there is no central authority to grant

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publishing rights or accreditation, nor to prevent bloggers from linking and responding to information or ideas found elsewhere on- or offline … bloggers have the chance to question their understanding of issues, engage in discussion, present their ideas, seek out approval for their notions, and grasp some sense of purpose, order, and hope.16 Some of the claims Bruns and Jacobs make here are exemplary of a wider set of cultural claims about the democratising power of digital technologies, but for the present what I want to emphasise is blogging’s felt potential for dissenting practice. Intellectuals have been prominent among those millions and millions of Internet users gaily blogging away. Blogging, at first glance, promises to be a fertile way to embody the characteristics of intellectuals, set out by Said, for instance in his often-cited 1993 Reith lectures, Representations of the Intellectual. Said inveighs against the danger that the intellectual might be seen as merely one of a number of professional types or roles in a knowledge- and information-intensive society. Instead he wishes to insist that: The intellectual is an individual with a specific public role in society that cannot be reduced simply to being a faceless professional, a competent member of a class just going about her/his business. The central fact for me is, I think, that the intellectual is an individual endowed with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to, as well as for, a public. And this role has an edge to it, and cannot be played without a sense of being someone … whose raison d’être it 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 …17 For Said the emblematic stance of such a vocation makes the personal inseparable from the public: There is therefore this quite complicated mix between the private and the public worlds, my own history, values,

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writings and positions as they derive from my experiences, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, how these enter into the social world where people debate and make decisions about war and freedom and justice. There is no such thing as a private intellectual, since the moment you set down words and then publish them you have entered the public world. Nor is there only a public intellectual … There is always the personal inflection and the private responsibility, and those give meaning to what is being said or written.18 I am struck by this dual emphasis in Said’s work, and how this dovetails so neatly with blogging—which is nothing if not something that works at the seams of the private and public. It can be suggested that the construction and articulation of the self arguably remains what is most distinctive about blogging, something that can be seen in the genres that blogging takes from and reworks such as the diary,19 the journal and notebook.20 In an ordinary sense, and in Said’s sense too, intellectuals have been at the vanguard of this phenomenon. There may be more or less impersonal blogs, but blogging more often than not issues from the experience of the blogger observing, analysing and reacting to the world (or at least the blogosphere), and then articulating this in and to a public world. This is the case, it can be argued, with joint, collaborative, multiauthored, even fictional blogs and even corporate, ’official’, organisational and business blogs. As well as the hundreds of millions of people blogging daily to constitute the blogosphere we can also identify a rather large subset of blogging intellectuals as plausible legates of Said’s sense of ‘intellectual performances on many fronts’. Take, for example, Juan Cole, a prominent academic blogger on the Middle East, and critic of the war in Iraq and the continuing occupation of Palestine, who was declined tenure at Yale University. Cole is a distinguished scholar, as professor of modern Middle East and South Asian history at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and president of the Middle East Studies Association. Although two departments at Yale recommended he be offered a tenured position, a senior committee declined to do so; a decision that many believe was due to his unrepentant and outspoken blog (http://juancole.

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com) and the campaign run against it by the right (although direct evidence of this influencing Yale’s decision has not been adduced). The Cole case is indeed a signal one, and has been widely discussed.21 There has been a recurrent anxiety about blogging in the US academy because it is felt by many to be an unscholarly pursuit and, more to the point, to leave too many unedited, sloppy thoughts littering the public domain when it comes to trying to secure or sustain an academic post. Thus the Chronicle of Higher Education has carried a number of articles decrying or defending blogging. This came into the open with the Cole case. For his part, Cole was not for trimming (as Said often put it) in the face of pressure and responded trenchantly: The question is whether Web-log commentary helps or damages an academic’s career. It is a shameful question. Intellectuals should not be worrying about ‘careers,’ the tenured among us least of all. Despite the First Amendment, which only really protects one from the government, most Americans who speak out can face sanctions from other institutions in society … Academics cannot easily be handed a pink slip, but they can be punished in other ways. The issues facing academics who dissent in public and in clear prose are the same today as they have always been. Maintaining a Web log now is no different in principle from writing a newsletter or publishing sharp opinion in popular magazines in the 1950s.22 In Cole’s case, of course, while he may have been rejected by Yale, he was able to maintain the academic post he held at Michigan. For Cole what is different about public intellectual practice now compared to before is how the Internet uniquely amplifies one’s voice, at least for the present: ‘The difference today is that, because of Internet neutrality (which may not be long with us), an academic’s voice is potentially as loud as or louder than those of corporate-backed pundits … My Web log is, for the moment, certainly a mass medium. The ability to speak directly and immediately to the public on matters of one’s expertise, and to bring to bear all one’s skills to affect the public debate, is new and breathtaking.’23

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For Cole, the Internet helps public intellectuals to articulate dissenting views: ‘Powerful economic and political forces in American society would like to monopolize the discourse on these matters for the sake of their own interests, which may not be the same as the interests of those of us in the general public. Obviously, such forces will attempt to smear and marginalize those with whom they disagree. Before the Internet, they might have had an easier time of it.’24 Cole’s response to the furore occasioned by the Yale incident is a classic defence of the public intellectual in the fighting spirit of Said’s beleaguered position in criticising dominant views on the Middle East from inside the USA. In the spirit of Said, Cole dismisses the selfserving preoccupation of the narrowly career-minded academic response to blogging, but he also remains attentive to the forces shaping the Internet. Hence his reference to net neutrality, a concept in the USA in particular that stands in for a set of concerns about the maintenance of the Internet for free and diverse cultural expression and exchange. Another widely read liberal intellectual blogger who did allude to some of these questions in his response to the Cole affair is Michael Bérubé, a Penn State University professor teaching literature and cultural studies. Bérubé has been a prominent ‘liberal’ professor in the USA since the early 1990s, speaking out on the politics of the academy and taking a stance in the ‘culture wars’. More recently he has also been a prominent blogger, mixing theory and polemic with tales of everyday life. As such he has also spoken out on the debates about the social function of blogging. Bérubé’s opening sally was a robust defence of Cole: ‘Juan Cole’s blogging may, indeed, have cost him a job at Yale … In one way, Cole is sui generis: He’s a prominent academic blogger who writes about the contemporary Middle East.’25 Like Cole, Bérubé has also found blogging useful in quickly reaching wide-ranging audiences: ‘I don’t know whether my own blogging has enhanced or damaged my academic career. I know it’s brought more public attention to some of my academic work; I know it’s allowed me to respond quickly and effectively to people like David Horowitz, and I’ve enjoyed debunking some of his more lunatic claims about me— and about liberal professors in general.’26 Unlike Cole, however, he also highlights the personal, so-called trivial side of blogging: ‘I do,

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however, engage in bloggy banter now and then, and I am not averse to snark and raillery … some of my blogging is casual and can be selfindulgent.’27 I quote this piece of Bérubé because it raises in the context of a clamorous debate on public intellectuals the place of the concerns of everyday life that blogging has thus far characteristically presented. In this way I think that blogging presses upon us ideas about intellectuals and their connections with their communities that feminism in particular has foregrounded, with its questioning of the valorisation of dominant, gendered notions of the public and the reified ideas of the private sphere. It is such a view of blogging that Melissa Gregg explores under the rubric of a ‘counter-heroics’ of intellectual endeavour. Gregg is concerned to critique a certain vein of cultural studies in particular that takes grand, heroic but rather self-serving and ultimately not especially useful gestures for granted. Gregg points out: ‘Within a wider discourse of cyber-utopianism, blogs have been celebrated for their capacity to reflect experiences that have been trivialized, denigrated, or ignored in the past, particularly the views of women and younger members of society.’28 While Gregg proceeds to note the truth in this contention, she also critiques gendered categories in which the possibilities of blogs are imagined. In the light of this reminder, it certainly is worth noting that for many bloggers, more especially with intellectuals producing their own blogs, this medium and its genres call for quite different representations and performances from other platforms they may use or texts they author—and that we are still at an early stage of understanding the textual, social and political dynamics of this new cultural form. In approaching blogs, we would do well to eschew the utopian, optimistic and dystopian carping tendencies in thinking about blogging. Kris A. Cohen provides a shrewd, pointed critique of such antinomian reception of blogs—something with its antecedents in the history of new technology, including earlier forms of the Internet— when he cautions us against seeing blogs as, by turns, either ‘counterpublics’ or utterly trivial: ‘… if blogs are an alternative public, or positioned as such, this does not automatically imply they are revolutionary or have revolutionary intent … naysayers and boosters alike cast blogs as cultural outsiders, and thus, as a challenge to the

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dominant culture. This is not a narrative that blogs alone produce, it is one they have been caught up in.’29 I mention this strain of theorising of blogs and the Internet, and the transformed setting of intellectuals they represent, not only because I think such discussions are inescapable if we do wish to grasp our present situation but also because I think they take Said’s ruminations on the intellectual’s investment springing from the personal very seriously.

The cosmopolitics of blogging Like many other new technologies, blogging has been alternately celebrated and reviled. It has been celebrated for its relatively decentralised structure, a feature of the wider Internet, which has made it more difficult to regulate than other established media. Although it has changed with the takeover and acquisition of blogging and social software technologies and sites by larger media interests,30 the political economy of blogging still suggests a bias towards diversity rather than concentration—and so blogging remains a fertile platform for cultural expression and production. Despite this, blogging and the wider Internet should not be viewed as inherently democratic—or a ready-made architecture for contemporary public intellectual practice. Despite recurrent debunking of such techno-optimistic and utopian views of the Internet (hard to sustain, you’d think, in the face of the established media industry’s intense interest), such panglossian views about the Internet remain. Yet as the Internet has become better understood and more widely studied, the politics of the Internet itself has become better appreciated—and moved centre-stage in discussions of media and culture. This is evident, for instance, in the debates about net neutrality, mentioned above, and in the intense debate over values inscribed in Internet technology (shorthand: the politics of code),31 the Internet commons and the development of Internet cultures. To better understand intellectuals in the Internet age, there is a need to engage further with these critical accounts and debates. This is a particular challenge for those informed by the legacy of Said’s work. As we are well aware, Said worked extensively on the politics of knowledge and culture, and contributed important accounts of the media’s role in this, notably in his 1981 book Covering Islam. Yet there

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is a lacuna in Said’s work, it seems to me, when it comes to grappling in depth with the nature of media and its cultural form and representations. Here I agree with Peter Manning’s account of Said’s surprising disinterest in the rise of media and cultural studies during the 1970s and 1980s.32 The difficulty I think is this: Said is shrewd on the broad outlines of new forms of communication, especially electronic mediated ones. Indeed he often remarks on these media in his views on public intellectuals, according them centrality in contemporary life, as in this passage from Humanism and Democratic Criticism: ‘A new, bustling traffic between private and public sphere, one interpenetrating and modifying the other, has shifted the ground almost totally, so that … forces such as migration and electronic mediation have acquired shaping roles in the production of contemporary culture and within education …’33 Characteristically Said sees technology and media as fundamentally connected with other social, political and economic phenomena, and so is always mindful of questions of power. However, he is not interested in delving further into the dynamics of how new technology constitutes new social relations and what concepts and tools we might need to grasp this. Take, for instance, the following discussion: To read Tolstoy, Mahfouz, or Melville, to listen to Bach, Duke Ellington, Elliott, or Carter, is to do something different from reading the newspaper or listening to the taped music you get while the phone company or your doctor puts you on hold … I advocate attentive reading in all cases … But in the main, I would agree with Adorno that there is a fundamental irreconcilability between the aesthetic and nonaesthetic that we must sustain as a necessary condition of our work as humanists.34 Despite the disclaimer, the prized ‘attentive reading’—and presumably the theoretical and political labour in which it is implicated— seems reserved for instances of the aesthetic in which media and popular cultural forms play an ambiguous role. While there may be irreconcilable tensions between these constitutive aspects of Said’s thought and cultural studies accounts that

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call for attentive reading of media (which often problematically forecloses on the aesthetic, it must be said),35 I tend to think otherwise, and would argue for the productiveness of a rapprochement. First, Said cues us to attend to the politics of knowledge and representation occurring in the formation of new texts, archives, practices and modes of governance. While there has been important critical work regarding the Internet, much remains to be done—quite urgently, given the threats and changes associated with convergent media at the present time. Such critical understandings about the Internet and its power relations, as well as what it signifies for general questions of intellectual and culture life, also need to be broadly disseminated as they are still not widely understood.36 An impressive thing about Said’s thinking here is how he captures the volatile and labile nature of contemporary intellectual life under globalisation, which the Internet partakes of but also centrally supports. Second, blogging may offer an opportunity to think further about the important personal nature and investments in public intellectual practice—something that Said emphasises in his theorisation. There are debates to be had here, about the quotidian and quirky nature of much blogging, and the address to micro-audience, and how we understand this. Nonetheless blogging insistently presents the contradictions around the personal, its enactment and construction, and how it keys into—indeed is central to—public intellectual performance. Third, a specifically Said-inspired route towards critically intervening in the Internet—and so a prime site of contemporary intellectual practice—is the project of decolonising the technology and the way it is being incorporated into media. For instance, there is the sorely overdue need to recognise and rethink the Internet as a nonWestern form.37 The Internet has been imagined for much of its time as an Atlantic technology, invented by North American military research agencies, with important scientific and technical contributions from British and Europeans, and used overwhelmingly by the West, especially with English as its lingua franca. This vision is no more. The major cultural and language groups of the Internet include Chinese, Japanese, Korean and those of the Indian subcontinent, not to mention Spanish, throughout the Americas, and a host of large and very tiny groups.38

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Blogging is a case in point, because to date it has been mostly assumed to be a US phenomenon, so how it has been shaped and imagined bear the marks of this quite specific, if often hegemonic matrix. It is now widely acknowledged that numerically the majority of bloggers are active elsewhere than the USA, with the largely unmapped and untheorised blogosphere being created from people of many countries, languages and cultural settings.39 It is also recognised that blogging has become an important alternative source of information across national boundaries and epistemic cordon sanitaire, as the role of blogging in the second Gulf War showed, with many in Western countries as well as around the world turning to blogs for non-authorised flows of reportage, commentary, images and media. Our ideas of blogging intellectuals—indeed the scene and prospects of contemporary intellectuals in general—stand to benefit from a thoroughgoing analysis and genuinely cosmopolitan reconsideration in which Said still has much indeed to offer us. Notes 1 2

3

4 5

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

16

17

Cohen, ‘A welcome for blogs’, p. 171. Internet history is in its infancy, but an excellent treatment is Abbate’s Inventing the Internet. On the history of the Australian internet see contributions to Goggin, Virtual Nation. See Goggin, ‘Digital rainbows’, on the importance of countercultural movements to the early Australian internet. See Lessig, The Future of Ideas, and Benkler, The Wealth of Networks. See Goggin & McLelland, Internationalizing Internet Studies; also Danet & Herring, The Multilingual Internet. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 129. Ibid. Ibid, pp. 129–30. Ibid, p. 130. Ibid, p. 131. Ibid, p. 133. Ibid, p. 140. ‘Blog’, Wikipedia. Blood, ‘Weblogs’. See for example Arik Hesseldahl’s article in Forbes Magazine entitled ‘Best war blogs’, www.forbes.com/2003/03/20/cx_ah_0320warblogs.html, viewed 12 April 2007. Bruns & Jacobs, ‘Introduction’, p. 5. I draw extensively on contributions to Uses of Blogs because it is one of the few critical accounts of blogging available. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 11.

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18 19 20 21

22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

31 32

33 34 35

36

37

38 39

Ibid., p. 13. Van Dijck, ‘Composing the self’. Halavais, ‘Scholarly blogging’, p. 124. See for instance the various perspectives collected by The Chronicle of Higher Education, http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i47/47b00601.htm. Cole, ‘Can blogging derail your career?’. Ibid. Ibid. Bérubé, ‘The attention blogs bring’. Ibid. Ibid. Gregg, ‘Posting with passion’, p. 153. Cohen, ‘A welcome for blogs’, p. 167. Key takeovers in the area of blogging and social software include Google’s purchase of blogger.com in 2003 and YouTube in 2006, and News Corp’s acquisition of MySpace in 2005. Lessig’s Code is the classic statement here. Manning, ‘Edward Said, post-colonialism, the mass media, and his cultural critics’. See also Manning’s Us and Them, Random House, Sydney, 2006. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 43. Ibid., p. 63. For reconsideration of the disavowal of the aesthetic in cultural studies see Bérubé, The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies, and McKee, Beautiful Things in Popular Culture. For an exemplary critical treatment of blogging, see Lovink, Zero Comments. For an early contribution to critiquing the occidental imagining of the internet, see Nakamura, Cybertypes. Danet & Herring, The Multilingual Internet. See Goggin & McLelland, Internationalizing Internet Studies.

Bibliography Abbate, Janet, Inventing the Internet, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1999. Benkler, Yochai, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2006. Bérubé, Michael (ed.), The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies, Blackwell, Malden, MA, 2004. ——‘The attention blogs bring’, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 July 2006, vol., 52, no. 47, p. B8, http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i47/47b00802. htm. ‘Blog’, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Blog&oldid=954 08001. Blood, Rebecca, ‘Weblogs: A history and perspective’, Rebecca’s Pocket, 7 September 2000, rev. 25 October 2006, www.rebeccablood.net/essays/ weblog_history.html. Bruns, Axel & Jacobs, Joanne, ‘Introduction’, in Uses of Blogs (eds Axel Bruns &

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Joanne Jacobs), Peter Lang, New York, 2006, pp. 1–8. Bruns, Axel & Jacobs, Joanne (eds), Uses of Blogs, Peter Lang, New York, 2006. Cohen, Kris A., ‘A welcome for blogs’, Continuum, vol. 20, 2006, pp. 161–73. Cole, J. R. I., ‘Can blogging derail your career’, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 July 2006, vol. 52, no. 47, p. B9, http://chronicle.com/free/ v52/i47/47b00902.htm. Danet, Brenda & Herring, Susan C. (eds), The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture, and Communication Online, Oxford University Press, New York, 2007. Goggin, Gerard, ‘Digital rainbows: Inventing the Internet in northern New South Wales’, in Belonging in the Rainbow Region (ed. Helen Wilson), Southern Cross University Press, Lismore, NSW, 2003, pp. 227–46. Goggin, Gerard (ed.), Virtual Nation: The Internet in Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2004. Goggin, Gerard & McLelland, Mark (eds), Internationalizing Internet Studies, Routledge, New York, 2007. Gregg, Melissa, ‘Feeling ordinary: Blogging as conversational scholarship’, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, vol. 20, 2006, pp. 147–60. ——‘Posting with passion: Blogs and the politics of gender’, in Uses of Blogs (eds Axel Bruns & Joanne Jacobs), Peter Lang, New York, 2006, pp. 151–60. Halavais, Alexander, ‘Scholarly blogging: Moving towards the visible college’, in Uses of Blogs (eds Axel Bruns & Joanne Jacobs), Peter Lang, New York, 2006, pp. 118–26. Lessig, Lawrence, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Basic Books, New York, 2000. ——The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, Random House, New York, 2001. Lovink, Geert, Zero Comments: Kernels of Critical Internet Culture, Routledge, New York, 2007. Manning, Peter, ‘Edward Said, post-colonialism, the mass media, and his cultural critics’, paper given to the ‘Edward Said: Debating the Legacy of a Public Intellectual’ symposium, 14–16 March 2006, Australian National University, Canberra. McKee, Alan, Beautiful Things in Popular Culture, Blackwell, Malden, MA, 2007. Nakamura, Lisa, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet, Routledge, New York, 2002. Said, Edward W., Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1981. ——Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2004. ——Representations of the Intellectual, Vintage, New York, 1994. Taylor, Mark C. & Saarinen, Esa, Imagologies: Media Philosophy, Routledge, London and New York, 1994. Van Dijck, José, ‘Composing the self: Of diaries and lifelogs’, Fibreculture, no. 3, http://journal.fibreculture.org/issue3/issue3_vandijck.html.

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4

Exile and representation Edward Said as public intellectual Bill Ashcroft

The year is 1967. A young professor of comparative literature at Columbia University is well on the way to making a name for himself as a distinguished academic when something happens to him that will change his life. The Six-Day War seems to come straight out of Hollywood: a small force of good guys with state-of-the-art American equipment defeats a large force of wild unruly Oriental madmen in record time. Everybody is on the side of the good guys. Those shifty henchmen of General Nasser are getting what they asked for. The media offers no space for discussion, no acknowledgement of the history of Israeli belligerence. Above all there is no attempt to rise above the simplest of stereotypes. One Israeli pilot is traded for a thousand Egyptian infantry. Suddenly the USA has a clear, very identifiable and gratifyingly loathsome Other—the Arab—which includes anybody and everybody from Morocco to Afghanistan. And it includes Edward Said. In a moment the distinguished professor has discovered the astonishing power of the press, the enormous capacity of that power to produce knowledge and the helplessness to which the subject of representation is condemned.

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This extraordinary moment will produce the trilogy Orientalism (1978), The Question of Palestine (1980) and Covering Islam (1981) and, in a sense, it also produces the public intellectual Edward Said. Because it is in that moment that Said ‘discovers’ exile.1 He and his family had certainly known what it meant to be refugees, albeit middle-class ones, but suddenly the refined and cosmopolitan academic discovers the poignancy of exile. Exile for Said is the discovery that now he, too, is an outsider, the sudden realisation that he lived ‘between worlds’. But how could this elite and patrician intellectual consider himself a cultural outcast? The suddenness of his encounter with the experience of exile goes some way to explaining this: exile is not simply being away from home, it is the displacement of being intellectually, culturally and mythically ungrounded. Exile is metaphoric, a matter of the spirit as well as a matter of geography. But for that reason, exile becomes the perfect state—in its heroic isolation— for Said’s ideal of the intellectual. This is the first of the many paradoxes that distinguish Edward Said’s career: the public intellectual must be exiled to generate effective criticism, yet must journey into the centre to make his criticism heard. Said chooses exile as the ideal location of his Romantic figure of the intellectual, yet he becomes an eminent New Yorker and American public voice. (There are numerous other paradoxes in Said’s ideal: the intellectual must be passionate yet detached, amateur yet professional, articulate yet accessible, able to speak of but not for.) Said’s idea of an intellectual, by definition, is a person who cannot be the kind of insider who speaks on behalf of an unjust or corrupt regime. His intellectual is always someone who opposes power. In short, the intellectual is an outsider who must stay inside to be heard. We can better understand how the acclaimed academic could see himself as an outsider when we ponder Said’s career as a public intellectual. In 2000 the New York Times voted Edward Said as one of the most important figures of the twentieth century. One would think he was very much an insider. In October 2003, just before Said died, the aptly named Stanley Kurtz, speaking from the dark heart of a right-wing think tank, testified to the full house of Congress that postcolonial theory had turned the heads of a generation of students and for Edward Said ‘ideas are merely competing truths that we can either accept or reject’. ‘In this view’, according to the fevered imagination of

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Kurtz, ‘to allow ideas to compete freely in the market place is to license oppression.’2 This extraordinary non sequitur was proffered to support the amendment to the H.R.3077 Bill legislating that members of national security agencies would have a permanent place on the boards of Middle Eastern studies. Edward Said has made a greater impact on the intellectual life of the USA than almost any other thinker in the last fifty years, but the experience of being a victim of such misrepresentations as Kurtz’s, the experience that generated his study of Orientalism, was unremitting and remained with him all his life. A couple of months before he died, in an article called ‘Rule by the blind: Imperial arrogance and the vile stereotyping of Arabs’, he wrote: The great modern empires have never been held together only by military power … The key element was imperial perspective, that way of looking at a distant foreign reality by subordinating it in one’s gaze, constructing its history from one’s own point of view, seeing its people as subjects whose fate can be decided by what distant administrators think is best for them. From such willful perspectives ideas develop, including the theory that imperialism is a benign and necessary thing.3 We can recognise the approach of Culture and Imperialism in this, but it was published in the online journal Counterpunch, a title that is relevant to the way in which he saw both the role of the intellectual and the function of criticism. Exiled, at the edges of professional and technical partisanship, the ‘specular border intellectual’ (to use Abdul Jan Mohamed’s very apt phrase) represents no constituency but the constituency of the excluded, the non-aligned, the victims of power—a movement ‘without leaders or parties’. Such an intellectual ‘utilizes his or her interstitial cultural space as a vantage point from which to define … other, utopian possibilities of group formation’.4 Said’s criticism is not advanced in the service of a formal agenda but in contrapuntal response to power, specifically the imperial power to represent its Others. The ‘truth’ he speaks to that power is always a counter-truth, a ‘counterpunch’. For this to be a counterdiscourse it must not claim too much representative power; it must

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not speak for others. What we might call ‘contrapuntal representation’ speaks for and from the self and speaks against the excesses of power from a position of exclusion, of exile. The exile of the specular border intellectual is a removal to a strangely dislocated cultural space. Exile, for Said’s intellectual, is ‘restlessness, movement, constantly being unsettled, and unsettling others’.5 Said took his own inspiration from such influential European intellectuals as Swift and Auerbach, who produced monumental works out of their exile, and Adorno, ‘who rejected all inherited systems of thought and cultural affiliation’.6 Although all three can be seen to be flawed in one way or another, and are not exiled by violent colonial dispossession, it is the exilic situation of their labour that inspires Said—even Swift, whose exile in Ireland produced ‘a mind flourishing not to say benefiting from such productive anguish’.7 But despite this inspiration, his experience is at one with the deep pain of loss felt by refugees everywhere, a loss that makes the whole world a foreign land. Paradoxically, Said’s inspiration is the classic European intellectual, yet the only time he used the word ‘postcolonial’ in a title was in an article on postcolonial intellectuals.8 Said’s conviction is that exile generates creativity; his experience is that cultural exile resides in the person as a permanent sense of loss, a ‘mind of winter’. This is a dramatic, even romantic, view of global diaspora, whereby the experiences of home and belonging have become much more diffuse as mobility increases. But he regularly reminds us that the equation of exile and loss is particularly pertinent for the Palestinian people, many of whom experience exile and loss in sight of their homeland. This is, in his resonant and oft-repeated phrase, their ‘uniquely punishing destiny’.9 Such a position has underpinned his belief in the importance of criticism: the critic should ‘speak truth to power’ and should not be a ‘joiner’, should not speak from a partisan position (an ideological ‘home’) but should criticise power in all its manifestations. The intellectual has to strive for freedom of opinion and expression, even if it means taking a stand against one’s own government, as in the Gulf War, or appearing an irascible killjoy by speaking out against the Oslo peace accord at a time when it was regarded with almost rapturous euphoria. The intellectual follows such a path not for personal glory but to change the moral climate. ‘Speaking the truth to power’, says

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Said, ‘is no panglossian idealism: it is carefully weighing the alternatives, picking the right one, and then intelligently representing it where it can do the most good and cause the right change.’10 Let us think, then, for a moment about that phrase: ‘Intelligently representing it …‘ Here we come to the core of Said’s role as a public intellectual, the core of his argument with post-structuralist theory and with power, the core of his idea of the intellectual’s practice. His perception of the power of discourse, the power of the dominant gaze to ‘produce’ the reality of the Orient, is a perception of the power of representation, and counter representation is the act, sometimes the only act, of resistance available to the subject of power. Said is therefore always one who wrestles with the corrigibility of representation, who stands not just in the gaze but also in the eye of the dominant discourse. Exile is for him the constant ambivalence of see-er and seen, the constant need to produce a counter-representation, which he does in his work on orientalism and imperialism and as spokesman for the Palestinian cause. The key to Said’s legacy as a public intellectual, then, is the issue of representation, and this is a very vexed term that we’ll need to examine. Representation doesn’t come from just anywhere; and of overriding importance for the exiled intellectual, both practically and theoretically, is the issue of location, specifically the intellectual’s location in the world. This is the core of worldliness, which itself is the driving energy of all Said’s work. Both text and critic have a location from which and within which they speak. Worldliness demands a Secular Criticism, not bound to the priestly rites of High Theory; it demands amateurism rather than technical professionalism, because only then can it speak to the world outside the confinement of professional discourse. No matter how strongly intellectuals may believe that their interests are of ‘higher things or ultimate values’, he contends, 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’.11 His preference for amateurism was not a call for unprofessional dilettantism but for an intellectual activity that emerges from a love of the subject rather than a rarefied technical specialisation that cuts

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itself off from the public. Amateurism is not unrelated to the importance of exile in Said’s work, for both of these conditions place the intellectual at the edges of discourse from which it may be more easily disrupted. This is particularly true in the contemporary media environment where only the professional discourse of economics or politics can be accepted as topical and relevant. The professional, says Said, ‘claims detachment on the basis of a profession and pretends objectivity, whereas the amateur is moved neither by rewards nor by the fulfillment of an immediate career plan but by a committed engagement with ideas and values in the public sphere’.12 Exile, then, the separation from one’s country, and thus from thoughtless nativism, can be a powerful motivation for social and political critique. But amateurism, the separation from one’s own highly professionalised discourse, can locate that critique more firmly in the world. Worldliness is curiously appropriate to Said’s work since his paradoxical identity as a Palestinian, a celebrated (and irritating) public intellectual and a widely fêted academic cannot be easily separated from his critical theory. Said’s own peculiar locatedness, the paradox of his identity, is so pronounced, and such a central feature of his cultural theory, that he forces us to reassess the nature of the link between the text and its author and to locate the space from which the intellectual speaks. This space, like Said’s ideal of the intellectual itself, is a necessarily utopian space because it hinges on the belief in change, even if its foreshadowed utopia is ambiguous and unattainable. But this space is above all the location from which, for Said, the intellectual represents.

Representation The discussion of representation, then, must begin (and perhaps end) with the verb: with the action of representing. The issue of representation meets with a great deal of resistance in contemporary theory, so it would appear that Edward Said’s focus on representation needs examination. Indeed, discussing representation leads us directly into his ambivalent relationship with Foucault. I don’t want to enter the endless debate generated by Orientalism about how much or how well Said uses Foucault. Said blithely claimed that he used just as much Foucault as he needed. But his relationship with Foucault,

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particularly on the subject of power, is much more complex than it appears. In reading Said contrapuntally against Foucault we find a model for the ambivalent relationship between the public intellectual and the theorist, between the political subject and the academic world, and this focuses on the concept of representation. On the face of it, Foucault killed off representation. In his early works, he describes two radical shifts in the functioning of language. The first is the shift from language as representation in the Classical epistemé to language as subject centred in the Modern. In the Modern epistemé, Foucault states, language is ‘rooted’ not in the things perceived but in the active subject.13 The second shift occurs when both the stability of names in the Classical system and the stability of the speaking subject in the Modern have both been overthrown. Now it is not the speaking subject who ‘represents’ but a system of recursive rules that allow certain statements to emerge properly and others to be marginalised: the rules that allow representations to be made. ‘[It is] the very system of language and not the subject who speaks.’14 This anonymous system of language, this ensemble of relations, is called the archive, and it is this network of knowledge that archaeology analyses. These systemic rules, the rules governing what statements can and cannot be made, form the basis of the more popularly known ‘discourse’. In many ways the trilogy produced around the end of the 1970s by Edward Said was classic Foucault. The examination of the (mis)representation of the Orient, Palestine and Islam is committed to the idea of discourse as a system that defines and produces the objects of knowledge. It also accepts that discourse influences how ideas are put into practice and used to regulate the conduct of others. This discourse of orientalist exclusion extends over two centuries at least and continues in contemporary media coverage. But if we see that the language of this discourse does not operate referentially but discursively (or intra-referentially, anonymously, according to the particular rules of formation)—giving concrete form to its ideological structure—then we can see that the discourse is quite obviously a system of ‘representation’. Said’s point is that knowledge produced in this way, through the control of power in discourse, may be subject to refutation. In strict terms, for the early Foucault, since meaning is constructed through discourse, nothing has any meaning outside

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discourse, which is historically produced, a function of power, and culturally specific. However, for Said, if ‘truth’ is discursively produced as a function of power, it may also be contested by a ‘counter-truth’ (whether that counter-truth operates within the discourse or represents a competing discourse). This is the very point of his writing, particularly the major critiques of Western power found in Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism. The interesting thing about Foucault scholarship is that during the 1990s there emerged a flurry of articles revealing the importance of counter-discourse and of resistance in Foucault. Clearly there was a great reaction to the apparent denial of agency embedded in his explanation of the archive and the relationship between knowledge and power. Whatever way we interpret this appearance of resistance in Foucault scholarship, it is clear that the discussion was generated to no small extent by the emergence of postcolonial theory and Said’s move away from Foucault and deeper into his own concept of worldliness. This probably came to a head in ‘Travelling theory’, where Said states: ‘In human history there is always something beyond the reach of dominating systems, no matter how deeply they saturate society, and this is obviously what makes change possible, limits power in Foucault’s sense, and hobbles the theory of power.’15 Yet this discussion in the 1990s did reveal that the dynamic nature of power on which Foucault insists opens up a perpetual possibility for contestation. The rules governing those statements that can be made, for instance, about something called the ‘Orient’ are not formal rules, and they can be exposed, refuted and broken. In a debate with an interlocutor in The Archaeology of Knowledge over the problem of agency, Foucault addresses the question of the degree to which he himself is constrained by a discursive structure. First, he says, ‘the positivities—or structures—must not be understood as a set of determinations imposed from the outside on the thought of individuals, or inhabiting it from the inside, in advance as it were’.16 The positivities are rather the ‘set of conditions in accordance with which a practice is exercised’. This means simply that no one speaks or acts outside a discursive practical context. The importance of this theoretical discussion lies in no less a question than whether the intellectual can indeed say anything effectively to intervene in public discourse, buttressed as it is by an

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enormous number of unquestioned economic and political assumptions. Are the rules of public discourse already proscribed? Where, for instance, do the rules of the counter-discourse of resistance come from? The answer to these questions is that every discourse bears within itself, in its cracks, at its edges, the set of conditions of its own disavowal, but these conditions can be actualised only from a space at least metaphorically or imaginatively outside the discourse: hence the theoretical, as well as the practical, significance of exile for the intellectual. Exile is also important in a practical sense because the system of discursive rules is grounded in, and regulated by, a system of social affiliation. Discourses don’t exist in abstraction but in the practice of social beings. Acts of resistance, the acts of the representing Other, emerge from the cracks in discourse and may best be articulated by a socially disaffiliated subject. Consequently, it is counter-discourse that insists on the re-emergence of some kind of subject, even a subject that is merely the limit or point of discontinuity between discourses. As a ‘function ceaselessly modified’, the subject is something that undergoes constant change (hence, it is not a stable structure), but nevertheless it functions in discourse. The subject acts as the edge of a discourse that is the collision point for juxtaposed discourses. The point about Said’s view of the role of the intellectual is that this juxtaposition of discourses is located in the world, located in what we may term a speaking subject who speaks a counter-truth to power. This is not to say that the array of assumptions on which public discourse is predicated may not seem impregnable at times, but the agency of the subject is grounded in the constant potential for ‘counter-discourse’. This distinction between ‘truth’ and ‘counter-truth’ opens up in the gap between a strongly discursive view of representation we may detect in Orientalism and the view of worldliness that occurs in The World, the Text and the Critic, which, in fact, has been a feature of Said’s work since Beginnings. This is a critical distinction because it becomes the foundation of Said’s belief that the subject can ‘speak truth to power’ and that subjects, such as Palestinians, produced within discourse may take hold of the power of representation to counter that discourse. This, of course, is the monumental achievement of Orientalism, but it becomes the defining theme of Said’s work, which is, above all, dedicated to a fundamental postcolonial

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principle, the recovery by the subaltern subject of control over selfrepresentation. In effect the subject may be produced by and subjected to discourse, but may contest the discourse. Representation is the concrete expression of ideology, but ideologies can be contested just as representations can be challenged and reversed. A hint of this comes in a statement Said makes in Orientalism: that the distinction between representation and misrepresentation is a matter of degree. ‘Every representation is eo ipso a misrepresentation.’17 He goes on to say that while discourse produces knowledge, each new contribution ‘causes changes within the field’ 18. He is talking about individual contributions that occur within the rules of the discourse, but if such contributions may be made, they may equally operate within the fractures of discourse to widen those fractures. Perhaps the clearest example of the power of the subject may be seen in the worldliness of the intellectual and the critic in particular. The critic cannot speak without the mediation of writing, and the essay, more than any other form, liberates the worldliness of the writer. The critical essay, rather than being secondary, becomes the present sign of the subject’s power to speak. ‘For if we assume instead that texts make up what Foucault calls archival facts, the archive being defined as the text’s social discursive presence in the world, then criticism too is another aspect of the present. In other words, rather than being defined by the silent past, commanded by it to speak to the present, criticism, no less than any text, is the present in the course of its articulation, its struggles for definition.’19 In short, then, the work of the critic, the worldliness demonstrated in the style and substance of the essay, is the model for the subject’s intervention into discourse. Style, as Said puts it, the recognisable, repeatable, preservable sign of an author who reckons with an audience, neutralises the worldlessness, the silent, seemingly uncircumstanced existence of a solitary text. Worldliness contests the idea that there is nothing outside the text. The text 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. We do not need to dispense with textuality, nor with the centrality of language, to show how the embedding of the text in its world, and the network of its affiliations with that world, are crucial to its meaning and its significance and, indeed, to its very identity as a text.

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Paradoxically, it is through the figure of the critic that Said sidesteps the ‘crisis of representation’ and, in effect, revives the political in contemporary discourse. This is possibly the most critical effect of the concept of worldliness. The purpose in discussing Said’s complex relationship with Foucault is to stress, first, that the theory of discourse does not obviate a theory of representation; and second, that representation, for Said, always manifests itself in acts of representing. In this view the dichotomy between activism and representation (not to mention theory and practice) is a false one. Given the active nature of the intellectual’s work of representation, we are constrained to ask three questions: (1) for whom does the intellectual speak? (2) to what end does the intellectual speak? and (3) to whom does the intellectual speak? The first question stems from a problem with representation that lies first in its confusion with simple signification, and second in its dual meaning, a duality that is hidden in English and French but becomes revealed in the German distinction between darstellung and vertreten. This is clearly seen in a conversation between Foucault and Deleuze, who discuss the problematic relation between theory and practice, which Deleuze attempts to resolve by suggesting: ‘Practice is a set of relays from one theoretical point to another, and theory is a relay from once practice to another.’20 He goes on to say: ‘Those who act and struggle are no longer represented, either by a group or a union that appropriates the right to stand as their conscience. Who speaks and acts? It is always a multiplicity, even within the person who speaks and acts. All of us are “groupuscles”. Representation no longer exists; there’s only action—theoretical action and practical action which serve as relays and form networks.’21 This term ‘groupuscles’ is a very nice description of the link between the individual and the collectivity in social action, and between the subject and discourse, but in making this link it also confirms the relevance of the subject as a site of action, a site of the intersection between theory and practice. For the action of which Deleuze speaks includes the act of re-presenting. Their discussion of power focuses on the prison, which looms as the very embodiment of the infantilising restriction of power, and the occasion suggests the return of the capacity to re-present. Deleuze says: ‘You were the first to teach us something absolutely fundamental: the indignity of speaking for

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others. We ridiculed representation and said it was finished, but we failed to draw the consequences of the ”theoretical” conversion—to appreciate the theoretical fact that only those directly concerned can speak in a practical way on their own behalf.’22 Foucault states in reply that when those usually spoken for by others begin to speak for themselves, they produce a counter-discourse. This counter-discourse, he says, is not another theory but a practical engagement in political struggles.23 But as Spivak points out, in her greatly amended essay ‘Can the subaltern speak?’ (2005), the death and rebirth of representation in this conversation slides over the dual meaning of the term, a distinction better captured in the German, where ‘representation’ separates into two words: darstellung: statement, depiction, representation, and vertreten: representative of, appointed to act for. The problem of speaking for others is well-trodden ground, but it remains true that acts of representing, critiquing, acts of speaking and writing are acts that need have nothing to do with vertreten. In Edward Said’s corpus, these are the acts of the public intellectual. Counter-discourse occurs, then, when the oppressed speak for themselves. True speaking, says bell hooks, ‘Is not solely an expression of creative power; it is an act of resistance, a political gesture that challenges politics of domination that would render us nameless and voiceless … To those who wield oppressive power, that which is threatening must be silenced.’24 According to hooks, ‘Moving from silence to speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side a gesture of defiance that heals, that makes life and new growth possible. It is that act of speech, of “talking back,” that is the expression of our movement from object to subject—the liberated voice.’25 This liberation is itself a truth that is spoken to power, as well as the ideological content of its representation. The border between ‘speaking for’ and ‘speaking with’ can be disconcertingly porous. But hooks’ phrase ‘stand and struggle side by side’ needs to be taken seriously. There is a very great difference between speaking as an unelected representative and speaking as an ally. Said was an Arab Christian, but spoke out until the last month of his life against the vicious stereotyping of Islam. Truth needs to be spoken to power from a location in the world. Naïve as this seems, Said knew there is no

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‘true’ representation; such ‘truth’ is always a counter-truth, a counterrepresentation. This is a key to understanding his particularly agonistic form of utopianism. There is no way of making power listen. It is in the speaking, in the critical act, that intellectual agency is obtained. Not speaking for, or on behalf of, but speaking out, and speaking against. The question remains, then: if the intellectual does not speak for or on behalf of a group as an unappointed representative, if there is no group for whom the exile speaks, to what end does he or she speak? This is where Said’s insistence on exile, his refusal to accept official positions in the Palestinian National Council,26 his general exhortation against ‘theological’ specialism, opens the space for critique. For the affirmation of difference, the act of representing, is a permanent agonistic stance. Foucault puts this resonantly in his 1966 essay ‘The thought from outside’: ‘Anyone who attempts to oppose the law in order to found a new order, to organize a second police force, to institute a new state, will only encounter the silent and infinitely accommodating welcome of the law.’27 The purpose of criticism is not the construction of a better alternative system based upon reason, truth or humanity. Any such system will have similar effects of exclusion. This is why Said repudiates the desire to oppose the current system in the name of a new system. This is not to say he didn’t have a vision for Palestine. That vision—of a single secular state in which Israelis and Palestinians can participate equally—appears utopian and unattainable. But the vision drives the agonism of the intellectual, an agonism that is not without effect, since discussion of a single state has been increasing. But his cynicism about the possibility of an ultimate order or doctrine is summed up in his chapter, ‘Gods that always fail’.28 For Said the effect of critique is not the establishment of a totally new order, not the substitution of a new order for the old, but a transformation of the existing one. ‘The intellectual’s representations—what he or she represents and how those ideas are represented to an audience—are always tied to and ought to remain an organic part of an ongoing experience in society: of the poor, the disadvantaged, the voiceless, the unrepresented, the powerless. These are equally concrete and ongoing; they cannot survive being transfigured and then frozen into creeds, religious declarations, professional methods.’29

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We can describe this continual agonism of difference lying at the heart of resistance as contrapuntal rather than foundational. The troubling conclusion we make from this is that the agonistic, contrapuntal opposition of the intellectual can be effective only insofar as the goal of a new law, a new order, a new police force, is deferred. This is borne out by one of the most dolefully recurrent features of decolonisation: the regularity with which anti-colonial nationalisms have simply taken over the hegemonic power of the colonial state, erecting equally exclusionary and hierarchical post-independence nation states. Anti-colonial nationalism is a precise demonstration of the impossibility of replacing one system with another fully and abstractly ‘just’ one. So, given the apparent futility of an overthrow of one order for another, to what end does the intellectual speak? We discover here the supreme importance of the Saidian intellectual’s contrapuntal, oppositional stance. This is the stance that transforms rather than substitutes. Despite the impossibility of replacing a repressive order with an enlightened one—simply because it is another ‘order’, a set of limits, another focus of power—an answer is provided by the act of representation. This is especially so in the self-representation of postcolonial cultural production and most obviously, throughout the twentieth century, in the transformative representation of postcolonial writing. The agonism of the public intellectual, like the agonism of postcolonial writing, is not aimed, necessarily, at replacement of one order of politics or language for another, is not aimed at the recovery of some pre-existent paradisal state, but aims to exist in the moment as the continuing transformative act of critique. The public sphere is not something the intellectual can simply enter at will, and not something to which you may be appointed. It is ‘a matter of power, something to be won’.30 It is in this agonistic, oppositional act of representing that political transformation—and indeed the validation of an idea of justice and Palestinian self-determination—may occur. In an essay called ‘Human nature: Justice vs power’ Foucault makes one of his more depressing claims when he says: ‘It seems to me that the idea of justice in itself is an idea which in effect has been invented and put to work in different types of societies as an instrument of a certain political and economic power or as a weapon against that power.’31

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What redeems this is the phrase ‘justice in itself’. It is clear that even the most virulent form of policing power, such as that of the US Hypernation, in our time, can invoke an abstract notion of justice to construct its others. Contrapuntal representation introduces an idea of justice that is embedded in the act of resistance itself, not an end point but a dynamic that is located at the site of resistance, located at the site of, and within the act of, counter-representation. In the words of Vaclav Havel: ‘The intellectual should constantly disturb, should bear witness to the misery of the world, should be provocative by being independent, should rebel against all hidden and open pressure and manipulations, should be the chief doubter of systems, of power and its incantations, should be a witness to their mendacity.’32 What, then, is the function of the intellectual in the New World Order of global power? We have discussed for whom the intellectual speaks and to what end the intellectual speaks. But in ‘speaking the truth to power’ to whom does the intellectual speak? In some respects the acts of representing by the public intellectual come into their own here because there is, as Hardt and Negri put it, no ‘outside’ that might form the site of a new order.33 The poles of homogenising and heterogenising theories of globalisation are no longer adequate, nor have they been for some time.34 Unlike the diffuse processes of global interactions, sometimes described as ‘glocalisation’, economic imperialism operates in the interest of a very few. If we could shrink the world’s population to a village of 100 people, it would look something like this: there would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Americas and 8 Africans. Eighty would live in substandard housing, 70 would be unable to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition and 50 per cent of the entire world’s wealth would be in the hands of 6 people. All six would be citizens of the United States. So to whom should the intellectual speak? To the 94, or to the six? The diffusion of power, not only in global politics but also in the operation of power itself, means that in speaking to power, the intellectual speaks to the constituency of power.35 I want to give one brief and controversial example of how this may work in a strategy of resistance. This focuses on the question constantly addressed by Said: how might Palestinians possibly begin to combat US dominance of representation? His article ‘Thinking ahead: After survival, what happens?’ published in a 2002 issue of Al-Ahram Weekly considerably focused

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my mind on the continuing importance of postcolonial agency. Said’s major point is that the Israeli war against Palestine, and its success, comes not from military superiority but from the discourse that enables that superiority: a ‘carefully and scientifically planned campaign to validate Israeli actions and, simultaneously, devalue and efface Palestinian actions’. This is not just a matter of maintaining a powerful military but of organising opinion, especially in America, which, he claims, is the main area of battle. ‘We have simply never learned the importance of systematically organising our political work in this country on a mass level, so that for instance the average American will not immediately think of “terrorism” when the word “Palestinian” is pronounced.’ He continues: What has enabled Israel to deal with us with impunity has been that we are unprotected by any body of opinion that would deter Sharon from practising his war crimes and saying what he has done is to fight terrorism … it is the grossest negligence not to have had a team of people like Hanan Ashwari, Leila Shahid, Ghassan Khatib, Afif Safie— to mention just a few—sitting in Washington ready to go on CNN or any of the other channels just to tell the Palestinian story, provide context and understanding, give us a moral and narrative presence with positive, rather than merely negative, value. We need a future leadership that understands this as one of the basic lessons of modern politics in an age of electronic communication. Not to have understood this is part of the tragedy of today.36 The extraordinarily simplistic images by which Islam and Palestine are ‘covered’ in the media—beards, veils, bombs and wildeyed craziness—are a model for the hegemony of signs in the new empire. The principle Said is espousing is the idea (or hope) that hegemony can be countered by a form of counter-representation. One of the most persistent themes of his work is that dominance is not maintained by military force alone but by the power to represent the dominated.37 The corollary of this is that resistance also cannot lie in military force alone but in seizing the means of representation. How this might be worked out in practice is more problematic because

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representation goes hand in hand with the control of the means of representation, and this means the ownership of the media. But the operations of literary representation suggest that the more lasting and effective images may be those of a Palestinian society representing its own humanity. Those images still need to operate ‘affiliatively’, as Said means the term: aware of the cultural location of representation and aware of the audience. ‘To hear our spokesmen, as well as the other Arabs, saying the most ridiculous things about America, throwing themselves on its mercy, cursing it in one breath, asking for its help in another, all in miserably inadequate fractured English, shows a state of such primitive incompetence as to make one cry.’38 In essence Said is talking about taking the tools, including the language, of the oppressor and making them work for you, transforming the discourse of your disempowerment to one of empowerment. If the task is to construct an audience out of the American public, then a number of discursive tools are necessary: a presence in the USA; a competent and persuasive command of English; the availability of articulate and persuasive spokespersons; a command of the tools of presentation; and a capacity and willingness to represent a vibrant and geographically situated culture. If power will not listen to truth, then the powerless must speak to its constituency. This, interestingly enough, is a prominent message of postcolonial literatures in English. ‘Power’ in the person of state leaders will never listen if they don’t have to. The strategies of self-representation are aimed at the people who give the politicians power, the site at which power is produced. One of the increasingly important media for reaching this constituency may be the Internet. At first glance we might regard this as ‘speaking truth to the powerless’, even the minority of the world’s population that actually has access to a computer. But here we invoke one of the most important insights of Foucault’s theory of power: power is not oppressive and restrictive but productive, and this famous passage is worth quoting at length: Power must be analysed as something which circulates, or rather as something which only functions in the form of a chain. It is never localised here or there, never in anybody’s hands, never appropriated as a commodity or piece of

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wealth. Power is employed and exercised through a net-like organisation. And not only do individuals circulate between its threads; they are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising power. They are not only its inert or consenting target; they are also always the elements of its articulation. In other words, individuals are the vehicles of power, not its points of application.39 Because the constituency of power is the vehicle of power, the elements of its articulation, so it is this constituency to which the intellectual must ‘speak truth’. And forms of mass communication such as the Internet are clearly those media in which the circulation of power, and thus its contestation, may best operate. The ability to speak this truth does not necessarily imply an ethical audience, an ethical listener. It is not a matter of presenting a just cause in some kind of ‘perfectly transparent’ communication and expecting a naturally sympathetic response. It is a matter of changing the ‘moral climate’ by acts of counter-representation, ‘to give oneself’, as Foucault put it in his later work, ‘the rules of law, the techniques of management, and also the ethics, the ethos, the practice of self, which would allow those games of power to be played with a minimum of domination’.40 The issue of representation hinges on a simple fact: that imperial power and the contradictions it engenders is sustained because people have a remarkable capacity to tolerate ambiguity. This tolerance of a contradiction as large, for instance, as destroying Iraq in order to save it rests in turn on the capacity to control the way in which that contradiction is represented. The appropriation of the means of representation stretches the tolerance of that ambiguity to breaking point. It is therefore self-interest to which the voice of resistance will ultimately appeal. How utopian is this belief that the powerless can interpolate a different representation into a dominant discourse and thus change the way people think? The obstacles to such an interpolation are immense. The difficulty of getting these images into the press is manifestly overwhelming. The pressures against even allowing the subaltern to speak are loud and unrelenting, as Edward Said found in the US media. Yet Edward Said managed to do it—and his capacity to prevail against these odds offers a hope that is supported by the example

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of resistance literature, feminist literature and postcolonial writing over the last sixty years. The same ability to take hold of representation, the same capacity to ‘speak truth to power’, is available to writers who want not only to resist the new empire but also to change, unambiguously, the representation of the oppressed. The strategies Said invokes for the Palestinians apply equally to public intellectuals today. The film Good Night and Good Luck shows the powerful effect of one public intellectual, not an academic or a producer of knowledge in the accepted sense, but a television commentator. The act of ‘speaking truth to power’ in the case of Edward Murrow, the unpicking of one small thread of the fabric of tyranny in the McCarthy era, led to the eventual unravelling of that fabric. The challenge of the public sphere is the same today as it was in the Cold War. The battle against an amorphous and demonised ‘threat to democracy’ leads to the erosion of civil and human rights, the abrogation of democracy under the pretext of its protection. The ‘Communist’ has become the ‘terrorist’, and the agonism of the intellectual, the strategy of counter-representation, is as relevant today as it has ever been. Notes 1 2

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Ali, interview with Edward Said; Ashcroft, ‘Interview with Edward Said’, p. 5. www.house.gov/ed_workforce/hearings/108th/sed/titlevi61903/kurtz. htm. Said, ‘Rule by the blind’. Jan Mohamed, ‘Worldliness-without-world, homelessness-as-home’, p. 97. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 39. Ibid., p. 41. Ibid., p. 40. Said, ‘Intellectuals in the post-colonial world’. Said, Orientalism, p. 27. Said, Culture and Imperialism, p. 75. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 89. Ibid., p. 109. Foucault, The Order of Things, p. 290. Said, ‘Intellectuals in the post-colonial world’, p. 14. Said, The World, the Text and the Critic, pp. 246–7. Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, p. 208. Said, Orientalism, p. 272. Ibid, p 273. Said, The World, the Text and the Critic, p. 51. Deleuze & Foucault, ‘Intellectuals and power’, p. 206.

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21 22 23 24 25 26

27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

36 37 38 39 40

Ibid., pp. 206–7. Ibid., p. 209. Ibid. hooks, Talking Back, p. 8. Ibid., p. 9. Said was an independent member of the council for fourteen years, staying in it as ‘an act of solidarity, even of defiance, because in the West I felt it was symbolically important to expose oneself as a Palestinian in that way …’ But, he says, ‘I refused all offers that were made to me to occupy official positions; I never joined any party of faction’ (Representations of the Intellectual, p. 108). Clearly his belief in the necessary exile of the intellectual grew stronger and increasingly focused over the following decade. Foucault, Foucault/Blanchot, p. 38. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, pp. 103–21. Ibid., p. 113. Robbins, review of Jacoby, The Last Intellectuals, p. 257. Foucault, ‘Human nature: Justice vs power’, pp. 184–5. Havel, Disturbing the Peace, p. 167. Hardt & Negri, Empire, p. 186. Appadurai, Modernity at Large. This has been a feature of the post-colonial for some time. In her novel The Map of Love Ahdaf Soueif records the experience of Lady Anna Winterbourne who, having married an Egyptian nationalist, writes to her father-in-law expressing the hope for an intervention by British public opinion. But this public opinion is not transformed by simply presenting the truth, it is transformed by the strategic affiliation of the outsider. Said, ‘Thinking ahead’. Said, Culture and Imperialism, p. 66; ‘Rule by the blind’. Said, ‘Thinking ahead’. Foucault, Power/Knowledge, p. 98. Bernauer & Rasmussen, The Final Foucault, p. 18.

Bibliography Ali, Tariq, interview with Edward Said, Special Broadcasting Service, Australia, 1994. Appadurai, Arjun, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, University of Minneapolis Press, Minnesota, 1994. Ashcroft, Bill, ‘Interview with Edward Said’, New Literatures Review, no. 3, pp. 3–22, 1996. Bernauer, James & Rasmussen, David (eds), The Final Foucault, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1987. Deleuze, Gilles & Foucault, Michel, ‘Intellectuals and power’, in Michel Foucault: Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews (ed. & intro. Donald F. Bouchard; trans. Donald F. Bouchard & Sherry Simon), Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1977.

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Foucault, Michel, The Archaeology of Knowledge [L’Ordre du discours, 1971] (trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith), Pantheon, New York, 1972. ——‘Entretien’ (interview with M. Chapsal), La Quinzaine Litteraire, no. 5, 16 May 1966, pp. 1–15. ——Foucault/Blanchot, Zone Books, New York, 1990. ——‘Human nature: Justice vs power’ in Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind (ed. Fons Elders), Souvenir Press, Ontario, 1974. ——The Order of Things, Pantheon, New York, 1971. ——Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977, Pantheon, New York, 1980. Hardt, Michael & Antonio Negri, Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000. Havel, Vaclav, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala, Vintage Books, New York, 1991. hooks, bell, Talking Back, South End, Boston, 1989. www.house.gov/ed_workforce/hearings/108th/sed/titlevi61903/kurtz.htm. Jan Mohamed, Abdul, ‘Worldliness-without-world, homelessness-as-home: Toward a definition of the specular border intellectual’, in Edward Said: A Critical Reader (ed. Michael Sprinker), Blackwell, Oxford, 1992. Robbins, Bruce, review of Russell Jacoby, The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe, Social Text No. 25/26 (1990), pp. 254–9. Said, Edward W., Covering Islam, Pantheon, New York, 1981; rev. edn 1997. ——Culture and Imperialism, Chatto & Windus, London, 1993. ——‘Intellectuals in the post-colonial world’, Salmagundi, vol. 70, no. 1, pp. 43–64, 1986. ——Orientalism, Pantheon, New York, 1978. ——The Question of Palestine, Times Book, New York, 1980. ——Representations of the Intellectual, Chatto & Windus, London, 1994. ——‘Rule by the blind: Imperial arrogance and the vile stereotyping of Arabs’, Counterpunch, 21 July 2003, www.counterpunch.org/said07212003.html. ——‘Thinking ahead: After survival, what happens?’, Al-Ahram Weekly, 4–10 April 2002. ——The World, the Text and the Critic, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1983. Spivak, Gayatri, ‘Can the subaltern speak?’, in Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths & Helen Tiffin (eds), The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, 2nd edn, Routledge, London, 2005.

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5

Reluctant prophets and gadfly laureates The Australian writer as public intellectual Brigid Rooney

… at the dawn of the twenty-first century the writer has taken on more and more of the intellectual’s adversarial attributes in such activities as speaking truth to power, being a witness to persecution and suffering, and supplying a dissenting voice in conflicts with authority. Edward Said, ‘The public role of writers and intellectuals’. Edward Said’s 1993 Reith lectures stimulated scholarly and popular representations of the intellectual. Although there has been criticism of Said’s model, his advocacy of the spirit of the amateur to counter the corruptions of professional, corporate and state power was compelling. His own commitment bore powerful witness to the integrity of his public performances. Such was also the case with Judith Wright (1915–2000), a distinguished Australian poet whose example corresponds closely to Said’s prophetic, dissident outsider. My discussion of Wright and of her unfolding legacy, however, pursues the contradictions and competing interests that shape representations of writerintellectuals—in this case, of a white female poet and activist in

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Australian public life. My questions, attentive to gender, class and whiteness, are also conditioned by a not-yet-postcolonial Australian context, one that produces profound ambivalence for non-Indigenous Australian poetry. This condition bore upon Wright’s own representations—her poetry, writing and activism—and affected how she in turn was, and continues to be, represented. My exploration of this complex of issues will bring me back to probe the limits and promise of Said’s model of the intellectual, particularly in light of his late conversation with the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu. The literary was a central category in Said’s Reith lectures, subsequently published as Representations of the Intellectual (1993). My epigraph, however, comes from ‘The public role of writers and intellectuals’, an essay Said published in The Nation just after September 11, 2001, in which he revisited and recast his earlier themes. Responding to Pascale Casanova’s La Republique mondiale des lettres, he argued that the seemingly autonomous space of an emergent global literature, with its system of genres, market values and literary brands, is by no means free from the constraints of political institutions and discourses. For Said, the literary writer—the novelist, poet or dramatist—was ‘still implicated—indeed frequently mobilized for use—in the great post-cold war cultural contests of the world’s altered political configurations’. Indeed, he suggested, literary writers are no longer distinguishable from other intellectuals, insofar as ‘both act in the new public sphere dominated by globalization’.1 Said’s 2001 point about the ‘amalgamation’ of writer and intellectual roles represents a departure from his earlier lectures. In 1993 he had differentiated the more traditional idea of the ‘independent, autonomously functioning intellectual’ from the present reality in which intellectuals were typically, in Gramsci’s sense, organic; that is, professional knowledge workers in the employ of media, academic, government or corporate institutions. Promoting the spirit of ‘amateurism’, Said had in 1993 deployed the figure of the autonomous literary writer, not as one whose career path intellectuals could or should emulate, but as an important model for spirited independence, on which institutionally situated, professional intellectuals could draw for their own principled interventions.2 By 2001, however, Said saw that literary writers had themselves become quasi-organic intellectuals. Global capitalism, he suggested,

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had finally abolished the ‘apartness’ of the literary realm. Co-opted within the new world order, the literary was no longer the realm of freedom it purported to represent. Writers were now professional intellectuals, enabled by and captive to conditions of global publishing. This late shift highlights the idealised (albeit residual) status of the ‘literary’ within Said’s earlier lectures as a potential mode or realm of intellectual freedom. From Swift, Turgenev, Woolf, Joyce and Flaubert to Naipaul and Rushdie—literary giants populated his Reith lectures, illuminating the dissenting, courageous, cantankerous, unorthodox, amateur spirit Said valued. Said’s 1993 emphasis on the exilic literary outsider has its counterpart, moreover, in his focus on the nation as point of origin and as primary political arena for intellectual work. Intellectuals, he argued, have ‘a special duty to address the constituted and authorized powers of one’s own society, which are accountable to its citizenry, particularly when those powers are exercised in a manifestly disproportionate and immoral war, or in deliberate programs of discrimination, repression and collective cruelty’.3 His intellectuals emerge through resistance to the regressive parochialism and militarism of the nation state. They return to the nation from ‘outside’, bringing with them extra- or trans-national perspectives that articulate their dissidence. Yet by 2001 Said observed how global markets structure transnational spaces within which writers, as intellectuals, testify ‘to a country’s or region’s experience, thereby giving that experience a public identity forever inscribed in the global discursive agenda’. So today’s writer-intellectuals are necessarily Janus-faced, turning towards the nation from ‘outside’ and turning towards transnational space from ‘inside’. Implied here is a reciprocal dynamic, rather than a transcendent realm, that defines and creates contemporary publics. This is not an entirely new phenomenon. Since at least the midnineteenth century in Australia, a settler-colonial nation geographically remote from its Anglophone allies, literary writers have played a significant role in defining the national imaginary. If this was an inward-looking role, many Australian writers in fact had close ties with Britain and North America. In the second half of the twentieth century, literary writers were strikingly visible once again, in the vanguard of a national turn towards cosmopolitan values. By the 1970s

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and 1980s, such writers as Judith Wright—whose perspectives had recast Australians’ experience of the land and themselves—had also become figureheads in the environmental, Aboriginal rights and antinuclear movements. The present erosion of this earlier, culturally progressive agenda runs parallel to a decline in the auratic privilege of the modernist literary writer. Factors recently cited as hostile to a rarefied, modernist Australian literary culture include diversifying and democratising technologies, fragmenting publics and readerships and the pressures of globalised publishing.4 As we have seen, Said implicated the latter in the demise of a free and autonomous literary realm. Have these developments also diluted the power of literary figures to capture national attention or galvanise political debate? Saree Makdisi remarks in chapter 1 of this volume that Said’s heroic ‘modernist’ figures have now been eclipsed. Yet narratives of decline can be premature or misleading. They can also divert us from complex histories of struggle over literary value and symbolic power with which the present is continuous. Questions arise as to whether the literary has ever been quite the autonomous realm of freedom imagined, and even the most heroic and disinterested of writer-intellectuals may be driven by a mix of motives, or may find themselves caught in contradictory public representations. Judith Wright contributed to transforming discourses in post1945 Australian culture. Her environmentalist thought challenged distinctions between ‘the social’ and ‘nature’, and her advocacy of Aboriginal rights unsettled white Australian complacencies. Wright’s representations, however, were contingent on circumstances and sometimes contradictory. Attitudes to what she did and what she stood for varied, furthermore, from admiration and reverence to refusal and rejection, a dynamic exemplified in Wright’s encounter with fellow poet Les Murray. The progressive consensus built in Australia by such intellectuals as Wright was most decisively ruptured in fin de siècle national debates, signalling generational tensions and realignments within literary and wider cultural fields, and the defensive reclamation of white Australian legitimacy. More recently, since her death in 2000 and amid Australia’s renewed political conservatism, historians, ecologists and activists have been seeking not only to renew her legacy but also to redefine it, sometimes in terms that

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too neatly delimit her representations and that subtly reinstate gendered patterns of reception of her life and work. Judith Wright: representations of a reluctant prophet The following stanzas from ‘Sanctuary’ (1955) predate Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth (2006) by half a century, at a time when scientists were only beginning to speculate about industrial humanity’s impact on the planet’s changing weather patterns. Like so much of Judith Wright’s poetry, the stanzas are prophetic in their vivid grasp of what would ensue from reckless abuse of the natural environment: The road beneath the giant original trees sweeps on and cannot wait. Varnished by dew, its darkness mimics mirrors and is bright behind the panic eyes the driver sees caught in the headlights. Behind his wheels the night takes over: only the road ahead is true. It knows where it is going: we go too. Sanctuary, the sign said. Sanctuary— trees, not houses; flat skins pinned to the road of possum and native cat; and here the old tree stood for how many thousand years?—that old gnome-tree some axe-new boy cut down. Sanctuary, it said: but only the road has meaning here. It leads into the world’s cities like a long fuse laid.5 Arising from 1950s nuclear consciousness, these stanzas are both eloquently particular to Australian experience and foreshadow urgent questions for the planet as a whole. That Australia should produce a poet with so precocious a grasp of looming environmental catastrophe is not accidental. Ecological sensibilities emerged early in Australia and intensified in response to untrammelled postwar nation-building and development.6 The 200-year span of white colonisation on this ancient continent offers a relatively concentrated case study of radical change. The impact of industrial colonisation has been confronting for those who care to see. Within my own lifetime, the diversity of birdlife in suburban gardens has dwindled to a few dominant, mostly feral species, and the pristine local bushland

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and waterways of my childhood have been subsumed by development or shrunk to bedraggled, stranded remnants. Drought takes a heavy toll on the water resources of cities, impinging on temperate, densely populated, coastal regions. Agricultural regions turn to desert and inland river systems are dying. On the whole, Australians have been passive, blind or complacent, at best helpless to arrest the devastation, at worst complicit, captive to the forces of short-sighted acquisitiveness, individualism and greed. In Wright’s poem, the mutual unintelligibility of tree and road is countered by ‘sanctuary’, a word beckoning beyond its literal sense of wildlife sanctuary towards older, religious meanings: inner sanctum, holy of holies, place of refuge from relentless social law. Bound by the car’s forward momentum, ‘we go too’: we feel the pulse of urgency, a terrible irreversibility and the looming threat of the metropolis. All animals, people included, will need sanctuary, as humanity plunges blindly into a trap of its own making. ‘Sanctuary’ was published in Wright’s Two Fires (1955), which bore an epigraph from Herakleitos, the pre-Socratic philosopher for whom life was inherently unstable, mutable, a matter of fire and flux. In keeping with the epigraph, the poems vividly express the philosophical vision Wright developed in intellectual companionship with her husband, autodidact philosopher Jack McKinney. Judith supported Jack’s commitment to grappling with what they saw as a ‘crisis’ of failing communication and disintegrating meaning in an overly specialised, technocratic, postnuclear world.7 Articulating the crisis, these early 1950s poems anticipate Wright’s full-fledged environmental concerns. Looking back and forward, enacting her signature movement between inner and outer realms, between personal, pastoral vistas and wider worldly urgencies, this collection now seems to embody her own ‘long fuse laid’. Judith Wright’s public career mutated through the decades, moving beyond the relatively bounded role of poet-intellectual whose scholarly criticism remapped Australian poetry8 to that of thinker, figurehead and activist campaigner on matters beyond the literary. She engaged in pioneering environmental, historical and crosscultural research, writing books and essays that documented and advocated conservation and Indigenous issues. She delivered numerous lectures and public addresses, and cultivated (practically, strategically, financially) diverse networks, grassroots campaigns and

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activist organisations. She wrote countless letters of protest, letters of support and letters to persuade and inform. Her correspondents included ministers, prime ministers, activists, fellow poets and writers, artists, scientists, Indigenous people and many others. In the 1970s, she was recruited by the Whitlam Government to lead initiatives in the arts and the environment. Throughout, she remained outspokenly critical of governments about their failures in these areas. Beyond her brief experience of direct bureaucratic involvement, Wright continued her activism at a hectic pace, playing a central role in the late 1970s campaign for a treaty between Indigenous and nonIndigenous Australians. Beyond the early 1980s, Wright stood back from frontline campaigning, but, as her archives show, she continued with her letter-writing, networking and campaigning until her death. In the week before she died, Wright—equipped with walking frame— led the People’s Walk for Reconciliation across the Canberra Bridge.9 Wright was of that last generation of writers for whom it was possible to remain literally amateur rather than professional. Her career, however, coincided with the postwar rise in professional, disciplinary knowledges and an accelerating information economy. Initially attending the University of Sydney as a non-degree student, Wright built expertise throughout her life, through independent research and involvement in networks that encompassed amateur, scientific and academic experts. There’s an irony here: Wright’s career coincided with the narrowing of the space for literary and intellectual amateurism. It is not only the category of ‘amateur’ that Wright’s career disturbs. Although she was ‘exile and marginal … the author of a language that tries to speak the truth to power’,10 Wright’s social position was complicated. Descended from one of Australia’s old, landed dynasties, she became increasingly ambivalent towards a pioneering heritage otherwise constitutive of her poetry and world view. Her grasp of the intergenerational social injustice wrought by destruction of the environment and over-consumption of resources owes a great deal to her acute sense of ancestry, her personal sense of displacement and, ultimately, her own growing awareness of a far more profound displacement: the dispossession of Aboriginal people. Wright was early resigned to her own gendered displacement: daughters in her family did not inherit the land. The effect of this circumstance

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was incalculable, a lesson in loss that perhaps made her unusually receptive to the trauma suffered by Aboriginal people. Loss, of course, is defined through its relation to longing. In young adulthood, during the war, when she returned to help her father on their droughtstricken property, Wright experienced a surge of love for a land she could never, unlike her younger brothers, actually inherit. This was a major stimulus to her early poetry. Another completely unrelated and cruel physical fact that compounded her removal from ordinary, worldly belonging was the onset of hearing loss in her early twenties. Wright’s deafness is a subtle but omnipresent feature of her own representations, and representations of her as the lonely, mortally wounded and other-worldly poet. Identity, including exilic identity, may be a destiny that is both imposed and chosen—an amor fati, a destiny embraced.11 In her choice of life partner, Wright embraced a trajectory of divergence from her social origins. When they met, Jack McKinney was an itinerant World War I veteran who had left an unhappy marriage to follow his philosophical quest. Setting up house together on Queensland’s Tamborine Mountain, the couple defied social convention, distancing themselves from the world, and from the bitter ideological partisanships of the 1950s, certainly as these manifested in local Australian culture. In their intellectual lives, however, the couple read widely in the work of contemporary thinkers, across disciplines, regarding the local from implicitly transnational perspectives.12 In time, they became a magnet for local (and sometimes international) artists, intellectuals and writers, as well as nature-lovers, scientists and conservationists. Wright had refused the social destiny of the class of her birth, yet her capacity to sustain difficult choices, to assert independence and pioneer in this way, strikes one as deeply continuous with her social origins. These origins endowed her with a patrician confidence and entrée to elite networks. It is testimony to Wright’s not being socially marginal that she was never intimidated by the powerful. If her courage was heroic, it also manifested her social privilege, a bredinto-the-bone confidence about her place in the world and her right to speak truth to the powerful. So it is the tension of Wright’s status as both insider and outsider, as a writer-intellectual both exilic and privileged, I suggest, that

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structures her representations. In the vein of the English Romantics, Wright’s poetry was suffused with a tension between belonging and loss. She articulated an exilic relation to a land to which she was achingly close and from which she increasingly felt—because ‘born of the conquerors’13—profoundly alienated. This exilic belonging pervaded Wright’s poetry, however, from the beginning. Coinciding with a fraught time in Australia’s history, she caught what Raymond Williams described as an emergent structure of feeling. Certainly she was just one of a number of new Australian poets to express love for the land, but it was Wright’s singularly commanding and self-possessed voice that burnt itself into collective memory. Her poems were distinguished by stunning purity of diction and a boldly sensual, feminine–maternal encounter with the land: South of my days’ circle, part of my blood’s country rises that tableland, high delicate outline of bony slopes wincing under the winter, low trees blue-leaved and olive, outcropping granite— clean, lean, hungry country.14 Wright’s 1945 vision of pastoral country as an exposed, suffering body struck a nerve, tapping the hunger of a settler-colonial culture for reconnection and belonging. White Australian security of tenure over the continent had been shaken by the Pacific war and by droughts that had stretched nearly unbroken from 1937 to 1945. A homely love of the land and its features is now so integral to Australia’s national culture that it’s impossible to appreciate the arresting impact of Wright’s early poetry. It fused the familiar melancholy of Australia’s bush literature with a feminine awareness of the land as body. These earliest poems, from The Moving Image (1946) and Woman to Man (1949), secured Wright’s public recognition and reputation. They also defined the way in which Wright herself came to be publicly represented. The ‘poetess’ had broken like a revelation upon Australia’s male-dominated literary establishment.15 The fact of her gender only fed into the masculinist and nationalist terms of her reception as bardic female poet. These early impressions solidified, proving to be both a benefit and a burden for Wright’s career. Wright had quite quickly, in fact,

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exhausted the nationalist vein in her poetry. By the mid-1940s, having met Jack, she had moved on to new aesthetic and intellectual challenges. Yet her subsequent poetry was neither quite so fulsomely received nor so widely disseminated. It is only recently that two of her 1950s poems—’Eroded Hills’ (1951) and ‘At Cooloolah’ (1954)—have begun to achieve equally iconic status, because of the resonance of their environmental and colonial concerns. At the time, however, Wright was struck by how few critics understood The Gateway (1953) and The Two Fires (1955) collections in which she had launched herself ‘on the uncharted and untrustworthy waters of “philosophy”’: ‘The fact was, however, that without the new hope and depth Jack’s work had given me, I could not have kept on writing. What future had my poetry, after the atomic bomb had shattered the nationalist view of the past, without some new and deeper starting point, some reinterpretation that might make human life meaningful again?’16 Running athwart the nationalist reception of Wright’s 1940s poetry was her increasing radicalism. Although she heartily disliked the class-based politics of left versus right (a response partly explicable in terms of her class origins), her refusal of contemporary politics expressed a radical impetus, a desire to search out root or structural causalities: ‘Politics are the froth on the top of the cauldron … not what makes the water boil. The really important thing is to find why the water’s boiling …‘17 In the 1950s, after the birth of Judith’s only child, Meredith, her poetry and writing was shadowed by the threat of total nuclear annihilation. In the 1960s, with the passing of the Cold War, Meredith’s passage to boarding school and Jack’s death (1966), she steadily moved outwards from a life balanced between the demands of domesticity and poetry into thoroughgoing activism for a range of conservation campaigns. These transformations were nevertheless continuous and consistent with her passion for healing a wounded world. Wright’s emerging ecological vision, grounded in this passion, anticipated the new politics of the late 1960s. A further radical turn was to come during the 1960s, when Wright grew far more pressingly aware of the legacy of colonisation, which had dispossessed Aboriginal people, and of her own ancestors’ implication in that process. Although such intimations had haunted her earliest poetry, Wright was comprehensively awoken by her encounter

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with Aboriginal poet Kath Walker, later known as Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Much ensued from this significant relationship, which began when Wright recommended publication of Walker’s groundbreaking book of poetry, We Are Going (1964). It was a relationship that instructed Wright in the devastating and ongoing impact of Aboriginal dispossession. Through their lifelong friendship, the two women collaborated in working for Aboriginal causes.18 A by-product of Wright’s evolving political sympathy was the increasing irritation she felt (from the 1970s onwards) about the uses to which schools had put ‘Bullocky’ (1944), a poem she had ‘written in the early years of the [Second World] war—a time whose emotional climate is long forgotten, but which roused high patriotism and a somewhat hysterical view of the splendours of the national history’.19 Certainly the poem figures the Australian pioneer in deliberately biblical and post-Romantic terms as a mad prophet or Moses whose suffering death ‘feeds the grape’ so that ‘fruitful is the Promised Land’.20 Incensed by the oblivious nationalism of the 1988 Bicentenary, Wright withdrew permission for the further anthologisation of ‘Bullocky’.21 This was a public challenge to the complacency of white Australians. The peremptory nature of Wright’s censoring of ‘Bullocky’, however, relays an impression of her own personal discomfort. The poem was a reminder of a past and a self of which she now disapproved, which she had outgrown, but which continued to implicate her. The early (ostensibly nationalist) poems had, after all, been instrumental in her present public platform, enabling and multiplying her power to be heard by a wide constituency. There is a clear difference between her attitude to ‘Bullocky’ in a 1963 letter to Dorothy Green and her blanket repudiation of the poem in 1988. In the former, she had distinguished between the figure’s archetypal meanings, as a kind of Lear or Ulysses ‘translated into Australian terms’, and the actual local character who had inspired it, who was thought to have been a ‘religious maniac’.22 By contrast, her 1988 rejection of ‘Bullocky’ as ‘an obviously bad poem’ was dogmatic: ‘the old man … is, after all, mad’, and what she had meant as ‘affectionate parody’ was being construed as ‘hyperbolic celebration’ of his ‘Vision’.23 This reading shows a wilful hardening towards the poem, a denial of its qualities and context. It was an anxiously self-defensive, even self-deceptive reaction.

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If there is a fault here, it does not detract from Wright’s integrity. It reveals her as responsive and necessarily ambivalent in her own self-representation, caught up in the competing demands and paradoxes of public performance over time. Her integrity had led her to challenge white Australians at the most difficult level of claims to sovereignty, legitimacy and belonging. This development, which won admirers and detractors, is perhaps the most contentious of Wright’s interventions. For sympathisers, Wright’s championing of Aboriginal causes and her trenchant critique of ‘whitefella’ perspectives only elevated her as a far-seeing and fearlessly outspoken writer–intellectual. For others, her stance was too extreme. In his book Belonging: Australians, Place and Aboriginal Ownership (2000), Peter Read acknowledges Wright as pre-eminent postwar poet of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships but has difficulty with her approach as a model for belonging, since it offers no more than ‘a deep personal and general desolation’. This appraisal manifests Read’s own sentimental impulse to move on from the trauma of colonisation.24 Wright challenged not only the ‘nation’ but also the conservation movement she had helped to nurture. By the mid-1980s she was vocal in supporting the priority of Aboriginal access to land over national park quarantining of wilderness areas. In 1991, in anger over the matter, she resigned her membership of the Wildlife Protection Society of Queensland, the network she had helped to found in 1962.25 Controversy over this issue, and Wright’s stance, has lingered. In his book Patriots: Defending Australia’s Natural Heritage (2006), William Lines esteems Wright’s dedication to conservation causes as heroic, but roundly attacks her for perpetuating the ‘myth of the Ecological Aborigine’. He claims that she, with others, had uncritically adopted a ‘redemptive’ but falsely ‘primitivist’ story about Aboriginal people as the keepers of ecological genius. For Lines, this story conveniently highlighted the rapaciousness of 1960s industrial society but had no basis in fact.26 Lines’ own defence of the concept of wilderness against claims of Aboriginal cultural difference, however, is not only insensitive and inaccurate but also in turn props up what Tim Flannery (another of Lines’ targets) identifies as one of Australia’s ‘beautiful lies’.27 Lines’ position begs more difficult questions, explored for example by Tom Griffiths, about the colonising culture’s idealised concepts of wilderness as landscape empty (or emptied) of human

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activity and history.28 Like her earlier refusals of divisive left/right politics, Wright’s challenge to ‘wilderness’ models of white conservationism was threatening because it complicated simple hierarchies, demanding accommodation of the long-excluded ‘Other’. It also challenged the idea of an empty, pristine Australian nature—a terra nullius—and instead represented the environment as the dynamic product of long centuries of Indigenous presence, cultural practice and cultivation. Challenging positions invariably elicit strong resistance. These (notably male) reactions suggest that Wright had something about her of the stern mother chastising an errant nation. Was she an obstructive figure who needed to be circumvented? Prevalent representations—shadowing my own account, too—of the poet as ‘reluctant prophet’ exacerbate this issue. The representation of Wright as austere, lonely poet recurs in ‘World without words’, Richard Glover’s evocative 1993 Good Weekend interview. In Glover’s essay we meet her living alone in old age at her property, ‘The Edge’, suffering from total hearing loss and in despair about the state of the world. She has literally withdrawn from the world, yet by virtue of that withdrawal speaks authoritatively, prophetically. Similarly, in obituaries after her death in 2000, she haunts the conscience of the nation.29 Traces of the Romantic idea of the poet as prophet withdrawn from the world, which had stuck to Wright from the beginning, proved ubiquitous. Wright’s own memoir, Half a Lifetime (1999), and Veronica Brady’s authorised biography, South of My Days (1998), admirably document a complex life, yet both sustain the public persona of prophet. The idea of the poet as lonely prophet in the wilderness—a doubly ironic concept given the above-mentioned debates—has powerful, quasi-biblical associations and wields an effective cultural force. Yet this image risks simplifying Wright’s writing and public interventions and their interwoven character. Second, it is depoliticising, making Wright over into a saintly and unworldly figure impossible to emulate: the poet is safely remote, out of touch, transcendent. Third, the image is alienating, making it easy, as some do, to reject Wright and her agenda as too pure, too politically correct, too Romantic or too unpleasantly guilt-ridden.

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Enter the gadfly laureate: fin de siècle debate and generational discontent Glover’s 1993 interview with Wright, pressing again the case for her long-held causes, contrasts poignantly with the irruption of conservative reaction a few years later. The mid-1990s in Australia saw the coalescence of several high-profile public interventions by literary figures. They crossed with spectacular effect into the national limelight, or at least into mediaspheres defined by the broadsheet press and public broadcasting. They were established writers, at the peak of their careers. Not all were strangers to controversy, and it is important to register the divergence of their political views. Yet the commonality of their concerns, at this time, signalled a major discursive shift in Australia’s public culture. In Dead White Males (1995), David Williamson unapologetically parodied the fashion for Foucault that had swept the literary academy. Helen Garner’s First Stone (1995) stirred an even more acrimonious debate, this time about the allegedly priggish views of young feminists and feminist academics about sexual harassment. In 1996 Les Murray’s Subhuman Redneck Poems resoundingly restated his already well-known dislike of urban multicultural elites for their alleged political correctness and their relegation of rural battlers to the nation’s cultural margins. For this book, Les Murray received bouquets, mostly from abroad—including the T. S. Eliot Prize—and brickbats, mostly from peers at home. In the wake of this debate, one Canadian reviewer memorably described Murray as Australia’s ‘gadfly laureate’.30 Were these writers reacting against the agenda of such precursors as Judith Wright? This aggravated question is prompted by the convergence of the public interventions of Williamson, Garner and Murray with a very distinct historic moment. The books and media representations of all three fed into and gave legitimacy to discourses of anti-political correctness that, in turn, attended the rise of political conservatism. Yet accusations that these writers are simply conservative obscure the contextually bound and contradictory nature of their public engagements. Both Williamson and Murray, for instance, had been supporters (more or less) of Whitlam-era cultural change. Further, I doubt whether anyone in 1995 could have foreseen the nature and degree of populist conservatism that was about to grip the nation in the Howard era. Even if these writers conceded that they

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were harbingers of that shift, they have since distanced themselves from some of its consequences. Beyond the 1990s, Williamson, Garner and Murray have all protested against directions taken under the Coalition government, although none have retracted their former criticisms of so-called politically correct elites.31 To ask what conditioned the 1990s Australian literary backlash against ‘political correctness’ brings me to the limit of Edward’s Said’s invocation of the literary as an imagined genetic space of independent amateurism and autonomy. Said’s model certainly resonated in Australia, providing a legitimating discourse for writer–intellectual resistance to the leftist academy’s specialised (and politically correct) discourses. One such vehicle of legitimacy was Robert Dessaix’s ABC Radio National interview series and subsequent book, Speaking Their Minds (1998), which included major one-on-one interviews with an inner circle of nine intellectuals.32 Two of the inner nine, fitting the category of independent, autonomous, literary figures, were Helen Garner and David Williamson. The others were either freelance writers from the wider cultural field or affiliated with the quality media, the arts or academia. For David Carter, at the heart of Dessaix’s imaginary there still lurks ‘the literary intellectual—the writerly intellectual—who stands against the figure of the theorist, the specialist, the professional. Dessaix’s preferred term, in his characteristically intelligent and disarming manner, is the “dilettante”: the true amateur, the true self fashioner.’33 Carter notes, with some surprise, Dessaix’s indebtedness to Said. Finding the traditional model too conservative, individualist and elitist, contributors to Carter’s anthology (The Ideas Market, 2005) propose alternative ideas about, and approaches to, public intellectual endeavour. Where Carter’s book performs an oblique criticism of Said, others have been more direct. Neil Lazarus finds Said resorts too readily to the universal, understates the operations of power, hierarchy and access in public space, risks romanticising the ‘lonely’ figure of the intellectual and, in his preference for the ‘pleasures of exile’ and diffidence towards groups or organisations, undermines the possibility of solidarity. On this last issue, Lazarus draws on Bourdieu’s work to suggest that a critical stance does not have to be individualist and that critical autonomy can coexist with solidarity.34

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For Bourdieu, cultural elites belong to the dominated fraction of the dominant class and so occupy the margin of which Said speaks. The space of the margin is necessarily invested with its own power and privileges. It can also be a gendered, racialised and normative space, its flows of power often reconfigured, and always regulated and guarded. Such a margin, from certain viewpoints, may not be marginal at all. The most rarefied sectors of the literary field have been both marginal and powerful, and struggles over power therein have manifested themselves in the most personal ways. Witness earlier encounters between Les Murray and Judith Wright for the light they shed both on the anxieties and tensions of generational positioning and on the ambivalences of white Australian poetry. Although Wright commented wryly in 1999, ‘Les and I don’t always get on the best’, she remained an admirer of his poetic and intellectual capabilities.35 There was something of a dynamic, between them, of invitation and decline. In late 1972, for instance, Wright nominated Murray (among others) to sit on the Literature Board, a new funding body established by the Whitlam government as part of the Australian Council of the Arts, headed by H. C. ‘Nugget’ Coombs. Murray politely declined her invitation, worrying not only that Coombs would not approve of his political views but also that such an appointment might compromise his own future fellowship applications.36 Again, in 1980, an exchange of letters, initiated by Wright, took place over the rights and wrongs of a treaty and relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian cultures.37 Wright’s opening gambit was provocative. Asserting that Murray had wrongly appropriated Aboriginal culture for his verse novel, The Boys Who Stole the Funeral (1980), she boldly requested a ‘forfeit’: she asked if he would contribute the manuscript to an exhibition she was organising, on behalf of the treaty committee, as a fundraiser for their campaign. This was typical of Wright’s imperious wit, but careful reading of their lengthy and ongoing exchange shows the effort she was prepared to invest in dialoguing with Murray in an attempt to win him over, although she must have known how difficult this would be. It also reveals Murray’s determined resistance, coupled with a desire to remain on good terms with someone who, at this time, wielded much influence through her networks.

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The quite dramatic variability of Murray’s own public statements about Wright suggests his anxieties towards her. He evidently wanted to remain in her good graces, yet felt impelled to distance himself from her political position. He was proud of having suggested her to Whitlam, in 1973, as candidate for the post of Governor-General. Only three years later, he wrote harshly of Wright having ‘lost all her compassionate understanding of country people since she became an activist’: ‘She seems to have denied the pioneers and lost her Dreaming, and it’s a tragedy.’38 Implicit (sometimes explicit) in Murray’s exchanges with Wright was a contest over the inheritance of a white Australian poetry of the land, in particular, over its legitimacy as a privileged national genre. Where Wright had refused the nationalist and—in that sense—colonial role of white Australian poetry, Murray refused that refusal. His interest was to identify with and invoke the rural battlers whose views, he believed, had been relegated by a city-based progressive intelligentsia, specifically by such groups as ecologists and environmentalists whose views ran counter to his own ‘yeoman farmer’, ‘Boeotian’ philosophy.39 Problematically, Murray’s imagined battlers do not coincide with the real constituency for his poetry. Having alienated many among Australia’s cultural elites, Murray has cultivated readerships in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany, a development assisted by his own remarkable fluency in languages and his preparedness to travel.40 Attesting to the potent reciprocity of national and transnational spheres, international recognition has in turn bolstered Murray’s national standing, in the teeth of local criticism. NonAustralian readers may have little knowledge about or stake in the specific relations between Murray and Wright, their respective social backgrounds, their very different familial histories or what these might mean in their originating national context. For these white Australian poets, personal histories had yielded experiences of ‘displacement’ from the land and concomitant desires for imaginative reclamation and belonging. But it was precisely in the poets’ very different responses to these experiences that their public representations were most strikingly defined.

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Conclusion: Legacies and futures of the writer–intellectual The legacy of Wright’s representations is still being debated. As Philip Mead has pointed out and as Lines’ book exemplifies, it is not literary critics who are now mapping her legacy, but environmentalists, conservationists and Indigenous activists.41 In 2005 the first Two Fires Festival of Arts and Activism was held in the New South Wales town of Braidwood, not far from Wright’s bushland home, ‘the Edge’. The festival, the initiative of a team led by Martin Mulligan, an ecologist and environmentalist based at RMIT in Melbourne, sought to further Wright’s legacy and to ‘stoke the two fires of arts and activism’.42 Supported by conservation and Indigenous networks and attracting the participation of intellectuals, writers, artists and members of the public, the festival was timely. It tapped a mood of growing anger and frustration among progressive intellectuals about the entrenchment of hard right conservatism and the winding back of environmental, social justice and human rights priorities in Australia over the last decade. Wright was a constant touchstone for speakers at the festival’s various public forums, and was seen as bearer of the flame of activist campaigning. The intricate negotiations of her poetic career, writing and activism, however, remained relatively obscure and unspoken. It made sense to frame the festival this way. Focusing on the legacy rather than the person suited the aim of fostering a broadbased, arts–activism dialogue as a spur to action. Wright would wholeheartedly have approved. She disliked and discouraged the cult of the author, and urged people to listen to her message, which she considered far more important than herself. In this she had a point. Yet there is also a value in holding principled commitment to the expansion of humane values and to inclusive dialogue with the ‘other’, in tension with clear recognition of human limitation, self-interest and contradiction. People are integral to any political or social message, and their representations have a bearing on the course of events. Bourdieu unveiled the self-interest that attends all human action while refusing the apathy that threatened to flow from such awareness. In 2001 Said turned to Bourdieu, pondering the possibilities of his ‘collective intellectual’. Bourdieu had advocated a ‘corporatism of the universal’, the right of intellectuals collectively to promote the value of their world view, to universalise the privileged conditions of existence that make pursuit of the

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universal possible.43 For Said, beyond ‘any master plan or blue print or grand theory’ or ‘utopian teleology’, such intellectuals might just invent—in the rhetorical sense of ‘inventio’—’a better situation from the known historical and social facts’.44 This would mean clearly acknowledging the interests of the literary field, and its historical trajectory, without surrendering its humanising values. Appropriately enough, the drive to hold on to contradiction returns us to the work of art itself and to the promise it yielded for Said. Among the most luminous of Said’s meditations are his posthumously published essays on the ‘late style’ of those great artists who, facing death, dramatise rather than resolve contradiction: ‘This is the prerogative of late style: it has the power to render disenchantment and pleasure without resolving the contradiction between them. What holds them in tension, as equal forces straining in opposite directions, is the artist’s mature subjectivity, stripped of hubris and pomposity, unashamed either of its fallibility or of the modest assurance it has gained as a result of age and exile.’45 Maybe it’s only in the effort to hold open, fully and honestly, the contradictions of human fallibility that freedom from the gritty necessities and determinations of public life begins. So I return to Judith Wright. Tim Bonyhady claims that Wright finally saw activism, rather than poetry, as the more urgent and legitimate claim.46 Even if her late deprecation of poetry can be taken at face value, it’s a false dichotomy. From the first, Wright’s poetry pitched itself towards the world, and her activism was sourced in that vision. I conclude with the last stanza of ‘For a Birthday’, dedicated to Jack McKinney and published in The Two Fires. Throughout, the poet works the seam between poetry and action. An initial oscillation between imperative verbs (‘bind’, ‘live’, ‘act’, ‘love’) and passive voice (‘was bound’, ‘was commanded’, ‘was served’) dramatises the interplay between agency and determination, choice and submission. Passivity falls away, as the poet arrives at, without resolving, the paradox of commitment and mortality: Build, though the world be falling, that crystal, your truth. Its eight sides shall be your dwelling though time take your breath.47

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Notes 1 2 3 4

5 6

7

8

9

10 11

12

13

14 15

16

17

18

19 20 21 22

Said, ‘The public role of writers and intellectuals’, p. 28. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, pp. 50–62. Ibid., pp. 72–3. For example Neill, ‘Who is killing the great books of Australia?’, and McCann, ‘How to fuck a Tuscan garden’. Wright, ‘Sanctuary’, Collected Poems: 1942–1985, pp. 139–40. For an account that traces the beginnings of environmental consciousness in Australia to as early as the 1860s, see Hutton & Connors, A History of the Australian Environmental Movement. William Lines’ recent book, Patriots, confines its discussion to the campaigns of the post-1945 era. Wright first presented this theory in a two-part essay, ‘The writer and the crisis’ (1952), later reprinted together in her prose collection, Because I was Invited (1975). Wright’s Preoccupations in Australian Poetry (1965) marked her own influential intervention in the field of Australian literary study, including her recovery of the colonial poet Charles Harpur as a significant precursor for her own poetic-intellectual project. All well documented in Brady’s biography, South of My Days, and in Wright’s extensive archives held in the National Library of Australia (NLA), in the Judith Wright Papers, MS 5781. Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. xiv. Bourdieu’s understands amor fati, exemplified in romantic love, as ‘love of one’s social destiny’, and as embodied system for the reproduction of gender relations (see Masculine Domination, p. 37). In South of My Days, for example, Brady reports (p. 126) that Judith and Jack read across the fields of contemporary physics, mathematics, science and philosophy, including the works of Jung, Owen Barfield, Wittgenstein, Jeans and Eddington. This is a recurrent phrase of Wright’s, appearing in various works, including her poem, ‘Two Dreamtimes’ (1973), in Collected Poetry, pp. 315–18. Wright, ‘South of My Days’ (1945), in Collected Poetry, p. 20. Cf. Buckley’s notorious characterisation of Wright in trying ‘not to be a woman, but a bard, commentator or prophet’ as ‘a bit of a shrew’ (see his Essays in Poetry, pp. 174–5); Strauss notes the masculinist terms of Wright’s early reception (see Judith Wright, p. 13). From Wright, ‘Chapter 2: The 1950s’, an unpublished draft for her memoir, held in Judith Wright Papers, NLA MS 5781, Acc 05/48 and 05/81. From Wright’s letter to Kathleen McArthur, 9 June 1953—this passage is transcribed in Wright’s unpublished notes for her memoir: NLA MS 5781, Acc 05/81. See Brady, South of My Days, pp. 260–1, and Jones, ‘Why weren’t we listening?’, pp. 44–9. Wright, ‘Reading and nationalism’, in Going on Talking, p. 46. Wright, ‘Bullocky’ (1944), in Collected Poetry, p. 17. Ibid., p. 47. See Wright’s letter to Dorothy Green, 7 April 1963, in Judith Wright Papers, NLA MS 5781, Box 28, Folder 211.

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23 24 25 26 27 28 29

30 31

32 33 34

35 36

37

38 39

40

41 42

43 44 45 46 47

Wright, Going on Talking, p. 47. Read, Belonging, p. 52. Brady, South of My Days, p. 474. See Lines, Patriots, pp. 48–9 and 165. Flannery, Beautiful Lies, pp. 38–41. See Tom Griffiths, Hunters and Collectors, pp. 259–63. The recurrent theme of Wright’s obituaries was most succinctly sounded by fellow poet Robert Gray: ‘She fulfilled the highest role of the poet, she was the conscience of this country’ (cited in Labi, ‘Wright remembered as passionate, powerful’). See Almon, ‘A poet challenges his readers’, p. 124. In 2002, Garner and Williamson, with others, signed a letter of protest about mandatory detention of refugees (‘Refugee policy corrodes our soul’, Age, 13 February 2002, p. 14) and in 2004 Williamson and Murray criticised Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war (see Wilson & Woolf, Authors Take Sides, pp. 72–4 and 96–7). See Dessaix, Speaking Their Minds. Carter, The Ideas Market, pp. 29–30. See Lazarus, ‘Representations of the intellectual in Representations of the Intellectual’, esp. pp. 119 and 141. See Koval, Tasting Life Twice, p. 263. This information is drawn from Murray’s letter to Wright, dated 7 February 1973, held in Judith Wright’s Papers, NLA MS 5781, Box 25, Folder 185. See ‘Judith Wright and Les Murray: Correspondence’, pp. 162–82. I was first alerted to this exchange through Peter Alexander’s account of it in his biography, Les Murray: A Life in Progress, pp. 209–14. Murray generously granted me access to his papers where both sides of the exchange were held. Concerned that the exchange had not been fully represented in Alexander’s account, I obtained the consent of both Murray and Meredith McKinney (having agreed to the condition that there be no framing editorial comment and only appended notes of clarification) for the exchange to be published in Southerly. Murray, ‘The Australian republic’ (1976), in Quality of Sprawl, p. 79. Dixon discusses Murray’s opposition to urban-based green philosophies in his essay, ‘Two versions of the Australian pastoral: Les Murray and William Robinson’, esp. pp. 299–301. See Petersson’s ‘ Odysseus from the Outback’, which discusses the enthusiastic critical reception in Germany of Murray’s verse narrative, Fredy Neptune (1998). Mead, ‘Two fires: Poetry and local government’, p. 32. From the Two Fires Festival website, www.twofiresfestival.com/twofires/ about. Bourdieu, ‘The corporatism of the universal’, p. 110. Said, ‘The public role of writers and intellectuals’, p. 34. Said, On Late Style, p. 148. Bonyhady, ‘The fine art of activism’, p. 4s. Wright, ‘For a birthday’, in Collected Poems, p. 151.

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Bibliography Alexander, Peter, Les Murray: A Life in Progress, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 2000. Almon, Bert, ‘A poet challenges his readers’, Antipodes, vol. 11, no. 2, December 1997, p. 124. Bonyhady, Tim, ‘The fine art of activism’, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2000, p. 4s. Bourdieu, Pierre, ‘The corporatism of the universal: The role of intellectuals in the modern world’, Telos, vol. 81 (Fall 1989), pp. 99–110. ——Masculine Domination (trans. Richard Nice), Polity Press, Cambridge, 2001. ——The Rules of Art (trans. Susan Emanuel), Polity Press, Cambridge, 1996. Brady, Veronica, South of My Days: A Biography of Judith Wright, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1998. Buckley, Vincent, Essays in Poetry, Mainly Australian, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1957. Carter, David, The Ideas Market: An Alternative Take on Australia’s Intellectual Life, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2004. Dessaix, Robert (ed.), Speaking Their Minds: Intellectuals and the Public Culture in Australia, ABC Books, Sydney, 1998. Dixon, Robert, ‘Two versions of Australian pastoral: Les Murray and William Robinson’, Imagining Australia: Literature and Culture in the New New World (eds Judith Ryan & Chris Wallace-Crabbe), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004. Flannery, Tim, Beautiful Lies: Population and Environment in Australia (Quarterly Essay 9), Black Inc., Melbourne, 2003. Glover, Richard, ‘World without words’, Sydney Morning Herald (Good Weekend), 26 June 1993, pp. 34–41. Griffiths, Tom, Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1996. Hutton, Drew & Libby Connors, A History of the Australian Environmental Movement, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999. Jones, Jennifer, ‘Why weren’t we listening?’, Overland, vol. 171, 2003, pp. 44–9. ‘Judith Wright and Les Murray: Correspondence’, Southerly, vol. 63, no. 1, 2003, pp. 162–82. Koval, Ramona, Tasting Life Twice: Conversations with Remarkable Writers, ABC Books, Sydney, 2001. Kurzman, Charles & Lynn Owens, ‘The sociology of intellectuals’, Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 28, 2002, pp. 63–90. Labi, Sharon, ‘Wright remembered as passionate, powerful’, the Age, 27 June 2000. Lazarus, Neil, ‘Representations of the Intellectual in Representations of the Intellectual’, Research in African Literatures, vol. 36, no. 3 (Fall 2005), pp. 112–23. Lines, William, Patriots: Defending Australia’s Natural Heritage, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld, 2006.

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McCann, Andrew, ‘How to fuck a Tuscan garden’, Overland, vol. 177, 2004, pp. 22–4. Mead, Philip, ‘Two fires: Poetry and local government’, Overland, vol. 182, 2006, pp. 30–5. Murray, Les, ‘The Australian republic’ (1976), in The Quality of Sprawl: Thoughts About Australia, Duffy & Snellgrove, Sydney, 1999. Neill, Rosemary, ‘Who is killing the great books of Australia?’, Weekend Australian, 18–19 March 2006, Review, pp. 4–6. Petersson, Irmtraud, ‘ “Odysseus from the Outback”: Fredy Neptune in German and its critical reception’, Australian Literary Studies, vol. 22, no. 1, May 2005, pp. 1–28. Read, Peter, Belonging: Australians, Place and Aboriginal Ownership, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000. Said, Edward W., On Late Style, Bloomsbury, London, 2006. ——‘The public role of writers and intellectuals’, The Nation, 17–24 September 2001, p. 27. ——Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures, Vintage, London, 1994. Stephens, Tony, ‘Conscience of the country lives on’, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 2000, p. 13. Strauss, Jennifer, Judith Wright (Oxford Australian Writers Series), Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995. Wilson, Jean Moorcroft & Woolf, Cecil (eds), Authors Take Sides: Iraq and the Gulf War, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 2004. Wright, Judith, Because I was Invited, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1975. ——Collected Poems: 1942–1985, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1994. ——Going on Talking, Butterfly Books, Springwood, NSW, 1992. ——Half a Lifetime (ed. Patricia Clarke), Text Publishing, Melbourne, 1999. ——Preoccupations in Australian Poetry (1965), API Network, Perth, 2004

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Humanism as worldly affiliation

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6

The worldliness of intimacy Lisa Lowe

It was terribly sad to lose Edward Said in September 2003, and an even greater sorrow that he died just after the United States invaded Iraq in a fever of anti-Islamic orientalism against which he had worked his entire life. Said devoted himself tirelessly, as a scholar and a public intellectual, to analysing the means through which modern European colonialism had secured its powerful claim to civilisation through constructing the Arab and Middle Eastern worlds as backward, primitive and in need of Western development. Orientalism (1978) inaugurated a criticism of not merely European colonialism but also of Eurocentrism that transformed the humanities and social sciences throughout the 1980s, particularly the fields of history, anthropology and literature, but also sociology, studies of religion, philosophy and arts; the critique unsettled the authority of European narratives that developed societies and civilisation from prehistory to modernity and that privileged the Western nation state as the universal model to be attained, against which all other societies would be measured and compared. What accompanied Said’s watershed deconstruction of orientalism was not only the critical study of European colonialism in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Australasia and the

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Pacific but also the recognition of decolonisation movements across the globe as well as the cultural critiques that had emerged from postcolonial locations after independence. He situated himself as a Palestinian, and made eloquent public statements about the need for peace in the Middle East and justice for Palestinian people. His Culture and Imperialism (1993) investigated the large archive of European imperial culture and, noting the traditional conception of aesthetic culture as autonomous and separate from worldly affiliation, he reconnected French and British narratives, with great precision, to the worldly conditions of colonialism, slavery and domination. Dedicated to Edward Said, my chapter extends this particular dimension of his project, concerned to restore to a European intellectual tradition its place in the global setting of colonialism. Or, put otherwise, through a meditation on the ‘worldliness of intimacy’, I embed the liberal philosophical idea of ‘freedom’ within the worldly processes that were the conditions for its abstraction. In an inversion of the presumed universality of metropolitan culture and the particularity of the colonies, Said commented that worldliness, the quality of being ‘saturated with worldly concerns’, was ‘a vast ocean of human effort in which the official culture exists like an archipelago’.1 In this tribute to Said, I treat the liberal narrative of European freedom as an archipelago within the vast human efforts of African slavery and Asian indenture in the European colonised ‘new world’ of the Americas. In The Black Jacobins (1938), C. L. R. James commented that the fortunes created by the slavery-based societies in the Americas gave rise to the French bourgeoisie, producing the conditions for the ‘rights of man’ demanded in the Revolution of 1789.2 In Cuban Counterpoint (1940), Fernando Ortiz observed that ‘peoples from all four quarters of the globe’ laboured in the ‘new world’ to produce tobacco and sugar for European consumption.3 Ortiz commented: ‘Sugar was mulatto from the start.’ Yet while much is known about European modernity, less is known about the constituent relationships between colonialism, slavery, indigeneity and indentureship. Historians, philosophers and sociologists have written extensively about the origins of modern Europe, whether they focus on the French Revolution as a key event in the shift from feudal aristocracies to democratic nation states, or whether they emphasise the gradual displacement of religious explanation by secular scientific

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rationalism, the shift from mercantilism to industrial capitalism, the growth of modern bureaucracy, or liberal citizenship within the modern state. There is also a distinguished historiography of the Atlantic slave trade and slave economies throughout the Americas.4 There is work on indentured labour systems that utilised Europeans and Africans, but sparser attention to the role of Chinese and Indian migrations to the early Americas, fewer that document the complex history and survival of native peoples in the Caribbean, and even fewer that examine the connections, relations and mixings of Asian, African and native peoples in the Americas.5 The larger project from which this discussion is drawn is an inquiry into the politics of knowledge about ‘new world modernity’, in which I ask what is affirmatively known and constitutively forgotten about the interdependencies between Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, and elaborate how this economy of affirmation and forgetting has distinctly shaped our understanding of the historical nineteenth century when the British abolished the slave trade and introduced Chinese indentured workers into the West Indian colonies. My task here is to explore how colonial relations in the Americas were the conditions of possibility for European philosophy to think the universality of human freedom, however much freedom for colonised peoples was precisely disavowed within that philosophy.6 This idea of freedom is found in the classical liberal tradition that narrated political emancipation through citizenship in the state, that declared economic freedom in the development of wage labour and an exchange market, and that emphasised the protection of individual liberty by government and constitution, in each case unifying particularity, difference or locality through universal concepts of reason and community. In what follows, I situate European liberalism within its colonial conditions of possibility through a genealogy in which a particular meaning of intimacy as the possession of the colonial bourgeoisie has been abstracted. While intimacy, in this sense, is usually taken to mean private familiarity or domesticity, I employ the term ‘against the grain’, to elaborate several meanings, which I place in relation to one another within the emergence of modern liberal humanism. First, I propose intimacy as spatial proximity or adjacent connection; with ‘the worldliness of intimacy’ I hope to evoke the political and

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economic logics through which men and women from Africa and Asia were forcibly transported to the Americas. They, along with native, mixed and Creole peoples, constituted slave societies, the profits from which gave rise to bourgeois republican states in Europe and North America.7 I read British Colonial Office papers from 1803 to 1807 and from 1852 to 1866, in tandem with debates between British parliamentarians and West Indian planters, to observe a world division of labour emerging in the nineteenth century.8 In 1807, as Britain abolished the African slave trade in their empire, the first Chinese were sent to Trinidad as a new labour force for the plantations. In a ‘Secret Memorandum from the British Colonial Office to the Chairman of the Court of Directors of the East India Company’, written in 1803 just following the Haitian Revolution, a colonial administrator laid the groundwork for the introduction of Chinese indentured labourers into the British West Indies. He wrote: The events which have recently happened at St Domingo necessarily awakes [sic] all those apprehensions which the establishment of a Negro government in that land gave rise to some years ago, and render it indispensable that every practicable measure of precaution should be adopted to guard the British possessions in the West Indies as well against … the danger of a spirit of insurrection being excited amongst the Negroes in our colonies. … no measure would so effectually tend to provide a security against this danger, as that of introducing a free race of cultivators into our islands, who, from habits and feelings could be kept distinct from the Negroes, and who from interest would be inseparably attached to the European proprietors … The Chinese people … unite the qualities which constitute this double recommendation.9 After two centuries of African slavery, this British plan to import Chinese coolies marked a significant, yet largely ignored shift in the management of race and labour in the colonies. The decision to experiment with a different form of labour was explicitly racialised— ‘a free race … who could be kept distinct from the Negroes’—but moreover it framed the importation of this newly ‘raced’ Chinese

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labour as a solution both to their need to suppress black slave rebellion and to their desire to expand production. The context for the British desire to innovate sugar production in the West Indian colonies was the international or ‘transcolonial’ rivalries with the French West Indies, the primary producer of sugar for the world market before the Haitian Revolution, and Spanish Cuba and Puerto Rico, which were quickly becoming more competitive since those revolts.10 In this sense, while some historians explain the end of slavery in the Americas throughout the nineteenth century as a response to liberal abolitionists, we might view the British decision to end the slave trade in 1807, and slavery in its empire in 1834, as pragmatic attempts to stave off potential black revolution, on the one hand, and to resolve difficulties in the sugar economy resulting from the relative ‘rigidity’ of slave labour within colonial mercantilism, on the other.11 The ‘Trinidad experiment’ imagined the Chinese as a ‘racial barrier between [the British] and the Negroes’, the addition of which would produce a new division of labour in which the black slaves would continue to perform fieldwork and a ‘free race’ of Chinese could grind, refine and crystallise the cane. The British described the Chinese workers as ‘free’, yet the men would be shipped on the same vessels that had brought the slaves they were designed to replace; some would fall to disease, die, suffer abuse and mutiny; those who survived the three-month voyage would encounter coercive, confined conditions upon arrival. In this sense, the British political discourse announcing a decision to move from ‘primitive slavery’ to ‘free labour’ may have been a modern utilitarian move, in which abolition proved to be an expedient, and only coincidentally ‘enlightened’, solution.12 The representations of indentured labour as ‘freely’ contracted buttressed liberal promises of freedom for former slaves while enabling planters to derive benefits from the so-called ‘transition from slavery to free labor’ that in effect included a range of intermediate forms of coercive labour, from rented slaves, sharecroppers and convicts to day labourers, debt peonage, indentureship and workers paid by task.13 The Chinese were instrumentally used in this political discourse as a figure, a fantasy of ‘free’ yet racialised and indentured labour, at a time when the possession of body, work, life and death was foreclosed to the enslaved and the indentured alike. In other

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words, in 1807, the category of ‘freedom’ was central to the development of what we could call, after Foucault, a modern racial governmentality in which a political hierarchy ranging from ‘free’ to ‘unfree’ was deployed in the management of the diverse labours of colonised peoples. In 1807, as Britain moved from mercantilist plantation production towards an expanded international trade in diversified manufactured goods, the Chinese coolie appears in colonial and parliamentary papers as a figure for this world division of labour, a new racial mode of managing and dividing labouring groups through the liberal promise of freedom that would commence with the end of slavery. The second meaning of intimacy I examine is the more common one of privacy, often figured as conjugal and familial relations in the bourgeois home, distinguished from the public realm of work, society and politics.14 The Chinese emigrant to the Americas occupied a place, a topos, in the colonial discourses constituting bourgeois intimacy. While this distinction between private and public spheres emerged as a nineteenth-century ideal characterising British, European and northeastern American societies, the separation of the feminine home and the masculine world of work has been criticised by some feminists scholars as a liberal abstraction for ordering relations in civil society that is contradicted by the social realities of labouring women.15 The paradigm of separate spheres, moreover, cannot be simply extended to colonial or slave societies, where the practice of private and public spheres was unevenly imposed: colonial households and districts may have aspired to such divisions in manners reminiscent of the European metropolis, but nativedescendant peoples, African slaves and indentured Chinese could be said to be at once differentiated from, and yet subordinated to, regulating notions of privacy and publicity. Furthermore, in the colonial context, sexual relations were not limited to a ‘private’ sphere but included practices that disrespected such separations, ranging from rape, assault, domestic servitude or concubinage to ‘consensual relations’ between colonisers and colonised.16 We must critically historicise, then, this second meaning of intimacy, of sexual and affective intimacy within the private sphere, insofar as bourgeois intimacy was precisely a biopolitics through which the colonial powers administered the enslaved and colonised,

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and sought to indoctrinate the newly freed into forms of Christian marriage and family. The colonial management of sexuality, affect, marriage and family among the colonised formed a central part of the microphysics of colonial rule.17 Bourgeois intimacy, as an effect of the private and public split that was the socio-spatial medium for both metropolitan and colonial hegemony, was produced by the ‘worldliness of intimacy’: in the sense that the political economy of slave and indentured labour in the colonies founded the formative wealth of the European bourgeoisie, and in the sense that the labour of enslaved and indentured domestic workers furnished the material comforts of the bourgeois home. Following Said’s Culture and Imperialism, we must surely consider the imperial archive as a site of knowledge production, ‘reading’ it as a technology for administering and knowing the colonised population that both attests to its own contradictions and yields its own critique.18 In this sense, the British colonial archive is not a static, comprehensive collection of given facts but a living record of the methods for administering the colonies. Reading British documents on the design of introducing Chinese women among the Chinese contract labourers in the West Indies, I have become especially interested in the figure of the Chinese woman, who recurs throughout the papers as a trope for the colonial imagination of the Chinese capacity to develop bourgeois intimacy. From the inception of the plan to introduce Chinese into Trinidad, throughout the nineteenth century administrators state their desire to import Chinese women, but all documents indicate that Chinese female emigration was actually quite rare. Attorney-General Archibald Gloster wrote: I think it one of the best schemes possible; and if followed up with larger importation, and with women, that it will give this colony a strength far beyond what other colonies possess. It will be a barrier between us and the Negroes with whom they do not associate; & consequently to whom they will always offer formidable opposition. The substituting of their labour instead of Negro labour is out of the question, as to the common business of the plantation. They are not habituated to it, nor will they take to it in the same way, nor can we force them by the same methods; but their

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industrious habits, and constitutional strength, will I think greatly aid the planters. They will cut and weed cane. They will attend about our mills. They will act as mechanics …19 The introduction of the Chinese into the slave plantation economy was thus described in terms of a need for a nominally ‘free’ labour force, one that would not ‘substitute’ for the slaves but would perform different labours and would be distinguished racially and socially from both the white colonial planters and the black slaves. Gloster imagined the community of Chinese workers as an adjacent group that would form a ‘racial barrier between us and the Negroes’. The British introduced the Chinese into the community of white colonials and black slaves as a contiguous ‘other’ whose liminality permitted them to be, at one moment, incorporated as part of colonial labour and, at another, elided or excluded by its humanist universals. Being neither free European nor the white European’s ‘other’ the black slave, neither lord nor bonded, the Chinese were represented as a paradoxical figure, at once both an addition that would stabilise the colonial order and the supplement whose addition might likewise threaten the attainment of any such stability.20 The Chinese woman figured as a colonial fantasy of the Chinese capacity for bourgeois family and ‘freedom’. That Gloster goes on in the same document to liken the Chinese to ‘our Peons, or native Indians … Mulattoes or Mestees’ really indicates no similarity between the Chinese labourer and the mixed, partnative or native descendant peoples with whom he may have worked. Rather, I understand this colonial association of the Chinese with various racially mixed figures as a moment in the history of modern humanism and racism, in which the fixing of a hierarchy of racial classifications gradually emerged both to manage and modernise labour, reproduction and society among the colonised and to rationalise the conditions of creolised mixing and the range of potential ‘intimacies’ among them.21 With respect to the long history of black African and native American interethnic contacts from the fifteenth century onward, Jack Forbes has argued that native, as well as partAfrican and part-native persons, were mostly misclassified with terms ranging from ‘loro’, ‘mestizo’, ‘gens de couleur’ or ‘mulatto’, to ‘dark’ or ‘brown’, to even ‘negro’, ‘noir’ or ‘black’. The late eighteenth-century

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topographer of St Domingue, Moreau de Saint-Mérys, presented eleven racial categories of 110 combinations ranked from absolute white (128 parts white blood) to absolute black (128 parts black).22 We can explain the dramatic, encyclopaedic proliferation of both racial classification and racial misattribution of this period if we observe that the racial governmentality continually innovated new terms for managing population and social spaces in the Americas.23 The colonial relations of production, which required racial mixing, constituted a ‘political unconscious’ of modern European taxonomies of race; the relations of production were the absent yet necessary context that founded the possibility for racial classification, in spite of the racial mixing belied by these often arbitrary classifications.24 Joan Dayan writes of Haiti: ‘If racial mixing threatened to contaminate, the masters had to conjure purity out of phantasmal impurity. This sanitizing ritual engendered remarkable racial fictions.’25 The West Indian governors’ offices stated that the needs of the plantation demanded male workers, but even in the early correspondence, we see the Colonial Office rationalising the idea of creating Chinese families through the desire for a stable racial barrier between the colonial whites and the enslaved blacks. Yet the idea of Chinese reproduction, which persists in the colonial correspondence and parliamentary debates throughout the peak years of emigration in the 1850s and 1860s, was a quite curious fantasy, contradicted by the fact that the Chinese in the Caribbean and North Americas did not establish family communities in significant numbers until the twentieth century.26 The persistent mention of Chinese families suggests that, for some colonial administrators, the ‘value’ of the Chinese may not have been exclusively their labour but also the instrumental use of the figure of Chinese sexuality as resembling the ‘civility’ of European marriage and family, in an implicit contrast to the sexualised representations of ‘the peculiar nature’ of African and African-descendant mulatto peoples.27 In the 1803–07 discussions before the British decision to end slavery, this fantasy of Chinese family civility was a way of marking a racial difference between ‘Chinese free labour’ and ‘Negro slaves’, through imagining the Chinese as closer to liberal ideas of the human person and society. Later, in the 1850s and 1860s, following the end of slavery in the British West Indies in 1834, by which time there were significant numbers of working ‘free’ people of colour and

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South Asian Indian emigrant labourers, this phantasm continued to figure as a part of a racialised classification of labouring cultures. In 1851, the agent in charge of Chinese emigration, James T. White, fantasised a class hierarchy among the groups of the ‘Chinese’, ‘Bengalees’ and ‘Negroes’ based on the races’ ostensive physical traits and capacities for forming families, stating the social potential of the Chinese to form ‘middle class’ families through Christian marriage and reproduction.28 This required representations of ‘Chinese culture’ that defined it as one whose traditions could be summarised by the protection of chaste virtuous women who would stabilise the labouring community; ironically, Chinese women could be imagined as virtuous only to the extent that ‘Chinese culture’ would not permit them to emigrate. As a figure who promised social order, the Chinese woman was a supplement who appeared to complete the prospective future society of the colony; yet her absence, around which desire was reiterated, marked the limit of a social field whose coherence and closure depended upon ideas of racial purity and distinction. In contrast, while later nineteenth-century British colonialist and Indian nationalist discourses idealised middle-class upper-caste women in India, the bhadramahila, as ‘pure’ and ‘chaste’ symbols of the nation, both discourses represented immigrant lower-caste Indian women in the indentured communities in the West Indies as licentious and immoral, precisely because they had emigrated.29 The colonial archive reveals the altogether fantastic structure of racial imaginations based on ideas about Asian female sexualities. Throughout the nineteenth century, the racialised sexual differentiation of Africans, East and South Asians and native people emerged as a normative taxonomy that managed and spatially distanced these groups from the spheres within which ‘freedom’ was established for European subjects. For European subjects in the nineteenth century, not only did this notion of intimacy in the private sphere become central as a defining property of the modern individual in civil society, but also ideas of privacy in bourgeois domesticity were constituted as the individual’s ‘possession’ to be politically protected, as in ‘the right to privacy’. We can trace this narrative of the modern individual or Western man, who possesses interiority of person, as well as a private household, in the liberal political philosophical tradition from Rousseau, Kant and Hegel through to its critique in Marx and Engels.

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Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (Philosophie des Rechts, 1821), is arguably distinct in this tradition, however, for its impressive narrative synthesis that has defined the central forms of modern personhood, property, family, civil society and state. Hegel’s text pivots on the dialectical overcoming of ‘slavery’ by modern human ‘freedom’ to be resolved in the unity of human particularity with the universality of the state. Yet this ‘overcoming’ depended upon a concept of ‘slavery’ that located ‘slavery’ in the ‘old world’ of ancient Greece and Rome rather than the ‘new world’ of the Americas. Hegel employed freedom and slavery as primary metaphors in the dialectic of human self-realisation elaborated in his Phenomenology and in the Philosophy of Right, but significantly foreclosed mention of the slave revolts in Haiti going on at the time of the writing and publication of these works.30 Michel-Rolph Trouillot has argued that the Haitian Revolution entered history with the peculiarity of being ‘unthinkable’ even as it happened, and then forcibly forgotten within more than a century of historiography.31 The important Hegelian dialectic that established intimacy as a property of the individual man within his family in civil society enacted a series of influential displacements that rendered unavailable not only slavery per se but also the relations I wish to signify with the concept of the ‘intimacies of four continents’. Hegel’s dialectic obscured Europe’s dependency on the new world in a narrative of European autonomy and disavowed native, Asian immigrant and African work, resistance and contribution to the emergence of European modernity. In Philosophy of Right, Hegel traced the dialectical development of the individual’s self-consciousness through the political forms of property, family, civil society and the state. We can think of Hegel’s dialectic as a series of phases in which each subsequent phase emerges as a more explicit or more inclusive whole of which the former phase can be in retrospect seen as one moment. In this process of supersession or sublation, what Hegel called aufhebung, the initial contradiction is suppressed and reformulated in new terms, involving a preservation of its original terms in either a deferral or an elevation of the contradiction to a higher level.32 This movement encompasses Hegel’s idea of negation comprehending difference, assimilating and overcoming opposition or relation. This dialectic is essential to understanding and to human being; negation always takes place and

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operates within a unity; we conceive of nothing and have nothing without this totalising unity. For Hegel, this movement takes place both on the level of the individual person and through the movement towards self-consciousness, as well as through the evolution of the person and community in the ethical and political forms of family, civil society and state. Property in oneself and in the objects one makes through will, labour and contract—all are levels in Hegel’s dialectical development that resolve in the unity of the particular will of the individual with the collective universality of the whole, or the state. ‘Property’ is the way that Hegel explained the individual initially investing will and work into nature, making that nature objective, transforming the world and himself. Through property, the condition of possibility of human self-possession—of one’s body, interiority and life direction—is established. Indeed, Hegel argued that property was an essential condition for the possibility of moral action because without property, without a locus of independence of the individual will, the person cannot be independent, thoughtful or self-conscious; without property, he will be dominated by others, by needs and by nature. Thus, the individual’s possession of his own person, his own interiority, is a first sense of ‘property’.33 The ethical contract of marriage and the development of the family are then more complex social manifestations of ‘property’ within Hegel’s vision of the development of freedom. The individual man establishes his relation to ‘family’ through marriage to a woman whose proper place is the ‘inner’ world of the family, the family constituting the key intermediary institution between civil society and the state. Interiority of person and of the domestic sphere of the family are thus stages in Hegel’s description of the progressive unfolding of the ethical life.34 In this sense, Hegel defined ‘freedom’ as being achieved through a developmental process in which the individual first possessed himself, his own interiority, then put his will in an object through labour, then made a contract to exchange the thing. Marriage and the family were primary and necessary sites of this investment of will in civil institutions; the ‘intimacy’ within the family was the property of the individual becoming ‘free’. Property, marriage and family were essential conditions for the possibility of moral action and the means through which the individual will was brought consciously into

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identity with the universal will, expressing the realization of true ‘freedom’, rather than mere duty or servitude. In 1834 Britain initiated the four-year period of ‘apprenticeship’ in the West Indies that was to grant full ‘emancipation’ to slaves in 1838. This ‘emancipation’ was to promise slaves this set of institutions comprising ‘freedom’: ‘emancipation’ proposed a narrative development in which wage labour, contract, marriage and family would be the formal institutions through which modern freedom could be attained and the condition of slavery overcome. Yet ‘emancipation’ clearly did not establish freedom for Black peoples in the West Indies, many of whom were still confined to the plantation, and others who left bound in economic servitude and poverty. Indeed, as Thomas Holt has argued, the socialisation of former slaves into liberal promises of freedom in Jamaica was part of the gradual disciplining of Blacks into waged work, which Marx would call ‘another form of slavery’.35 Saidiya Hartman has argued that ‘emancipation’ effectively inserted former slaves into an economy of social indebtedness.36 Catherine Hall has observed that the disciplining of former slaves in Jamaica likewise included their ‘civilisation’ into English bourgeois notions of gender, morality and family, as well as inculcating in the newly freed the judgement that they were essentially ‘savage’ and unable to adapt to the requirements of civilisation.37 The British inserted the Chinese as so-called ‘free labourers’ at the critical time of slave ‘emancipation’, calculating that they would occupy an intermediary position within this governmentality in which the colonised became human through development of economic and political freedom. In other words, the liberal promise that former slaves, native and immigrant workers could enter voluntarily into contract was a dominant mode for the initiation of the ‘unfree’ into consensual social relations between ‘free’ human persons: in the crucible of American modernity, Amy Dru Stanley has observed, the contracts of labour and marriage became the very symbols of humanity and freedom.38 To appreciate the particular ‘plasticity’ of the figure of the Chinese within liberal capitalist modernity, we need only compare the representation of these same workers by the Australian pastoralists of the 1830s. As the supplies of convict labour to New South Wales declined in the early nineteenth century, Chinese and Indian labourers were sought as cheap alternatives to free British labour. In this

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different location within the British empire, settler-colonialism was premised on displacing the native indigenous populations to appropriate their lands, rather than extracting surplus value from their labour.39 The introduction of Chinese labour into New South Wales was not precipitated by the end of African slavery, as it was in the Americas, but was generated by the shortage of another form of coerced labour, that of prisoners in penal settlements in which more than half of the population had arrived as convicts, yet whose numbers by 1851 had dwindled to fewer than 15 per cent.40 Initially, pastoralists sought indentured Indian labourers to replace the convicts, but when these plans were banned by British authorities, they turned in the late 1840s to the same Chinese indentured trade that had supplied Cuba, Peru and the British West Indies, to bring approximately 3,500 indentured Chinese to New South Wales between 1847 and 1852.41 In this instance, Chinese coolies were not represented as ‘free’, as they were in the ‘Trinidad experiment’, but were precisely regarded as a substitute for the ‘unfree’ convict labour. Mid-century liberal arguments against Chinese indenture included both the equation of Chinese indenture with slavery, as well as statements that the Chinese import would inhibit more desirable British immigration. Later in the century, during the gold rush, when Chinese immigrants to Australia were no longer indentured, several antiChinese arguments for exclusion were repeated: the ‘barbarous’ Chinese were ‘racially inferior’ and ‘unable to assimilate’ and were therefore a threat to the racial purity of an Anglo-Saxon ‘White Australia’ that fuelled the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901.42 These late nineteenth-century Australian arguments for Chinese exclusion resonate with those found in US discourses about Chinese labour. Like Australian liberals, whites arguing in the USA for the prohibition of Chinese female immigration in the Page Law of 1875, and the end to all further Chinese immigration in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, emphasised that Chinese labourers recruited to work in mining, agriculture and railroad construction in the mid-nineteenth century were ‘unfree’ and therefore ineligible for citizenship.43 Historian Moon-Ho Jung observes of the nineteenth century US debates that the Chinese ‘coolie’ was opportunistically constructed as a transitional figure, midway between slavery and free labour, used both to define and to obscure the boundary between enslavement and freedom.44

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The Chinese contract labourer occupied a liminal, ambiguous intermediary position throughout the nineteenth century. The trade brought the workers to supplement, replace and obfuscate the unfree labour previously performed by slaves and convicts, yet differentially distinguished from them. In the penal settlement of New South Wales, the Chinese were first sought as desirable replacements for unfree convict labour, yet excluded by the end of the nineteenth century as ‘racially inferior’ to whites. In the British discourse about the West Indies, the Chinese labourer was a ‘harbinger of freedom’, yet in the Australia and the USA, the Chinese were considered a ‘relic of slavery’.45 In Cuba, where the Chinese were indispensable to the modernisation of the sugar industry, ‘coolies’ were presented as a new source of tractable workers, a viable supplement to slave labour.46 We see that Chinese indentured labour in the nineteenth century was differentially exploited in various locations; the coolie solution in each of these different sites appears as a colonial trope of a new economic liberalism that sought to insert a new racialised worker within a social hierarchy that ranged from ‘free’ to ‘unfree’. Finally, there is a third meaning of intimacies in the constellation to be elaborated. Returning now to the introduction of Chinese into the British West Indies, I refer to the sense of intimacies embodied in the variety of contacts among slaves, indentured and mixed free peoples living together on the islands, which resulted in what Antonio Benitez-Rojo characterises as the ‘supersyncretism’ of ‘the collision of European, African, and Asian components within the [Caribbean] Plantation’.47 The British colonial archive on Chinese emigration to the West Indies includes a rich assortment of documents: letters from the West Indian governor’s offices requesting specific numbers of labourers per year; documents describing measurements of ships, the water supply and the nature of provisions aboard; immigration agents’ records of lengths of voyages, mortality and survival rates of the human cargo; ships’ logs of abuses, mutinies, disease and opium use. There are copies of the public notices posted in the Chinese ports to recruit workers with promises of freedom, and copies of the contracts for five years of indenture at two to three dollars per month. As stated earlier, I approach the colonial archive not as a source for knowledge retrieval but as a site of knowledge production; in this sense, one notes the explicit descriptions and enumerations, but also

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observes the rhetorical peculiarities of the documents, the places where particular figures, tropes or circumlocutions are repeated to cover gaps or tensions; these rhetorical ellipses point to illogic in the archive, as well. So, while this third sense of ‘intimacies’—the varieties of contacts between labouring peoples—is never explicitly named in the documents, it is, paradoxically, everywhere present in the archive as alluded to by such ellipses. ‘Intimacies’ between contracted emigrants and slaves and slave-descendant peoples are repeatedly referenced by negative means, in cautionary rhetorics and statements of prohibition with respect to possible contacts between the slaves and the indentured, all implying the fear and anxiety of racial proximity in a context of mixture and unstable boundaries. For example, White’s 1851 letter to the Governor of British Guiana warned: ‘The Chinese are essentially a social and a gregarious people and must be located in masses together, not scattered throughout the colony. They must be kept in the first instance distant and separate from the Negroes, not only at their work, but also in their dwellings.’48 The repeated injunctions that different groups must be divided and boundaries kept distinct indicate that colonial administrators imagined as dangerous the sexual, labouring and intellectual contacts among slaves, indentured, non-white peoples. The racial classifications in the archive arose, thus, in this context of the colonial need to prevent these unspoken ‘intimacies’ among the colonised. This other valence of ‘intimacies’, then, can be said to be the obverse of the intimacy of bourgeois domesticity. These ‘intimacies’ are the range of labouring contacts that are necessary for the production of bourgeois domesticity; they are also the intimacies of captured workers existing together, the proximity and affinity that gave rise to political, sexual, intellectual connections, including subaltern revolts and uprisings: organisations and uprisings that included the Haitian Revolution, the Louisiana cane workers strike of 1887 or the cross-racial alliances that underlay the Cuban struggles for independence in 1895–98.49 This third sense of intimacies as cross-racial alliance is suggested in the work of James and Ortiz, who emphasised the connections of slave-based colonial societies in the Americas to the prosperity of Europe. Both Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois also linked black slavery with a global system that used Chinese coolie labour. In his history of the colonial division of labour in Guyana that separated

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blacks and Asians and permitted the post-emancipation exploitation of those divisions, Walter Rodney advanced an analysis that suggested that Asian indentured workers could have been part of a working class of colour, which would have constituted what he called ‘a definite historical achievement’.50 Thus, defining ‘intimacies’ as the ‘worldly’ relation—between the ‘archipelago’ of European ideas and the vast human efforts of slavery and indenture—critically frames the more restricted meaning of intimacy as the private property of the European and North American individual. Interpreting the multivalence of ‘intimacy’, I have tried to identify the genealogy of the process through which the ‘worldliness of intimacy’ was rationalised and sublated by a notion of ‘intimacy’ that defined the liberal individual’s freedom. Reading the archive, I have observed that racialised ideas of family reproduction became central to early nineteenth-century humanism and, reading political philosophy, observed that the racialised distribution of ‘freedom’ was an integral part of this legacy. Modern hierarchies of race appear to have emerged in the contradiction between humanism’s aspirations to universality and the needs of modern colonial regimes to manage work, reproduction and the social organisation of the colonised; in this sense, the ‘worldliness of intimacy’ formed the ‘political unconscious’ of modern racial classification. However, these ’intimacies’ remain almost entirely illegible in the historiography of modern freedom, making the naming and interpretation of this global conjunction a problem of knowledge itself. It has been estimated that, between 1451 and 1870, 11,569,000 African slaves were brought to the new world,51 and that after the sixteenth century, out of 80 million native peoples in the Americas, there remained 10 million.52 Between 1834 and 1918 half a million Asian immigrants made their way to the British West Indies, in the context of possibly another million going to Latin America, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia.53 But, while these numbers powerfully convey the roles of working peoples of colour in the building of the ‘new world’, I am less concerned to pursue the significance in demographic terms, and more concerned to inquire into the production of knowledge that might link the Asian, African, creolised Americas to the rise of European and North American bourgeoisie societies.

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What we know of these links and intimacies has been rendered legible through modern methods of comparative study. Yet Europe is rarely studied in relation to the Caribbean or Latin America, and US history is more often separated from studies of the larger Americas. Ethnic studies work on comparative US racial formation is still at odds with American history that disconnects the study of slavery from immigration studies of Asians and Latinos, or that separates the history of gender, sexuality and women from these studies of ‘race’. Native Caribbeans have been rendered invisible both by the histories that tell of their extermination in the sixteenth century and by the subsequent racial classifications in which their survival is occluded. While anthropological studies have focused on ethnic mixings of Asian and African peoples in the Caribbean, historians are just beginning to explore the braided relations of indenture, slavery and independence among these groups.54 Recently, scholars of the Black diaspora have undertaken the histories of both forcible and voluntary African dispersion as means for understanding the longer global past of new world modernity. Eric Williams and Cedric Robinson both observed the centrality of black labour to the development of modern global capitalism, which exactly depended upon the vast labour of African slaves just as European labour moved from agrarian to factory work.55 Later studies like Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic illuminate the encounter between Europe and the ‘new world’; others bring to light the circuits and connections among Yoróban Africans, Afro-Caribbeans and African Americans.56 Yet Robin D. G. Kelley emphasizes that the significance of Black diaspora projects to the field of US history may be precisely their capacity to chart more than black identities and political movements, what he calls ‘other streams of internationalism not limited to the black world’.57 Kelley’s call to investigate ‘other streams of internationalism not limited to the black world’ is suggestive with respect to reconstructing a global past in which Asia emerges both within and independently of a European modernity built on African slavery, in which Asian contract labour in the Americas is coterminous with the emancipation of African slaves. Like Said’s ‘worldliness’, Kelley’s ‘other streams of internationalism’ requires new inquiries that will uncover and interpret evidence of these relations, but it also means that we must investigate

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the modalities of ‘forgetting’ these crucial connections. I suspect that Asian indentureship in the early Americas has been ‘lost’ due to its ambiguous status with respect to freedom and enslavement, polar terms in the dialectic at the centre of modern political philosophy. Yet I would not want to discuss this loss as an isolated absenting of Asians in the making of the Americas. Rather, the loss is a sign of the more extensive forgetting of social violence and forms of domination that include but are not limited to indentureship; that reaches back into the slave trade and the extermination of native peoples that founded the conditions of possibility for indentureship; that stretches forward into the ubiquitous migrations of contemporary global capitalism of which Asian contract labour may be a significant early instance. Moreover, the loss of the figure includes the process of the operative forgetting itself, the way the humanist archive naturalises itself and ‘forgets’ the conditions of its own making.58 In this sense, my purpose in observing the elision of Asian actors in the modern Americas is not to pursue a single, particularist cultural identity, not to ‘fill in the gap’ or ‘add on’ another transoceanic group, but to explain the politics of our lack of knowledge. It is to be more specific about what I would term the ‘economy of affirmation and forgetting’ that structures and formalises liberalism. This economy civilises and develops freedoms for ‘man’ in modern Europe while relegating others to geographical and temporal spaces that are constituted as uncivilised and unfree. One of its histories is the particular manner in which freedom overcomes enslavement through a dialectic that displaces the migrations from and connections of ‘four continents’ and internalises it in a national struggle of history and consciousness. ‘New world’ people of the British, French, Dutch and Spanish colonised Americas created the conditions for modern liberalism, despite the disavowal of these conditions in the political reason on which it is largely based.59 Colonial racial classifications and an international division of labour emerged coterminously as parts of a genealogy that were not exceptional to, but were constitutive of, that humanism. Freedom was constituted through a narrative dialectic that rested simultaneously on a spatialisation of the unfree as exteriority and a temporal subsuming of enslavement as internal difference or contradiction. The ‘overcoming’ of internal contradiction resolves in freedom within the modern Western political sphere through

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displacement and elision of the coeval conditions of slavery and indentureship in the Americas. In this sense, modern liberalism is a formalism that translates the world through an economy of affirmation and forgetting within a regime of desiring freedom. The affirmation of the desire for freedom is so inhabited by the forgetting of its conditions of possibility that every narrative articulation of freedom is haunted by its burial, by the violence of forgetting. What we know as ‘race’, ‘gender’ and ‘nation’ are the traces of modern liberalism’s amnesia. They reside within, and are constitutive of, the modern narrative of freedom, but are neither fully determined nor exhausted by its ends. They are the remainders of the formalism of affirmation and forgetting. The observation that liberalism is a formalism that translates through affirmation and forgetting must be pursued in a variety of ways. Some have recovered lost or hidden histories, to provide historical narratives for the ‘people without history’, those forgotten in the modern tales of national development, or have challenged existing historiography with new studies of the political economy of British imperialism in nineteenth-century China and India that produced the impoverishment that led to the emigration of Asian labourers. In new ethnographies interpreting the syncretic cultures of Caribbean ‘créolité’, ‘mestizaje’ and ‘métissage’, anthropologists Aisha Khan and Viranjini Munasinghe have found other versions of person and society, beginning and end, life and death, quite different remnants of the earlier affirmation and forgetting.60 We could study representations of the rise and fall of the plantation complex in the Americas in nineteenth-century Caribbean literature, or its recasting in the twentieth century by Alejo Carpentier, Jean Rhys or Maryse Condé. We could look at how the problem of forgotten intimacies is thematised in recent Caribbean diasporic or postcolonial literature: Patricia Powell’s novel The Pagoda (Harcourt Brace, 1998), for example, imagines the coexistence of Chinese and Indian immigrants, blacks, whites and creoles, in nineteenth-century Jamaica; Cristina Garcia’s Monkey Hunting (Knopf, 2003) imagines the late nineteenth-century union of an escaped Chinese indentured labourer and the slave woman he buys and frees, and follows their Afro-Chinese–Cuban descendants from China to Cuba to the USA and Vietnam. Each and all, these are rich and worthy directions to pursue.

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In my discussion, however, I have not moved immediately towards recovery and recuperation but rather have paused to reflect upon what it means to supplement forgetting with new narratives of affirmation and presence. There are an ethics and a politics in struggling to comprehend the particular loss of the intimacies of four continents, to engage slavery, genocide, indenture and liberalism, as a conjunction, as an actively acknowledged loss within the present. David Eng and David Kazanjian describe a ‘politics of mourning’ that would ‘investigate the political, economic and cultural dimensions of how loss is apprehended and history is named—how that apprehension and naming produce the phenomenon of “what remains” ‘.61 Moustafa Bayoumi, reflecting on the manuscript of Sheikh Sana See, an African Muslim slave in nineteenth-century Panama, observes that it ‘is at once a product of the modernity of slavery as it is a representation of how modernity obliterates that which stands in its way’.62 Stephanie Smallwood, historian of the seventeenth-century Atlantic slave trade, has put it this way: ‘I do not seek to create—out of the remnants of ledgers and ships’ logs, walls and chains—“the way it really was” for the newly arrived slave waiting to be sold. I try to interpret from the slave trader’s disinterest in the slave’s pain those social conditions within which there was no possible political resolution to that pain. I try to imagine what could have been.’63 The past conditional temporality of the ‘what could have been’ symbolises aptly the space of a different kind of thinking, a space of productive attention to the scene of loss, a thinking with twofold attention that seeks to encompass at once the positive objects and methods of history and social science, as well as the matters absent, entangled and unavailable by its methods. I have tried to suggest that understanding the relation of the intimacy of the ‘possessive individual’ to the ‘worldliness of intimacy’ requires a past conditional temporality in order to reckon with the coeval violence of affirmation and forgetting, in order to recognise that this particular violence continues to be reproduced in liberal humanist institutions, discourses and practices. However, in doing so, we do not escape the inhabiting of our present, and the irony that many of the lost struggles we would wish to engage are not only carried out in the languages of liberty, equality, reason, progress and human rights. Almost without exception, they must also be translated

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into the political and juridical spaces of this tradition. From contests over the integrity of body, land and place to those of life and death, present struggles over ‘liberty’ are often legible only in terms of those spaces authorised by liberal political reason. * I end with a final suggestion that the most profound legacy of Edward Said may not be his analysis of orientalism or the study of culture and imperialism, but the scale and worldliness of his commitments, which ranged from the roles of women in the French Algerian War to the suffering of those displaced and stateless and the plight of secular humanism in an era of pre-emptive war. Perhaps the legacy of Edward Said’s decency and courage as a public intellectual is that his work has challenged us all, as ‘inheritors of that style by which one is defined by a nation’, as he put it so well, to pursue a worldly definition of justice, not confined to an exclusive national ideology, not restricted to the cause of a single people or border. Author’s note An earlier version of this chapter has been published as ‘The intimacies of four continents’ in Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History (ed. Ann Laura Stoler), Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2006. Notes 1 2 3 4

5

Said, ‘An unresolved paradox’, p. 3. See James, The Black Jacobins. Ortiz, Cuban Counterpoint. See Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen; Elkins, Slavery; Patterson, Sociology of Slavery; Klein, Slavery in the Americas; Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade; Davis, Slavery and Human Progress; and Eltis, Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. A new generation of scholars is asking new, different questions of these earlier studies, for example, Johnson, Soul by Soul; Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery; and Hartman, Lose Your Mother. See Saunders, Indentured Labour in the British Empire, 1834–1920; Look Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar and Chinese in the West Indies, 1806–1995; Helly, Cuba Commission Report. For discussions of native peoples in the Caribbean, see Forbes, Black Africans and Native Americans; Benitez-Rojo, The Repeating Island; and Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs. On Chinese in the Caribbean and US South, see Jung, Coolies and Cane.

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6

7

8

9 10

11 12 13

14 15

I am not merely observing that philosophers employed freedom and slavery as metaphors while foreclosing mention of the slave revolts in the Americas; nor am I emphasising only that modern philosophy’s definition of human freedom excluded women, slaves and non-Europeans, or simply condemning Hegel’s transparent racism towards the ‘dark races’ of Africa, India and China. Rather, it is my concern to identify dialectical supersession as a key logic that enacts the foreclosure of colonial slavery in the development of European freedom. I develop this argument further in ‘Race from universalism’, tRACEs (ed. David Theo Goldberg; forthcoming). Among the definitions of intimacy offered by the Oxford English Dictionary are ‘state of being personally intimate’; ’sexual intercourse’; ’close familiarity’; ’closeness of observation, knowledge, or the like’; ’intimate or close connexion’; and ‘inner or inmost nature; an inward quality or feature’. I interpret primary documents from several historical periods: first, correspondence surrounding the introduction of the first Chinese workers into Trinidad in 1807; second, correspondence from 1850 to 1853 (Great Britain, Colonial Office Correspondence CO 885, Vol. 1/20); third, records from 1860 to 1862 (Colonial Office Correspondence, CO 111, Vol. 327) and from 1861 to 1863 (Colonial Office Correspondence, CO 111, Vol. 334); discussions of the Chinese Passenger Act of 1855 (Foreign Office Correspondence, FO 97, Vol. 101). All documents in the Public Records Office, London, UK. See also Great Britain Parliamentary Papers: Correspondence, Dispatches and Other Communications Respecting the Emigration of Chinese Coolies, 1852–58, and Burnley, Observations on the Present Condition of the Island of Trinidad and the Actual State of the Experiment of Negro Emancipation. On Chinese indentured labour in the Americas, see Look Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean and Chinese in the West Indies, and Helly, The Cuba Commission Report. On slave trade and global economy, see Williams, Capitalism and Slavery; Robinson, Black Marxism; Tomich, Through the Prism of Slavery; and Eltis, Economic Growth. Great Britain Colonial Office Correspondence, CO 295, Vol. 17. See Tomich, Slavery in the Circuit of Sugar, and Stinchcombe, Sugar Island Slavery in the Age of Enlightenment. Françoise Lionnet elaborates the concept ’transcolonial’ to stress the multiple spatialities of the colonised Caribbean. Lionnet, ‘Narrating the Americas: Transcolonial Métissage and Maryse Condé’s La Migration des coeurs’, pp. 46–64. See Mintz, Sweetness and Power, and Eltis, Economic Growth. Scott, Slave Emancipation in Cuba. See Cooper, Holt & Scott, Beyond Slavery; also Holt, The Problem of Freedom. See for example, Berlant, Intimacy. On the history of gendered separate spheres, see Wolff, Feminine Sentences; on feminist critique of separate spheres: Fraser, ‘What’s critical about critical theory?’; and Brown, States of Injury. On feminists of colour’s criticism of separate spheres as a concept that disregards racialised women’s labour, see Glenn, ’Racial ethnic women’s labor’, and Collins,

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16

17

18 19

20

21

22

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24 25 26

27 28

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Black Feminist Thought. Kaplan’s ’Manifest destiny’ discusses the extension of separate spheres ideology through imperial projects. See Stoler, ’Tense and tender ties’; also Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power. On the role of Christian marriage as a social form for assimilating ex-slaves into middle-class citizenship, see Hall, Civilizing Subjects, and Cott, Public Vows. Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge; Said, Orientalism. Great Britain Colonial Office Correspondence, CO 295, Vol. 17; emphasis mine. On the figure of the neighbour and the injunction to ‘love thy neighbour’, see Reinhard, ‘Freud, my neighbor’. On the historical periodisation of scientific racial classification: Goldberg, The Racial State; Haraway, Primate Visions; and Moore, Kosek & Pandian, Race, Nature and the Politics of Difference. Joan Dayan has commented on Moreau’s ‘radically irrational’ racial taxonomy that it was ‘stranger than any supernatural fiction’ (Dayan, Haiti, History, and the Gods, pp. 231–2). The racial governmentality I trace is a normative taxonomy that defined the terms of civilisation for both the coloniser and the colonised. Its classifications managed work and reproduction of the colonised, placing subjects within a discourse of civilisation and a regime of desiring freedom. This governmentality insisted on racial distinction and purity, yet admitted an always already creolised and miscegenated population that required classification. The Chinese woman was a figure of impossibility signifying the limits of the taxonomy, a trope for the Chinese capacity for bourgeois domesticity within the context of its historical impossibility, and a sign of colonial desire for an indentured family community that would create a racial barrier between black and white. See Foucault, ‘Governmentality’, and ’Society Must Be Defended’. On racial governmentality, see Ferguson, Aberrations in Black. Jameson, The Political Unconscious. Dayan, Haiti, History, and the Gods, p. 190. Representations of ‘Chinese women’ varied remarkably in the contexts of immigration to the West Indies and the western USA. In the British discourses, Chinese women appear as passively feminine and antiquated, unsuitable for work, while in the US discussion of the 1875 Page Law ‘Chinese women’ were represented as prostitutes, promiscuous and morally inferior. See Yung, Unbound Feet. Dayan, Haiti, History, and the Gods, p. 197. White wrote: ‘Chinese have sufficient intelligence and ambition to rise in the world, and in a short time would become useful and valuable as a middle class in the West Indies … one difficulty … is the impossibility of obtaining women and families’ (Colonial Office Correspondence, CO 885, Vol. 1/19). On the ‘woman question’ in Indian nationalism, see Mani, Contentious Traditions; Sangari & Vaid, Recasting Women; Chatterjee, The Nation and

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30

31 32

33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

49 50

51

Its Fragments; and Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe. On representing Indian indentured women’s sexuality, see Kale, ‘Projecting identities’; and Niranjana, ‘Left to the imagination’. The San Domingo revolts occurred in virtually the same years as Hegel was writing the Phenomenology of Spirit. Buck-Morss, ‘Hegel and Haiti’. Trouillot, Silencing the Past. The overcoming of the contradiction is elaborated in Hegel’s dialectic of lordship and bondage in Phenomenology of Spirit and in the Bildung of the state in the Philosophy of Right. See also Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel; Kelly, Idealism, Politics and History; and Butler, Subjects of Desire. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Part I, pp. 76–84. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Part III, pp. 199–207. Holt, Problem of Freedom. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection. Hall, Civilizing Subjects. Stanley, From Bondage to Contract. Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology. Price, The Great White Walls are Built. Curthoys, ‘Liberalism and exclusionism’. Markus, Fear and Hatred. Lowe, Immigrant Acts; Glenn, Unequal Freedom. Jung, Coolies and Cane. Ibid.; Curthoys, ‘Liberalism and exclusionism’. Helly, Cuba Commission Report. Benitez-Rojo, Repeating Island. Great Britain Colonial Office Correspondence, CO 885, Vol. 1/19; emphasis mine. See Scott, ‘Fault lines, color lines, and party lines’. The Chinese coolie figured also in the anti-slavery and anti-colonial thought of Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois and Walter Rodney. For example, Douglass wrote in 1871 about the ‘rights of the coolie in California, in Peru, in Jamaica, in Trinidad, and on board the vessels bearing them to these countries are scarcely more guarded than were those of the Negro slaves brought to our shores a century ago’ (Douglass, ‘Coolie trade’ and ‘Cheap Labor’, in Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, vol. 4, Reconstruction and After, p. 266). Du Bois describes ‘That dark and vast sea of human labor in China and India, the South Seas and all Africa, in the West Indies and Central America and in the United States’ and calls for ‘emancipation of that basic majority of workers who are yellow, brown, and black’ (Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880, p. 16). Rodney, in A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881–1905, writes eloquently of the race as a contradiction produced by the use of the labour of former slaves and that of indentured workers from Asia. Database of Stephen Behrendt, David Richardson and David Eltis at W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University. See also Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade.

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52 53

54

55 56 57 58

59

60 61 62 63

Todorov, Conquest of America, pp. 47–9. See Look Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar; Helly, Cuba Commission Report; Adamson, Sugar Without Slaves; Tinker, A New System of Slavery; Laurence, A Question of Labour; Hu-De Hart, ‘Chinese coolie labor in Cuba and Peru in the nineteenth century’, pp. 149–81; and Yun, ‘Under the hatches’, pp. 38–61. Anthropological studies have richly interpreted the mixed cultures of African, South Asian Indians and Chinese in twentieth-century Trinidad as expressing the longer braided histories of indenture, slavery and independence. See Dabydeen and Samaroo, Across the Dark Waters; Yelvington, Trinidad Ethnicity; Wood, Trinidad in Transition; Khan, Callaloo Nation; and Munasinghe, Callaloo or Tossed Salad? Williams, Capitalism and Slavery; Robinson, Black Marxism. Gilroy, Black Atlantic; Clarke, Mapping Yoróba Networks. Kelley, ‘How the West was one’, p. 124. On the politics of memory, see Yoneyama, Hiroshima Traces; also Fujitani, White & Yoneyama, Perilous Memories. On the role of liberal political reason in imperial projects, see Hindess, ‘Metropolitan liberalism and colonial autocracy’, and Helliwell & Hindess, ‘The “empire of uniformity” and the government of subject peoples’. Khan, Callaloo Nation; Munasinghe, Callaloo or Tossed Salad? Eng & Kazanjian, Loss. Bayoumi, ‘Moving beliefs’. Conversation with Stephanie Smallwood about her study Saltwater Slavery.

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Space in the South Asian Diaspora (ed. Peter Van Der Veer), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1995, pp. 72–92. Kaplan, Amy, ‘Manifest destiny’, in The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of US Culture, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2002. Kelly, George Armstrong, Idealism, Politics and History: Sources of Hegelian Thought, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1969. Kelley, Robin D. G., ‘How the West was one: African diaspora and the re-mapping of US history’, in Rethinking American History in a Global Age (ed. Thomas Bender), University of California, Berkeley, 2002, pp. 123–47. Khan, Aisha, Callaloo Nation: Metaphors of Race and Religious Identity among South Asians in Trinidad, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2003. Klein, Herbert, Slavery in the Americas, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1967. Kojève, Alexandre, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit [Introduction à la Lecture de Hegel, 1947] (trans. James H. Nichols, Jr.), Basic Books, New York, 1969. Laurence, K. O., A Question of Labour: Indentured Immigration to Trinidad and British Guiana, 1875–1917, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1994. Lionnet, Françoise, ‘Narrating the Americas: Transcolonial métissage and Maryse Condé’s La Migration des coeurs’, in Mixing Race, Mixing Culture: Inter-American Literary Dialogues (eds Monica Kaup & Debra J. Rosenthal), University of Texas, Austin, 2002, pp. 65–87. Look Lai, Walton, Chinese in the West Indies, 1806–1995, University of the West Indies Press, Mona, Jamaica, 1998. ——Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar: Chinese and Indian Migrations to the British West Indies, 1838–1918, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 1993. Lowe, Lisa, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 1996. Mani, Lata, Contentious Traditions: Debate on Sati in Colonial India, University of California, Berkeley, 1998. Markus, Andrew, Fear and Hatred: Purifying Australia and California, 1850– 1901, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1979. Mignolo, Walter, Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2000. Mintz, Sidney, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History, Viking, New York, 1985. Moore, Donald S., Kosek, Jake & Pandian, Anand (eds), Race, Nature and the Politics of Difference, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2003. Munasinghe, Viranjini, Callaloo or Tossed Salad? East Indians and the Cultural Politics of Identity in Trinidad, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 2001. Niranjana, Tejaswini, ‘ “Left to the imagination”: Indian nationalisms and female sexuality in Trinidad’ (eds Mary John & Janaki Nair), A Question of Silence? The Sexual Economies of Modern India, Zed, London, 2000.

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Ortiz, Fernando, Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar (first published 1940), Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 1995. Patterson, Orlando, Sociology of Slavery: An Analysis of the Origins, Development and Structure of Negro Slave Society in Jamaica, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Rutherford, NJ, 1975. Price, Charles, The Great White Walls are Built, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1974. Reinhard, Kenneth, ‘Freud, my neighbor’, American Imago, vol. 54, no. 2, 1997, pp. 165–95. Robinson, Cedric, Black Marxism, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 1983. Rodney, Walter, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881–1905, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore MD, 1981. Said, Edward W., Orientalism, Pantheon, New York, 1978. ——‘An unresolved paradox’, MLA Newsletter, Summer 1999. Sangari, Kumkum & Vaid, Sudesh (eds), Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1990. Saunders, Kay (ed.), Indentured Labour in the British Empire, 1834–1920, Croom Helm, London, 1984. Scott, Rebecca, Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860–1899, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1985. Smallwood, Stephanie, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2007. Stanley, Amy Dru, From Bondage to Contract: Wage Labor, Marriage, and the Market in the Age of Slave Emancipation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998. Stinchcombe, Arthur L., Sugar Island Slavery in the Age of Enlightenment: Political Economy of the Caribbean World, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1995. Stoler, Ann Laura, ‘Tense and tender ties: The politics of comparison in North American history and (post) colonial studies’, Journal of American History, December 2001, pp. 829–65. ——Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, University of California, Berkeley, 2002. Tannenbaum, Frank, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the Americas, Knopf, New York, 1947. Tinker, Hugh, A New System of Slavery: Export of Indian Labour Overseas, 1830–1920, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1974. Todorov, Tzvetan, Conquest of America: Question of the Other, Harper, New York, 1984. Tomich, Dale, Slavery in the Circuit of Sugar, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 1990. ——Through the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital and World Economy, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2004. Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 1995.

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Williams, Eric, Capitalism and Slavery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 1944. Wolfe, Patrick, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event, Cassell, London, 1999. Wolff, Janet, Feminine Sentences, Blackwell, Oxford, 1990. Wood, Donald, Trinidad in Transition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1968. Yelvington, Kevin (ed.), Trinidad Ethnicity, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1993. Yoneyama, Lisa, Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space and the Dialectics of Memory, University of California, Berkeley, 2000. Yun, Lisa, ‘Under the hatches: American coolie ships and nineteenth-century narratives of the Pacific passage’, Amerasia Journal, vol. 28, no. 2, 2002, pp. 38–61. Yung, Judy, Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco, University of California, Berkeley, 1995.

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7

Edward Said’s unhoused philological humanism Ned Curthoys

The scholar who does not consistently limit himself to a narrow field of specialization and to a world of concepts held in common with a small circle of likeminded colleagues, lives in the midst of a tumult of impressions and claims on him. Erich Auerbach, ‘Philology and Weltliteratur’.

In the final analysis, the critic, beneath the cold rationality of the professional, is … a sentient being, with his own contradictions and spontaneous impulses. Leo Spitzer, ‘Development of a method’. This chapter is concerned with the unique legacy that Said has left us as a practitioner and theorist of comparative literature. I argue that as an ethicist of cosmopolitan humanism, Said renews the historical and interpretive principles of comparative literature for a multicultural and post-national era. Said enriches and emboldens comparative literary study by reminding his discipline of the ‘restlessly self-clarifying’ performances of a cosmopolitan humanism. Said is

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intrigued by exiled, itinerant scholars affected by a tumult of impressions, experiences and ethical demands. His oeuvre offers a critical history of the ‘dramatic’ and unstable conditions under which humanist criticism has been produced, in order to underscore the achievements of particular personalities living in a critical, unresolved relationship with their era.1 Said’s version of a performative and ‘unhoused’ humanism explicable ‘through … works and interventions’ is a sustained critique of the parochialism and narrowness of institutional disciplinarity. Said refuses the ever-present temptation of literary studies to succumb to the imperiousness of a method, the disembodied and factitious textual space of a formalism, the ‘automatism’ of a specialisation, or what he derided as the ‘insouciance’ of an esoteric jargon for initiates.2 Exuberantly narrating the biography and worldly conditions of his favourite philological critics, Said’s representations of luminous and ‘heroic’ forms of philological scholarship remind us that ‘humanism should be a form of disclosure, not of secrecy or religious illumination’.3 This chapter extends Said’s portrait of a post-national humanist philology that is sensitive to history as textured, dynamic and incomplete, a philological ethos alert to the necessity of critically intervening in contemporary idioms and political languages.

Said: A revitalised philology Said was fascinated by the ‘revitalised’ extraterritorial philology practised by the exiled German Jewish and Viennese Jewish Romance scholars Erich Auerbach and Leo Spitzer before, during and after World War II. Recreating the émigré ethos of these illustrious literary critics, Said invokes a cosmopolitan ethic of care and hospitality, a ‘vocabulary of attention’ deliberate in its curiosity about and care towards other cultures and their historical inter-relationships and imbrications.4 Said affiliates his critical ethos with a creative, interpretative humanism practised by a constellation of ‘untimely’ philological thinkers stretching from Giambattista Vico in the early eighteenth century to Erich Auerbach and Leo Spitzer in the twentieth. Said registers his ethical concerns about literary studies’ parlous lack of political engagement by evoking a near-forgotten generation of exiled, dissident and existentially ‘unhoused’ philological critics and literary historians that includes, as well as Auerbach and Spitzer,

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such names as E. R. Curtius, Victor Klemperer, Walter Benjamin and Werner Krauss.5 As early as 1965 Said reminded us that philology’s ‘material’ need not only be literature but can also be social, legal or philosophical writing, a précis of his own approach to the discursive episteme that constitutes ‘Orientalism’. Said expressly refuses what he described, in The World, the Text, and the Critic, as the isomorphism of biological ‘filiation’ and cultural and institutional ‘affiliation’. Too often scholarly affiliation is a thinly disguised primogeniture whereby professionalised scholars succumb to careerist pressures and assume the comfortable inheritance of an orthodox school of thought, applied method or unreflective assumption as to the naturalness and centrality of their disciplinary specialisation, usually a recognised type of author or period studies. In institutionalised area studies, writes Said, ‘representation and affiliation [frequently do] above-ground work for the conservation of filiation’, an analysis more supple than but cognate with Pierre Bourdieu’s description in Homo academicus of the subservient academic ‘oblate’ whose remit is to continue the traditions of their institution and protect its methodologies from outside invaders.6 Said’s reflections on literary criticism invoke deracinated and displaced thinkers who radiate a sense of ‘cultural mission’, a purposeful relationship to the wider world of human concerns that is also recursive, enabling the adventurous intellectual to reflect on their motivations, peculiar characteristics and worldly circumstances. Said’s exilic humanism recovers an ‘irreducibly particular’ mode of philological textual critique that betrays inner struggle and tension. In the work of Vico, Auerbach and Spitzer, critical analysis recapitulates and transforms a personal and motivated point of scholarly departure that has, for the critic, both a ‘contingent and yet rational status’ encouraging interrogation and introspection.7 As an enthusiastic admirer of Vico, the great eighteenth-century Italian progenitor of historicism as a receptiveness to the historical plurality of cultural mores and political institutions, Said in his interpretative humanism vigorously critiqued a determinative, prescriptive ethnocentric humanism that sees itself as the gatekeeper of the Western canon. When the brilliant literary critic Leo Spitzer affirmed a Viconian article of faith: that the humanist believes in the power of the human mind to investigate the human mind, Said notes that Spitzer does not say

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the European mind, or only the Western canon, but ‘the human mind tout court’.8 Said’s attempt to affiliate contemporary critique with the eclecticism, critical mobility and vast erudition of an earlier generation of German Romance scholarship is premised on the possibility of a ‘philological work [that] deals with humanity at large and transcends national boundaries’.9 Philology, as practised by gifted thinkers extending from Vico and Nietzsche in the eighteenth and nineteenth century to Auerbach and Spitzer in the twentieth, requires, according to Said, a ‘gift for exceptional spiritual insight into language and the ability to produce work whose articulation is of aesthetic and historic power’.10 For Said, the fate of humanism in the contemporary world hinges on rediscovering the exemplary force of a noble, albeit vulnerable sensibility willing to risk the enactment of the drama of its critical beginnings, enmeshed, as they were, in world-historical forces. The institutionally affiliated humanities scholar wishes to be a constructive, neutral cipher and faithful son or daughter in the areaspecific project of knowledge accumulation. By contrast, the crossdisciplinary and holistic philologist not only lays out the ‘principles of Western literary performance in all their variety, richness, and fertility’ but also both affirms and complicates these extraordinary labours in the ‘very gesture of doing [them]’.11 A revitalised philology suggests a complex and historically formed sensibility that mediates the demands of critical rigour and imaginative synthesis. To put it another way, an extraterritorial philology problematises itself, its practitioner and the present; it is not a secondary function of a belletristic or compensatory conception of literature as a realm of eternal value and moral refinement. Rather, by gesturing to itself and the modernity it seeks to characterise, philology’s energetic self-referentiality and circumstantial gestures draw us, like the worldly characters who people Hannah Arendt’s Men in Dark Times, into diverse temporalities, circumstances and cultural milieux. If we accept that, like Arendt, Said was ever intent on describing and recursively ‘thickening’ his indebtedness to various sociable thought-figures or worldly personae, we should explore Said’s reprisal of certain thematic impulses in German–Jewish philological endeavour in an age of ideological fanaticism and stateless peoples.

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Spitzer: Philology as Bildung I suggest that Said’s humanist ethos draws on the German tradition of Bildung, a cultural and educational ideal of self-formation that combines reason and sensibility, philosophical breadth and characteristic individuality. The subject of Bildung gains mature individuality and ethical purpose through a capacious narrative of diverse experience and interactions with various dramatis personae and symbolic forces. Said inscribes philological critics such as Auerbach and Spitzer within a kind of Bildungsroman, narrating the displacements and cross-cultural encounters of inquisitive humanistic polymaths whose scholarship, exposed to the minority experience of exile and statelessness, critiqued the institutional privilege of disciplinary specialisation and radiated a cosmopolitan sense of cultural mission and ethical task. An Arab in the USA, and as such a perennial outsider, Said identifies the development of his own thinking and activism as an ongoing ‘adventure’, with its contingent performances, necessary interventions and episodic incompletion. The philological humanists whom Said depicts were greatly affected by exile, displacement and continual migration, interrogating their own intellectual assumptions and social and political circumstances in a personal, even confessional register. As Spitzer remarked to an American audience after the war, the appeal of migration is that one always has to reckon with different audiences, discover new intellectual pathways and rely on an enhanced ‘inner activity’ that compensates for external distress. Spitzer feels that this is a situation for the intellectual that is preferable to the usual fashion of the institutionalised German scholar who is well satisfied to ‘live in the paradise of his ideas, whether this be accessible to his fellow men or not’.12 Said agreed with Spitzer’s immigrant worldliness. He rebuked formalist appropriations of Auerbach and Spitzer’s method of close reading, making the pivotal argument that the philological attentions of Auerbach and Spitzer were concerned not with ‘reading but with describing the modes of persistence of texts’.13 In other words, theirs was not a custodial conception of philology intent on authorising manuscript editions and deciphering linguistic genealogies. They were present-minded comparativists intent on an analysis of how certain motifs, themes and topoi permeate the present. A classic

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example of an extra-territorial philological interest in the porous relationship between historical genres and contemporary culture is Spitzer’s elucidation in the 1940s of the baroque preciosity, poetic motifs and repressed lyricism of an American orange juice advertisement, ‘American advertising explained as popular art’ (1949).14 With characteristic comparativist energy, a trait that manifests itself in Spitzer’s predilection for digressive commentary, the essay offers a mordant contrast between Americans’ phlegmatic and sceptical reception of advertising claims and the tendency of Germans to succumb to linguistic idealism. Said sharply differentiates philological textual elucidation and critical commentary from the formalising tendencies of the New Critics and deconstructionists. He remarks that philological attention in the hands of a Spitzer, Auerbach or Benjamin is both ‘for’ and derivable ‘from’ the text, while the critical ingenuity of the (post-) New Critics frequently means the transposition of the literary text, often of canonical status, ‘into an instance of the method’.15 Said combats the dominance of modish and presumptive schools of literary analysis by elucidating an experientially motivated, dynamic and richly acculturated humanism, for which ‘human individuality and subjective intuition, rather than received ideas and approved authority’, is crucial.16 Said’s self-forming philologen are capable of incorporating seemingly ‘alien … or in some cases quixotic and trivial material, into pertinent dimensions of the text’, a text whose boundaries are often permeated by the worldly and political energies of their own commentary.17 Saidian philology is an active and dialectical textual energy, whereby the harmonious development and synthetic awareness typical of Bildung as a post-Kantian aesthetic ideal confronts the minority experience of exile and displacement from the authorising power of nation and scholarly apparatus. A Bildung interrupted by arbitrary violence, a specialised knowledge that meant nothing to political power, Said’s philological humanists, like Arendt’s ‘men in dark times’, are forced to question prevailing intellectual assumptions and political conditions as vulnerable human beings and not just as scholars.18 In Said’s desideratum, philological commentary, exposed to manifold influences, becomes a ‘highly mediated symbol of the world-historical process’.19 Bearing in mind the emergence of philology as an art of critical mediation between scholarly and personal concerns, we turn

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to Said’s manifold reflections on the eighteenth-century historicist Vico, an early exemplar of the world-historical tenor and contemporary engagements of an extraterritorial philology.

Vico’s philological heroism Vico is perhaps Said’s most emblematic culture hero in the history of thought. Certainly he discusses no other thinker with quite the same degree of enthusiasm and enchantment. It was Vico’s New Science (third edition, 1744) that launched an ‘interpretive revolution based upon a kind of philological heroism’, an acknowledgment, suggests Said, that historical texts bear a reality that is ‘misleading, resistant, and difficult’. In positing the alterity of human origins and the intuitive detective powers required to understand them, Vico granted philogical reading a formative power of recomposition and disruption of normative assumption that, Said argues, is ‘paramount for humanistic knowledge’.20 Said aligns Vico’s dissonant philological historicism with Spinoza’s earlier, radical philological critique of literalist, sectarian and demagogic readings of the Hebrew Bible in his TheologicoPolitical Treatise (1670). Spinoza helped forge historical biblical criticism by demystifying the Pentateuch’s claim to Mosaic composition, divine revelation and the Election of the Jews as a chosen people. Spinoza’s immanent philological approach was deceptively simple and yet profound in its consequences. In Said’s terms, Spinoza’s philological method was to read ‘for’ and ‘from’ the text: carefully and in his own words with ‘unfettered spirit’, he made no assumptions about the text before him and attributed to it no doctrines or received ideas that were not ‘clearly therein set down’. By reading ‘in the light of reason’ Spinoza ascertained chronology of composition, made distinctions between literal and figural language, and contrasted eternal precepts with those written for a temporary purpose.21 Philology’s ‘formative power’ continued to draw on the exiled Spinoza’s combination of textual immersion and autonomous volition. Said was enamoured of the secular investigations and searching philological labours of another displaced and untimely scholar, Vico, an historicist and rhetorician in a Cartesian age of universal reason. Vico had an unsatisfactory career at the University of Naples, a lowly professor of eloquence who could not attain the chair of

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jurisprudence that would have alleviated his financial burdens, whose early work on the origins of Italian and Roman law was considered either fanciful or methodologically unsound by his peers and who lived in a principality then controlled by the Spanish. A perennially thwarted Vico remained a rhetorician for the remainder of his professional life, involved, as a professional orator and wordsmith, in a number of serviceable humanist occupations: instructing students in law, theology and philosophy on arts of rhetorical composition, delivering nuptial poems and funeral orations, giving commemorations, allocutions and elegies, preparing inscriptions of all kinds, writing commissioned biographies and, on one occasion, greeting Charles of Bourbon as he entered Naples as its new king in 1734.22 Somehow, toiling humbly in a world of contingent demands including domestic chaos, and required mostly for preliminary or propaedeutic edification rather than higher specialised learning, Vico produced his magnum opus La Scienza nuova (‘The New Science’; 1725). Said describes this work as a ‘revolutionary discovery of astonishing power and brilliance’.23 How to account for the untimeliness, the almost miraculous appearance of Vico’s historicist method in the midst of a rationalist age of apodictic reasoning and the universalist anthropological assumptions of natural law theory? One has a very strong sense from his autobiography, wrote Said in an early article on Vico, limning the dramatic dialectic of worldly energy and diaphanous calm at the core of Vico’s philological discoveries, of ‘an extraordinarily concentrated and severe inner power’ at the ‘center of turmoil and confusion’.24 Vico’s agonistic struggle with his era and circumstances stands in stark contrast to today’s jejune, modish and all too predictable rehearsals of institutionalised theoretical reading that are no longer summoned by the will as it is affected by a ‘tumult of impressions’. It is from Vico that Said will glean the principle that humanist investigation is a kind of Pascalian wager with the immediacy of both doubt and visionary insight, requiring a ‘deep subjective sense for which no substitute, no guidebook or authoritative source is available’, and for which full responsibility must be assumed.25 In this sense Vico’s New Science and its particular modality of inquiry is a new organon, a ‘heroic first reading’ and ‘irreducibly personal act of commitment to reading and interpreting’, that ‘enable[s] many others after them’.26

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Vico’s novel thesis in The New Science was to argue for the emergence of laws and institutions from anthropomorphic figural projections. Vico’s etymological investigations describe how early humankind’s awed evocation of the ‘pa’ of the thunderclap is gradually transformed into a divine presence such as the Roman Jove. From the rituals developed to appease an awesome divinity emerges a durable system of signification that consolidates institutions of familial paternity, political authority and the rule of law. Vico’s etymological philologising reconstructs a history of cultural and political institutions that refers us back to repeatable performances and serendipitous discoveries, for example that of Law, lex, which Vico derives from the act of collection, first of the scattered acorns of the Oak, ilex, and ultimately of readable letters, legere.27 Religion, Vico established, comes from religere, to tie, to bind, which is what religion has accomplished throughout history under the aegis of the idea of God’s providence. Disgusted by putrefying corpses, the principle of burying one’s dead leads ‘all nations’ to reverence for the immortal souls or divine aspect of the dead, enabling an historical sense that begins with genealogy and patronymic naming, engendering dynastic land ownership under divine auspices. In a dubious but imaginative philological flourish, Vico relates the very possibility of the emergence of ‘human’ being to the demarcating and memorialising tendency of humare, the Latin for burial. Vico’s interest in historical contingency was a critique of the rationalist assumption that we can possess clear and distinct ideas and by virtue of these make essentialist distinctions. Etymology and the philological data it yields remind us that we inherit ‘former modes of thought and behaviour’ and that all things necessary to human life, such as metaphysical belief, had to be invented, imagined, felt as an indistinct impression, then gradually transposed into more abstract genres, logics and conceptual schemes.28 The consequences are profound. As Michael Mooney argues, Vico’s insight is that all metaphysics, like all knowledge, derives from the ‘infinitely concrete and immediate idea’ that there is a shouting Jove up there trying to tell us something, the realisation of which creates civil endeavour and the beginning of knowledge as a mode of wonder and curiosity about external substances.29 No specialised knowledge should forget a primal mise en scène of wondrous discovery and that discovery’s civic communication.

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Metaphysics and cognitive inquiry is created, then, from the cross-cultural principles of our life in common: morality emerges from the creation of exemplary heroes, economics from the founding of families, physics from fathoming divine origins, cosmography from peopling the universe with gods, and geography by naming familiar places.30 Formal philosophy depends on the emergence of a common weal with civic ideas. With a paradoxical awareness of historical irony that anticipates Nietzsche, Vico argues that Socrates’ adumbration of abstract moral universals, apparently by inductive reasoning and innate powers of recollection, in fact presupposed the enactment of laws by Athenian citizens that recognised principles of equity. Similarly Plato’s meditation upon external and distinct ideas impervious to the fickle demos depends, ironically, on the public assembly, which unwittingly but collectively sought the dispassionate idea of common utility and justice.31 In a dialectical reversal recurrent in The New Science, Said’s ascetic, heroically determined philologist intent on shutting out the circumambient world of pressing demotic concerns allows himself to relax and expand his inquiries. As Said puts it, the material testimony of language, with its palimpsestial layers of significance, appeals to the already capacious learning and ‘incorporative’ tendencies of the philological humanist, for whom the persistence of the past into the present is a constant stimulus to discourse. Rather than yearn after an irrevocable and authorising origin for philosophical certainty in the manner of Descartes and later philosophers, Said suggests that Viconian philology wants to re-experience the human capacity for ‘forging novel connections’, combining genealogical insight with a desire for ‘adjacency, complementarity, parallelism’ and correlation that harks back to the anecdotal digressions and lay, sociable spirit of Herodotus, Aristotelian rhetoric and Montaigne’s essays. One guise of an enthusiasm for rhetoric is leisurely discourse mediated through prevailing opinion and common topics of discussion.32 As Leo Spitzer avowed, reading at its best requires a ‘strange cohabitation in the human mind of two opposite capacities’— contemplation on the one hand and a ‘protean mimeticism’, a ‘staying with’ the discursive thread of the text, on the other. Emanating from both focused inquiry and a cultivated interest in all things pertaining to human life, Spitzer argues that philological reading is an

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acculturated hermeneutic circle that knows no single authorising origins: ‘to read is to have read, to understand is equivalent to having understood’.33

Viconian philology’s rhetorical inheritance Intent on recreating a sense of philological work as a theatre of competing inclinations, Said draws our attention to the conflicting impulses of civic prudence and dynamic creativity in the narrative strategy of Vico’s ‘ideal eternal history’. Vico desired to construct history in terms of cross-cultural ‘principles of humanity’, a kind of collective common sense of the entire human race. Vico’s awareness that the civic wisdom that instructs our ‘collective fate’ is made, becomes dissolute and needs to be made anew in historical cycles of corso and ricorso, writes Said, does not encourage confidence in a philosophy of history, a concept of historical ‘progress’ or an anthropocentric affirmation of human virtue and rationality.34 Erich Auerbach concurred: in Vico the relationship between imagination and reason is not one of ‘pure temporal succession’ as theories of Enlightenment assume, nor can the two terms ever mutually exclude another; rather in any optimal historical development the two faculties mediate each other, ‘reason serving to enrich the imagination’.35 Vico’s vision of the contingent historical development of civic institutions and ethical norms does not ascertain pure ideas, affirm positivistic knowledge or sacralise such institutions as monarchy or democracy. In humanist fashion Vico interprets the significance of human endeavour through the more tenuous filter of language and suasion as the media by which humans make and unravel their collective fate. The perennial question for Vico is whether our relationship to language can enable us to forge bonds of affection with one another and attend to our practical affairs, the prime desideratum of rhetorical humanism since the Greek Sophists, or whether irony and cynicism, leading to a ‘barbarism of reflection’, corrode our sense of language as genuinely performative and creative, thus constitutive of our common world.36 Rather than acceding to the philosophical hubris of his incipient modernity, inimical to myth and the figurative energies of vernacular language, Vico’s etymology of the emergence of philosophy recalls the youth of the world when philosophers were also called peripatetics

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and politicians, and where rational, natural and moral teachings were always considered a function of civil wisdom.37 Vico’s new organon looks back to the rhetorical wisdom of the ancients, in which language and cultural form serve both communitarian and plastic functions, requiring the cultivated Ciceronian orator or wise Solonic jurist to mediate an ongoing social dialectic between public language on the one hand and a culture’s changing sense of itself on the other.38 Vico was ever intent, writes Joseph Mali, ‘on historical mediation rather than philosophical contraposition’.39 Vico inherited a rhetorical tradition that emphasises an erudite understanding and supple use of linguistic persuasion as a form of practical wisdom: he was both historicist and humanist. His work is solicited by the alterity of the past and the difficult knowledge it yields, but as a late Renaissance Italian humanist he inhabits, in Said’s words, a ‘local and wider historical framework’ with ever-expanding circles of awareness.40 In this respect Vico’s pedagogical and ethical responsibilities require him to revive the fading rhetorical art of prudent discourse and the sociality of topical reasoning in an age of constrictive rationalism. A pedagogue and humanist, Vico was deeply worried by his age’s mania for first principles and comparative neglect of ethics in favour of the natural sciences. Vico felt that the critique of putatively erroneous ideas can be best realised not by the privative means of logical refutation or counter-assertion but by assessing the idea or proposition in the light of every appropriate consideration.41 Indeed the invention of arguments, suggests Vico in the saturnalian spirit that relishes a world upside down, is ‘prior by nature to the critical assessment of their truth’, just as the teaching of rhetorical topics should precede that of critical method.42 Said mirrors this sentiment in Beginnings when he argues that it is not what a ‘theory can explain but what it can assimilate that is important’. An incorporative philologist, Vico offers an ‘appetite and a courage capable of taking in what is ordinarily indigestible’.43 Topical reasoning was performatively initiated by the Greek Sophists and formalised in Aristotelian rhetoric, which recommended phronesis as a prudent, socially inclusive genre of reasoning. Rhetorical topics not only allow the deliberate, thorough mediation and possible re-evaluation of a fund of common sense that leaves ‘nothing untouched’, unrevealed or to be desired by the listener or

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audience, but also stimulate the dynamic, imaginative and metaphorically alert capacity of finding the connecting term between seemingly disparate ideas. Philology is this connecting term between the incorporative energy of the youthful imagination and the heterotopia of mature cultivation. In its humanist guise it can encompass disciplines of knowledge that have artificially separated in an age of wan, specialised reflection. Imbibing the spirit of Nietzsche, similarly influenced by Vico’s spirited inquiries into the sensual and rhetorical dimension of cognition, Said’s robust physiological idiom adumbrates philology as the life-enhancing and world-constitutive dimension of critical thinking. Philology’s alertness to interpretive communities renews what Bakhtin has called the ‘objective memory’ of a genre. That genre is humanist eloquence, which is civic but not normative, deliberative and yet enriched by every circumambient stimulus. As a cultivated orator and a polymathic philologist, writes Said, Vico’s ‘small erudition’ extended into several disciplines and languages, enabling him to write ‘for and about the community of men’, drawing on a sense of community with ‘other interpreters, societies, and periods’.44 In upholding the unsettled imaginative vision of the autodidact and coupling philological historicism and rhetorical alertness to present interpretive communities, Said designates Erich Auerbach as Vico’s ‘principal and most profound literary student’.45

Erich Auerbach: An historicist passion for the present Given Said’s evident distaste for the filial complacency of scholarship that is content to ‘house’ itself within a method, legacy or tradition, why did he explicitly anoint Auerbach as Vico’s spiritual heir, stating, for instance, that Vico is ‘absolutely central to [Auerbach’s] work as critic and philologist’?46 One might initially think of Auerbach’s oftstated dedication to historicism, yet nowhere in Auerbach does one find Vico’s metahistorical commitment to elucidating an ‘ideal eternal history’ that illuminates normative and communitarian principles. Indeed Auerbach’s quiet but determined resistance to theoretical models or para-textual abstraction poses a significant challenge to situating him as Vico’s or any other thinker’s successor. Auerbach insisted that philological ‘precision’ depended on dismissing as ‘unhistorical and dilettantish’ every absolute assessment

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of phenomena that is brought in from outside.47 Auerbach’s vigorous, unsettled historicism reminds us of Said’s suggestion that Vico does not portray the historicity of human existence in terms of sheer repetition and perpetuation of established norms, but that there is a ‘vacillation’ in Vico’s thought between the unchanging, universal and constant and the ‘original, the revolutionary, unique, and contingent’, so that for Vico, whatever is has a ‘problematic filiation’.48 Auerbach’s filial relationship to Vico’s approach is in this sense productively problematic because, as Said suggests, Auerbach inherits Vico’s uncertain sensibility and philological energy, a ‘multiperspectival, dynamic, and holistic way of representing history and reality’.49 In the mould of Isaac Deutscher’s ‘non-Jewish Jew’, Said argues that Auerbach can be counted among those great Jewish thinkers ‘who were in, and at the same time renounced, their tradition’, preserving the original tie by submitting it to the corrosive questioning that took them well beyond it.50 Summoned to write, like Vico, by a conflicted and unstable relationship to a past that needed to be both sympathetically explained and sharply interrogated, Said reminds us that there are a number of ‘dramatic layers’ that need to be evoked in accounting for Auerbach’s astonishing achievement, his magnum opus, Mimesis, written in exile in Istanbul in the early 1940s. Comparable to the spiritual exile of Vico, marooned in a sea of rationalism and alienated from the fertile springs of classical rhetorical humanism, Said avers that Auerbach in Istanbul was ‘hopelessly out of touch’ with the literary, cultural and political bases of the formidable transnational tradition of German Romance scholarship to which he belonged by training and inclination. This distance was made more distressing given that German Romance philology was being suppressed and coerced by National Socialism. For Auerbach to write Mimesis in conditions of professional adversity was, Said writes, to ‘perform … an act of cultural, even civilizational, survival of the highest importance’.51 Said maintains that Auerbach’s ‘positive mission’ to recuperate the diversity and continuity of ‘European’ literature in an age of nationalist frenzy was, however, not only a massive reaffirmation of the Western cultural tradition, as it has often been taken to be, but also a ‘work built upon a critically important alienation’ from that tradition, a work whose circumstance of being written in the redoubtable heart of the Muslim world is in tension with the

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European cultural history it describes.52 Auerbach’s exile signifies for Said a disruptive parable of a second wave of Jewish refugees finding succour in Ottoman lands, critiquing the fabricated Western canard of a ‘Judaeo-Christian’ civilisation and reversing the Zionist narrative of Israel as the sole redeemer of diaspora Jews.53 In his introduction to the fiftieth anniversary edition of Mimesis, Said attaches great importance to Mimesis’s origin as an ‘exile’s book, written by a German cut off from his roots and native environment’.54 In his magnificent essay ‘Reflections on Exile’, Said portrays exile and statelessness as a conflicted state of being. For the exile, the pain of a seemingly permanent divorce from the land of one’s birth can be productive of extraordinary insight and a kind of dual perspective on the world in which one is never truly ‘at home’. Yet feelings of loss and deracination are insuperably painful, leading to mood swings from empathic humanism to pathos, truculence and resistance to even the most benign forms of solidarity and community.55 One thinks of the usually sociable and discursively gregarious Leo Spitzer, who became deliberately obstreperous and chameleonic when confronted with the attempt by René Wellek to assimilate him to New Critical Formalism, irritating the regnant formalism by admitting to a kind of ‘late-style’ conversion to the importance of historical sources for textual elucidation.56 Said’s idealised Mimesis is likewise the reflection of an exile’s ambivalent sensibility, at once affirming the ‘unity and dignity’ of European literature in all its multiplicity and dynamism, but also displaying ‘countercurrents, ironies, and even contradictions’. Said notes that Auerbach stubbornly refuses to provide the reader with ‘usable ideas’ and is relentlessly dissatisfied with the concept of a genre or period.57 Auerbach’s Mimesis, written during a time of crisis for European values, refuses the optimistic filial gesture of recreating a great tradition. Rather, like the elliptical, mysterious, suspenseful and frequently terrifying Old Testament narrative Auerbach evokes in the much-lauded first chapter of Mimesis, Auerbach’s work is ‘fraught with background’. Deepening the mystery, Said suggests that Auerbach, like Vico, is ‘at heart an autodidact’ whose diverse explorations are guided by a handful of ‘deeply conceived and complex themes’.58 Auerbach’s ‘resolute secularism’ also cathects him to Vico’s secular inquiries into human history. Auerbach is an important exemplar

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of Said’s unabashed championing of secularism as an independent, unencumbered commitment to the complex fabric of the world that we share.59 Said’s tenacious ethos of secularism reprises Jean-Paul Sartre’s analysis of the politically engaged writer as possessing a ‘passionate feeling for the present’ (ce sens passioné du present) that preserves him or her from idealism. Sartre’s engaged writer is rhetorically alert, discoursing provisionally and tactically so as to target multiple injustices while bearing universal themes and world-historical developments in mind.60 Said quotes a famous passage from Auerbach’s Mimesis in which Auerbach stresses that our manner of viewing history will of necessity soon be transferred to our manner of viewing current conditions. Epochs are not to be judged according to any concept of what is universally desirable; rather we need a sense of ‘historical dynamics’, so that the ‘present too will be seen as incomparable and unique, as animated by inner forces and in a constant state of development’.61 Auerbach’s many essays on Vico’s philological spirit stress the pertinence of Vico’s dynamic sense of historicity to interpreting the contemporary world. In an essay characterising Vico’s philological approach, Auerbach maintains that Vico did not form his view of humanity in accordance with a consoling image, such as that proffered by theology and natural law. Vico’s concept of humanity (Humanität), writes Auerbach, was both more profound and more dangerous than is usually meant by this term.62 Vico understood— and this was his ‘crowning achievement’—that providence does not occur through some miraculous ‘outside intervention’ but is immanent to history (innerhalb der Geschichte), suggesting that historical developments are the responsibility, the duty of care, of all humanity.63 Auerbach’s reprisal of the immanent historical sense of Vico, who in his own time offered alternatives to the ‘rational utopias’ of contemporary theorists, is fraught with the ominous background of the present, deployed to critique what the historian Dan Stone has recently described as the ‘magical’ temptations of fascism as providential saviour, resolving the burdens and contradictions of the present by a chiliastic fantasy of purification.64 As one of the most skilful and sympathetic interpreters of Christianity and the role it played in the emergence of literary realism, Auerbach was no traditionalist, conventional theologian or political

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conservative. Rather his ‘passionate sense of the present’, principally the struggle against fascist mysticism and racism, inspired him to remind his readers in 1942 that: ‘In the fight against magical intoxication, Christianity commands other weapons than those of the rational and individualistic ideal of antique culture; it is, after all, itself a movement from the depths … of the multitude as from the depths of immediate emotion … Its magic is no less a magic than is bloodlust, and it is stronger because it is a more ordered, a more human magic, filled with more hope.’65 Auerbach limned his historical sympathy for an existentially vital Christian ethos in order to test the limits of secular liberalism whose thin and elitist conception of progress crumbled before the orgiastic emotional wave of fascism and nationalism. An implicit rebuke of German historicism’s idealist, nationalist celebration of the state as a supra-mundane expression of the German people’s historical destiny, Auerbach’s concept of realism in Mimesis is restlessly problematic and dissatisfied. Auerbach is constantly attuned to the perspective of the marginalised and the vitality and texture of the quotidian: ‘In our study we are looking for representations of everyday life in which that life is treated seriously, in terms of its human and social problems, or even of its tragic complications.’66 Consider Auerbach’s distaste for the supine collapse of an apolitical German academia in the face of the Nazis, when paternalist hierarchy and narrow specialisation vitiated any sense of collective purpose or experientially informed Bildung. Auerbach endorses the sixteenth-century essayist Montaigne’s point of moral departure, a ‘random life in its totality’, in contrast to which ‘every kind of specialization falsifies the moral picture’ and ‘presents us in but one of our roles’.67 Said wants us to consider Mimesis in contrast to every pallid methodology, as an ‘interpretive quest’, a Bildungsroman that ‘exudes a sense of searching and discovery, the joys and uncertainties of which he shares unassumingly with his reader’.68 Auerbach’s readings are always more profound, and are imbued with more of a sense of danger, than any affirmative recreation of the Western canon would allow. Said meditates on why Goethe comes in for the harshest treatment of any writer in chapter 17 of Mimesis, although Auerbach privately read him with the greatest pleasure. Perhaps, muses Said, Auerbach’s stern condemnation of the counter-revolutionary

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sensibility of Goethe, the latter’s distaste for upheaval, allegorises a profound wrong turn in German culture as a whole that led to the horrors of the present. Goethe’s Olympian withdrawal from the revolutionary tremors of his age prevented him from doing much that might have brought German culture ‘into the dynamic present’ that remained such a pressing concern to Auerbach.69

Conclusion or Ansatzpunkt? Auerbach’s rejoinder to Goethean withdrawal from the incipient forces of the present is his concept of a critical point of departure or Ansatzpunkt, elaborated with suggestive power in his late essay ‘Philology and Weltliteratur’.70 Auerbach essays that the middle twentieth century offers the scholar an unprecedented ‘experience of historical multiplicity’, a perspective on the course of history that illuminates ‘all the rich tensions of which our being is capable’.71 It is the ‘task of philologists’, whose province is the world of human history, to demonstrate our historical becoming, the diverse background of our common fate, so that it ‘penetrates our lives unforgettably’.72 The task of the synthesising philologist is to recompose our historical sense as a ‘drama’ and ‘spectacle’, whose ‘appearance is thoroughly dependent on presentation and interpretation’ in the present.73 An Ansatzpunkt is a critical initiative that is passionate about intervening in the present by asking resounding questions of the past, sustained by active and individual research that is not limited to one field of specialisation.74 It requires personal intuition and hence can only be expected from the singularity of an individual; it is the ‘discovery of a phenomenon at once firmly circumscribed, such as the interpretation of a single sentence, while comprehensible and central enough to be a point of departure’.75 It is the concrete interiority of a personal Bildung that is narrated, artistically expressed and given ‘radiating power’, so that ‘with it we can deal with world history’.76 Perhaps ‘Philology and Weltliteratur’ is an example of Auerbach’s late style, a more equable coming to terms with aesthetic and intellectual currents that he had once angrily repudiated in a more partisan spirit. Overcoming his earlier mistrust of the counterrevolutionary Goethe, and implicitly acknowledging his unresolved feelings towards an earlier and unrealised age of German humanism, Auerbach admires the generous historicist spirit that informed the

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elderly Goethe’s concept of Weltliteratur. Auerbach suggests that the underlying conception of Weltliteratur is not a distillation of great texts but the comprehension of history in its fruitful multiplicity. Goethe’s exemplary transcendence of the nation and ‘love of the world’ can now be acknowledged as a crucial aspect of critical philology’s cosmopolitan heritage.77 While the philologist’s indispensable heritage or filiation is his own nation and culture, only once separated from this heritage, then transcendent of it, can this heritage truly become effective.78 Perhaps we can say along with Said that Auerbach’s German origins are here preserved and reconfigured through the ‘formative’ power of philological questioning of a past mediated by ‘resistant’ and refractory texts. In his final testament to Auerbach, his introduction to the fiftieth anniversary edition of Mimesis, Said aligns Auerbach with such dynamic historicists as Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt, who wanted to reconstruct the history of their own time from the vantage point of a personal commitment to their field of research and, in so doing, rescuing sense and meaning from the fragments of modernity. The dynamic historicism of Arendt, Auerbach, Benjamin and Said—a translation of Vico into a post-national age—transforms the urgent desire for a benign heritage into a lingering question, a ‘process of formulation and interpretation whose subject matter is our own self’.79 As Arendt argued forcefully in the aftermath of World War II, intellectuals can attend to the problem of recreating a duty of care towards our diversely constituted but common world only if—and this recalls Said’s demand for an ‘unhoused scholarship’—we think ‘without banisters’ or ‘received ideas’. As a new world-historical crisis looms, cross-cutting work imbued with performative élan, a restless sense of historicity and untimely awareness is perhaps our best hope of discovering those interpretive communities that have yet to come. Notes 1

2

Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 15: ‘Humanism is the achievement of form by human will and agency; it is neither system nor impersonal force.’ See Said, Representations of the Intellectual, p. 90: ‘The hardest aspect of being an intellectual is to represent what you profess through your work and interventions, without hardening into an institution, or a kind of automaton acting at the behest of a system or method.’

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3 4

5

6 7 8 9 10 11

12 13 14

15 16 17 18

Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 73. In a 1989 interview Said spoke of his desire to extend the ethos of Auerbach and Spitzer into postcolonial critique by ‘adopting some of their modes of examination, their attention to texts, their care, which I think is the central factor here’. See ‘Interview with Edward Said’, in Sprinker, Edward Said: A Critical Reader, p. 230. For a discussion of twentieth-century attempts in German romance scholarship to revitalise an anti-positivistic, intuitive and synthetic concept of philological critique, see Said, Orientalism, p. 258. For a useful, if occasionally speculative, contextual discussion of Auerbach and Spitzer see Green, Literary Criticism and the Structures of History. For a powerful account of Auerbach’s exile from Nazi Germany and his growing friendship with Walter Benjamin, see Gumbrecht, ‘ Pathos of the Earthly Progress ’. For a discussion of the resistance to German nationalism by exceptional German Romance philologists or Romanisten, such as the cosmopolitan Auerbach and the Marxist Krauss, see Suvin, ‘The rule and the exception’. Klemperer’s magnum opus LTI is his philological dissection, as a Jewish victim of the Nazi regime, of the barbaric perversion of Germany’s public discourse and private vernacular by Nazi propaganda and iconology. See Klemperer, The Language of the Third Reich. Said, The World, The Text, and the Critic. See Said, Beginnings: Intention and Method, p. 72. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 26. Said, The World, The Text, and the Critic, p. 7. Said, Orientalism, p. 131. Ibid., p. 259. For a discussion of the dangers of affiliation as a camouflaged assumption and continuance of inherited cultural and institutional power, see the chapter ‘Secular criticism’ in The World, The Text, and the Critic and passim. From Spitzer, Foreword to Linguistics and literary history, v. Said, The World, The Text, and the Critic, 149. Spitzer’s famous, virtuoso analysis of a Sunkist orange juice commercial as a form of occasional poetry is an example of his belief that the philological method of explication de texte should be extended beyond poetic form to contemporary cultural phenomena, allowing the migrant scholar as outsider to shed an ambivalent light on questions of ‘national character’ and ‘cultural history’ in his adopted country. See Spitzer, ‘American advertising explained as popular art’. Said, The World, The Text, and the Critic, pp. 145, 146. See Said’s foreword to the 2003 edition of Orientalism, p. xxii. Said, The World, The Text, and the Critic, p. 147. For an example of the tendency of a dissenting stream of twentieth-century German Romance philology to describe its scholarship as a political and social intervention, witness E. R. Curtius’s biographical reflection that after World War I he saw it as his ‘task’ to make modern France understood in Germany through studies of Rolland, Gide, Claudel and Péguy, and that his plea for a New Humanism based on the continuity of Latin and neo-Latin culture from Augustine to Dante was intended as a critique of the

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19 20

21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

33

34 35

36

37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

‘barbarization of education and nationalistic frenzy’ that immediately preceded and continued into the Nazi era. See the foreword to Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, p. vii. Compare Erich Auerbach’s enigmatic but affectively charged admission in his ‘Epilegomena to Mimesis’ that his famous work Mimesis, written in exile from Nazi Germany, is ‘quite consciously a book that a particular person, in a particular situation, wrote at the beginning of the 1940s’. See Auerbach, ‘Epilegomena to Mimesis’, an appendix to Mimesis (2003 edn), p. 574. Said, Orientalism, p. 259. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 58. Vico confesses in his autobiography that ascertaining the emergence of the institutions of government and law in the pre-rational imagination and mute verbal language of gentile or non-sacred peoples cost him ‘the greatest effort of all in these meditations’, a proud disclosure of solitary internecine struggle with unyielding texts and obscure origins that Said counterposes to the untroubled sophistication of contemporary critique. Spinoza, A Theologico-Political Treatise, p. 8. Mooney, Vico in the Tradition of Rhetoric, pp. 12–13. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 90. Said, ‘Vico: Autodidact and humanist’, p. 338. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 65. Ibid., pp. 66, 67. See Mali, The Rehabilitation of Myth, p. 169. Ibid., p. 150. Mooney, Vico in the Tradition of Rhetoric, note 80, p. 216. Ibid., p. 219. Ibid., pp. 236–7. Said, Beginnings, p. 352. For an excellent discussion of Herodotus as a founding—if subaltern—mode of Western historiographical writing, see the chapter ‘Herodotus and world history’ in Curthoys & Docker, Is History Fiction? See ‘Linguistics and literary history’ in Spitzer, Representative Essays, pp. 38, 39. Said, ‘Vico: Autodidact and humanist’, p. 351. Auerbach, ‘Purpose and method’ (introduction to Literary Language and Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and the Middle Ages), p. 15. ‘Everything man is permitted to know is finite and imperfect’, in Vico, ‘On method in contemporary fields of study’, Vico: Selected Writings, p. 33. Ibid., 43. Mali, The Rehabilitation of Myth, p. 231. Ibid., p. 106. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 74. Vico, introduction to Vico: Selected Writings, p. 8. Vico, ‘On method in contemporary fields of study’, p. 39. Said, Beginnings, p. 71. Ibid., p. 355, and preface to 2003 edn of Orientalism, p. xvii. Said, ‘Vico: Autodidact and humanist’, p. 347.

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46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53

54 55 56

57 58 59

60 61 62

Said, ‘Erich Auerbach, critic of the earthly world’, p. 14. Quoted from ibid., p. 19. Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic, p. 116. Said, ‘Erich Auerbach, critic of the earthly world’, p. 30. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 77. Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic, p. 6. Ibid., pp. 7, 8. Said’s powerful allegory of Auerbach as a wandering European Jew whose exiled praxis reprises a Judaeo-Arabic heritage and its millennial relationship to Islam, thereby disrupting the antonym of Jew and Arab, East and West, has been critiqued on empirical grounds. As Kader Konuk points out, Auerbach’s correspondence with Walter Benjamin over the period 1935 37 reveals an Auerbach less preoccupied with his positioning within the ‘redoubtable’ centre of the Orient and Islam, as Said would have it, than bemused by the ‘dilemmas and paradoxes’ of Kemal Attatürk’s authoritarian construction of a new national identity. In a letter to Benjamin of 1937, Auerbach comments on a ‘fanatically anti-traditional nationalism’ that is accompanied by the ‘simultaneous destruction of the historical national character’. Turkey’s frenetic, European-inspired modernising nationalism was another portent for a lugubrious Auerbach of a ‘bloody and painful’ (blutigen und qualvollen) road towards an international order dominated by triviality and Esperanto culture. See Konuk, ‘Jewish-German philologists in Turkish exile’, pp. 46–7. See Barck, ‘5 Briefe Erich Auerbachs an Walter Benjamin in Paris’, letter of 3 January 1937. Said, ‘Erich Auerbach, critic of the earthly world’, p. 19. Said, ‘Reflections on exile’. See Spitzer, ‘Development of a method’, first given as a talk only months before his death in 1960, where he critiques the ‘dogmatic fashion’ of American New Criticism to neglect a text’s sources altogether, admitting that he needed to ‘revise’ his ‘too radical and too anhistorical stance’ against the examination of sources (Spitzer, ‘Development of a Method’, p. 440). By ‘late style’, I mean Said’s mature preoccupation with the ‘intellectual trajectory’ conveyed by the late work of great thinkers, writers and musicians such as Freud and Beethoven, which he describes as a ‘sort of irascible transgressiveness’ that bristles with ‘all sorts of new ideas and provocations’, an idea very much applicable to the feisty Spitzer. See Said, Freud and the Non-European, p. 29. Said, ‘Erich Auerbach, critic of the earthly world’, p. 19. Ibid., p. 22. See Said’s chapter ‘Secular criticism’ in The World, The Text, and The Critic, p. 26, where he posits that secular criticism deals with ‘local and worldly situations’ and that it is constitutively opposed to the production of ‘massive, hermetic systems’. Sartre, Qu’est-ce que la literature? pp. 137, 138. Quoted in Said, ‘Erich Auerbach, critic of the earthly world’, p. 30. ‘Giambattista Vico und die Idee der Philologie’ in Gesammelte Aufsätze Zur Romanischen Philologie, p. 241.

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63 64

65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79

Auerbach, ‘Giambattista Vico und die Idee der Philologie’, p. 236. See the chapter ‘Nazism as modern magic: Bronislaw Malinowski’s political anthropology’ in Stone, History, Memory, and Mass Atrocity. Auerbach, Mimesis (1953), pp. 69, 70. Ibid., p. 342. Ibid., p. 298. Said, ‘Erich Auerbach, critic of the earthly world’, pp. 21–2, 24. Ibid., p. 31. Auerbach, ‘Philology and Weltliteratur’. Ibid., p. 5. Ibid., p. 6. Ibid., p. 5. Ibid., p. 9. Ibid., p. 13. Ibid., p. 15. Ibid., p. 17. Ibid. Auerbach, Mimesis (2003 edn), p. 549, quoted in Said, ‘Erich Auerbach, critic of the earthly world’, p. 34.

Bibliography Auerbach, Erich, ‘Giambattista Vico und die Idee der Philologie’(1936) in Gesammelte Aufsätze Zur Romanischen Philologie, Francke Verlag, Bern und München, 1967. ——Literary Language and Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and the Middle Ages (trans. Ralph Mannheim), Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1965. ——Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (trans. Willard R. Trask), Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1953; 50th anniversary edition, 2003. ——‘Philology and Weltliteratur’ (1952) (trans. Maire & Edward Said), Centennial Review, vol. 13, no. 1, 1969, pp. 1–17. Barck, Karlheinz (ed.), ‘5 Briefe Erich Auerbachs an Walter Benjamin in Paris’, in Zeitschrift für Germanistik I.88, Leipzig. Curthoys, Ann & Docker, John, ‘Herodotus and world history’, in Is History Fiction?, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2006. Curtius, E. R., European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (trans. Willard R. Trask), Pantheon Books, New York, 1953, p. vii. Green, Geoffrey, Literary Criticism and the Structures of History: Erich Auerbach and Leo Spitzer, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 1982. Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich, ‘ ”Pathos of the earthly progress”: Erich Auerbach’s Everydays’, in Literary History and the Challenge of Philology (ed. Seth Lerer), Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 1996, pp. 13–35. Klemperer, Victor, The Language of the Third Reich: LTI, Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist’s Notebook (trans. Martin Brady), Continuum, London and New York, 2002.

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Konuk, Kader, ‘Jewish-German philologists in Turkish exile’, in Exile and Otherness: New Approaches to the Experience of the Nazi Refugees (ed. Alexander Stephan), Peter Lang, Oxford and New York, 2006, pp. 31–47. Mali, Joseph, The Rehabilitation of Myth: Vico’s ‘New Science’, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992. Mooney, Michael, Vico in the Tradition of Rhetoric, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1985. Said, Edward W., Beginnings: Intention and Method, Basic Books, New York, 1975. ——‘Erich Auerbach, critic of the earthly world’, boundary 2, vol. 31, no. 2, 2004, pp. 11–34. ——Freud and the Non-European, Verso, London, 2003. ——Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2004. ——Orientalism, Penguin Books, London, rev. edn, 2003. ——‘Reflections on exile’, Granta, no. 13, Autumn 1984, pp. 159–72. ——Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures, Vintage, London, 1994. ——‘Vico: Autodidact and humanist’, Centennial Review, vol. 11, no. 3, 1967, pp. 336–52. ——The World, The Text, and the Critic, Vintage, London, 1991. Sartre, Jean-Paul, Qu’est-ce que la literature? Gallimard, Paris, 1948. Spinoza, Benedict de, A Theologico-Political Treatise (trans. R. H. M. Elwes), Dover Publications, New York, 1951. Spitzer, Leo, Foreword to Linguistics and Literary History: Essays in Stylistics, Russell & Russell, New York, 1948, pp. v-vi. ——‘American advertising explained as popular art’ in A Method of Interpreting Literature, Russell & Russell, New York, 1949, pp. 102–49. ——‘Development of a method’ (1960)in Representative Essays, (eds Alban K. Forcione, Herbert Lindenberger, Madeline Sutherland), Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 1988, pp. 421–48. Sprinker, Michael & Jennifer Wicke, ‘Interview with Edward Said’, in Edward Said: A Critical Reader (ed. Michael Sprinker), Blackwell, Oxford, and Cambridge, MA, 1992. Stone, Dan, ‘Nazism as modern magic: Bronislaw Malinowski’s political anthropology’, in History, Memory, and Mass Atrocity: Essays on the Holocaust and Genocide, Valentine Mitchell, London, 2006, pp. 31–53. Suvin, Darko, ‘The rule and the exception: Romance studies in Germany and Werner Krauss’, IABLIS Jahrbuch für europäische Prozesse, 2003, www.iablis. de/iablis_t/2003/suvink.htm. Vico, Giambattista, The First New Science (first published 1725) (ed. & trans. Leon Pompa), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002. ——The New Science of Giambattista Vico (3rd edn, 1744) (trans. Thomas Goddard Bergin & Max Harold Fisch), Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1984. ——‘On method in contemporary fields of study’, in Selected Writings (ed. & trans. Leon Pompa), Cambridge University Press, New York, 1982.

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8

Edward Said, world literature and global comparatism Debjani Ganguly

Instead of the partial analysis offered by various national or systematically theoretical schools, I have been proposing the contrapuntal lines of a global analysis, in which texts and worldly institutions are seen working together. Said, Culture and Imperialism.

When I talk about worldliness, I don’t just mean a kind of cosmopolitanism or intellectual tourism. Said, in Edward Said: A Critical Reader. At the turn of this new millennium, one of the leading bastions of humanities and literary studies in the world, Yale University, introduced a course in world literature that was truly global in its intellectual and pedagogical assumptions. Not only did the course include some of the great as well as relatively little known works from the world’s diverse civilisations since antiquity, it also deployed comparative strategies that emphasised connections and crossovers across vast arcs of apparent dissimilitude between genres, languages,

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histories and locations. The globalism envisaged in such a course pointedly resisted both a diffuse and feel-good cosmopolitanism and the abstract gesture of asserting symmetry of human lifeworlds everywhere round the globe—the world as fictive universality. The focus was rather on, as the course coordinator Vilashini Cooppan put it, ‘giving up … certitudes of the centre in favour of the difficulties of dissemination; striving to grasp both the larger systems or networks of influence into which individual literary texts fit and their individual historical and formal peculiarities; not so much placing ourselves in a linear national or linguistic tradition as persistently displacing ourselves through a sequence of shifting, migrating, radiating materials.’1 As an example of such polychronic, lateral and extraterritorial encounter with texts, the Bible as the foundational text of the JudaeoChristian tradition was read alongside Near Eastern writing from Akkadian, Egyptian and Sumerian traditions, with the last going back to almost the eighteenth century BCE. In such juxtaposition the Bible was shown to have significant precursors. A series of stunning linkages demonstrated the Bible to be an ‘inheritor of ancient stories and long existing expressive forms’,2 a reading that unsettled claims of its status as the sole foundation text of Judaeo-Christianity. Another example was the collocation of Homer’s Odyssey with twentieth-century works such as Derek Walcott’s Omeros, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and David Dabydeen’s ‘Coolie Odyssey’. In talking of the reception of this course five years since its introduction, Katie Trumpener, professor of English and comparative literature at Yale, points out that the student demand for it has quadrupled since 9/11 and the Iraq war,3 a fact that would have no doubt pleased the advocate par excellence of literature’s embeddedness in the world, Edward Said. It puts paid, albeit in a limited context, to Said’s oft-repeated lament that ‘some intellectuals suffer from an astonishing sense of weightlessness with regard to the gravity of history’.4 Such evidence of links between world-transforming global events and the students’ quest for knowledge and understanding of the world through literary works speaks directly to Said’s legacy. For Edward Said’s vision of a humanism for our times is predicated on a model of interconnected knowledge-worlds that bespeak the human condition in multiple tongues, across multiple locations and

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timelines. His humanistic vision also seriously challenges what he calls three ‘negative’ models of human existence in the world today: nationalism, religious ethnocentrism and exclusivism derived from identitarian thought.5 His suspicion of these models is transferred to nation-based pedagogies and especially to the idea of ‘national’ or ‘ethnic’ literatures. It makes him call for a ‘kind of globalism in the study of texts’.6 In brief, the humanistic horizon for Said is interactive and expansive. It is world-oriented, comparative, transcultural and, in the final instance, profoundly philological, or, as he puts it, ‘grounded in the shape of words as bearers of reality, a reality hidden, misleading, resistant, difficult’.7 This chapter seeks to engage with Edward Said’s deliberations on global comparativism and critical humanism by placing them in the context of literary and critical practice in the post-Cold War era. It especially focuses on his Humanism and Democratic Criticism, a work that explicitly addresses the conundrum of thinking the world in the aftermath of the Cold War and the post-9/11 world. In it Said writes: In the post-Cold War world, the politics of identity and partition (I speak only of aggressive identity politics, not the defense of identity when threatened by extinction, as in the Palestinian case) have brought more suffering and trouble than they are worth, nowhere more when they are associated with precisely those things, such as humanities, traditions, art and values, that identity allegedly defends and safeguards, constituting in the process territories and selves that seem to require killing rather than living.8 He goes on to sketch a ‘map of experiences’ unleashed by events of the last two decades that he feels ought to inflect all humanistic disciplines. This ‘map’ includes ‘the aftermath of classical empires, the end of the Cold War, the crumbling of socialist and non-aligned blocks [and] the emergent dialectics between North and South in the era of globalization’.9 Humanism and Democratic Criticism allows Said to examine the relevance of his own philological and democratic humanistic vision in a new millennium of war zones and unpredictable pathways of

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dialogue and affiliation. Said himself has repeatedly noted the impact of the Cold War on humanities praxis around the world, the most notorious and extreme example being the $200 million spent by the CIA at the height of the Cold War to subsidise academic conferences, journals, art exhibitions and musical performances.10 Elsewhere he notes that the intellectual trajectories of at least two generations of humanities scholars have been framed by the Cold War and its collapse.11 Said’s is by no means a deterministic position claiming that humanities and literary scholarship is beholden and subservient to the state of world politics. It is rather a salutary reminder of the intimate, yet at times intractable, correlation between the text and the world. In the context of global literary studies, it is also an acknowledgement of the fact that, to cite Wai Chee Dimock, ‘the literary dimensions of space and time … can never be made to coincide with the synchronic plane of the geopolitical map’.12 In reckoning with Said’s contribution to a humanistic understanding of the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, this chapter argues that literary studies and, for that matter, humanities as a whole today need to look beyond the postcolonial orthodoxies generated by Said’s Orientalism and parts of Culture and Imperialism that spoke about the global impact of modern European colonialism. In Orientalism Said portrayed a kind of humanism in thick alliance with imperialism. Yet he knew that there were ‘other humanisms that survive the compromise with imperialism’.13 What are these ‘other humanisms’ to which Said attempts to give voice and body in his exhortations on contemporary global realignments of power and seismic changes in cultural and literary currents in the face of an economistic and technologistic unification of the globe? Why, especially after 9/11, does Said renew with ever more force his invocation of the Auerbachian vision of world literary and philological comparativism and critical secularism as a model for intellectual engagement?14 Pertinent as these questions are, literary and cultural studies today also need to mark the limits of Said’s own vision of a philological humanism that displays a high modernist impatience with newer modalities of human expressivity in our era: what he calls the ‘short, headline sound bite’15 culture of the journalistic world and the mixedness of cultural forms, especially in televisual and electronic media.

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The exposition that follows is four-fold. In the first section I discuss developments in the field of literary comparativism and criticism since the end of the Cold War. The second section situates the world of post-1989 global comparativism within a genealogy of literary comparativism in the modern era beginning with the nineteenth century. Both these provide a setting and template for Said’s literary and humanist interventions in this global era. The third section of this chapter distils the key problematics of Saidian literary and philological comparativism. In the concluding section I address the limits and possibilities of Said’s philological humanism.

Writing the world after 1989 In 1952, after enduring a long period of exile from Nazi Germany and writing his magnum opus, Mimesis in Istanbul, the renowned philologist and comparativist Eric Auerbach wrote from Princeton, ‘literary criticism now participates in a practical seminar on world history’. He added, ‘Our philological home is the earth: it can no longer be the nation.’16 Auerbach was signalling the urgent need for comparative literature at the time to engage with its maximum geographical dimension, the world itself, in the aftermath of an age of expansion, conquest, genocide and warfare. The end of World War II allowed such scholars as Auerbach a moment of global vision—at once promising and unnerving—before it was fractured yet again by binary divisions of the Cold War and emergent nationalisms of Asia and Africa. Auerbach himself retreated into mourning the irrevocable passing of the glory of European humanism. As Said reminds us, Auerbach could not countenance a world literary space that could possibly include the Third World: I translated one of his last essays, ‘Philology and Weltliteratur’, precisely because it seemed to me to be so interesting a reflection on his own work, but also so pessimistic about the onset of all these new languages and cultures, most of them non-European, that he had nothing to say about, except that they seemed to frighten him in some way. He had no concept that they might in fact betoken a new level of cultural activity … that was not previously there.17

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Post-1989, Auerbach’s global or world vision for comparative literary studies—but this time unmoored from its European legacy— has re-emerged in many forms against the backdrop of a radically transformed, although no less crisis-ridden, geopolitical scenario. Works by Emily Apter, Christopher Prendergast, Franco Moretti, David Damrosch, Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak18 have articulated aspects of this vision. With so many contemporary works produced, circulated and received, often in translation, at the interstices of local, national and international borders, these scholars acknowledge that the axes of comparison have become very complex and are no longer based primarily on national or linguistic differences. Nor, they suggest, is it tenable to envisage a world literary space determined solely by postcolonial geographies of ex-classical empires and their liberated colonies. These scholars have identified many new heuristic challenges posed by the paradigms and problems of world literature in the post-Cold War period: global translation, linguistic imperialism, transnational humanism and postmodern/ethnic/religious (trans)nationalisms. They have also critically addressed the problem of the ‘great unread’: that to study world literature is to recognise the impossibility of ever reading and knowing all. As Franco Moretti says, ‘The literature around us is unmistakably a planetary system.’ Yet ‘reading “more”, [while] always a good thing, [is] not the solution’ to the problem of how to do world literature.19 To adopt a conceptual apparatus that presumes to talk for the totality of world literary space is untenable, as it is now untenable to talk of histories of the world through Hegel’s world-history model. What is possible, however, in the present literary scenario of rapid exchanges is to ‘read the world’ through an optic that traces difference and connectivity—between genres, themes, styles, chronologies—across discrete translocal sites. There is a broad consensus among political analysts, social theorists and cultural historians that, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall in 1989, the world entered a different phase of international politics and economic and cultural exchange.20 The post-1989 period has been labelled the era of intense globalisation via a technologically advanced capitalist and information expansion and the age of unprecedented transnational networks of migration, violence and terrorism.21 In the wake of the collapse of the bipolar antagonism of the Cold War, the years between 1990 and the present have

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witnessed the emergence of a collaborative network of global capital of which the USA is a politically central node. This ultra-capitalist world order has had to contend with radical political imaginaries such as those of Al-Qaeda and other extremist/fundamentalist networks around the globe in ways that continue to have grim implications not only for governance but also for human sociality as a whole. This contemporary world order, say philosophers Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, ‘can no longer be understood adequately in terms of imperialism as it was practiced by the modern powers, based primarily on the sovereignty of the nation state extended over a foreign territory. Instead, a “network power”, a new form of sovereignty, is now emerging and it includes dominant nations along with supranational institutions, major capitalist corporations and related powers.’22 As a supplement to this scenario of network power, and resisting Hardt and Negri’s presentist reading of the reach of capital, Gayatri Spivak speaks of a ‘return of the demographic, rather than territorial, frontiers that predate and are larger than capitalism’. These demographic frontiers, she goes on to add, respond to large-scale migration of our era and create ‘parastate’ collectivities that in the past belonged to ‘multicultural empires that preceded monopoly capitalism’.23 The last decade and a half has also witnessed the emergence of unprecedented forms of literary exchange through mass scale translational activities in the major world languages, exchanges that herald new transcultural literary spaces and that counter misguided globalisms heralding visions of a monochromatic, unified, homogeneous world. Further, we see the publication of literary works that are immanently global in that the writing is generated and informed by political, cultural and linguistic forces not limited to any single nation or region.24 At least two illustrations of the latter would be John Murray’s collection of short fiction A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies and Peter Dale Scott’s Coming to Jakarta: A Meditation on Terror.25 Murray is an Australian citizen who worked as a medical researcher for many years in the USA, then spent a few years as a doctor in such countries as India and Rwanda, among others. His collection of short fiction is immanently global with overlapping/crosshatched stories of late modern societies in India, Central Africa, the

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UK, the USA and Australia. Peter Dale Scott, a scholar-poet from Canada, a diplomat during the American War in Vietnam and currently an academic in the USA, wrote his long poem Coming to Jakarta: A Meditation on Terror as a way to contemplate his multiple worldly affiliations in this era of global terror. His varied intellectual and cultural debts to the world’s knowledges and cultures are manifested in the rich array of references in his poem from the Mahabharata, modernists such as Ezra Pound, East Asian verse forms, hybrid diasporic verse genres from the American West Coast such as Vikram Seth’s Golden Gate, and a vast amount of contemporary historical and political scholarship.26 Such writers as John Murray and Paul Dale Scott bring the globe inside the text. The period under discussion has also seen the emergence of multiple ‘world’ rubrics in literary studies based on what are now global languages: English, French and Spanish. When one talks of world Anglophone or Francophone writing in the post-Cold War context, however, one signals a shift from colonial and postcolonial cartographies—writing from the empire and its ex-colonies—and notes the emergence of new transcultural vectors that transcend conventional nation- or region-based creative configurations. Such configurations in their sheer diversity challenge the thesis of the unification and homogenisation of the world by a new capitalist world order, thus resisting the synchronic time of global capital. At the same time they mark a dramatic increase across the world of overlapping intellectual, political, social, cultural and aesthetic interests among a critical mass of people at any one historical moment. For instance, in the corpus of world Anglophone writing since 1989, irrespective of points of origin, one notes a dramatic increase in, one might say after Said, ‘contrapuntal’ interrogation of neoliberal capitalist domination and the concomitant rise of ethnocentric warfare and religious fundamentalisms, the rise of the Internet and its role in nurturing transnational networks of migration and terrorism, and Islamism and Islamophobia. The ‘literary’ quality of such works is deeply invested in marking key ‘world’ moments of historical, political and cultural communication and collaboration amid diversity, even as they evoke multiple countermelodies against dominant geopolitical notes. Their formal and aesthetic dimensions are inextricably entwined with this ‘worldly’

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investment. Literary texts produced in the recent past bring home ever more forcefully the fact that the differences we negotiate are no longer just taxonomic (i.e. existing outside one’s cultural or regional milieu) but are increasingly interactive and refractive. Works like Amin Maalouf’s Leo the African (1994), Salman Rushdie’s Fury (2002), Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003), Khalid Hosseini’s Kite Runner (2003), Ian McEwan’s Saturday (2005) and Richard Flanagan’s Unknown Terrorist (2006) represent the emergence in recent years of a new form of literariness that is oriented not towards an imagined ‘national’ community but towards many ‘worlds’ within national and metropolitan spaces. These works of fiction circulate within increasingly internationalised public spheres that teem with incommensurable and multiple nodes of collective and communitarian networks that demand to be translated into each other, not merely incorporated into predetermined sociopolitical grids marked by key events of the two previous centuries. Critical analysis of such works cannot be undertaken by drawing on nation-empire models or models of ‘new’ post-empire literatures in English or French that emphasise and even autonomise difference along the lines of old imperial categories, indicated by such terms as Commonwealth literature, ethnic or Black literatures, multicultural writing, Third World writing or even early usages of the term ‘postcolonial’ literatures. Rather, they require modes of literary and cultural analysis that transcend both centre/periphery models and the preemptive exclusions of identity politics, and that base themselves on a more comparative, interactive and translational model of global public spheres, a model that Said adumbrates with élan in his late works. If the above explication of the post-1989 scenario appears too presentist a reading of literary comparativism/worlding and marks ‘global lit’ as a synchronic slice of time congruent with the movements of global capital,27 it is worth attempting to situate the postCold War phase just discussed in the context of a historiography of modern literary comparativism. Said, after all, was inspired by a Viconian historicism, as Ned Curthoys’ chapter in this volume attests, and invariably braided his analysis of contemporary geocultural issues with a deep historical sense. In order to attend to Said’s exposition of global literary comparativism in Humanism and Democratic

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Criticism, one needs to understand the historical parameters within which his thinking originated. Accordingly, in the next section I recount the genealogy of current forms of global literary comparativism by tracing their links from De Staël, Goethe and Lomnitz in the nineteenth century to Spitzer, Auerbach and Said in the twentieth century.

Modern literary comparativism The very idea of comparative literature as a discipline first arose in the nineteenth century. Of course, the logic of comparativism is as old as literature itself. As Haun Saussy says, The clay tablets of Mesopotamia yield evidence of rivalries and strategic mergings among the hero-narratives of neighbouring cultures, as do books of the Bible. Seeking the true sublime in ‘examples that please all and always’ … Longinus examined passages from Greek, Roman and Hebrew literatures. Prolonged engagement with Pali and Sanskrit idioms of Buddhist teaching first caused speakers and writers of Chinese to become aware of the characteristics of their own very differently structured language, such as tone and logographic characters.28 However, as noted by literary historians, the idea of comparative literature as a discipline ironically gained momentum at the same time that the idea of nationalism and the compact between nation and literature was beginning to be entrenched in the European worldview. Not surprisingly, in the writings of its early advocates, such as Madame de Staël, comparativism was conceived in terms of exchanges among the national literatures of Europe. Madame de Staël in her 1800 essay, ‘De la littérature’, remarked on literary differences among the dour Germans, the funny English, the highly strung Italians and the charming French.29 Madame de Staël’s cosmopolitanism was nationally informed by the French penchant for universalist intellectual gestures. It was, however, Hugo Lomnitz, a professor of Germanic philology in what is present-day Romania, who, in his article in 1877, ‘The present tasks of comparative literature’, named the discipline as such and predicted its institutionalisation in Europe. In a wry attempt

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at comparative historiography, Haun Saussy situates the 1877 origins of comparative literature in an idiosyncratic collocation of world events: ‘twelve years after the conclusion of the American Civil War, seven years after Bismarck’s Reich, five years after Middlemarch … six years older than the Brooklyn bridge and twelve years older than the Eiffel Tower’.30 One could give this Euro-American enumeration a more global dimension by adding, ‘twenty years after India’s first war of independence against British rule’, which colonial historians called the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. This was also the period of intense comparative philological activity in universities throughout Europe. Old texts in the European vernaculars—English, French, German, Celtic, Scandinavian—languages previously considered barbaric in comparison to Greek and Latin, were given attention for the first time by philologists intent on excavating ‘usable’ pasts that could be valued by their respective nations in an era of high nationalist rivalry. Lomnitz heralded the idea of ‘polyglottism’ and went on to prescribe ten languages as the basis of literary comparison: German, English, French, Icelandic, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Spanish and Hungarian.31 Two methodological models of literary comparativism jostled for ascendancy in the period: manuscript editing and linguistic analysis. Both demanded extensive philological expertise. It was this philological legacy of comparative literature that the two high priests of comparativism in the twentieth century, Leo Spitzer and Eric Auerbach, carried into their projects in exile from Nazi Germany, and which Said was to champion so passionately, albeit in a markedly transformed postwar global context. Before we delve into Said’s uptake on global comparativism, we need to attend to yet another figure from the nineteenth century whose vision of world literature in a comparative frame has found an uncanny resonance in this globalised era. He is Johann von Goethe. Creative writer, intellectual polymath and cultural behemoth, Goethe inaugurated the idea of Weltliteratur in the early years of the nineteenth century, not so much as an academic discipline as an ideal in an era of enhanced international connectivity in economic and political domains. Fritz Strich, the leading critical exponent of Goethe’s idea of world literature,32 mentions a letter written by Goethe to Sulpiz Boisserée dated 12 October 1827 in which he talks of world literature

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as an aspiration that would be realised once competing nations arrived at an international equilibrium and recognised the worth of transnational exchange and collaboration. As Fritz notes, Goethe talks in the register of trade to describe the new literary world order that would witness ‘a traffic in ideas between peoples, a literary market to which nations bring their intellectual treasures for exchange’.33 Goethe’s immersion in Persian literature, and especially in the poetic luminosity of Hafiz, commented on by Said, no doubt also played a part in expanding his vision of literary exchange on a world scale.34 He used the term Weltliteratur yet again in a journal essay in 1827 while commenting on a French review of his play Torquato Tasso. In translating a passage from the review, he makes it clear that his intention is not self-promotion but a desire to highlight the importance of literary exchanges among nations in an era of enhanced contact among diverse peoples of the world: I have something higher in mind, which I wanted to indicate provisionally. Everywhere one hears and reads about the progress of the human race, about the further prospects for world and human relationships. However that may be on the whole, which it is not my office to investigate and more closely determine, I nevertheless would personally like to make my friends aware that I am convinced a universal world literature is in the process of being constituted, in which an honorable role is reserved for us Germans.35 In an age of expanding nationalism, it is hardly surprising that Goethe’s ultimate focus is on German culture and the benefits accruing to it from transnational literary and intellectual exchanges. At the same time his cosmopolitan world view is a reaction to the emergence of aggressive nationalisms in post-Napoleonic Europe. As René Wellek comments, Goethe’s desire for world literary exchange can be attributed to a ‘weariness of strife’ after these wars.36 The juxtaposition of virulent ethnic nationalisms/exclusivist identitarian politics and cosmopolitanism characterised his age as much as it does ours. John Pizer, in his essay on Goethe and globalisation, notes the uncanny parallels between the geopolitics of Goethe’s age and those of our post-Cold War times.

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In the wake of the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), and before new nationalistic outbursts in the 1830s, Europeans could reasonably sense a decline in the significance and autonomy of the individual nation state, much as the ‘new world order’ continuing to emerge in the wake of Soviet Communism’s collapse has led to a globalisation of economics, politics and culture. Thus, if Goethe’s world literature concept anticipates current cultural transnationalism, an important parallel between the geopolitics of the last phase of ‘Goethezeit’ and those of the comparative age is in some measure responsible.37 It is hardly surprising, then, that the notion of world literature has been revivified in this current phase of globalisation. What has also been reactivated is the rather uneasy relationship between the idea of world literature and the discipline of comparative literature, with the former typically viewed dyspeptically in relation to the latter. Said’s envisaging, through the figure of Eric Auerbach, of a philological comparativist humanism that thinks the ‘world’ speaks directly to this relationship. It is well known that, while Auerbach championed the cause of global literary comparativism, he was pessimistic about the notion of world literature. He saw inscribed in the idea, at least pedagogically, an inevitable decline into cultural homogenisation wherein only a few literary languages would survive and barely one or two would dominate the circulation of translated texts. Speaking at the height of the Cold War, he was especially wary of the dominance of two geocultural modalities of literary worlding: the ‘European-American’ and the ‘Russian-Bolshevik’. He was at pains to emphasise that the multiple literary worlds around the globe ought not to be corralled into these opposed camps.38 Other literary critics such as René Wellek, Austin Warren and George Steiner also decried the pedagogical implications of studying world literature, citing dangers such as superficial sampling and skimming, loss of polyphony and enshrining of a spurious universalism.39 Steiner, of course, also refers to the danger of studying the great European classics in the ‘boisterous shadow of the Afro-American, the Chicano, the Amazonian traditions’.40 In the new millennium, such scholars as Djelal Kadir and David Damrosch have reviewed the idea of world literature from 188

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opposing perspectives. In an essay entitled ‘Comparative literature in an age of terrorism’, Kadir foregrounds the enhanced significance of comparative literature in an age when ‘incomparability … [has become] the handmaiden of terror [for] terror thrives on unbreachable difference, on exceptionalism, on the cultural and political monads that lie beyond the plausibility of dissensus and outside the possibility of negotiable consensus’.41 But he is opposed to comparativism viewed through the prism of world literature for the ‘world’ model is in his view inherently imperialistic and flattens out difference. The notion, according to Kadir, becomes especially dangerous in the context of contemporary planetary Realpolitik with the dominance of Anglo-America and the ‘age of cybernetic flat screen’ that ‘flattens’ out the ‘global arc’.42 David Damrosch in his book What is World Literature? posits a completely different standpoint. He carefully explores the ramifications of the term since the time of Goethe and successfully extricates it from narrow readings that see it only in terms of either a canon of great works promoting an empty universalism or an imperialist pedagogy that flattens difference. Nor, says Damrosch, need one panic about its infinitely expanding horizon and proclaim its implausibility as intellectual cache. For, as he adds, ‘no one denies that the term “insect” is viable, even though there are so many billions of insects in the world that no one person can ever be bitten by each of them’.43 While the analogy is not exactly apt, we can take the point that the ‘world’ need not mean ‘all’. And where literary studies is concerned, it need not coincide with a homogenising ‘globe’ invoked by the politics of our time. Rather, for Damrosch, it is much more productive to see world literature in terms of circulation and reading of literary works that go beyond their cultures of origin, their national underpinnings, and that connect or disconnect with other works in other eras and regions in uncanny ways. The result is an optimistic, reinvigorated projection of literary studies on to a global domain of myriad conversations and crossovers that think the ‘world’ from multiple points of view. As Damrosch says, ‘Works of world literature take on a new life as they move into the world at large and to understand this new life we need to look closely at the ways the work becomes reframed in its translations and its new cultural contexts.’44 In a book that spans discussion on translation and reception in a dozen languages ranging from the Sumerian text The Epic of Gilgamesh to Kafka and Rigoberta Edward Said, world literature and global comparatism

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Menchu, Damrosch’s What is World Literature? executes an ingenious synthesis of world and comparative literature paradigms. Debates about the relationship between the two, however, continue and are far from resolved.

Reading the world through Saidian comparativism Edward Said steps into this debate on the relationship between comparative and world literatures by enlarging its scope and significance in the context of challenges to humanities and humanism as a whole in this age of global terror and warfare. In his analysis, especially in his Humanism and Democratic Criticism, he sidesteps the issue of ‘world’ literature as a reifying paradigm and does not appear to be unduly preoccupied by an ecological lament at the decline of languages and literatures in an increasingly interconnected world. Instead, he focuses his energy on arguing that the problematics of comparativism and worlding are not just limited to the field of literature but are intrinsic to the very burden of humanities scholarship in today’s world of accelerated connectivity and dissensus. Without trying to impose the formidable standards of disciplinary philology demanded by Spitzer and Auerbach, he nevertheless retrieves for late twentieth-century literary and humanistic scholarship the critical force of the Auerbachian emphasis on deep textual reading and comparativism and Leo Spitzer’s honing of the discipline of comparative literature at the interstices of the East and West in Istanbul in the 1930s. Said envisages these reconfigured literary forces in concert with a secular, worldly engagement that does not succumb to either a vapid, homogenising universalism or a polarising rhetoric of opposed civilisations so favoured by the major political players in the world today. In ‘The return to philology’, Said writes, ‘We are bombarded by prepackaged and reified representations of the world that usurp consciousness and preempt democratic critique, and it is to the overturning and dismantling of these alienating objects that … the intellectual humanist’s work ought to be devoted.’45 Just as Auerbach appealed to world literary scholarship to resist the bipolarism of Cold War cultural categories and to read the world in all its plenitude, so also Said invokes the ‘literary’ in its comparative and world manifestations as best able to ‘refigure’ and ‘resist’ the ‘overmastering paradigm of globalization and the false dichotomies offered … in the

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vulgarizing placations of Thomas Freidman in The Lexus and the Olive Tree or Benjamin Barber’s Jihad Versus McWorld’.46 Said envisages philology as central to humanistic scholarship; but he uses the term ‘philology’ not in its nineteenth-century disciplinary sense. Rather he gives it a larger epistemological purchase by adducing its worth to any intellectual enterprise that involves, in his words, ‘a detailed, patient scrutiny of a lifelong attentiveness to the words and rhetorics by which language is used by human beings who exist in history’.47 Humanism is, in his view, inextricable from an engagement with the micro-history of the word as world, from an ‘antinomian’ analysis ‘between the space of words and their various origins and deployments in physical and social space, from text to actualized site of either appropriation or resistance, to transmission, to reading and interpretation’.48 In reconfiguring and amplifying Auerbachian philology for our times in Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Said does not appear to be perturbed by Auerbach’s Eurocentrism, by the fact that Auerbach thought of world literature only in terms of Europe, of comparativism purely in terms of great European masterpieces. To point this out is not to fault Said for being unfaithful to his own early premises in Orientalism. Rather, it is to highlight a shift in Said from a confrontational mode of cultural and intellectual exchange, evidenced in Orientalism, to one that seeks to tide over political and intellectual fault lines and infirmities in order to discover ‘fields of coexistence’,49 a very laudable effort in these fraught times. Said reconstellates Auerbach’s oeuvre for our times by highlighting the latter’s commitment to a critical secularism, to history’s dynamism, to an exilic insight that is never bellicose about diversity and antinomy, and finally to the rigour of a philological approach that is always attentive to the minutiae of semantic performance. In the Said of Humanism and Democratic Criticism, we encounter an intellectual who has firmly distanced himself from an aggressive postcolonial stance and modish Foucauldian and Derridean forms of criticism that, in his view, ‘defer for too long a declaration that the actuality of reading is … an act of perhaps modest human emancipation and enlightenment that changes and enhances one’s knowledge for purposes other than reductiveness, cynicism, or fruitless standing aside’.50 This is the ‘late’ Said who, inspired by Auerbach’s philological

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comparativism in a post-9/11 world, painstakingly points to the philological basis of the Koran in order to de-translate, in the words of Emily Apter, ‘the fundamentalist attribution of Arabic’ and to extract the ‘predicate “terror” from Arabic as the name of a language [by] recalling the term al qaeda to its philological function as the word for “grammar” or “base” for language’.51 Highlighting both the disconnect between political knowledge and cultural knowledge of the Arab world in the West, and Islamic fundamentalism’s macabre misappropriation of the basic tenets of the Holy Book, Said takes us back to the origins of Islamic knowledge in a philological attention to language beginning with the Koran, a term that itself means deep reading of the word of God. He reminds an amnesiac ‘modern’ West of the hallowed tradition of Islamic jurisprudence, hermeneutics and the science of language that existed in the Arab universities of southern Europe and North Africa in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Said sees this tradition in a continuum with the Judaic one in Andalusia and the Maghreb as well as the Christian one to emerge centuries later in Europe with Giambattista Vico’s New Science in 1744.52 The interactive, translational and intercultural communicative domain of humanities scholarship that Said envisages for our age is inspired not only by the philological comparativism of Spitzer and Auerbach but also by the quintessential philological base of medieval Islamic textual scholarship that mined words and phrases from the Koran amid a sea of existing interpretations, constituting in the process a system of interdependent readings called isnad: Since in Islam the Koran is the word of God, it is therefore impossible ever fully to grasp, though it must repeatedly be read. But the fact that it is in language already makes it incumbent on readers first of all to try to understand its literal meaning, with a profound awareness that others before them have attempted the same daunting task. So the presence of others is given as a community of witnesses whose availability to the contemporary reader is retained in the form of a chain, each witness depending to some degree on an earlier one … The common goal is to try to approach the ground of the text, its principle or usul.53

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Said notes that this quest for usul is inextricably tied with the notion of ijtihad, a term that connotes deep personal commitment to finding one’s truth in reading the holy text. It valorises individual interpretation, rigorously executed but with a responsibility towards the interpretive community. Philologically the word ijtihad is derived from the same etymon as the much-abused and reviled jihad, which, as Said is at pains to point out, ‘does not mainly mean holy war but rather a primarily spiritual exertion on behalf of the truth’.54 In practice the ijtihadi tradition encourages multiple perspectives and dialogue, thus enlarging the interpretive field of the Koran. Not surprisingly, the orthodox segment of Islamic scholarship has, since the fourteenth century, regarded it with suspicion. The merit of Said’s attempt to de-Westernise the domain of philological and what one may legitimately call a translational humanism can hardly be underestimated in this age of warfare and terror, with the Arab world as the particular locus of conflict. It speaks directly to his activism in the cause of Palestine, a concern addressed in this volume by Wolfe and Veracini. It also connects with Gayatri Spivak’s plea in her book, The Death of a Discipline, that comparative literature in the post-Cold War era ought to attend to the range and diversity of the Islamic diaspora so as to undo the political monolith of a fundamentalist Islam that currently circulates in the lexicon of global politics. In her vision of a revamped comparativism conjugated with area studies, she suggests that Muslim European and Arabic–Persian cosmopolitanism, hitherto objects of analysis in Middle Eastern studies departments, ought to become sites of comparative literary and cultural engagement.55 To this list could be added the re-emergence of Central Asia from under the yoke of the Soviet imperium as a visible zone of Islamic cultural heterogeneity. Central Asia’s long historical lineage, topographically marked by the Silk Road—an ancient route of economic and cultural exchange—can be read anew after 1989 as an alternative model to the empire or the nation state.56 In her latest book Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (2006), Emily Apter sees a conjunction between the attempts of Said and Spitzer to live with and imbibe Arabic and Turkish philological traditions, adding that ‘Saidian–Spitzerian philology portends the advent of a translational humanism that assumes the disciplinary challenges posed by Turkish and Arabic in their

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respective circumstances of institutional exile. Turkish and Arabic name, for each of them, a crisis of theo-poetics in secular time.’57 Apter herself nominates translation as the key vector in the trajectory of a new comparative literature whose ‘zone’ is not merely high aesthetics and philological absorption with master texts but also includes ‘diasporic language communities, print and media public spheres, institutions of governmentality and language policy making, theatres of war and literary theories with particular relevance to the history and future of comparative literature’.58 Some aspects of this topography would make Said uncomfortable; or, at the very least, they would be beyond the ken of Saidian exegesis. In the final section of this chapter I explore the reasons for this and examine the limits of the Saidian humanist vision founded on a high modernist valorisation of literature as an exemplary site of human expressivity and creative/critical practice.

Limits of Saidian philological humanism Said’s philological heroes in his exposition of a critical humanism relevant to our age are not just Auerbach and Vico but also Richard Poirier, his teacher at Columbia to whom Humanism and Democratic Criticism is dedicated. From Poirier he derives the insight and inspiration to single out ‘literature’ (in the specific sense of creative and critical writing and philological learning) as the supreme site from which to acquire a passion for ‘words’—those ubiquitous units that are at the centre of a philological enterprise. Here is Poirier: Literature makes the strongest possible claims on my attention because more than any other form of art or expression it demonstrates what can be made, what can be done with something shared by everyone, used by everyone in the daily conduct of life, and something besides, which carries most subtly … within itself, its vocabulary and syntax, the governing assumptions of a society’s social, political and economic arrangements … To literature is left the distinction that it invites the reader to a dialectical relationship to words with an intensity allowable nowhere.59 And this is Said: ‘I think he [Poirier] is absolutely right … and I shall preserve this notion of his, that literature provides the most 194

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heightened example we have of words in action and therefore is the most complex and rewarding … of verbal practices.’60 Said goes on to assert the importance of maintaining an essential difference between the aesthetic and the non-aesthetic: ‘There is a fundamental irreconciliability between the aesthetic and the non-aesthetic that we must sustain as a necessary condition for our work as humanists. Art is not simply there: it exists intensely in a state of unreconciled opposition to the depredations of daily life.’61 Said is at pains, however, to distinguish his position from those artists and intellectuals who assert the otherworldliness of art and see the aesthetic domain as fundamentally removed from the messiness of human history. Art for Said is a product of human labour in historical time, but it exists in a dynamic of tension and resistance to economic, political, social and historical forces. It is not reducible to them. This is a position of deep value, especially in this globalised age in which every zone of human activity is mediated by capital and is marketable. It is a strong argument against the dangers of televisual and electronic banality witnessed to such excess in the new millennium. But it is not an argument that validates non-engagement with televisual and digital cultural productions as such. In his extensive writings on humanistic practice and politicoaesthetic challenges at the turn of the millennium, Said displays no interest in these creative media. Further, his ‘worldly’ approach to art and culture is unequivocally tied to a high modernist endorsement of the ‘good’ and ‘classical’. Said shares Adorno’s distaste for mass culture and waxes eloquent about Western ‘classics’ in both literature and music, his two ‘aesthetic polestars’, as W. J. T. Mitchell puts it.62 ‘Who can forget the rush of enrichment on reading Tolstoy or hearing Wagner or Armstrong?’ Said asks.63 He also once famously admitted, ‘Music of my own Arab and Islamic tradition means relatively little to me … [and] popular culture means absolutely nothing to me’. He concluded, ‘I’m very conservative that way.’64 Such a stance can be understood at the level of subjective inclination, but it is problematical as a template for the ‘democratic criticism’ that Said invokes. It is especially problematical in the geocultural context under discussion because it consciously locates itself in a separation from the mass mediated visual and digital post-1989 world that Said otherwise writes about with such eloquence and sensitivity. If he does refer to the power of the Internet to generate mobile/democratic Edward Said, world literature and global comparatism

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intellectual and activist worlds, he does it almost as an afterthought in the last chapter of Humanism and Democratic Criticism. His explication of humanist criticism through the rest of the book is otherwise bereft of engagement with visual and new media cultural productions that are such a dominant mode of creative expression in this era and that demand new theorisations of the aesthetic. Said’s silence on the image-imbued world of the twenty-first century, and his ‘panic’ when confronted with visual media, especially visual art, has been commented on by W. J. T. Mitchell in his tribute to Said, ‘Secular divination: Edward Said’s humanism’.65 Mitchell speculatively attributes Said’s lack of critical insight and interest in the visual to the latter’s deep commitment to Viconian historicism. Vico envisaged the domain of the visual as the ‘expressive mode of the primitive man immersed in the realm of fantasy, idols, animism, personification and vivid poetic figures’.66 Extrapolated on to Said’s distaste for myth and religion as sites of the irrational, this Viconian take on the visual as fantasised products of the human imagination—which somehow evoke the realm of the superstitious and even the supernatural—appears to be the antithesis of all that Said venerates in the secular, ‘civilised’ domain of the philological and the literary. Mitchell’s provocative thesis linking Said’s secular vision with his insensitivity to the visual requires more unpacking than is possible within the scope of this chapter. Here I wish to secure my argument by noting that it is Said’s valorisation of philological humanism that marks the limits of his intellectual response to visual modes of human expressivity in the twenty-first century. A philological approach prioritises the literary over the visual, words over images, logos over eidos. It needs to be radically recast to include ‘close reading’ of images in our age of visual plenitude. When married to Said’s modernist distinction between high and popular art, the viability of his philological approach appears even more fraught. It is difficult to talk of a ‘democratic’ humanism for the post-1989 digitally mediated world in the name of a philological enterprise as Said envisages it. This point connects laterally with the chapters by Makdisi and Goggin in this volume. Both address the limits of Said’s high modernist conception of the role of public intellectual—as a charismatic, fiercely independent figure at odds with the establishment—in this era of blogging with its

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connotations of instant, decentred and non-hierarchical intellectual traffic. In the field of comparative literature, the limits of Said’s philological comparativism are highlighted by recent shifts to a more interdisciplinary, multi-discursive orientation; one that invokes not only a much-expanded idea of ‘literature’ but also one that actively courts other artistic media (graphic novels, visual art, electronic art and entertainment, films, music) as sites of comparison.67 The interesting point here is that in principle Said called for a multi-discursive and multi-generic comparison in studying literary texts. But this was not borne out in his actual analysis of texts, even though he otherwise took great pains to give his literary texts a ‘world’ historically and politically. In a provocative and playful essay entitled ‘Beyond comparison shopping: This is not your father’s comp. lit.’,68 Fedwa MaltiDouglas deliberately signals this shift in comparative literary studies as generational and asks why cartoons, comic strips and graphic novels cannot provide fodder to the new age comparativist. Her book, Arab Comic Strips: Politics of an Emerging Mass Culture,69 could well serve as a critical supplement to Said’s magisterial reading of Auerbach’s Mimesis as exemplary comparativist text in an era of competing theologies: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.70 One only need think of the furore and fury generated by the publication of ‘blasphemous’ Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2006 to appreciate this ‘intergenerational’ theo-political comparative link. While Malti-Douglas firmly situates her comparativist practice at a generational remove from the ‘masters’ or ‘fathers’ of the field, as she puts it, others have sought inspiration from the ‘fathers’—Spitzer, Auerbach and especially Said—even as they negotiate new archival and theoretical frontiers. One such scholar is Emily Apter, whose identification of a broad-based literary and translation ‘zone’ as the site of a new comparative literature in our era we have already noted. While Apter amplifies her comparative archive to include not only literature but also print and televisual media, the Internet, public policy and war documents, her analysis nevertheless derives inspiration from Said’s commitment to humanism as cultural synthesis on a global scale, to ‘humanism as a world system that takes account of the vast traffic in international learnedness informing Greek–Arab– Judaeo-Christian practices of cultural translation from the early

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Middle Ages to the present’.71 I submit that Apter’s achievement has been to actually match Said’s urging to ‘world’ literary fields with relevant textual and philological exegesis; that her work is the realisation of Said’s vision of a global literary comparativism suited to our post-Cold War age. This chapter has sought to assess the import of Said’s legacy in a literary and humanistic understanding of our present. In its attempt to locate Said’s critical articulations within a global comparatist template, it has identified three aspects of Saidian philological humanism that have immense purchase in our globalised era of intensified cultural traffic and political conflict. They are: its rejection of cultural isomorphism, its extraterritorial approach to literary and cultural texts and its commitment to a humanist world-system that is iterative and translational. Together they constitute a model of comparative and worldly criticism for our times that reinvigorates humanism and the humanities as a whole. Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

15 16

17 18

Coopan, ‘World literature and global theory’, p. 39. Ibid., p. 31. Trumpener, ‘World music, world literature’, p. 195. Said, Culture and Imperialism, p. 367. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 50. Edward Said: A Critical Reader, p. 242. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 58. Ibid., p. 77. Ibid., p. 139. Ibid., p. 35. Ibid., p. 36. Dimock, ‘Literature for the planet’, p. 175. See Apter, The Translation Zone, p. 65. He published his preface to a new edition of Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis in 2003, and his posthumous Humanism and Democratic Criticism contains a long chapter called ‘The return to philology’. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 74. Both references can be found in Auerbach, ‘Philology and Weltliteratur’, pp. 1–17. Sprinkler, Edward Said: A Critical Reader, p. 229. Apter, Continental Drifts(1999) and The Translation Zone (2006); Prendergast, Debating World Literature (2004); Moretti, ‘Conjectures on world literature’ (2000); Damrosch, What is World Literature? (2003); Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004); and Gayatri Spivak, Death of a Discipline (2003).

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19 20

21

22 23 24

25 26

27

28 29 30 31 32 33 34

35

36 37

38 39

40

Moretti, ‘Conjectures on world literature’, p. 55. Archibugi & Held, Cosmopolitan Democracy; Malik, The Role of the United States, Russia and China in a New World Order. Hansen & Huerlin, The New World Order; Kagan, Paradise and Power; Monbiot, The Age of Consent. Hardt & Negri, Multitude, p. xii. Spivak, Death of a Discipline, p. 15. See Pizer, ‘Goethe’s “world literature” paradigm and contemporary cultural globalization’, p. 213. Scott, Coming to Jakarta. See Trumpener, ‘World music, world literature’, p. 196, for a brief discussion of Scott’s unusual work. See Baucom’s ‘Globallit Inc. or the cultural logic of global literary studies’, pp. 158–72, for a fascinating explication of the complexities of global temporalities in the context of literary genres. Saussy, ‘Exquisite cadavers stitched from fresh nightmares’, p. 5. Cited in Cooppan, ‘World literature and global theory’, p. 18. Saussy, ‘Exquisite cadavers stitched from fresh nightmares’, p. 6. See Saussy, ‘Exquisite cadavers stitched from fresh nightmares’, p. 8. See Strich’s Goethe and World Literature. Strich, Goethe and World Literature, p. 13. In Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Said writes, ‘Goethe … in the decade after 1810 became fascinated with Islam generally and Persian poetry in particular. This was the period when he composed his finest … love poetry, West-Oestlicher Diwan, finding in the work of the great Persian poet Hafiz and in the verses of Koran not only a new lyric inspiration allowing him to express a reawakened sense of physical love, but … a discovery of how, in the absolute submission to God, he felt himself to be oscillating between two worlds, his own and that of the Muslim believer who was miles, even worlds away from European Weimar’ (p. 95). Goethe was, nevertheless, a man of his times, deeply invested in the idea of Europe’s centrality in the world. John Pizer notes that his interest in Egyptian, Indian and Chinese literature was firmly grounded in the belief that they were ‘curiosities that lacked the potential to enhance the modern European’s ethical and aesthetic acculturation’ (‘Goethe’s “world literature” paradigm and contemporary cultural globalization’, p. 217). Said invoked both Goethe and Auerbach as model ‘world’ thinkers despite their avowed Eurocentrism. Cited in Pizer’s ‘Goethe’s “world literature” paradigm and contemporary cultural globalization’, p. 215. Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism: 1750–1950, vol. 1, p. 221. Pizer, ‘Goethe’s “world literature” paradigm and contemporary cultural globalization’, p. 16. Auerbach, ‘Philology and Weltliteratur’. See Wellek & Warren’s Theory of Literature, p. 41, and Steiner’s ‘What is comparative literature?’, p. 8. Steiner, ‘What is comparative literature?’, p. 8.

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41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49

50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

60 61 62 63 64

65 66 67

68

69

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71

Kadir, ‘Comparative literature in an age of terrorism’, p. 74. Ibid., p. 69. See also Kadir’s ‘To world, to globalize’, pp. 1–9. Damrosch, What is World Literature? p. 4. Ibid., p. 24. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 71. Ibid., p. 78. Ibid., p. 61. Ibid., p. 83. Ibid., p. 141. Said: ‘It is important to construct fields of coexistence rather than fields of battle as the outcome of intellectual labor.’ Ibid., p. 66. Apter, The Translation Zone, p. 250. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 58. Ibid., p. 68. Ibid., p. 69. Spivak, Death of a Discipline, p. 87. See Trumpener, ‘World music, world literature’, p. 187. Apter, The Translation Zone, p. 249. Ibid., p. 6. Cited in Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 60; from Poirier’s Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections, Random House, NY, 1987. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 60. Ibid., p. 63. Mitchell, ‘Secular divination’, p. 467. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 67. See ‘Interview with Edward Said’, in Sprinker, Edward Said: A Critical Reader, p. 246. Mitchell, ‘Secular divination’. Ibid., p. 4. To see details of this shift, read the American Comparative Literature Association’s 2004 Report on the State of the Discipline, published as Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (ed. Haun Saussy), 2006. Published in Saussy, Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization, pp. 175–82. Malti-Douglas & Douglas, Arab Comic Strips: Politics of an Emerging Mass Culture. See his ‘Introduction to Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis’ in Humanism and Democratic Criticism, pp. 85–118. Apter, The Translation Zone, p. 74.

Bibliography Apter, Emily, The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2006. Archibugi, Daniel & Held, David, Cosmopolitan Democracy: An Agenda for a New World Order, Polity Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995. Auerbach, Eric, ‘Philology and Weltliteratur’ (1952) (trans. Maire & Edward Said), Centennial Review, vol. 13, no. 1, 1969, pp. 1–17.

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Baucom, Ian, ‘Globallit Inc. or the cultural logic of global literary studies’, PMLA, vol. 116, no. 1, 2001, pp. 158–72. Cooppan, Vilashini, ‘World literature and global theory: Comparative literature for the new millennium’, Symploke, vol. 9, nos 1–2, 2001, pp. 15–43. Damrosch, David, What is World Literature? Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2003. Dimock, Wai Chee, ‘Literature for the planet’, PMLA, vol. 116, no. 1, 2001, pp. 173–88. Hansen, Birthe & Bertel Huerlin, The New World Order: Contrasting Theories, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2000. Hardt, Michael & Negri, Antonio, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, Penguin, London, 2004. Kadir, Djelal, ‘Comparative literature in an age of terrorism’, in Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (ed. Haun Saussy), Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2006. ——‘To world, to globalize: Comparative literature’s crossroads’, Comparative Literature Studies, vol. 41, no. 1, 2004, pp. 1–9. Kagan, Robert, Paradise and Power: America and Europe in a New World Order, Atlantic Books, London, 2003. Malik, Hafeez (ed.), The Role of the United States, Russia and China in a New World Order, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1997. Malti-Douglas, Fedwa, ‘Beyond comparison shopping: This is not your father’s comp. lit.’, in Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (ed. Haun Saussy), Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2006. Malti-Douglas, Fedwa & Douglas, Allen, Arab Comic Strips: Politics of an Emerging Mass Culture, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1994. Mitchell, W. T. J., ‘Secular divination: Edward Said’s humanism’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 31, no. 2, 2005, pp. 462–71. Monbiot, George, The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order, Flamingo, London, 2003. Moretti, Franco, ‘Conjectures on world literature’, New Left Review, vol. 1, Jan– Feb 2000, pp. 54–68. Pizer, John, ‘Goethe’s “world literature” paradigm and contemporary cultural globalization’, Comparative Literature, vol. 52, no. 3, Summer 2000, pp. 213–27. Prendergast, Christopher (ed.), Debating World Literature, Verso, London, 2004, Said, Edward W., Culture and Imperialism, Vintage, London, 1994. ——Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2004. Saussy, Haun, ‘Exquisite cadavers stitched from fresh nightmares’, in Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (ed. Haun Saussy), Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2006. Scott, Peter Dale, Coming to Jakarta: A Meditation on Terror, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1989. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, Death of a Discipline, Columbia University Press, New York, 2003.

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Sprinker, Michael (ed.), Edward Said: A Critical Reader, Blackwell, Oxford, 1992. Steiner, George, What is Comparative Literature? Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995. Strich, Fritz, Goethe and World Literature, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1949. Trumpener, Katie, ‘World music, world literature: A geopolitical view’, in Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (ed. Haun Saussy), Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2006. Wellek, René, A History of Modern Criticism: 1750–1950, vol. 1, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1955. Wellek, René & Warren, Austin, Theory of Literature, Harcourt Brace, New York, 1949.

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9

Edward Said and Theodor Adorno The musician as public intellectual Peter Tregear

Edward Said was a true polymath intellectual, one who consciously defied the isolation that accompanies academic specialisation. Encompassing virtuosic forays into such diverse fields as literary and music criticism, comparative history, philosophy and political science, the wide-ranging character of his work was not just a reflection of an unusually perspicacious mind, it also bore witness to Said’s wish to enmesh the academic reception of cultural objects with their broader political significance. Interdisciplinarity was a deliberate strategy with political intent, and in this respect his passion for music is especially significant. As he once remarked, ‘the paradox is that while music is accessible, it can’t ever be understood’; that is, it defies the kinds of conceptualisation open to other art forms.1 The fact that music is apparently indescribable, however, does not entail that it has no meaning. Indeed, music is ‘of fundamental interest … because it represents the rarity, uniqueness, and absolute individuality of art, as well as its intermittent, fragmentary, highly conditional and circumstantial existence’.2 Defying simple categorisations or interpretations, dealing as it does with that most ineffable of art forms, organised sound, musical criticism had no choice but to be interdisciplinary.

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By extension, music criticism was also unavoidably political; it could not pretend that the musical work existed in some kind of rarefied aesthetic sphere removed from historical and contemporary contexts. The critic’s role was to draw our explicit attention to the inescapable worldliness of this otherwise seemingly unworldly art form, to suggest aspects of music that might otherwise go ‘unheard’ by the ear. This was no different from the role of a political commentator in drawing our attention to what is ‘unthought’ in an idea, or an art critic drawing our attention to what is ‘unseen’ by the eye. Such music criticism is now a founding principle of the so-called ‘New Musicology’ that emerged in Western music departments in the last two decades of the twentieth century, but Said was one of a small handful of academics who many years earlier was already arguing for an end to ‘the generally cloistral and reverential, not to say deeply insular, habits in writing about music’, and who recognised in the professed ineffability of Western classical music, in particular, a magic window on to a very real world of politics and ideas.3 This drive to address what Lawrence Kramer has described as the traditional ‘scholastic isolation of music’ arose from more than just a critical reflection upon the problems of music criticism.4 Said was also inspired by his own background and upbringing. Music— and above all Western classical music—held strong autobiographical significance for him, and rather than trying to apologise for, or discount, this fact in his work, Said instead foregrounded it. It was not just that he had no time for the cloak of dispassionate objectivity that typifies modern academic discourse, it was also that his passionate interest in Western classical music served to draw into focus some of the very cultural processes and problems that had come to exercise his work more generally. The fluid, if not volatile, sense of his own cultural identity had from an early age taken on a strong musical dimension. Said’s childhood in Palestine and Cairo had included early exposure to the core repertoire of Western classical music. He recalls, for instance, how he comforted himself at boarding school by listening to concerts broadcast on the BBC World Service, and how he had attended concerts given by the Vienna Philharmonic under Clemens Kraus in 1950 and the Berlin Philharmonic under Wilhelm Fürtwangler the following year. He also studied the piano with Ignace Tiegerman, a Jewish émigré from Nazi Europe, and soon became an accomplished pianist. Later, as a young man in New York, he was 206

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admitted for lessons at the Juilliard School of Music and, as is now well known, he even seriously contemplated a career as a concert pianist. Ultimately, it was his desire to exercise a broader range of intellectual pursuits than offered by the ordeal of the concert hall circuit that put paid to this possibility. Now conscious of his political and cultural status as an exile, Said was inclined more towards reflection than execution and thus ultimately to the work of the critic rather than the performer.

Edward Said and Theodor Adorno In this respect, like many others, Said’s life and academic work parallels that of Theodor Adorno, the German philosopher and critic, who was thirty years his senior. Both were significant musicians in their own right; like Said, Adorno was an accomplished pianist and composer. Both were born into comparatively wealthy families and into social worlds that at the time of their birth, and to a child at least, may well have seemed secure and stable—whether that be Wilhelmine Germany or British Mandate Palestine—but which had effectively dissolved by the time they were in their early teenage years. Both men came to experience a degree of alienation from not just the culture of their place of birth but also from the music that they loved. For Adorno, this came about because of his belief that mainstream classical music had become irredeemably tainted by its association with the so-called ‘culture industry’ and the rise of Nazism. For Said, it was that his love of European music sat uneasily with postcolonial conceptions of Arab identity and culture. Perhaps it was just such difficulties that helped to fuel both writers’ shared scepticism towards simple, neat narratives in either politics or culture. It may also have helped to shape their shared suspicion of popular musical forms. For both men it was precisely the kinship between the perceived homogeneous and ephemeral aspects of much popular music and much modern political thought that exercised their critical judgement. Both were literal and metaphorical examples of a ‘sound bite’ culture, and therefore ultimately inadequate, if not inauthentic, responses to the modern condition. Both men thereby also raised the suspicion that their keen interest in Western classical music revealed a certain unwillingness to challenge the presumptions of their own personal tastes and prejudices, that the repertoire of music that fascinated them the most Edward Said and Theodor Adorno

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did so above all because it happened to be the music that they both liked. Said was not afraid to announce and foreground his personal investment in such music. Adorno on the other hand was notoriously Eurocentric, and he remained proudly in the discursive register of German idealist philosophy, a tradition of intellectual enquiry into which he saw himself directly contributing. His writings on music reflect both the Eurocentricity and sheer ambition of this tradition, his ultimate concern being the ‘inevitable insufficiency’ of not just art criticism but indeed of all reason; what he saw as the inescapable incommensurability between the world as it is and our imaginative conception of it.5 As the paradoxical nature of the autonomous musical work exemplified this very problem, a proper appreciation of it could thereby condition the sensibility of the subject who listens to it; albeit an appreciation of only this particular kind of music (the master works of the Western classical tradition) and involving only a certain kind of hearing (cerebral and engaged), exemplified by the nineteenth-century European concert hall. Distant echoes of this idea are observable in a speech given in early 2006 by the former Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating, in which he made the otherwise remarkable claim that he had ‘reformed the Australian economy on Mahler and Bruckner’. Keating went on to note that if he said that to the current Prime Minister, John Howard, ‘he would think I was talking Swahili. There is no fantasy there. What you see is what you get. Dullness, dullness, dullness.’6 Certainly neither Adorno nor Said would have had trouble supporting the underlying thesis that the artistic and political imagination were in fact intimately connected. As Adorno wrote in his Aesthetic Theory, the process ‘that occurs in art works and which is arrested in them has to be conceived as being the same as the social process surrounding them … All that art works do or bring forth has its latent model in social production.’7 In Adorno’s writings Said could also find useful theoretical buttressing for his own idea of music as a ‘magic mirror’, where, in its apparent other-worldliness, music could yet be a form of knowledge, specifically a form of social knowledge, which the critic could help decode. Adorno’s own literary legacy was volumes of notoriously knotty prose, much of it in praise of the high modernist musical tradition that had accompanied his rise as a critic in the late 1920s and 1930s.

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This was music, he thought, that had steadfastly resisted the trap of ‘usefulness’, of easy consumption, and thus the false consciousness proffered by false art. But in doing so, this music had also made itself functionally impotent, silent to all but a tiny minority of initiates. Indeed, in his Negative Dialectics (1966), Adorno revealed the incompatibility of his aesthetic theory with the demands of political praxis. He claimed instead that ‘praxis must be a response to a correct and indeed contemporary interpretation of experience’, a level of interpretation that was still awaited.8 Indeed, he later declared, the music of such a composer as Beethoven—’his language, his substance and tonality in general, that is, the whole system of bourgeois music—is irrecoverably lost to us, and is perceived only as something vanishing from sight. As Eurydice was seen. Everything must be understood from that viewpoint.’9 The task of the intellectual was therefore no longer to change the world but, as Tony Bennett neatly put it, ‘to oppose to the world its powers of negation, to refuse to confer on it a Hegelian consecration of the rationality of its reality’.10 Paul Piccone has, however, suggested that Adorno’s refusal ‘even to begin to provide concrete alternatives for fear of reinforcing precisely the state of affairs that it is meant to challenge’ may have relegated his theories ‘to an unrelenting critical stance that parasitically fed on the degenerate situation it attacked’.11 In the end, events themselves were to overtake Adorno. The course of postwar European politics, especially the student unrest of 1968, made his trenchant refusal to support actual protest movements seem haughty and old-fashioned. While interest in Adorno has grown remarkably in recent years, it seems now permeated with a mood of nostalgia; as if through him we allow ourselves to return briefly to a world where the Western musical canon, and contemporary composition in particular, are seen naturally to belong at the forefront of sociological debate. Events in the late 1960s, in particular the Arab/Israeli war, encouraged Said to arrive at the opposite view of the proper relationship between art and political praxis. Amid an outpouring of antiArab sentiment in the USA he was forced to confront directly his own Arab identity as an American citizen. The contingency of his own situation drew him towards rejecting the very notion that there could, or should, be a specialised, rarefied, intellectual endeavour of the kind undertaken by Adorno. Unlike Adorno, Said could not content

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himself with being a mere flaneur of contemporary politics, he felt compelled to find ways to become a practical advocate for active political movements, to help give a voice, in particular, for the dispossessed of his homeland. It was precisely his own position as an outsider to the Western tradition, and not just a political exile, that allowed him a more flexible, mediated viewpoint from which to develop his own perspective on Adorno’s theories of musical criticism. To put it bluntly, he came to realise that no musical culture, not least the Western classical tradition, can ever be explained in total by one theoretical or critical view point. As he wrote in the introduction to Musical Elaborations, the publication of a series of lectures he gave to the Critical Theory Institute at the University of California (Irvine) in 1989, even if we ‘confine ourselves to ‘Western” classical music, what is impressive about musical practice in all its variety is that it takes place in many different places, for different purposes, for different constituencies and practitioners, and of course at many different times. To assemble all that, to herd it under one dialectical temporal model is—no matter how compelling or dramatic the formulation—simply an untrue and therefore insufficient account of what happens.’12 This is, he declares, ‘the consciousness of a non-Westerner, for whom the remorseless totalizing to be found … in Adorno … is an instigation for thinking about alternative patterns’.13

The politics of performance Said’s most productive difference with Adorno arguably concerns his recognition of the critical potential of musical performance. For Adorno, the modern concert hall, with its rituals ensuring the passivity of the audience, was a celebration of the self-denial of the modern bourgeoisie; the separation of music from ordinary life, from praxis, was indeed a symptom of the pathology of post-industrial capitalism.14 While not denying the ‘extremeness’ of contemporary performance culture, Said nevertheless argued that this culture deserved a more positive engagement from critics as the meeting ground between music—’the most specialized of aesthetics’—and the ‘socially available form of its cultural presentation’.15 Indeed, he continued, we ‘can say that the concert occasion has superseded the contemporary composer … Whereas a century ago the composer

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occupied stage centre as author and performer, now only the performer (star singer, pianist, violinist, trumpeter, or conductor) remains.’16 The problems of great musical performance, ‘social as well as technical’, he argued, ‘therefore provide us with a post-Adornian occasion for analysis and for reflecting on the role of classical music in contemporary Western Society’.17 Hence we discover in Musical Elaborations Said detailing his critical interest in such men as Arturo Toscanini and Glenn Gould. Their performances, he believed, were not just brilliantly idiosyncratic realisations of musical scores, they were also ‘about performance’ itself.18 Toscanini’s extreme interpretations underlined the fact that performance today ‘constitutes a special form of ownership and work’19 and that Toscanini had ‘clarified what is extreme about the concert occasion itself’: its distance from ‘ordinary human experience’.20 The professional life of Glenn Gould, he observed, had moved from eccentric public performances towards other forms of performative acts, such as could be achieved in the recording studio, or in essays, films and radio lectures. Said argues that Gould made this transition in part because he understood with particular clarity the dilemmas of his own historical condition. Here was a performer who confronted the dilemma as to how the familiar can be heard anew: how music, or indeed the listener, could be resensitised through the manner of performance itself. Said’s reflections upon his own experience as an amateur performer undoubtedly encouraged him to bring performance more squarely into the field of vision of the musicologist, and in doing so he has proved to be prophetic of wider trends in musical scholarship. As recently as 2004 one finds Carolyn Abbate, for instance, making a special plea for the place of performance in academic musical discourse, noting that without it we ‘can foreclose much that is of value, both intellectually and morally, in encountering a present other at point-blank range’.21 Said’s particular reflection upon his status as an ‘amateur’ also proved significant. An amateur performer was one, he thought, who practices his or her art outside the professional need to be restricted by the conventions of established practice—and thus who uses this position to think afresh, to think anew, to say things denied those locked in by the limits of convention or tradition. Such a performer is inspired by what Said describes in Musical

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Elaborations as ‘the vagaries and permissiveness of amateurish musical practice’.22 These reflections on performance came to have particular significance for Said as he became more and more directly involved with the problems of Palestine, and as he reflected more generally on the responsibilities of the intellectual when faced with political issues. He argued that part of what an intellectual should do is … not only to define the situation, but also to discern the possibilities for active intervention, whether we then perform them ourselves or acknowledge them in others who have either gone before or are already at work, the intellectual as lookout. Provincialism of the old kind—for example, a literary specialist whose field is early-seventeenthcentury England—rules itself out and, quite frankly, seems uninteresting and needlessly neutered. The assumption has to be that even though one can’t do or know everything, it must always be possible not only to discern the elements of a struggle or tension or problem near at hand that can be elucidated dialectically, but also to sense that other people have a similar stake and work in a common project.23 ‘In short’, he declared, ‘I find myself saying that even heroic attempts … to understand [a] system on a theoretical level or to formulate what Samir Amin has called delinking alternatives, are fatally undermined by their relative neglect of actual political intervention.’ The political work of an intellectual should not be seen simply as a personal protest but also should also aim to play a ‘significant part of a broad adversarial or oppositional movement’.24 One especially productive way Said suggested musical performance might be considered to engage positively with political movements was in terms of its potential to help nurture our willingness to accept alternative constructions of identity, or indeed offer us at least a temporary sense of escape from identity politics as such. This was because music was inherently transgressive. Said suggests not so much that we reprise the now naïve idea that music is a universal language, belonging to everyone and no one, but rather recognise that

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music is flirtatious and capricious, with the capacity to ‘travel, cross over, drift from place to place in a society’ in unexpected ways.25 The moment we try to stabilise music’s meaning, or indeed its ownership in a society, it has the uncanny ability to shift under us like desert sands. In this respect performance could be explicitly an exercise in transgressive behaviour. In an interview in 2000, Said lamented that there is ‘more of a concentration today on the affirmation of identity, on the need for roots, on the values of one’s culture and one’s sense of belonging. It’s become quite rare to project one’s self outward, to have a broader perspective.’26 But the act of performance, or at least good performance, can encourage us to do precisely this. We imagine ourselves to inhabit the aesthetic world of the composer, yet this world is more often than not radically separated from us by time and place. This fact was always going to be more obvious to Said as an Arab experiencing Western art music than a Western European like Adorno, for whom this particular tradition was home territory, so to speak. At the same time, as it was precisely this territory that had also brought forth the Nazi state, Adorno’s relationship to it was perhaps inevitably to be one rooted in pessimism and scepticism. Said, however, did not feel trapped by that history; utopian imaginings through music were, for him, still possible. As he said in interview with Daniel Barenboim in 2000, ‘In your work as a performer, Daniel, and in my work as an interpreter … one has to accept the idea that one is putting one’s own identity to the side in order to explore the other.’27 Or, as Barenboim himself put it, ‘each of us has the capacity to be many things … I don’t think it’s necessary that everyone should agree, as long as there’s a mutual acknowledgment that a different view exists.’28 But how does this become more than simply a temporary denial of one’s own particularity, an actor’s mask, a flippant postmodern game playing with a pretence free-flowing identity? How might, indeed, this aspect of performance become part of a more generalised act of resistance? I think in two ways. First, the transgressive aspect of performance is in conflict with an insistence on regional identity, which Said saw as merely the flip-side of imperial identity, since both were ‘expressions of essentialization’.29 Second, performance can be thought of as the conspicuous inhabiting of an artistic style by a culture that otherwise might be thought to be estranged from it, an act with considerable critical potential.

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This idea has had impressive theoretical buttressing from Slavoj Žižek, who in an article in 1997 drew attention to the profound political truth behind such a transgressive statement as ‘Sarajevo is the capital of Europe’, insofar as ‘the way the enlightened liberal Europe related to Sarajevo bore witness to the way [Europe] related to itself’—such as towards its professed notions of the universal applicability of human rights, to take one example. He notes that in saying ‘ “We are all citizens of Sarajevo”, we are obviously making a “false” nomination, a nomination which violates the proper geopolitical disposition; however, precisely as such, this violation gives word to the injustice of the existing geopolitical order.’30 Or, to put it another way, statements such as ‘Sarajevo is the capital of Europe’ shame us in their manifold irony into reflecting upon a truth behind our own political disposition. An example appropriate to current-day Australian politics might be: ‘We are all illegal immigrants.’

Performance as politics: The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra Is not Said’s founding with Daniel Barenboim of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (after Goethe’s collection of poems of 1819 inspired by the Persian lyric poet Hafiz (1319–1389?), the Westöstlicher Diwan) precisely a transgressive act along such lines? Formed initially to help celebrate the 250th anniversary of Goethe’s birth in Weimar in 1999, is not such an orchestra of young Arab and Israeli musicians a scandalous public squatting in the pantheon of Western classical music by communities otherwise too easily reduced to dehumanising categories? As Barenboim once noted during orchestral rehearsals, it certainly draws the attention of the musicians themselves to how much ‘ignorance there was about the “other.” The Israeli kids couldn’t imagine that there are actually people in Damascus and Amman and Cairo who can actually play violin and viola.’31 The orchestra seems to provide a cultural ‘third party’ space for Israelis and Arabs to reflect upon themselves and the contingencies that inform their own cultural identities, a role similar to that claimed for the modernist art gallery at Umm al-Fahm, a Palestinian–Israeli town.32 Certainly, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is not be understood as merely a demonstration of the civilising power of Western classical music or a naïve act in support of this music’s claim to universality. Instead, we could usefully invoke Said’s term ‘contrapuntal’

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from Culture and Imperialism, to describe its consciousness-raising potential. Just like the native appropriation of Western literary forms in the postcolonial novel, here, in a Western classical symphony orchestra that conspicuously involves Israelis and Palestinians, the ‘formally silent native speaks and acts on territory reclaimed as part of a general movement of resistance’, but does so in full awareness of the ‘complex truth of his [or her] own social and historical situation’.33 This ‘playing back’ of the Other (to adapt Said’s notion of ‘writing back’) acts as a means of breaking the barriers of imagination that exist between a subjugated and subjugating culture—the very idea of an ‘other’ is undermined as the two cultures engage in a contrapuntal ‘voyage in’: The voyage in, then, constitutes an especially interesting variety of hybrid cultural work. And that it exists at all is a sign of adversarial internationalization in an age of continued imperial structures. No longer does the logos dwell exclusively, as it were, in London and Paris. No longer does history run unilaterally, as Hegel believed, from east to west, or from south to north, becoming more sophisticated and developed, less primitive and backward as it goes. Instead, the weapons of criticism have become part of the historical legacy of empire, in which the separations and exclusions of ‘divide and rule’ are erased and surprising new configurations spring up.34 Through contrapuntality, he argued, ‘we come to see all ideas of cultural autonomy and autochthony as phantasmal in nature. We come to understand that societies on either side of the imperial divide now live deeply imbricated lives that cannot be understood without reference to each other.’35 Thus the idea that ‘if you’re a white man you can say you have Beethoven, and the black man’s not supposed to listen to Beethoven, he’s supposed to listen to Calypso’ is a trap; rather such cultural objects should be understood as ‘part of the possession of all … humankind’.36 Said might well be accused of being naïvely utopian about the moral and political efficacy of music. Certainly he has been accused of being ‘not particularly concerned with the distinctiveness of

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Palestinian traditions nor inclined to share or participate in their lifeforms or religious beliefs’.37 He would have argued, however, that such belief in an authentic culture is itself inauthentic, that there is today, inescapably, ‘a sort of messing up and involvement of everyone with everyone else. It’s just that I would like to think that the inequalities, as between, say, a native informant and a white ethnographic eye, weren’t so great.’38 Indeed, by the time of his death, he had become a fierce critic of a politics of resistance beholden to nationalism. Writing in 2001, he declared that politicians ‘can talk all their usual nonsense and do what they want, and so can professional demagogues. But for intellectuals, artists, and free citizens, there must always be room for dissent, for alternative views, for ways and possibilities to challenge the tyranny of the majority and, at the same time and most importantly, to advance human enlightenment and liberty.’39

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Overall, in calling attention to the cognitive similarities between the musical and political experience of contrapuntality, Said offers us, as Rose Rosengard Subotnik suggests in her review of Musical Elaborations, ‘a most humane and attractive vision of music’, nothing less than ‘a mode for thinking through or thinking with the integral variety of human cultural practices, generously, non-coercively, and yes in a utopian cast, if by utopian we mean worldly, possible, attainable, knowable’.40 Indeed, this vision of the intellectual as musician, or indeed, the musician as intellectual, is without doubt grand and inspiring. But was Adorno, after all, right to be pessimistic about such positive conceptions of music’s social function? Has not the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra itself been devoured by the culture industry? This was the fate that Adorno saw as awaiting any artistic endeavour that dallied with mass appeal, however noble its intentions. Certainly, for an ensemble with ambitions to be politically ‘atonal’, the orchestra conspicuously does not perform modern atonal music, the very music Adorno thought was best able to reflect the ‘darkness and guilt of the world’.41

The market consumes the message? At the time of writing, the orchestra’s most recent offering on compact disc is a live recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for Warner Classics, and we find only a passing mention in the accompanying booklet of this particular work’s especially fraught reception history. Beginning with its composition in the repressive climate of Metternich’s Vienna, this includes appropriation by Nazi Germany, performances at the death camps at Auschwitz and its appearance in concerts marking the anniversary of 9/11. Ode to joy it may be, but Adorno was right to note that when Schiller writes that those incapable of such joy must ‘steal away in tears’, he unwittingly unmasks the universality of his own vision as a myth, as indeed does the ‘affirmative force’ with which Beethoven’s music hammers his message home.42 For Adorno, the fate of the Symphony No. 9 must have seemed emblematic of the fate of Enlightenment reason itself. Received uncritically, such lofty ideals could all too easily become just another means by which we collaborate in our own domination.

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By concentrating on the value of music in performance, and the political significance of the act of performance itself, however, Said (and, more latterly, Barenboim) nevertheless suggests that music can yet associate itself with actual political events and not slide into an uncritical accompaniment of them. Certainly, the musical and political results of such a project as the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra are at the very least paradoxical.43 But for Said, that was the precisely the point. Yes, the orchestra engages with the culture industry; yes, it might help to ease our conscience with regard to the actual situation in the occupied Palestinian territories; but it cannot be entirely dismissed in this way. Its mere existence is also an act of defiance, reminding us that the Israeli/Palestine conflict reflects in no small part the failure of the political imagination of the West. The orchestra does not just appropriate the Western musical canon, it also appropriates the values of multicultural tolerance that the West otherwise holds up as a sign of its own cultural and political superiority.44 More generally, it reminds us of the fluid—one might even say ‘musical’— character of identity itself in an increasingly itinerant and yet interconnected world; a powerful expression of the contingency that Said associated ‘both with world history and with the nature of musical experience’.45 Music so conceived and performed is of a kind we might all do well to hear. Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6

7 8 9 10 11

12 13 14 15

Barenboim & Said, Parallels and Paradoxes, p. 24. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. 75. Ibid., p. 58. Kramer, Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge, p. 3. Adorno, Negative Dialectics, pp. 4–5. John Stapleton, ‘Keating’s harbour city spray’, Weekend Australian, 4 March 2006, p. 3. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, pp. 350–1, 335. O’Connor, The Adorno Reader, p. 54. Adorno, Beethoven, p. 6. Bennett, ‘Theories of the media, theories of society’, p. 46. Piccone, ‘Theodor W. Adorno, Against Epistemology: A Metacritique’, p. 229. See also Agger, ‘On happiness and the damaged life’, pp. 12–33. Said, Musical Elaborations, pp. xviii–xix. Ibid., p. xix. See Horkheimer & Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, p. 34. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. 17.

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16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

31 32

33 34 35 36 37 38 39

40

41 42 43 44 45

Ibid., p. 21. Ibid., p. 15. Said, Power, Politics and Culture, p. 96. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. 5. Ibid., p. 19. Abbate, ‘Music—drastic or gnostic?’, p. 532. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. 20. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 140. Ibid., p. 138. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. xix. Barenboim & Said, Parallels and Paradoxes, p. 11. Ibid., p. 12. Ibid., pp. 13, 26. Said, Culture and Imperialism, pp. 299, 307, 322. Žižek, ‘Multiculturalism, or, the cultural logic of multinational capitalism’, p. 51. Barenboim & Said, Parallels and Paradoxes, p. 10. See Martin Patience, ‘Israeli Arab gallery breaks taboos’, BBC News Online http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/4790428.stm, accessed 11 March 2006. Said, Culture and Imperialism, pp. 256, 258. Ibid., pp. 261, 295. Mufti, ‘Global comparativism’, p. 115. Said, Power, Politics and Culture, p. 116. Dallmayr, ‘The politics of nonidentity’, p. 44. Said, Power, Politics and Culture, p. 116. Said, ‘Barenboim and the Wagner Taboo’, Al Hayat, 15 August 2001; quoted in Barenboim & Said, Parallels and Paradoxes, p. 181. Subotnik, ‘Edward W. Said, Musical Elaborations’, p. 484. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. 105. Adorno, Philosophy of New Music, p. 102. Adorno, Beethoven, p. 212. See also, Tregear, ‘The Ninth after 9/11’. See Horkheimer & Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, p. 43. See Žižek, ‘Against human rights’, pp. 115–16. Subotnik, ‘Edward W. Said, Musical Elaborations’, p. 480.

Bibliography Abbate, Carolyn, ‘Music—drastic or gnostic?’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 30, 2004, pp. 505–36. Adorno, Theodor W., Aesthetic Theory (trans. R. Hullot-Kentor), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1997. ——Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music (ed. Rolf Tiedemann; trans. Edmund Jephcott), Polity Press, Cambridge, 1998. ——Negative Dialectics, Seabury Press, New York, 1973. ——Philosophy of New Music, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2006.

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Agger, Ben, ‘On happiness and the damaged life’, in On Critical Theory (ed. John O’Neill), Seabury Press, New York, 1976, pp. 12–33. Ashcroft, Bill & Ahluwalia, Pal, Edward Said, Routledge, London, 1999. Barenboim, Daniel & Said, Edward W., Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (ed. Ara Guzelimian), Bloomsbury, London, 2003. Bennett, T., ‘Theories of the media, theories of society’, in (eds T. Bennett, J. Curran, M. Gurevitch & J. Woollacott), Culture, Society and the Media, Routledge, London, 1982, pp. 30–55. Dallmayr, Fred, ‘The politics of nonidentity: Adorno, postmodernism—and Edward Said’, Political Theory, vol. 25, 1997, pp. 33–56. Horkheimer, Max & Adorno, Theodor, Dialectic of Enlightenment (trans. John Cumming), Continuum, New York, 1972. Kramer, Lawrence, Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1995. Merod, Jim, ‘The sublime lyrical abstractions of Edward W. Said’, Boundary, vol. 25, 1998, pp. 117–43. Mufti, Aamir R, ‘Global comparativism’, in Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation (eds Homi Bhabha & W. J. T. Mitchell), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2005. O’Connor, Brian (ed.), The Adorno Reader, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 2000. Piccone, Paul, ‘Theodor W. Adorno, Against Epistemology: A Metacritique’, Telos, vol. 56, 1983, p. 229. Said, Edward W., Culture and Imperialism, Vintage, New York, 1993. ——‘From silence to sound and back again: Music, literature, and history’, in Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000, pp. 507–26. ——Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2004. ——Musical Elaborations, Columbia University Press, New York, 1991. ——Power, Politics and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said (ed. Gauri Viswanathan), Pantheon Books, New York, 2001. Subotnik, Rose Rosengard, ‘Edward Said, Musical Elaborations’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 46, no. 3, 1993, pp. 476–85. Tregear, Peter, ‘The Ninth after 9/11’, Beethoven Forum, vol. 10, 2003, pp. 221– 32. Žižek, Slavoj, ‘Against human rights’, New Left Review, no. 34, 2005, pp. 115–31. ——‘Multiculturalism, or, the cultural logic of multinational capitalism’, New Left Review, vol. 225, 1997, pp. 28–51.

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10

Said, Grainger and the ethics of polyphony Ben Etherington

Following the publication of Orientalism in 1978, Edward Said began to publish articles and reviews on music. At first this appeared to be a leisurely digression from the demands of being a public intellectual with strong investments in the divisive debates about the relationship between knowledge and power, as well as being a prominent critic of Israel. As time passed and Said’s reputation grew, music, surprisingly, made its way from the periphery to the centre of his work. So much so that he used a musical term—’contrapuntal’—to describe the methodological basis for Culture and Imperialism (1993). In the last decade of his life Said introduced music into every aspect of his work, almost always as an idealistic aperture in his criticism. Indeed, his central reason for musicalising his critical practice was to give it a strong idealistic drive. He believed that some unique aesthetic quality he discerned in music, particularly contrapuntal music, could play a defining role in developing a criticism that would move beyond the ethical ambivalences he identified in discourse analysis and deconstruction. A ‘contrapuntal’ analysis that can map social relationships beyond the limits of discourse would become, for Said, the basis of a ‘worldly’ consciousness that could in turn produce an awareness of how one might become an interventionary agent of social change.

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In order to scrutinise Said’s musical criticism I will submit his notion of ‘contrapuntal’ reading itself to a kind of contrapuntal reading. Just as Said uses the concept of counterpoint in Culture and Imperialism to juxtapose works from different historical moments, I will compare his attempt to formulate a contrapuntal ethics with the twentieth-century Australian composer Percy Grainger’s earlier efforts to outline a ‘polyphonic’ ethics. In making this comparison I will show how a certain formal conception of the relationship between melody and form to which both Said and Grainger subscribe in developing a polyphonic/contrapuntal ethics leads them to opposed positions on colonialism and race. I will conclude by suggesting that at the same point that Grainger dubiously subsumes race into his polyphonic ethics, Said subsumes an unreflective aesthetics.

Said’s ‘contrapuntal’ ethics One of the principal aims of The World, the Text and the Critic (1983) is to identify a mode of thinking that resists, on the one hand, complete theoretical systemisation and, on the other, an automatic identification with one’s parent culture. Said tries to construct a critical practice that avoids what he regards as the excesses of poststructuralism as well as the parochialism of nationalist literary criticism. Although this work of the ‘secular’ critic appears straightforward, there is always the danger, Said warns, that in backing away from theoretical systems the critic will simply end up reinforcing cultural boundaries or vice versa. Said does not conceive critical consciousness simply as a third way, a particular strategy of thought that outsmarts theory and culture, but as a location between ‘system and culture’. Said asks that in distinguishing ‘theory’ from ‘critical consciousness’ we regard the latter as a ‘spatial sense, a sort of measuring faculty for locating or situating theory’.1 As a spatial sense, critical consciousness is different from the act of criticism, in which the individual, proceeding from the ‘sensitive nodal point’ between system and culture, can no longer be ‘naturally and easily a mere child of culture, but a historical and social actor in it’.2 Critical consciousness, in Said’s terms, is precarious as it is ‘worldly’ yet must somehow remain relatively unmediated; some kind of critical absolute that remains within actuality. In searching for this integrated yet unmediated space Said’s main interlocutor is Foucault. A lengthy excursus on debates about

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whether Said’s reading of Foucault is or is not accurate is not necessary here. What is important is to understand why Said came to regard Foucault’s theories of power as an impediment to thinking outside the academic institutionalisation of culture and theory. As is well known, Said repeatedly acknowledged that by making the anonymous discourses of power ‘reappear’ Foucault enabled some of the fundamental insights of Orientalism. However, Said only partially accepts Foucault’s thesis that, in Said’s words, ‘power produces resistance, and resistance new forms of power’.3 This idea, Said argues, rightly crushes certain liberal myths whereby all voluntaristic resistance necessarily constitutes authentic resistance to coercive power. Unfortunately, he goes on, the consciousness of this predicament has produced a new ‘textual’ mode of resistance that is even tamer than voluntarism. He argues that left criticism has become ‘left’ criticism because the grounds of its opposition are conceived entirely within the terms of discourse. By granting at the outset that society is oversaturated with linguistic systems, theorists unwittingly facilitate domination by pretending that alterations within those systems might produce real, worldly alternatives. Said argues that by eliding the unequal economic and political bases of power this ‘labyrinth of textuality’ produces a disturbing moral equivalence between oppression and resistance.4 Worldly experience, on the other hand, always produces thought that exists ‘beyond the reach of dominating systems’, and this makes change not just conceivable at a macro level but also possible by particular interventions of critical agents.5 An ethical criticism must move beyond the text to become a ‘worldly’ criticism. Thus, Said believes, it cannot be fulfilled within the purview of discourse analysis. This trajectory in Said’s argument leaves him in a difficult position. If critical consciousness is not something that can be wholly conceptualised from within the text, then the intellectual faces the difficult task of articulating non-textual or non-linguistic forms of knowledge. It is here that music would become an important conceptual mediator between critical consciousness and worldliness. Already in The World, the Text and the Critic Said uses musical examples as tropes of worldliness. In the essay on the concept of originality Said posits that ‘the best way to consider originality is to look not for first instances of a phenomenon, but rather to see duplication,

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parallelism, symmetry, parody, repetition, echoes … The image of writing changes from original inscription to parallel script, from tumbled-out confidence to deliberate fathering-forth … from melody to fugue.’6 Here music serves to adapt Vico: ‘Formally speaking, Vico’s understanding and use of repetition bears a resemblance to musical techniques of repetition, in particular those of the cantus firmus or of the technique of the chaconne, or, to cite the most developed classical instance, Bach’s Goldberg Variations.’7 Criticism is not the examination of the cantus firmus, so to speak, but of the variations and elaborations that it produces. This in turn leads us back to lived experience: ‘repetition connects reason with raw experience’.8 Said’s turn to fugal (i.e. contrapuntal) analogies and examples when looking for a model for a ‘secular’ criticism is not incidental. In a formative article on Glenn Gould’s ‘contrapuntal vision’ published in the same year as The World, the Text and the Critic, he speaks of the ‘essence of counterpoint’ as a ‘species of formal knowledge’.9 The theoretical implications of the identification between critical thought and counterpoint become apparent only eight years later in Musical Elaborations. In its closing pages Said tries to articulate the ‘critical force’ that exists within the tradition of European elite music.10 To demonstrate the critical potential of this ‘countertradition’ he first presents a brief excursus on sonata form: ‘[In sonata form] what we have is the demonstration of authoritative control … themes undergo development, there is a calculated alternation between dominant and tonic keys, and a clangorous affirmation of the composer’s authority over his material.’11 Said constitutes musical form directly in ethical terms: sonata form, which provides the principal structural and harmonic template for the classical symphony, concerto and string quartet (the typical forms of ‘absolute’ music), is structural coercion. Said’s musical ethics presuppose an entity that exists within the musical work that should not be coerced—some form of musical identity that ought to be free. In the final chapter of Musical Elaborations this entity emerges as the irreducible unit of melody: a quantity identical to individual autonomy. Melody is not just a tune but ‘any musical element that attaches music to the privacy of the listener’s, performer’s, or composer’s experience’, ‘something like a signature or stamp of particular possession … a special theme, personal obsession, or a recurrent

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motif in the work of an artist that gives all of his work its own recognizable identity’.12 The irreducible nature of melody and its link to identity makes it one of the few metaphysical openings in Said’s secular criticism—one of those moments that W. J. T. Mitchell has referred to as Said’s ‘secular divination’.13 The shift into a romantic register in this final chapter (‘Melody, solitude, affirmation’) is an attempt, as Rose Subotnik has commented, to ‘solidify the epistemological value of personal musical associations’.14 Said goes on to assert that melody is the unchanging nucleus of the classical tradition: ‘The fundamental melodic identity of each composer’s style’ always returns in spite of changes in ‘aural regimes’.15 Once Said has established the centrality of melody as the a priori basis for identity in music, the outline of his contrapuntal ethics is fairly straightforward. As it has already reached a fully developed state, melody’s non-developmental nature is the basis for resistance to coercion. It is now a matter, for Said, of locating the formal complement of melody: I am intellectually impressed by the richness of what I have called the alternative formation in music, in which the nonlinear, nondevelopmental uses of theme or melody dissipate and delay a disciplined organization of musical time that is principally combative as well as dominative. Glenn Gould, I think, understood the potential interest in this essentially contrapuntal mode—that is you think and treat one musical line in conjunction with several others that derive from and relate to it, and you do so through imitation, repetition, or ornamentation—as an antidote to the more overtly administrative and executive authority contained in, say, a Mozart or Beethoven classical sonata form.16 The contrapuntal nature of ‘critical consciousness’ is thus formed on the premise that the ‘contrapuntal mode’, in its ideal state, is analogous to the aggregate of autonomous subjects. Thus Said would later recommend a ‘global, contrapuntal analysis’ for comparative literature.17 This is where Said’s conception of counterpoint saves him from further metaphysical speculation. Counterpoint retains identity (melody) in medias res; the critic’s job then becomes to achieve an

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awareness of the contrapuntal totality, not to speculate about its metaphysical components. The notion, therefore, that Said’s secularism rejects metaphysics outright is wrong. Rather, for Said it is a matter of choosing the most secular domain; something he tacitly acknowledges in his first article on music: ‘the contrapuntal mode in music, is, it seems, connected to eschatology … For the rules of counterpoint are so demanding, so exacting in their detail as to seem divinely ordained … To master counterpoint is therefore in a way almost to play God.’18 A consistent attention to the total ‘worldly’ context, he hopes, will help prevent such notions as ‘contrapuntal’ from folding into an eschatological vision of social transformation. In orthodox Marxist terms Said does not believe that structural change in the base/superstructure is required in order to approach an unmediated consciousness. The ‘worldliness’ of musical performance—its non-discursive capacity to signal the presence of an other who can be known—is, for Said, proof of a polyphony of consciousnesses that interact beyond language. Since counterpoint is a heuristic mechanism of ‘worldliness’, Said’s decision to conceptually structure Culture and Imperialism around the analogy of the ‘contrapuntal’ is an outcome of his rejection of discourse analysis as, ultimately, critically and ethically impotent in The World, the Text and the Critic. The conception of ‘contrapuntal analysis’ can thus be seen as an attempt to fuse the critical platform of the latter with the melodic/contrapuntal idealism of Musical Elaborations. Said explains: in the intervening years between Orientalism and this book, I had begun to write more about music, and most of my writing about music is really focused on contrapuntal work … And my favourite works in this genre are works that are not what you would call developmental or sonataform works, but rather works that are variational-structure works … and it’s that structure that I found tremendously useful in writing Culture and Imperialism … I wanted, therefore, to try organize it in a way that was modelled on art, rather than a powerful scholarly form—the idea of a kind of exfoliating structure of variations which, I think, is the way this book was, in fact, organized.19

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The decision to use a technical term taken from European elite music as a structural conceit is, however, hardly a predictable response to the problems Said raises in Orientalism concerning authority and representation. This is where Said’s faith in the ‘critical force’ of the ‘alternative formation’ in the European musical tradition plays such a crucial role. Within the very cultural system that would become so intertwined with imperialism lies the potential for a critical consciousness that exists beyond imperialism’s conquest of culture. Said develops three modes of contrapuntalism in Culture and Imperialism. It is successively an analytical device, a strategy of anticolonial opposition and an idealised ‘post-imperial’ condition of consciousness. ‘Contrapuntal analysis’ is what Said performs on nineteenth-century European novels and opera, ‘oppositional counterpoint’ is what happens in anti-colonial polemics and works of art in the twentieth century, and ‘contrapuntal awareness’ is the contemporary capacity to think about culture and politics outside imperial hegemony. What becomes apparent as one reads Culture and Imperialism is that the first two modes rely on the latter for theoretical legitimacy. Only as a successfully realised ideal can the notion of ‘contrapuntal’ awareness be effective for analytical or political purposes. This interdependence is integral to Said’s project: he politicises the discussion of literature to liberate literature from unreflective entanglements with power, and uses the liberated ideal of literature as a model for advocating political change. The model proceeds something like this: when one becomes aware that the domestic world of, say, Mansfield Park is sustained by slaves on a plantation in Antigua, then ‘contrapuntally’ aware that the voices of those slaves would rise in time to become the voice of anti-colonialism in the twentieth-century, one develops an understanding of how the possibility of social awareness and therefore political praxis is already embedded in aesthetic experience. The contrapuntal analogy thus serves to encompass both Mansfield Park and the barely alluded to colonial social relations that constitute it. Said’s contrapuntal ethics culminated in the formation of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with the Israeli conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim in 1999. The idea, as articulated by Said, was to form a space in which some interaction and cooperation could occur between the young Israelis and Arabs who make up the orchestra

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without requiring some illusory sense of reconciliation.20 Said commented that the orchestra ‘is nonpolitical and has no ulterior motive. It doesn’t pretend to be building bridges and all that hokey stuff. But there it is, a paradigm of coherent and intelligent living together.’21 By removing its members from their politically oversaturated environment, the orchestra uses a concept of musical autonomy as the basis for intervention. In this sense it matches up almost exactly to the contrapuntal program of Culture and Imperialism. From the fairly loose analogies between music and critical thought in The World, the Text and the Critic, Said’s contrapuntal project leads him to a post-imperial ethical praxis based on his aesthetic convictions. Rather than moving directly to a critique of Said’s contrapuntal ethics, it is useful to consider how a similar constellation of ideas about ethics and polyphonic forms develops in Percy Grainger’s writing, particularly with regard to the colonial and postcolonial context. In Grainger’s work similar notions of polyphony become attached to a markedly different social program.

Grainger’s ‘polyphonic’ ethics Although the details of Percy Grainger’s life are incidental to this discussion, it is worth noting that the patterns of Said’s and Grainger’s lives were not dissimilar. Grainger was born in a British colony, had early affiliations with the English educational system and spent most of his professional career in the USA. He left Australia as a 13-year-old in 1895 and spent his formative years in Frankfurt (where a generation of prominent English composers and musicians also trained) and London, before moving in 1914 to the USA, where he died in 1961. Like Said, his self-perception as an exile and product of British imperialism deeply affected his work as a public performer and academic in the USA (he was Dean of Music at New York University). This biographical coincidence may account for the impulse both share in relating their conception of musical form to an awareness of the global span of British imperialism. Although Grainger’s prose follows fairly whimsical patterns of thought that create quick-fire contradictions and diversions, there is a consistency in the themes he treats and how he treats them. Thus the essays ‘Theme as related to form in music’ (1901), ‘The impress of personality in unwritten music’ (1915) and ‘Democracy in music’

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(1931) develop a consistent musical justification for the universal ethical potential of polyphonic forms. To give a sense of the steady evolution of Grainger’s ideas in this regard I will address each in turn. In the earliest article, written when he was 19, Grainger argues that melody and smaller ‘tag’ themes in Bach’s large-scale works are essentially non-developmental. This position is used to support his belief in the primacy of melody in musical form: ‘I consider a perfect theme in almost all cases absolutely, in very rare cases scarcely, capable of any development.’22 In his analysis of Bach’s treatment of melody and submelodic units, Grainger attempts to prove that Bach sits outside subsequent developments in the Austrian–Germanic tradition, which, he claims, privileged the development of material over the material itself. Saving Bach from his successors serves to prevent a historical continuum being made between Bach’s method of melodic exposition, which ‘never assumed a false guise’, and the ‘appalling inconsistencies, false pretences, & unconscious insincerity in the method’ of the ‘ “German-Austrian national style” (Hayden, Beethoven, etc)’.23 By always keeping an autonomous place for melody within complex contrapuntal and homophonic (i.e. chorale) forms, Bach points to a method that is not ‘altogether coercible to their [i.e. formists’] doctrines of thematic workings’,24 even though, for Grainger, a ‘real theme’ is ‘a thing unknown to us yet’.25 Upon arriving in England Grainger discovered ‘real themes’ in the process of collecting and arranging folk music. The major intellectual result of this is the landmark article ‘The impress of personality in unwritten music’, which answers the call made in his earlier essay for a complexity that lives up to the demands of true melodiousness. Grainger claims that ‘primitive music’ is too complex for modern (European) ears attuned to the simplifications of the harmonic system. The oral transmission of music allows for a greater degree of autonomy when remembered and reproduced by the individual, presenting both a secure tradition of forms as well as the potential for personal innovation. This ‘lack of harmonic consciousness’, which admits minute divisions of pitch and rhythm, presents the possibility for the complete reproduction of ‘natural’ autonomy in musical form, ridding us of the ‘tyranny of the composer’.26 Towards the end of the article Grainger cites those of his contemporaries (Schoenberg, Ravel, Strauss, Delius, Cyril Scott) who have begun to

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‘emancipate’ melody from harmony in their formal innovations. However, the potential for melodic autonomy still exists, Grainger maintains, in older polyphonic forms—the only type of European elite music that can accommodate ‘unwritten’ music. Thus: ‘even when natives [here Rarotongans from Polynesia] have been exposed to the influence of European music long enough to have acquired from it the habit of singing in parts, sometimes the unmistakable characteristics of unwritten music will survive to a surprising extent and color all their harmonic habits’.27 The ‘prodigious’ ‘polyphony’ of the Rarotongans produces ‘Bach-like gems of everchanging, euphoniously discordant polyphonic harmony’.28 Grainger repeatedly cites Rarotongan polyphony in subsequent articles as a model for the integration of the European sense form with folk authenticity;29 a mode that can be surpassed only by the ‘Free Music’ that Grainger envisages as the utopian plane of musical aesthetics and human sociality. While an ethical consciousness underlies Grainger’s conception of the relationship between melody and form in these two essays (as it does in Said’s earlier pieces on music), they do not presume to develop an ethics from this relationship (as Said does when deploying the aesthetic idealism of Musical Elaborations in Culture and Imperialism). This move is attempted in the 1931 article ‘Democracy in music’, in which Grainger suggests that a ‘polyphonic’ approach to the composition and practice of music presents an ideal for the theory and practice of democracy. As with much of his writing, there does not seem to be a specific occasion prompting Grainger. However, the trajectory of the essay is quite clear: he attempts to outline through examples of polyphony a post-democratic utopianism (derived chiefly from Whitman). Hence: ‘For me democratic music is only a halfway house on the road to “free music” … Then only will the full soul of man find a universal, untrammelled musical speech.’30 In a passage similar to Said on the ‘alternative formation’ in music quoted above, Grainger differentiates musical forms by analogy to political systems: not all forms of music are ‘democratic’. True folk-song … is individualistic rather than democratic. Top-melody, accompanied by subservient unmelodic chords & basses, cannot be called democratic; nor can soloistic display-music …

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Such musics are closer to musical feudalism, aristocracy or high-priest-craft than to democracy. But all true manyvoiced (polyphonic) music … may be said to be musically democratic. Such music is not only richer & more subtle in a purely musical sense than all other existing music, but also satisfies the spiritual, religious, ethical & emotional cravings of modern humanity as does no other.31 This passage reveals a development in Grainger’s thinking beyond his position in ‘The impress of music’. Where an unabashed primitivism and naturalism in melodic inventiveness was presented as an antidote to the ‘harmonic consciousness’ of modernity, here the feudal individualism of folk-song needs to be accommodated in a larger, European-derived form. (This shift, however, is not altogether decisive. He continues to slide between an anarchic primitivism and a spiritualised democratic sensibility in later writings.) As in Said, the privileging of polyphonic forms of music derives its aesthetic from its moral character: ‘… the value of all existing art music depends on the extent to which it is intrinsically many-voiced or democratic—that is to say, the extent to which the harmonic texture is created out of freelymoving voices, each of them full of character, or vigor, or melodic loveliness’.32 Polyphony is also the basis for a communitarian social praxis. Grainger recommends practising music in groups to stimulate a polyphonic awareness. ‘Since melody & not passagework (i.e. scales, etc.) is the root of music’, the group is strengthened by the ‘sensitised awareness [that] underlies Western Melodious Polyphony’.33 Although perhaps more quaint-sounding, there is no fundamental difference between Grainger’s musical ‘team-work’ and the social idealism of Said’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Both aim to collapse the distinction between aesthetic development and political amelioration. While Grainger’s spiritualised ‘polyphonic’ democracy is obviously not identical to Said’s secular ‘contrapuntal’ post-imperialism, the basic logic by which they construct a polyphonic ethics is identical: the primacy of melody as identity (the subject) and the belief that the non-coercive nature of polyphonic forms allows melody to retain its selfhood (the objective structure as the sum of cooperative autonomous subjects). The reason Said’s contrapuntal system might seem more secular than Grainger’s is that he does not speculate at

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length on what constitutes the ‘selfhood’ of melody. This is certainly not the case for Grainger, for whom the question of ‘selfhood’ and the nature of individual identity was an obsession.

Grainger’s Nordic polyphony In ‘Democracy in music’ Grainger comments that the ‘individual is held back from a happy embrace of democratic doctrine’ by, among other things, a ‘lack of selfhood’.34 According to the pattern of Grainger’s musical analogies, we would reasonably assume that this means that the afflictions of modernity have inhibited the innate capacity for melody. However, Grainger’s use of the term ‘selfhood’ in an essay written two years earlier suggests a strikingly different context. Sketching the relationship between the particular and the universal that he hoped polyphony would synthesise, Grainger writes: ‘The great artists are those who become universal by way of going from the particular to the general, not vice versa. And when even so avowedly artistically cosmopolitan a people as the Jews beget a great composer (such as Ernest Bloch), he also is a racialist; in other words, an exponent of selfhood.’35 Selfhood, for Grainger, is not the sum total of an individual’s experiences but the relationship between experience and racial character. From early in his career Grainger repeatedly asserted that ‘nature & raciality’ were the ‘chief promptings’ of his art.36 Although this intuitive sense of the importance of race in artistic and social expression underpinned his writing from an early stage, it was in the 1920s, particularly after reading Madison Grant’s Passing of the Great Race in 1920, that Grainger began systematically to make the nature of social and artistic character racially accountable. Grainger’s racial theorising, his conception of musical production and his democratic ethics became entirely conflated during this period. Not surprisingly, melody is at the centre of this conflation: ‘Musically speaking, this preference for rough and lonely and independent ways of living over smooth and crowded and more communal ways of living on the part of a large proportion of the northern races has not only resulted in a profusion and variety of complex and highly organized melodies, such as no other racial group could hope to equal at present, but in addition it has induced a racial standard of melodiousness, a racial demand for melodic achievement.’37

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The condition of melodiousness as the special achievement of the Nordic race completely mediates the kind of universality Grainger proposes in ‘Democracy in music’. For Grainger, all Nordic music, even when it is not technically polyphonic, is generated from an underlying framework of ‘polyphonic thought’.38 Universal participation is thus open to those who can achieve the ‘Nordic’ traits of impartiality, kindness, stoicism and lovingness: ‘he [the Nordic] shall abandon his quest for slaves to do the rough work for him, that he shall do his rough work for himself, that he shall build up communities of racial equalities, consisting of Nordics and any other races that measure up to Nordic requirements. I am personally not a believer in the magic of “blood”.’39 The singularity of the Nordic achievement leads Grainger’s polyphonic democracy inexorably towards an imperialistic logic (the expression of which retains a remarkable currency in the early twentyfirst century): ‘Our [Nordic] gift to the world is the gift of freedom. And we Nordics, who fail in almost every other virtue of life as compared with other races, dare not fail in the matter of freedom.’40 The duality of democracy and colonialism is made explicit in an essay in which Grainger tries to make concrete links between Nordics and AngloSaxons: ‘Both racial groups are, after all, individualists at bottom, highly responsive to the ideal of freedom (in its various interpretations) easily provoked to the adventure of colonization … What is our modern Anglo-Saxon enthusiasm for democracy but a recent blossoming oldtime Scandinavian representative habits of government?’41 Until non-Nordics can attain the full melodiousness of the Nordic race they cannot hope to occupy a rightful place in the polyphonic scheme. Polyphonic democracy, then, is the Nordic/AngloSaxon man’s burden (Grainger even refers to himself in a letter as ‘Kipling-in-tones’42), but Grainger’s haphazard prose gives this burden a comically light, fanciful character. He ascribes ‘Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon colonisation partly to the wistful, peace-loving, emotional sensitive natures of these peoples, who prefer to “run away” to the waste-places of the earth rather than to stay at home and “fight it out” ’.43 This benign view of colonialism relates directly back to musical form. Imprisoned in the compartmentalised European landscape, the Nordic’s contrapuntal soul seeks the ‘monotonous’ landmasses of the colonies in order to realise its potential.44

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It would be a misrepresentation, however, to present Grainger as a (consciously) earnest imperialist. He is often caught between a pride in being the ‘reScandinavianized’ (Grainger’s term) product of British colonialism’s drive to the ‘waste-places’ and a desperation at the ruthlessness of that colonisation: ‘The English have drawn their empire together thru hardness, greed, crime, & other sins. I rue such wickedness & would be glad to see our Empire (& all empires) fall apart & leave.’45 While this double-take is fascinating for a consideration of Grainger’s peculiarly Australian colonial psychology, what is most important here is that the basis for Grainger’s faith in the egalitarian nature of polyphony is the same as that with which he is willing to entertain a favourable view of colonialism.

Essentialised aesthetics: Said’s contrapuntal legacy Said and Grainger have a similar conception of the ethical relationship between melody and polyphony/counterpoint, yet it brings them to opposed positions. Polyphonic Nordics are exemplary colonisers because they embody the ideal of democratic universality. Contrapuntal intellectuals are ideal anti-colonial figures because they can access a kind of thinking that is outside imperialist modes of thought (a situation analogous to Said’s conception of certain performances of contrapuntal music operating as ‘pure musicality in a social space off the edge’).46 On one level we can distinguish between Grainger’s and Said’s musical ethics by calling attention to the differences in their use of musical terminology; that is, between ‘polyphony’ and ‘contrapuntal’. Grainger usually uses ‘polyphony’ in the substantive, referring to all musical forms in which multiple voices operate independently from one another. Said tends to use ‘contrapuntal’ as an adjective, which, in its orthodox sense, refers to pieces composed according to the rules of counterpoint. His usage is, as such, processual. Grainger tends towards ontology and Said to material process. Grainger’s polyphony is symbolic, organic and ultimately racial, suggesting that it can really become a universal condition only by imposition. Said’s notion of counterpoint is, seemingly, a universal category that can be discerned by anybody with a developed aesthetic and political sense. This terminological distinction, however, does not account for the fact that in both Said’s ‘contrapuntal’ and Grainger’s ‘polyphonic’

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ethics there is the same relationship between the melodic essence and polyphonic totality. The difference is that they focus their attention at opposite ends of the melodic/polyphonic scheme. The fact that Said emphasises process does not mean that he conveniently dispenses with the metaphysical, melodic core. If Grainger’s attempts to account for the melodic essence leads him to bogus theories of racial identity and an ambivalent imperialism, we need to ask how Said’s failure to scrutinise melody in a sustained critical way inflects his contrapuntal ethics. Where Grainger’s conception of selfhood is centred on racial identity, Said’s conception of the self as melody constitutes the self from a sort of aesthetic DNA. As he does not want to go beyond a certain point in examining the melodic object—what he calls its ‘magic’, its ‘secret vice’—Said effectively essentialises certain forms of aesthetic perception and gives them an ethical privilege. This leads him to assert the intrinsic value of Western elite music without really explaining how that tradition escapes mediation (imperialist or otherwise). In the same way that Grainger’s ‘Nordic’ is the only subject capable of propagating ‘democratic’ polyphony, Said’s contrapuntal awareness can be attained only by people with a ‘developed’ aesthetic and political sense. The coincidence that ‘variational’ contrapuntal works (as he terms them) are both his ‘favourite’ genre and a model for post-imperial thought goes unremarked. His solidarity with the contrapuntal aesthetic comes before his critique. Thus Said comments at the beginning of Culture and Imperialism that he chose the works he did because they were first and foremost ‘estimable works of art’.47 By establishing an ethical model of universal autonomy based on an aesthetic autonomy that is ultimately politically unaccountable, he slides into a not-so-democratic humanism. This non-materialist moment is not reversed by Said’s attempt to shape it into praxis through the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Indeed the orchestra completes the conflation of aesthetics and politics that results from his contrapuntal ethics. If the orchestra presents a more exemplary ‘paradigm’ for ‘intelligent living together’ than other non-linguistic activities like, say, sport, then ‘intelligent living together’ presupposes an internalised aesthetic sense. Where Grainger asks that other races measure up to the ‘polyphonic’ standards of the Nordic race, Said asks, through his contrapuntal ethics, that the world

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measure up to the bourgeois subject of aesthetics. I do not want to suggest that Said’s entire project of democratic humanism falls on the sword of an unreconstructed bourgeois affection for Bach. Nor do I want to denounce him for attempting to use music’s non-linguistic nature to formulate a critical mode that does not stop at the very real limits of linguistic cognition. What the comparison with Grainger helps to reveal is that a contrapuntal or polyphonic ethics based on the primacy of the subject (melody) projects the values of that subject, whether they are racial or bourgeois, on to the totality. In the concluding passages of Humanism and Democratic Criticism, however, Said seems to hint at this limitation and to suggest where future critics might focus their energies. He describes the intellectual’s ‘provisional home’ as the ‘domain of an exigent, resistant, intransigent art [i.e. music] into which, alas, one can neither retreat nor search for solutions’. He concludes by saying that only in that domain might one ‘truly grasp what cannot be grasped and then go forth to try anyway’.48 In the possibility of grasping what cannot be grasped (the melody of the subject so to speak) Said suggests that future scholarship requires a greater attention to aesthetic perception. If a democratic humanism is to be an answer to the impasse of representation and power arrived at in Orientalism, we also need to ask whether a democratic aesthetics is also possible. Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Said, The World, the Text and the Critic, p. 241. Ibid., p. 15. Ibid., p. 192. Ibid., pp. 3, 246. Ibid., p. 247. Ibid., p. 135. Ibid., p. 114. Ibid., p. 113. Said, ‘The music itself’, p. 45. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. 100. Ibid., p. 102. Ibid., pp. 96, 92–3. Mitchell, ‘Secular divination’, p. 468. Subotnik, review of Musical Elaborations, p. 483. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. 95. Ibid., p. 102. Said, Culture and Imperialism, p. 318.

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30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

Said, ‘The music itself’, p. 48. Said, Power, Politics and Culture, p. 184. See Said & Barenboim, Parallels and Paradoxes, pp. 8–12. Usher, ‘Hearts and minds’. Grainger, Grainger on Music, p. 5. Ibid., pp. 11–12. Ibid., p. 8. Ibid., p. 6. Ibid., pp. 53, 56. Ibid., p. 51. Ibid., p. 52. For example, in 1949 Grainger again cites the use of polyphony in ‘primitive music’ as a means of eluding ‘outside domination’: ‘if by “true melody” we mean expression by means of a tonal line that is complete in itself, full of its own volition and unenslaved by outside domination (for instance domination by harmony or rhythm). In Africa and Java can be heard poly-melodic music in which the melodic initiative is uncurtailed’ (ibid., p. 352). Ibid., p. 216. Ibid., pp. 218–19. Ibid., p. 218 (my emphasis). Ibid., pp. 220, 255. Ibid., p. 217. Ibid., p. 188. Ibid., p. 13. Ibid., p. 115. Ibid., p. 259. Ibid., p. 132. Ibid., p. 90. Perhaps this is the reason why the publisher of Grainger on Music makes the rather surprising claim in the blurb for the book that Grainger’s views on participatory democracy ‘anticipated by several decades views more typical of the mid-late twentieth century’ (Grainger, Grainger on Music, dust jacket). Ibid., p. 123. Grainger, All-Round Man, p. 177. Grainger, Grainger on Music, p. 228. See citation in Covell, Australia’s Music, p. 97. Grainger, All-Round Man, p. 143. Said, Musical Elaborations, p. 72. Said, Culture and Imperialism, p. xiv. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, p. 144.

Bibliography Barenboim, Daniel & Said, Edward W., Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (ed. Ara Guzelimian), Bloomsbury, London, 2003. Covell, Roger, Australia’s Music, Sun Books, Melbourne, 1967.

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Gillies, Malcolm & Clunies Ross, Bruce (eds), Grainger on Music, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999. Grainger, Percy, The All-Round Man: Selected Letters of Percy Grainger, 1914– 1961 (eds Malcolm Gillies & David Pear), Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994. Mitchell, W. T. J., ‘Secular divination: Edward Said’s humanism’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 31, no. 2, 2005, pp. 462–71. Said, Edward W., Culture and Imperialism, Knopf/Random House, New York, 1993. ——Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2004. ——‘The music itself: Glenn Gould’s contrapuntal vision’, in Glenn Gould: By Himself and His Friends (ed. John McGreevy), Doubleday, Toronto, 1983, pp. 45–54. ——Musical Elaborations, Columbia University Press, New York, 1991. ——Power, Politics and Culture: Interviews with Edward Said, Bloomsbury, London, 2001. ——The World, the Text, and the Critic, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983. Subotnik, Rose Rosengard, ‘Edward Said, Musical Elaborations’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 476–85. Usher, Rod, ‘Hearts and minds’, Time Magazine, Europe edition, 2 September 2002, www.time.com/time/europe/magazine/article/0,13005,901020902– 340702,00.html, viewed 14 June 2006.

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11

Orientalism and mass market romance novels in the twentieth century Hsu-Ming Teo

In 2005 fifty-one million ‘desert’ or ‘sheikh’1 romances were sold around the world, with North America constituting the largest market.2 These mass market romance novels revolve around the plot of a Western woman who reluctantly falls in love with an Arab sheikh. They frequently feature such orientalist motifs as abduction, harems, slavery, the sensuality of ‘the East’ and an autocratic but sexually potent Arab sheikh hero. They demonstrate the playing out of Western women’s sexual and romantic fantasies about ‘the Orient’, yet, despite the proliferation of these romances since E. M. Hull’s novel The Sheik was published in 1919, Edward Said ignored the genre in his discussion of orientalism because his focus was on ‘high’ literary culture. Nevertheless these novels have probably done more to reinforce orientalist ideas in Western popular culture because of their strong sales and wide readership. This chapter explores the emergence of genderspecific orientalist discourses as elaborated in mass market romance novels over the course of the twentieth century. It looks at historical antecedents of orientalist ‘sheikh’ fantasies before turning to a consideration of how Western women have shaped the discourse of orientalism in their writings.

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Said’s original conception of orientalism was a profoundly gendered one because to him orientalism was a male enterprise conflated with Western patriarchy. Said argued that orientalism ‘encouraged a peculiarly … male conception of the world’ because the academic discipline of orientalism ‘was an exclusively male province’ and the focus of such studies was the oriental male.3 Oriental women were of interest insofar as they shed light on Western male fantasies of power and sexual access. In these discourses, oriental women merely ‘express unlimited sensuality, they are more or less stupid, and above all they are willing’.4 Flaubert’s relationship with the Egyptian courtesan Kuchuk Hanem was emblematic of the West’s relationship with ‘the Orient’. The silenced, passive, over-sexualised oriental woman was a symbol of the pacified, feminised East embracing Western imperial penetration and domination.5 Subsequent feminist scholarship by Lisa Lowe, Billie Melman and Reina Lewis challenged the assumption that Western women were not involved in creating and shaping European ideas of the Orient.6 Melman’s and Lewis’s concern, in particular, was to desexualise the harem. They argued that because of nineteenth-century notions of class, femininity and respectability, middle-class ladies who travelled to the Middle East were more interested in representing the harem as a space analogous to the middle-class domestic sphere rather than as the space of illicit and degenerate sex it generally appeared in male orientalist fantasies. Meyda Yegenoglu has argued that these female travellers were nonetheless complicit in the male orientalist project through their deliberate act of ‘unveiling’ the oriental woman through their writings.7 Yegenoglu herself insisted on the critical importance of understanding how images of women and of sexuality were incorporated into the structure of orientalism. She argued that ‘representations of the Orient are interwoven by sexual imageries, unconscious fantasies, desires, fears, and dreams. In other words, the question of sexuality cannot be treated as a regional one; it governs and structures the subject’s every relation with the other.’8 Nevertheless, like Said and Rana Kabbani after him,9 Yegenoglu’s discussion of sexual desires and imagery focused solely on Western male fantasies of oriental female sexuality. Orientalist sex was thus cordoned off as a male province— like so much else about the Western orientalist project.

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Yet despite the constraints of nineteenth-century femininity upon travel and writing, European women travelling abroad were certainly aware of the possibility of sexual liaisons with ‘oriental’ men. A few Western women had explored and acted upon their sexual desire for the oriental male other. For example, in middle age, the notoriously free-spirited Lady Jane Digby—disgraced ex-wife of Lord Ellenborough, viceroy of India from 1842 to 1844—travelled to Syria, where she met and married a Bedouin nobleman, Sheikh Medjuel el Mezrab, who was twenty years her junior. Thereafter she spent six months of each year living in a black goat-hair Bedouin tent in the Arabian desert, and the other six months in the palace she built for her and her husband in Damascus, until her death in 1881. The culturally and ethnically hybrid Isabelle Eberhardt dressed as a man—Si Mahmoud Essadi—and travelled around the Algerian desert before marrying Slimane Ehnni, an Algerian soldier, in 1901. The entomologist and butterfly-collector Margaret Fountaine maintained a long relationship with her Syrian guide, Khalil Neimy, whose name she anglicised to Charles before a short, rather unhappy sojourn in Queensland. The sexual potential of desert travel for Englishwomen was such that when Rosita Forbes travelled to the Islamic shrine of Kufra in the Libyan desert with an Egyptian explorer, Ahmed Mohammed Hassanein Bey, insinuations were made that she had a sexual affair with him on the journey.10 That such innuendoes should have followed Forbes was unsurprising, for her travel book about the Kufra journey was published in 1921—the same year as Rudolph Valentino appeared in the Paramount film, The Sheik, based on E. M. Hull’s 1919 bestseller. Everywhere Forbes went, she claimed, people asked whether she had met ‘real live sheeks [sic]’ and clamoured to know whether there was ‘romance in the desert’.11 Edith Maud Hull had not only reiterated orientalist sexual fantasies in The Sheik; she had constructed and celebrated the Middle Eastern desert as a space of specifically female sexual fantasies, and she had boldly brought the spectre of interracial sex to the forefront of popular consciousness, insisting that there was indeed romance in the desert—and it might be found with oriental men.

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E. M. Hull’s novel, The Sheik Hull’s original sheikh novel interwove dominant themes of female independent travel, abduction and sadomasochistic sexuality as the extraordinary beginnings for modern romantic love. In The Sheik, Diana Mayo, an arrogant aristocratic English woman who is financially and socially independent, embarks on a tour into the heart of the Sahara Desert. There, she is abducted by Sheikh Ahmed Ben Hassan, held in captivity, and raped and humiliated over a period of several months. Initially, she despises him for her sexual degradation and servitude, but after months of being his sex slave in the desert, she realises that she has fallen in love with him and that the femininity she has so long tried to deny has surfaced; she has been transformed from an androgynous juvenile into a mature ‘real woman’. As Patricia Raub has noted, it is a plot as old as The Taming of the Shrew.12 Hero and heroine undergo a number of desert adventures, the most important being when Diana is abducted for the second time by another sheikh and Ahmed has to ride to her rescue. He is badly wounded, and when she nurses him back to health, she discovers that he is not really an Arab but an Englishman: the heir, in fact, of the Earl of Glencaryll. The sheikh realises that he loves her and nobly offers to set her free to return to her family and friends in England, but she chooses to stay with him in happy concubinage in the desert, and there the novel ends. Sheikh and desert romances had been published before the advent of Hull’s novel. Previous scholars of romance novels have identified Robert Hitchens’s bestselling 1904 novel, The Garden of Allah, as the moment the desert romance became a distinct subgenre.13 The Garden of Allah, which was adapted into a play in New York in 1909 and made into a film starring Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer in 1936, tells the story of an Englishwoman, Domini Enfilden, who travels to the Middle East, is lured by the mystery of desert, rides there frequently, falls in love with an apostate Trappist monk and marries him. Upon discovering his apostasy from his religious vows, she releases him to return to the monastery and secludes herself in a house on the edge of the desert. In many ways, it represents the last, twentieth-century gasp of Victorian romances that focus on the spiritual and other-worldly facets of romantic love, exemplified by Annie Steele’s Anglo-Indian romance, On the Face of the Waters or Canadian

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romance writer Marie Corelli’s mystical romances involving reincarnation, astral projection and various explorations of the occult. Hull’s novel, on the other hand, is startlingly modern in the pace of its plot and in its focus on female erotic fantasies. Where discursive sexual titillation is concerned, it appears to draw from the tradition of Victorian pornography, particularly the anonymously published Lustful Turk (1828): an epistolary novel that tells the framing story of an Englishwoman, Emily Barlow, who is abducted by pirates and sold as a sex slave to the Dey of Algiers. Emily is kept in his harem together with three other European women: French, Italian and Greek. The Lustful Turk revolves almost mechanically around of stories of abduction, violent rape of virgins and sadomasochistic sex, which eventually provoke sexual pleasure and, hence, devotion to the Dey on the part of these European women. Pornographic sex is outsourced to the Orient, while white European ‘ladies’ are punished for their chastity, ‘coldness’ and the supposed power over men granted them by the European code of chivalry, which has emasculated European men and which literally emasculates the Dey—the eponymous ‘Lustful Turk’—at the novel’s end. Two literary topoi used to evoke sexual titillation in nineteenthcentury pornography—the rape of virgins and interracial sex—recur in The Sheik. Sander Gilman, in his work on the iconography of female sexuality in late nineteenth-century art, medicine and literature, has suggested that although black women served as a traditional focus for white male desire in Renaissance texts, in nineteenth-century orientalist art white female bodies are juxtaposed against black servants in order to evoke a sense of illicit and lascivious sexuality.14 Whiteness, as much as any other objectified female body part, becomes a fetish in this construction of sexual titillation in The Lustful Turk: ‘Holy Mahomet! What a glorious sight she exhibited—beautiful breasts, finely placed, sufficiently firm to support themselves—hair, shoulders, belly, thighs, legs, everything was deliciously voluptuous! But what most struck my fancy was the beautiful whiteness, roundness, and voluptuous swell of firm flesh of her love buttocks and thighs.’15 Sexualised whiteness is continually reiterated in this text, desired even by a depraved Mediterranean abbot, Pedro, who seduces a young novice in Part 2 of The Lustful Turk: ‘The unrivalled whiteness of her skin was increased by the black velvet of the sofa on which she was

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laid.’16 In The Sheik, and particularly in desert romances of the 1980s and 1990s, much is made of the contrast between the whiteness of the heroine’s skin and her blonde hair, and the sheikh’s swarthy looks. Where The Sheik and other female-authored desert romances depart from Victorian pornography, however, is in the movement from sexual desire to romantic love. Moreover, sexual desire is diffused between male and female, while the focus of description is on female emotional states and sensations of pleasure. The Lustful Turk admits no possibility of love between women or men. The Dey believes that ‘nature will always exert its power over the softer sex, and they frequently give way to its excitement, but the pleasure they experience is merely animal. … it is nature, not love, that creates her transport.’17 Hull’s novel, on the other hand, not only affirms the inevitability of love but also raises the possibility of interracial love. The text of The Sheik (although not necessarily the film) flirts not only with English– Arab sexual liaisons but also with the imagery of white–black sexual desire and miscegenation. The nineteenth-century orientalist writings of such men as James Cowles Prichard and Richard Burton disparaged the Semite as a ‘Savage Man’, a ‘creature of instinct, controlled by sexual passions, incapable of the refinement to which the white races had evolved … The native was more like an animal; indeed, Burton often spoke of African and Arab man and beast in one breath.’18 Lucy Bland has commented that during the interwar years, ‘nonwhite people residing in Britain, be they African, West Indian, South Asian or Arab, were referred to by the interchangeable epithets “black” and “coloured”, and occasionally “Negro” ‘.19 As Laura Tabili has suggested, ‘This diverse population shared neither physiognomy nor culture; they were united by a political and historical relationship of colonial subordination.’20 Hull’s novel perpetuates this equivalence between African and Arab men. As in The Lustful Turk, much of the novel’s shocking sexual titillation arises from overt miscegenation. Arabs are not black, but they may as well be as far as the racially pure, white English are concerned in this novel. In the following passage, Hull plays up the racial difference between whites and natives, associating the latter with animals. For Diana, falling in love is in fact a social and racial fall, a degradation to which she willingly submits and of which she is fully conscious even in the midst of happy delirium:

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He was a brute, but she loved him, loved him for his very brutality and superb animal strength. And he was an Arab! A man of different race and colour, a native; Aubrey would indiscriminately class him as a “damned nigger”. She did not care. It made no difference. A year ago, a few weeks even, she would have shuddered with repulsion at the bare idea, the thought that a native could even touch her had been revolting, but all that was swept away and was nothing in the face of the love that filled her heart so completely. She did not care if he was an Arab, she did not care what he was, he was the man she loved. She was deliriously, insanely happy.21 Was this meant to demonstrate that true love overcomes all obstacles, even the seemingly insuperable barrier of race? Yet the white woman’s irresistible and insatiable desire for the black or brown-skinned native was European colonial culture’s darkest fantasy and fear, exceeded only by the horror of her hybrid progeny. As Robert Young has argued, [Colonialism] was always locked into the machine of desire … Folded within the scientific accounts of race, a central assumption and paranoid fantasy was endlessly repeated: the uncontrollable sexual drive of the non-white races and their limitless fertility … At its core, such racial theory projected a phantasmagoria of the desiring machine as a people factory: a Malthusian fantasy of uncontrollable, frenetic fornication producing the countless motley varieties of interbreeding, with the miscegenated offspring themselves then generating an ever-increasing mélange, ‘mongrelity’, of self-propagating, endlessly diversifying hybrid progeny.22 It was a fantasy that particularly horrified interwar Britain, as Bland has demonstrated in her investigation of relationships between English women and non-Western men during that period. During the trial of Madame Fahmy, a woman who had married a wealthy Egyptian prince ten years her junior and subsequently murdered him, the Daily

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Mirror editorialised: ‘Too many of our women novelists, apparently under the spell of the East, have encouraged the belief that there is something especially romantic in such unions. They are not romantic, they are ridiculous and unseemly; and the sensational revelations of the trial … will not be without their use if they bring that fact home to the sentimental, unsophisticated girl.’23 Indeed, Fahmy’s defence barrister argued in his summation: ‘Her greatest mistake—possibly the greatest mistake any woman could make—was as a woman of the West in marrying an Oriental.’24 The revelation of Ahmed Ben Hassan’s English parentage at the end of The Sheik is therefore crucial to the resolution of the novel. Critics of Hull’s time dismissed this revelation as irrelevant because of the lateness of its introduction in the text. But the sheikh’s English parentage is not irrelevant. On the contrary, it is crucial to the ensuing domesticity that must resolve the romance. In the end, Diana is able to love Ahmed freely, and readers were able to accept this initially illicit liaison, because the sheikh is literally a ‘noble savage’: a primitive desert man who is nevertheless heir to an English aristocratic estate. Diana might claim at the end that she ‘could not think of him as an Englishman. The mere accident of his parentage was a factor that weighed nothing. He was and always would be an Arab of the wilderness.’25 But readers knew better. The titillation of miscegenation, and the underlying horror of hybridity, was, in the end, displaced by the romantic thrill of a liaison with an Englishman ‘gone native’, and whose virility and masculinity, as a consequence, were revitalised by the primitive desert lifestyle. Readers of The Sheik were left with the satisfaction of knowing that the children resulting from Diana’s union with the sheikh would in fact be descended from European blood on both sides, a revitalised British aristocratic, patriarchal race of leaders imperialistically ruling over the Bedouin tribes of the Sahara desert.

Valentino and The Sheik The Sheik was first published in 1919 and immediately became a bestseller. Its sales surpassed the combined sales of all other bestsellers in the interwar years.26 Its popularity surged to new heights with the appearance of Rudolph Valentino in the eponymous role of the film in 1921. Publicity posters warned: ‘Shriek—For the Sheik Will Seek You

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Too!’, while the word ‘sheik’ became part of American language, slang for man with sex appeal.27 But the casting of Valentino, who had appeared as the stereotype of the Latin lover in such films as An Adventuress (1920), Passion’s Playground (1920) or Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), undoubtedly diluted the impact of the interracial relationship between Diana Mayo and Ahmed Ben Hassan and changed the operation of orientalist discourse, particularly in the USA. Stephen Caton has suggested that when the figure of the sheikh emerged in American popular culture in the 1920s as a result of the film, the Valentino character took on ‘a “Latin” ethnic stereotype’ within the racial politics of the era, ‘marking him as not quite “white” but not “black” either’. Consequently, rather than referring to the orientalist project as historically constructed by centuries of European interaction with the Middle East, the film was about the incorporation of ethnic others into dominant white American identity. ‘The film shows us how “others” like Ahmed … can become white’, Caton argued. The immigrant ‘could become a “bourgeois” citizen of the country with the helping hand of the patronizing white woman … He must learn to act white (that is, become “Christian” and “bourgeois”), learning to tame his savagery in order to become a fit mate for the white Diana. And so, libidinal attraction to a dangerous type is justified and legitimate for the sake of a national melting pot, paid for by the exclusion of the black man.’28 The casting of Valentino as the ethnic ‘other’ naturally made this incorporation into whiteness more acceptable. This theme—with its emphasis on American incorporation of ethnic others—would endure throughout the century. Orientalism was reducible to background props and a nod to traditional European orientalist motifs. The success of the novel and the film spawned a series of imitative, mostly British-authored sheikh and desert romances during the 1920s. By the late 1930s, however, the trend for sheikh novels had withered, and it was not revived in the aftermath of World War II. Perhaps the growing unrest in the Middle East in the 1920s and 1930s—with nationalism on the rise in Iraq, and land disputes among local Arabs and Jewish settlers in the British Mandate of Palestine during the 1930s culminating in the Palestinian Arab nationalist ‘Great Uprising’ of 1936–39—made for discomfiting reading. Hull

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used anti-colonial French unrest in Algeria as a thrilling plot device in The Sons of the Sheik (1925) and The Captive of the Sahara (1931) but, on the whole, little of this background of anti-colonial politics made its way into sheikh novels. These were, after all, escapist stories about love. Although romances with ‘sheikh’ in the title appeared intermittently in the postwar years, it was not until the 1980s that sheikh novels returned on a significant scale to the romance market, growing each year until a record twenty new desert romances were published in 2002.

Contemporary desert romances There are a number of recurring motifs in contemporary sheikh novels, although these tend to be formulaic devices placed in the text as a nod to the conventions of the genre rather than being deeply significant in themselves. These continuities include the trope of abduction, although never of rape. In Emma Darcy’s Sheikh’s Revenge (1993),29 Leah Marlow is abducted by the Sheikh of Zubani in revenge for her brother eloping with his betrothed. The novel begins with allusions to abduction and rape. When the sheikh first meets her, she is in her garden working on a tapestry of a Rubens picture of the rape of the Sabine women. Alexandra Sellers’ Bride of the Sheikh (1997)30 has her heroine romantically abducted by her sheikh husband when she tries to marry someone else after her divorce. Contemporary sheikh novels continue to construct an arrogant, domineering, chauvinistic, seemingly callous but sexually potent and insatiable sheikh hero who is a hybrid product of Western and oriental race and culture. Almost all sheikh novels have as their heroes an Arab man who either has European blood or has been so thoroughly acculturated to the West through its educational institutions— Oxford, Harvard, Yale—that his mentality is split between East and West. These are hybrid, schizophrenic sheikhs who move through two disparate worlds and seemingly belong to neither. Yet it is this very hybridity that makes them suitable heroes and potential husbands for Western heroines. For, unlike sheikh novels of the 1920s, issues of religious difference, race, skin colour, hybridity and miscegenation scarcely matter. In fact, racial difference as symbolised through skin tone is emphasised and celebrated on the covers of these novels. Much is made of the contrast between the blonde, Nordic-looking

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heroine and the swarthy sheikh, especially in the historical novels. The continuing plot device of Western parentage and hybridity matters only insofar as they provide enough common cultural ground and sufficient Western tendencies to let the heroine hope that her sheikh may indeed be redeemed to become more ‘Western’ in his outlook and in his treatment of women. The hybridity of the sheikh ultimately guarantees his socialisation and incorporation into cosmopolitan Western (usually American) culture. The love of a Western woman, the sheikh’s equal in every way, heals the cultural schizophrenia arising from his hybridity. When the half-English sheikh in The Sheik’s Seduction (1998) abdicates as the ruler of his country in favour of his fully Arab half-brother because he loves an Australian woman and knows that his people will never accept her as their sheikha, he feels elated and liberated. More than that, he feels whole. He is ‘free of the duality that had plagued him since early boyhood, free to take new paths … free to choose how to live’. ‘I was brainwashed from childhood to accept and fulfil a role I didn’t choose,’ he tells Sarah. ‘There were times I railed against it. My English half rebelled. I felt burdened with duties I was not in tune with.’ By choosing love over his duty as sheikh to his people, he was now ‘a man no longer divided’.31 Similarly, when the hero of A Real Live Sheikh (1998) finds the strength to choose love with a Western woman over his obligations to marry her young, adopted daughter, the internal conflict between his Eastern and Western selves is ended for together they ‘would create their own reality, one that encompassed two cultures and two personalities’.32 Catherine Belsey has argued: ‘True love promises to bring mind and body back into perfect unity, to heal the rift in experience which divides individuals from themselves … Love dissolves the anxiety of division in the subject, and replaces it with a utopian wholeness.’33 Yet the fulfilment of love between the Western heroine and the sheikh hero promises more hybridity, not less; a new, hybrid life of two personalities, hybrid progeny and a new, hybrid culture. This is a distinct reversal of the resolution to Hull’s novel. Hybridity is the hallmark of modernity in contemporary sheikh novels. Continuity with Hull’s novel is in some ways strongest where the construction of feminist-influenced heroines are concerned. Sheikh novels present a strong and independent heroine who would rather

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be earning her own living and forging ahead with her career and who views love and marriage dubiously, if not with actual scorn. Her attitude is summed up by the aeronautical engineer heroine of The Sheik and the Vixen (1996), who mourns the fact that: Of all the dumb luck, [she had] to fly halfway around the world and land in a war zone to find her Prince Charming … What could she possibly do with a man whose idea of chivalry meant locking a woman away in a desert place? Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. She was a career woman. She had worked hard to achieve her place at Bennett Industries. Was she going to throw away all those years of working like a dog to match the standards of excellence her father and her eldest brother set? The competition was tough in aeronautics … she’d had to prove herself over and over again by being better than everyone else. Was she going to throw away her education because she finally found a six-foot-three hunk with bedroom eyes that hit all her warp-speed buttons? Not likely!34 Contemporary sheikh novels, however, do not require the sacrifice of a fulfilling career and financial independence for a happy resolution to desire. On the contrary.

Feminist orientalism Romance writer Jayne Ann Krentz has argued that the theme of ‘category romance’ (i.e. romance lines such as Harlequin Mills & Boon that emphasise the brand name of the line over the author) is female power. ‘The woman always wins. With courage, intelligence, and gentleness she brings the most dangerous creature on earth, the human male, to his knees. More than that, she forces him to acknowledge her power as a woman.’35 By making the hero fall in love with her, the heroine brings him into her ‘feminine’ world. In the sheikh novel of the late twentieth century, however, gender politics is played out through what Joyce Zonana calls ‘feminist orientalism’. Zonana believed that although such eighteenth- and nineteenth-century female writers as Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Florence Nightingale 252

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reproduced in their writings the standard tropes of orientalism, the primary function of such representations was not ‘to secure Western domination over the East, although they certainly assume and enforce that domination. Rather, by figuring objectionable aspects of life in the West as “Eastern,” these Western feminist writers rhetorically define their project as the removal of Eastern elements from Western life.’36 In the same way, modern sheikh novels deploy feminist orientalism to insist on women’s equality with men and on women’s right to a fulfilling career outside the domestic realm. Modern sheikh heroes have to learn to respect women’s independence and treat them as equal before they are deemed suitable partners and husbands for these romantic heroines. These contemporary sheikh novels begin with stereotypical orientalist representations of traditional, patriarchal, authoritarian Arab men and submissive Arab women who are second-class citizens. This pattern of gender relations, the novels explicitly argue, is the structural legacy of fundamentalist interpretations of Islam, which continues to be represented as a hierarchical, sexist and deeply unequal religion. The arrival of the Western, liberated, independent, careerminded heroine on the Islamic scene gives rise to chaos and confusion initially because she is so different from traditional Arab women, and the deeply chauvinistic, despotic Arab men simply cannot deal with this. In Australian author Lynne Wilding’s novel The Sheikh (1991), the schoolteacher heroine Lindsay Pentecost—a significantly androgynous as well as overtly Christian name—clashes with Sheikh Karim El Hareembi on their first meeting because he cannot believe that a woman can be as good a teacher as a man. Wilding emphasises the blatant inequality between the sexes, stressing that it arises from Arabic/Islamic culture. ‘Why did he have something against women?’ Lindsay asks herself, only to come to the conclusion that ‘the United Emirates in the Persian Gulf was male dominated—politically, economically and culturally. So perhaps it was too much to expect him to have empathy toward equality of the sexes … There was no way a man with his background would consider anything a woman said worthwhile … Nor would she demean herself further by arguing her merits with such a horrid sexist.’37 In most romance novels, the romantic plot is sustained through the deferral of declarations of love between the hero and heroine. Declarations of love are almost always equivalent to the resolution of Orientalism and mass market romance novels

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problems that keep hero and heroine apart. The central problem to be solved in contemporary sheikh novels is the question of how modern career women who value their independence, life experiences and career choices can ever find love and happiness with despotic, authoritarian men who have not been brought up to treat women as their equals. This dilemma is echoed in American author Elizabeth Mayne’s novel, The Sheik and the Vixen (1996), where the heroine, Haley Bennet, a pilot and aeronautical engineer, is indignant that a Kuwaiti sheik has bought a fleet of planes she has designed for ‘each and every one of his spoiled, chauvinistic sons’, all of whom were educated at Oxford, Harvard and Yale, whereas none of his daughters have been educated. Haley declares her intention of forcing ‘just one conservative Muslim sheik to have to face up to the fact that a woman can do as fine a job as a man’.38Although she is beautiful— naturally!—she declares: ‘I learned to value myself for my accomplishments, not for my appearance. I’m the same person whether I’m working on a computer, overhauling an engine or solving a complex design problem mathematically. A good education does that.’39 In her own eyes, her value lies in her decency of character and her talents and intellect, and her sheikh must come to value her for the same qualities before they can be happy together. Where Hull’s novel of 1919 constructed an autonomous, independent and rather androgynous heroine, only to have the sheikh break her spirit and reduce her to fearful obedience and sexual submission, in 1990s sheikh novels it is the sheikh hero rather than the heroine who is broken and domesticated. He is taught to acknowledge—theoretically at least—that women should be treated as men’s equals, that they have a right to a fulfilling working life, and that their confidence and independent spirit constitute their sexual desirability. The modern heroine understands this all too well, and one of her main functions in the sheikh novel is to educate the sheikh about women’s rights. It is no coincidence, therefore, that most of the Australian sheikh novels have teachers as their heroines. It may be argued that such a career choice is essentially conservative, especially compared to American heroines’ professions (aeronautical engineers, CEOs of oil industries), but it is more credible and, moreover, the pedagogical capability of the heroine is of crucial importance in resolving the central problem between herself and the sheikh hero.

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For both the hero and heroine to be happy after the declaration of love, not only must the declaration end in marriage, but the marriage must be a companionate one between equals. No lasting happiness can result otherwise. This is demonstrated in Canadian author Alexandra Sellers’ Bride of the Sheikh (1997), in which the heroine originally left her sheikh husband although she still loved him because he treated her like a decorative woman who was of no other use to him. It is not until the sheikh hero can work alongside his wife in rebuilding his war-torn country, admitting that he needs her not only as a wife and mother but also as a social policy-maker and administrator: only when he treats her as an equal in marriage and in work can their marriage have a satisfactory and happy outcome. This is true not only for the romantic happiness of the sheikh but also for the economic and technological well-being of his subjects. The adjustment of these sheikhs’ attitudes towards women is of greater import than personal, romantic happiness. Often, an entire tribe’s or nation’s wellbeing in the modern world is at stake. Emma Darcy’s Australian heroine in The Sheikh’s Seduction (1998) tells her sheikh: ‘I care that girls be given as much opportunity to develop their capabilities as boys … And what’s more … you’re going to need them to help run this country of yours, if you don’t want to depend on the expertise of foreigners forever and a day.’40 When feminist scholars first began to research women’s popular romances in the early 1980s, they generally disapproved of mass market romances because they agreed that romance novels reinforced traditional gender roles and relationships in patriarchal society. While not wishing to posit the mass market romance as feminist text, I would certainly question such an assessment. In an era of increasing political conservatism in the USA at the end of the twentieth century, where liberal humanist values in politics and culture have been derided and dismissed as ‘politically correct’ and the backlash against feminism makes headlines, these novels have continued to insist on the importance of women’s right to a good education and a fulfilling career as being fundamental to the stability of marriage and family life. Why have a sheikh hero at all if he ends up looking so much like a reconstituted Western man, sensitive to women’s needs, a good husband and father figure? Because if even sheikhs—who, in the tradition of orientalist representation, are despotic, domineering, patriarchal

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leaders, intolerant of women’s rights—can be brought to an understanding of the importance of women’s independence and right to fulfilling careers, and to adjust their attitudes towards women accordingly, then how much more should American and Australian men do the same?

The superiority of the oriental family But the sheikh is also a contemporary romantic hero because of Western perceptions of the strength of family ties in Arab countries. In this respect, the English-speaking cultures from which most of these heroines come fares badly in comparison to the Middle East, for these romances feature damaged heroines who scarcely believe in romantic love and who are often cynical about marriage because they come from deeply dysfunctional families. This motif of the broken, dysfunctional, emotionally if not physically abusive family can be found in Hull’s novel, The Sheik. In this 1919 work, Diana Mayo’s mother died giving birth to her, and her father subsequently shot himself. When her cold, effeminate and utterly selfish brother Aubrey is left with the burden of her upbringing, he decides to treat her as a boy so that he can be saved the trouble of socialising her. This, we are told, resulted in her unfeminine and androgynous behaviour, as well as her aversion to love and marriage. If Diana’s English family is dysfunctional, Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan’s real family is no less so. His Spanish mother ran away from his biological father, the Earl of Glencaryll, because her English husband ‘had a terrible temper that was very easily roused, and … he also periodically drank a great deal more than was good for him, and when under the influence of drink behaved more like a devil than a man.’41 She left her son with the Bedouin sheikh who became his foster father because she was convinced that the Arab sheikh would treat her son better than his alcoholic English father. It was only in the desert, among the Bedouins, that Ahmed found the family that he needed, and of which Diana would eventually become a part. Contemporary sheikh novels continue this theme of heroines from fragmented Western families who find love, acceptance and affectionate family ties through their sheikh husband. Wilding’s heroine finds herself falling in love with Sheikh Karim El Hareembi because he ‘became another person when he was with the children’.

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He was ‘a loving, affectionate father. And poignantly it illustrated the difference in her own childhood memories. She could barely recall her father ever playing with her as Karim did with his children whenever he could.’42 Emma Darcy’s heroines in both The Sheikh’s Revenge (1993) and The Sheikh’s Seduction (1998) are children of a messy divorces who are unwanted and neglected by both their parents. Such indifference on the part of the parents, such a lack of familial bonds, is incomprehensible to both sheikh heroes of these novels. Alexandra Sellers’ Bride of the Sheikh (1997) presents a heroine who feels lost and without roots because all her life she has been brought up by nannies as she followed her formal and distant diplomat parents from one country to another. ‘What was her culture? Who were her people? Where was her home?’ she wonders as she views her sheikh husband’s strong familial and cultural ties with envy. ‘She had links with half a dozen cultures, but she had none to yearn for.’43 The modern romance in which readers vicariously participate is not merely a romance of sexual, emotional and intellectual attraction ending happily ever after in marriage; it is also a romance about the idealised Middle Eastern family that these heroines find when they marry their sheikhs. Because these are family romances, domestic romances, these authors portray heroes who are not only sexually potent but good father material as well. This is most blatantly demonstrated in the title of Barbara McMahon’s novel, Sheik Daddy (1996), or through the covers of Jacqueline Diamond’s Real Live Sheikh (1998) and Captured by a Sheikh (2000), which show young, clean-shaved sheikhs cuddling curly-haired babies. For the heroines, the attraction of the hero, the thing that makes him the right man for her, lies as much in his ability to play with children—get on well with them, to be a good father to them—as in his priapic sexuality.

Conclusion I wish to close with a discussion of the historical contexts of these novels. The cultural if not militaristic imperial context in which sheikh novels appeared, both in the 1920s and again in the 1990s, cannot be ignored. It can hardly be coincidental that British authors produced almost all the sheikh novels in the 1920s, but none of the modern sheikh romances are penned by Britons. Rather, apart from such Australian authors as Lynne Wilding and Emma Darcy, the majority of

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contemporary sheikh novels are written by Americans, the popular British romance novelist Penny Jordan jumping on the desert romance bandwagon only in 2003. Hull’s novel and the subsequent interest in it took place against a background of longstanding British imperial interest in the Orient, particularly in Egypt, the Suez and the protection of the Persian Gulf. These importance of these interests had been made manifest during World War I: the Suez Canal had to be kept open for the trade with India, then the transport of troops to Europe, and the Gulf became more valuable because of the oil installations at Abadan. During the war years the Middle East remained prominent in people’s minds through news coverage of the campaign fought against the Turks over control of the Suez Canal in 1916 and, of course, the Arab Revolt against the Turks led by Sharif Hussein of the Hejaz and commanded by his son Emir Feisal and aided by Colonel T. E. Lawrence. After the war and the unsatisfactory dismemberment of the Ottoman empire into the five new states under the tutelage of French or British mandatory rule, colonial revolts in the region and the success of Ibn Saud in extending his rule throughout Arabia in the early 1920s kept the image of Middle Eastern potentates alive in the public’s consciousness. This was reinforced and eventually eclipsed by Lowell Thomas’s 1919 multimedia presentation of his travelogue, With Allenby in Palestine—a film and slide presentation accompanied by commentary and lecture. The presentation came to London in the same year that Hull’s The Sheik was published and, given the subsequent rage for all things Arabic, one can link the popularity and success of both. Audiences around Britain, then in the colonies, were introduced to Lawrence, who was named as the ‘leader of the Arab Army’ and portrayed as a white sheikh in Arab robes. With the evident popularity of Lawrence among the masses, Thomas changed the name of the show to With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia. By the end of 1919, as Graham Dawson observes, ‘the public image that Thomas constructed for Lawrence had made him a world figure: “the first media legend” and “the most celebrated soldier of the First World War.” ‘44 Said has argued that, since the advent of the Arab/Israeli wars and the oil crises of the 1970s, the figure of the Arab has become

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all-pervasive in American popular culture: ‘In the films and television the Arab is associated either with lechery or bloodthirsty dishonesty. He appears as an oversexed degenerate, capable, it is true, of cleverly devious intrigues, but essentially sadistic, treacherous, low. Slave trader, camel driver, moneychanger, colorful scoundrel: these are some traditional Arab roles in the cinema.’45 Such stereotypes have been confirmed by Jack Shaheen’s survey of more than 900 Hollywood films featuring Arab characters, and Shaheen’s work on American comics reinforced his findings in film.46 Said further suggested that a ‘transference of a popular anti-Semitic animus from a Jewish to an Arab target’ had occurred in American popular culture.47 In this respect, the desert romance genre provides an interesting contrast. One can relate the 1990s renewal of interest in the sheikh novel with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and the subsequent Gulf War in January 1991. The genre peaked in 2002—a year after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the USA. Where anti-imperial protest and violence in the Middle East may have discouraged interest in the desert romances by the 1930s, it appears as though Western romance writers and readers at the turn of the twenty-first century are determined to engage with and humanise Arabs amid continual panic over Muslim terrorism and the binaries of identity generated by constant warfare between Western and Arab societies. Of course, as Said has shrewdly observed, such representation is always an attempt to control what is feared; it is ‘a certain will or intention to understand, in some cases to control, manipulate, even to incorporate, what is a manifestly different (or alternative and novel) world’.48 Yet if an abiding orientalism and American imperialism form the historical context of the resurgence of interest in contemporary sheikh romances, these novels nevertheless differ significantly from the fear, contempt and scorn heaped on Arabs in American popular culture. Certainly the sheikh is initially portrayed as authoritarian, backward and unenlightened in terms of gender relations and with a tendency towards tyrannical behaviour. Yet the Middle Eastern potentate is not completely demonised beyond redemption by a good, liberated Western woman. British imperialism’s Christianising and civilising mission of the nineteenth century lives on in these novels, hybridised with strands of the American national mission to bring liberty, democracy and modernity

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to the postcolonial world. In the end, contemporary sheikh romances seek to rescue the Middle East from the effects of social and technological backwardness and ignorance through education, particularly where the treatment of women is concerned. But they also seek to normalise Middle Eastern people to a certain extent, to celebrate the strength and vitality of oriental family life, and to renew social bonds through the incorporation of ethnic difference and ethnic culture into contemporary Western societies. Notes 1

2 3 4 5 6

7 8 9 10 11 12 13

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

Romance authors use both spellings of ‘sheikh’ and ‘sheik’. This chapter will use ‘sheikh’ unless referring to specific novel titles or characters. August, ‘Sheikhs and the serious blogger’. Said, Orientalism, p. 207. Ibid. Ibid., p. 187. See Lowe, Critical Terrains; Melman, Women’s Orients; Lewis, Gendering Orientalism. Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies, pp. 75–6. Ibid., p. 26. Kabbani, Imperial Fictions. Forbes, A Gypsy in the Sun, p. 68. Ibid., p. 102. Raub, ‘Issues of power and passion in E. M. Hull’s The Sheik’, p. 121. See Cadogan, And Then Their Hearts Stood Still, p. 120; Anderson, The Purple Heart Throbs, p. 181; and Bach, ‘Sheik fantasies’, pp. 9–41. Gilman, ‘Black bodies, white bodies’, pp. 203–42. Anonymous, The Lustful Turk, p. 78. Ibid., p. 97. Ibid., pp. 11–12. Kabbani, Imperial Fictions, p. 63. Bland, ‘White women and men of colour’, p. 30. Tabili, ‘We Ask for British Justice’, p. 9. Hull, The Sheik, pp. 133–4. Young, Colonial Desire, p. 181. Bland, ‘White women and men of colour’, p. 47. Ibid. Hull, The Sheik, pp. 258–9. Melman, Women and the Popular Imagination in the Twenties, p. 90. Raub, ‘Issues of passion and power in E. M. Hull’s The Sheik’, p. 120. Caton, ‘The sheik’, p. 116. Darcy, The Sheik’s Revenge. Sellers, Bride of the Sheikh. Darcy, The Sheik’s Seduction, p. 183. Diamond, A Real-Live Sheikh, p. 251.

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33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46

47 48

Belsey, Desire, p. 23. Mayne, The Sheikh and the Vixen, p. 78. Krentz, ‘Trying to tame the romance’, p. 5. Zonana, ‘The sultan and the slave’, p. 594. Wilding, The Sheikh, p. 18. Mayne, The Sheik and the Vixen, pp. 11–12. Ibid., p. 103. Darcy, The Sheik’s Seduction, p. 151. Hull, The Sheik, pp. 247–8. Wilding, The Sheikh, p. 88. Sellers, Bride of the Sheikh, p. 49. Dawson, ‘The blond Bedouin’, pp. 113–14. Said, Orientalism, p. 286. Shaheen, Reel Bad Arabs, p. 28; Shaheen, ‘Arab images in American comic books’, pp. 123–33. Said, Orientalism, pp. 285–6. Ibid., p. 12.

Bibliography Anderson, Rachel, The Purple Heart Throbs: The Sub-literature of Love, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1974. Anon., The Lustful Turk (1828), W.H. Allen, London, 1985. August, Melissa, ‘Sheikhs and the serious blogger’, Time, 22 August 2005, www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1096809,00.html. Bach, Evelyn, ‘Sheik fantasies: Orientalism and feminine desire in the desert romance’, Hecate, vol. 23, no. 1, 1997, pp. 9–41. Belsey, Catherine, Desire: Love Stories in Western Culture, Blackwell, Oxford, 1994. Bland, Lucy, ‘White women and men of colour: Miscegenation fears in Britain after the Great War’, Gender and History, vol. 17, no. 1, April 2005, pp. 29–61. Cadogan, Mary, And Then Their Hearts Stood Still: An Exuberant Look at Romantic Fiction Past and Present, Macmillan, London, 1994. Caton, Stephen, ‘The Sheik: Instabilities of race and gender in transatlantic popular culture of the early 1920s’, in Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870–1930 (ed. Holly Edwards), Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2000. Darcy, Emma, The Sheikh’s Revenge, Harlequin Enterprises, London, 1993. ——The Sheikh’s Seduction, Harlequin Enterprises, London, 1998. Dawson, Graham, ‘The blond Bedouin: Lawrence of Arabia, imperial adventure and the imagining of English–British masculinity’, in Manful Assertion: Masculinities in Britain since 1800 (ed. Michael Roper & John Tosh), Routledge, London, 1991, pp. 113–44. Diamond, Jacqueline, A Real-Live Sheikh, Harlequin Enterprises, London, 1998. ——Captured by a Sheikh, Harlequin Enterprises, London, 2000. Gilman, Sander L., ‘Black bodies, white bodies: Toward an iconography of female sexuality’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 1, 1985, pp. 203–42.

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Hitchens, Robert, The Garden of Allah, Methuen, London, 1904. Hull, E. M., The Sheik (1919), Buccaneer Books, New York, 1921. ——The Sons of the Sheik, Small, Maynard & Co., Boston, 1925. ——The Captive of the Sahara, Methuen, London, 1931. Kabbani, Rana, Imperial Fictions: Europe’s Myths of Orient, Pandora, London, 1994. Krentz, Jayne Ann, ‘Trying to tame the romance: Critics and correctness’, in Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writes on the Appeal of the Romance (ed. Jayne Ann Krentz), University of Philadelphia Press, Philadelphia, 1992. Lewis, Reina, Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation, Routledge, New York, 1996. Lowe, Lisa, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1991. Mayne, Elizabeth, The Sheikh and the Vixen, Harlequin Enterprises, London, 1996. McMahon, Barbara, Sheik Daddy, Harlequin Enterprises, London, 1996. Melman, Billie, Women and the Popular Imagination in the Twenties: Flappers and Nymphs, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1988. ——‘Women’s orients: English women and the Middle East, 1718–1918’, in Sexuality, Religion and Work, 2nd edn, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1995. Raub, Patricia, ‘Issues of power and passion in E. M. Hull’s The Sheik’, Women’s Studies, vol. 21, no. 1, 1992, pp. 119–28. Said, Edward W., Orientalism (first published 1978), Penguin, London, 2005. Sellers, Alexandra, Bride of the Sheikh, Harlequin Enterprises, London, 1997. Shaheen, Jack G., ‘Arab images in American comic books’, Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 28, no. 1, 1994, pp. 123–33. ——Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, Olive Branch Press, New York, 2001. Steele, Annie, On the Face of the Waters, Heinemann, London, 1897. Tabili, Laura, ‘We Ask for British Justice’: Workers and Racial Difference in Late Imperial Britain, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1994. Wilding, Lynne, The Sheikh, Harlequin Enterprises, London, 1991. Yegenoglu, Meyda, Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998. Young, Robert, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race, Routledge, New York, 1995. Zonana, Joyce, ‘The sultan and the slave: Feminist orientalism and the structure of Jane Eyre’, Signs, vol. 18, no. 2, 1993, pp. 592–617.

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12

The question of Europe Said and Derrida John Docker

You might say the real conflict is between the housed and the unhoused. Wicke & Sprinker, ‘Interview with Edward Said’. With the deaths of Said (1935–2003) and Derrida (1930–2004), how might we make a preliminary evaluation of their posthumous reputations as thinkers and public intellectuals? Here I compare Said with Derrida as two powerful and influential figures in criticism and philosophy whose lives intersected—or didn’t—in ways that reveal much of the fraught history of the latter twentieth century and the early years of the new millennium, its divisions and oppositions, its tragedies, dilemmas and choices. In terms of method, such an evaluation requires more than a comparison in the arid mode of ‘history of ideas’, as if an Israeli Wall can be constructed as a wedge between intellectual history and cultural history. Rather, I will proceed in the spirit of Hannah Arendt in Men in Dark Times and discuss thinkers in terms of biography, sensibility and anecdote.1 Said and Derrida shared certain intriguing similarities of life situation. They were both Arabs. Said was a Palestinian Christian who

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was born in Jerusalem, grew up in a wealthy family in Jerusalem and Cairo, went to a boarding school in the USA, then lived much of his life as an academic teacher of literature and ideas in New York, in forced exile from Palestine. He lived amid an American public culture that was, increasingly as the decades went on, hostile to him as a Palestinian intellectual who was known to oppose Zionism as an historical project and to radically question Israel for its oppression, dispossession and violence towards the Palestinians. Derrida was an Arab Jew, born not very far away in North Africa, in El Biar, in the suburbs of Algiers. In an interview, ‘A “madness” must watch over thinking’, Derrida told the interviewer that in his boyhood he had led a kind of split dissociated life. While he pursued solitary reading of such writers as Gide, Nietzsche, Valéry and Rousseau, and had heard about Camus, he grew up as part of a group of ‘young piedsnoirs’: ‘I also led the life of a kind of young hooligan, in a “gang” that was interested more in soccer or track than in studying.’ In the last two years of his lycée, he read such philosophers as Bergson and Sartre, then, in the first trip of his life outside the suburbs of Algiers, left at 19 to live in Paris.2 Said was trained as a literary critic who wished to be interdisciplinary and worldly in his wide-ranging interests. Although Derrida’s writings as a poststructuralist are concerned with language and textuality, and he drew on literary theory and was close to such EuroAmerican literary critics as Paul de Man, he remained lifelong a philosopher who wished to be known and identified as a philosopher. In comparing the two figures, my frame question will address conceptions of Europe, culture and identity as they figure in the works of Said and Derrida. In this context I also address questions of ‘late style’; the wider effect of positioning oneself in relation to carnivalesque and popular culture; the importance of cities of exile and creativity; the power in history of religion; and questions of Zionism and Israel. This last question is particularly important, given that Zionism and Israel is a critical issue of the post-Cold War world and a major cause of the present world war between Western and Muslim nations and peoples. On this question I ask: if Said drew upon himself hostility, at times extreme and threatening in the USA for his anti-Zionism, how was Derrida perceived in relation to Zionism and Israel? This is no idle question, since Zionist Israel invariably claims that whatever

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it does is in the name of all Jews in the world. In the view of a rapidly increasing number of anti-Zionist Jews like myself, Jews the world over should repudiate such belonging and should say to Israel, ‘Whatever you do, don’t do it in my name.’3 However much individuals may wish to stand aside on this issue, Zionism and Israel obliges Jews to make clear their position: either of historical acquiescence and complicity, or disavowal and opposition. I’ll be highly personal and anecdotal at this point, and admit to a certain disappointment, even a disillusionment, that informs the Derrida part of this essay. I recall seeing on TV, while living in Washington DC in 2003–04, a documentary in which Derrida was interviewed in his apartment in Paris. I thought, ‘I must watch this. I haven’t seen Derrida interviewed before, and I have always been an admirer, especially of his work of the late 1960s and early 1970s: Of Grammatology as a whole and particular essays I liked and learnt from in Writing and Difference, Dissemination and Margins of Philosophy.’4 I don’t mean an uncritical admirer, indeed, there were aspects of Of Grammatology, for example the way it constructed Western thought as logocentric, that I thought were relentlessly totalising; here I was agreeing with a critique by Said, in the essay ‘Criticism between culture and system’ in The World, The Text, and the Critic (1983). I also considered that Derrida in Of Grammatology characteristically effaced the range and complexity of texts in order to focus only on a particular aspect that worked for his totalising argument.5 Derrida’s readings, disturbingly for his deconstructive method, could be highly selective. Yet, coming from literary theory, I did feel an affinity with Derrida (more so than with Foucault). My response, however, to this interview was extremely unfavourable. Derrida’s manner was unlikable, selfimportant and humourless, as if irony and self-parody were alien to him. He kept irritably insisting that he would not answer any question unless it was addressed to him as a philosopher.6 Nothing he said was challenging or arresting. I suddenly realised, some way into the interview—I couldn’t see it to the end—that I was no longer interested in Derrida, indeed, hadn’t been for many years, and that surely was the reason I could find no enthusiasm for reading his ‘late’ texts. I realised that for some time now I had no longer liked his overblown, even bombastic, way of writing, and that I had suspicions

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about his attitudes to Zionism and Israel. This essay will give me the opportunity to explore my suspicions of the ‘late’ Derrida by examining his contribution to a volume of essays he co-edited, published in English in 1998 as Religion. Derrida here invites comparison with Said’s path-breaking ‘Canaanite’ critique of Exodus. I don’t feel such disillusionment in relation to Said. While Said’s autobiography Out of Place (1999) struck me as strangely off-key, I don’t feel that Said entered into a kind of decline, and I never lost interest in reading him. My reading of Said, nonetheless, will certainly be at times quite critical. I construct no simple opposition between Said and Derrida. Overall, I have a very harsh and disturbing question to ask of Derrida. In ’A Berlin chronicle’ (1932), Benjamin reflects that the wanderer in the city of modernity will always be met by his ’betrayer’.7 Was Derrida Said’s historical betrayer?

I I will begin by probing—by way of an unlikely question—the limits of Said, what he makes possible, what might be questionable in terms of an assessment of his future reputation. My immediate example concerns the problems posed by Said’s attitudes to mass culture, especially popular romances. But such probing will lead outwards, I hope, to wider questions: notions of aesthetic hierarchy in terms of the neoclassical, the modernist and the postmodern; Said’s challenge to how we conceive the ‘long eighteenth century’ and the Enlightenment, a historiography haunted by the Holocaust; the question of his relationship, or non-relationship, to African-American cultural traditions, particularly given his long residence in the USA; his troubling occlusion of Bakhtin; and the rock or pebble throwing incident on the Israel–Lebanon border. I begin, then, with my unlikely question: was Said a secret fan of popular female romances, or at least of the language of romance? To answer that question, we have to explore some intriguing metaphors that Said deploys in his speculative thoughts on how intellectuals should continually seek to renew themselves by challenging their own settled approaches. In the early 1990s, Ann Curthoys and I began working on a book called ‘Popular romance and the Orient’—we’re still working on it, with a new title, ‘Disorienting Europe’—in which we analyse popular

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romances in terms of a poetics of excess, close to self-parody, steeped in the history and conventions of the genre, often knowingly looking back to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. We decided to write a history that would begin in the early eighteenth century with the popularity of The Thousand and One Nights, would follow Lady Mary Wortley Montagu as English ambassadress to the Ottoman Empire;8 then continue with chapters on Montesquieu’s Persian Letters, Voltaire’s Zadig, Beckford’s Vathek and Byron’s Oriental poems The Giaour (1813), The Corsair (1814), and Lara (1814). We argue, via Mario Praz’s Romantic Agony (1930), that Byron in these poems helped create the Gothic and Romantic Fatal Man, proud, arrogant, devilish, yet tortured, brooding, melancholy, related to Milton’s Satan, an angel fallen but still beautiful, and fused with other cultural figures: the bandit hero, the noble ruffian, admired brigand, generous outlaw, sublime criminal.9 Praz also suggests that there is a matching Gothic and Romantic Fatal Woman, whose beautiful eyes bewitch, a gorgon, a Medusa, to whom men are irresistibly drawn even as she tortures, torments and destroys them; desire and pleasure are mixed with terror, pain, suffering, sadness.10 We contend that in nineteenth-century and later popular romance, taking Pride and Prejudice (1813) as its primary progenitor—a novel in which romance wittily mixes with other generic elements, of social and psychological realism, stage comedy and pantomime, anti-romance, mystery, suspense, melodrama—the Fatal Man in the haughty personage of Mr Darcy, and the Fatal Woman figured in the lively independence and bewitching eyes of Elizabeth Bennett, are placed within the one text, the one drama of confrontation, there to joust and duel, especially over his assumption of superiority and her issue of challenge to that assumption. The heroine does not succumb; she defies, resists, challenges the power of his gaze, his hypnotic eyes, with the power of her gaze, her hypnotic eyes. Here is the source, we think, of much of the attraction and pleasure of the popular female romance tradition that Pride and Prejudice did so much enduringly to shape, for in their incessant conflict both hero and heroine reveal themselves to be capable of change, transformation, metamorphosis. In our draft introduction, Ann and I confess our debt to Mikhail Bakhtin’s fertile theories of genre since antiquity. In these terms, we

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suggested that romance as a form, defined as a love relationship with obstacles, could do so much; it could be tragic or, as with the cosmology of melodrama, it could offer a happy ending as the overcoming of the harsh fate that decrees separation and failure. Because the obstacles to the relationship could be anything in the characters’ own biography and psychology, in differences of attitude and values concerning gender, class, region, ethnicity, culture, subculture, the romance form can endlessly explore modes of human sociality. It was not fixed in any ideology. Nor was it necessarily concerned with heterosexual desire.11 We also saw romance in terms of a late twentieth century postmodernist aesthetic, enjoying extravagance, flamboyance, fantasy, delight in extremes. To resume the cultural history of romance, we felt, was to assist in a postmodern challenge to modernism’s hierarchy of forms and genres.12

II Here we ran into difficulties with Said. We recognised that any exploration of the orientalising of desire in European cultural history has to be a long conversation with Said, especially Orientalism (1978), so exciting and enabling in its insights and perspectives. It defines ‘Orientalism’ as those Western discourses that manage and create, or ‘produce’, the Orient politically, ideologically, scientifically, imaginatively—and erotically. The Orient is a scene of sensuality and splendour mixed with despotism, violence and cruelty.13 Yet Orientalism also threw up obstacles for us, for it is evident there that Said shares the very modernist assumptions we opposed, particularly a directing disdain for mass culture. In Orientalism Said argues that one aspect of the ‘electronic, postmodern world is that there has been a reinforcement of the stereotypes by which the Orient is viewed’ and that television, film and ‘all the media’s resources have forced information into more and more standardized molds’.14 Elsewhere Said writes from the literary modernist heartland featuring aesthetic hierarchy when he confides: ‘Yet I do believe that some literature is actually good, and that some is of bad quality, and I remain as conservative as anyone when it comes to, if not the redemptive quality inherent in reading a classic rather than staring at a TV screen, then the potential enhancement of one’s sensibility and consciousness by it, and by the exercise of one’s mind in dealing with it.’15 In

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‘Interview with Edward Said’ (1992), Said confesses to his ‘strange attachment’ to great art; he doesn’t believe the way to proceed is to ‘find an alternative canon to the great literary masterpieces’.16 Ironically, in revealing such canonical preferences and commitments, Said is reinstating the neoclassical hierarchy of genres established in and from the seventeenth century. In the same interview, Said also muses about his attitudes to popular culture, and especially music, in relation to different geocultural traditions. ‘The main problem I have and don’t have any answer to’, he relates, is that it’s strange that, for example, the music of my own Arab and Islamic tradition means relatively little to me … I’ve never been interested in or compelled by it as something to study, although I know it well and have always listened to it. The same is roughly true of popular music. Popular culture means absolutely nothing to me except as it surrounds me. I obviously don’t accept all the hideously limited and silly remarks made about it by Adorno, but I must say it doesn’t speak to me in quite the same way that it would to you or to my children. I’m very conservative that way.17 Said dissociates himself from Adorno’s ‘hideously limited and silly remarks’—recall that Adorno and Horkheimer in Dialectic of Enlightenment, in their essay on the culture industry as mass deception, suggested, borrowing harsh terms from Nietzsche, that African American jazz was a manifestation of nature, not a creation of culture, that it was stylised barbarity.18 Yet Said clearly shares with Adorno, a one-time fellow exile in the USA (initially in New York, then Los Angeles), a preference for European musical culture. We might think of Cornell West protesting of such poststructuralists as Foucault and Derrida that they retained a fealty to European high modernist transgressive writing, ignoring contemporary African American culture, especially music.19

III Said’s respect for and interest in the canonical texts of literary and cultural history, as well as his embracing of a modernist sensibility

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devaluing mass culture, influences the argument of Orientalism. For while Orientalism sees the relationship between Occident and Orient as one of power, of domination, it does nonetheless make exceptions. Not all Western texts on the Orient are orientalist. Said says it is of ‘paramount importance’ that we recognise that the writings of Flaubert and Nerval, while drawing on Orientalism, yet remain ‘independent from it’. In ambiguous, ambivalent ways, their writings play discourses one against the other, ever deferring the Truth about the Orient—that Truth, that set of changeless and unchangeable essences, by which orientalism and the academic orientalist constitute the East. Flaubert and Nerval swerve away from discursive finality, for they do not, Said feels, evoke the Orient in order to dominate it; rather they exploit it aesthetically and imaginatively as a roomy place full of possibility; and their work quite consciously plays with the limitations and the challenges presented to them by the Orient and by knowledge about it.20 But if Orientalism is willing to allow contradiction and openness to high culture texts like those of Flaubert and Nerval, it flatly refuses the possibility of such qualities in any product of mass culture, with its standardised ‘commodity’ form.21 Ann and I argue otherwise. In our view, while popular romances clearly draw on orientalism, they cannot be typified as simply orientalist. They too can imagine the East as a roomy place full of possibility, of challenge. Romancing the Orient, that is, will almost certainly share in orientalist discourse and lore; but it may also share, with travel literature, utopias, dystopias, science fiction, Menippean satire and fantasy genres in general, a desire to explore and test and wonder, rather than simply confirm.22 Said’s views did not remain static. He became more favourable to the media. In the interview in Edward Said: A Critical Reader, Said reflects that a failure of contemporary writing on the media and public discourse generally is to ascribe too complete a degree of power to the culture industry and the dominating apparatus. Here Said draws back from a range of theorists, from such Frankfurt school figures as Adorno and Horkheimer, to such Marxists as Althusser and Jameson and such post-Marxists as Foucault. ‘Foucault’, he observes, ‘ultimately becomes the scribe of domination’: Foucault, whose work had been so influential in the methodology of Orientalism. Chomsky

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too is indicted. Said now calls for the relinquishing of master theories of domination, with a stress rather on the ‘fragility’, the ‘contradictions’, the ‘untidiness’ of the media. We need, he urges, a ‘relatively more unbuttoned, unfixed, and mobile mode of proceeding’, as in the Deleuzian idea of the nomadic. We need, Said continues, to be ‘unhoused’.23 I confess to being very intrigued indeed by this turning to Deleuze in a swerve away from Foucault as scribe of domination. I’m especially intrigued by the erotic implications of these metaphors, particularly the highly curious image of ‘unbuttoned’ in ‘unbuttoned, unfixed and mobile’ in opposition to the masculine image of a ‘master theory’. I’m mischievously reminded here of a 1986 Mills & Boon ‘sheik’ romance by Sara Wood entitled Perfumes of Arabia, its heroine Jeannie having the hallowed romance family name of Bennett. At one point, thinking the sheik is asleep, Jeannie, abandoning English decorum and puritanical restraint, enters an oasis pool in the desert, undoing ‘the buttons of her V-necked shirt’ and letting it fall open, ‘to catch the sun on the swell of her breasts’.24 In this novel Jeannie Bennett’s English imperial attitudes of patronising orientalist superiority towards Arabs—her prejudices, shall we say—are sharply contested by the sheik figure named Said al Saif, very much to the disadvantage of Jeannie’s initial attitudes. In cutting himself off (as it were) from such popular fiction, Said—Edward Said—was ignoring a whole realm of literature that entertained a Flaubert- and Nerval-like play of orientalism and anti-orientalism. At one point in Orientalism Said confides that he wishes he could have given more time to pre-Romantic and Romantic writing and painting from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, entwined with Gothic and the exotic more generally, as in Beckford, Byron and Delacroix. He evokes the art of Delacroix, and other French and British orientalist painting, in highly sensuous terms: ‘Sensuality, promise, terror, sublimity, idyllic pleasure, intense energy’. Such writing and art, he reflects, exhibit a ‘chameleonlike quality’, indicating a ‘free-floating Orient’ that would be ‘severely curtailed with the advent’ in the nineteenth century of ‘academic Orientalism’, the Foucauldian focus of his book.25 Here are more terms and metaphors, then, that Said admires: free-floating and chameleon-like, suggesting the possibilities of change, transformation, metamorphosis.

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In his essay ‘Raymond Schwab and the romance of ideas’ in The World, The Text, and the Critic, Said mildly admonishes Schwab for not noticing the ‘sheer folly and derangement stirred up by the Orient in Europe’, the ‘crazy enthusiasms’ that produced such writers as Beckford; what ‘they saw and felt about the Orient in many cases literally took their minds’. In such art and literature, Said contends, the Orient actively disoriented Europe.26 Interestingly, in admiring such Gothic and Romantic writers and artists, Said is qualifying his declared conservatism concerning canonical Western culture. He reveals productive ambivalences. Perhaps, too, he shows something of that ‘late style’ he himself would come to admire in the Freud of Moses and Monotheism, Said defining it in terms of a ‘willingness to let irreconcilable elements … remain as they are: episodic, fragmentary, unfinished (i.e. unpolished)’, an ‘intransigence’ and ‘unseemliness’.27 In terms of my own more recent interest in genocide studies, I’ve proposed elsewhere that Said’s formulations about pre-Romantic and Romantic free-floating disorientations, chameleon-like crazy enthusiasms, sheer folly and derangement towards the end of the ‘long eighteenth century’ contradict a position made well known by Zygmunt Bauman: that the Enlightenment, in its uniform insistence on abstract reason, on classification, measurement and order, provided the conceptual underpinnings for the Holocaust.28 Said’s observations complicate our received view of the Enlightenment, indicating the possibilities of more than one Enlightenment, or tensions between its different strands.29

IV There is something else very noticeable in Said’s praising in Orientalism of writers and artists like Beckford, Byron, Delacroix and later Flaubert and Nerval. Said admires them for their individuality: Flaubert is a ‘genius’, he declares, and Flaubert and Nerval each bring to the Orient a ‘personal mythology’.30 In similar terms, in The World, the Text, and the Critic, he praises Schwab for being an orienteur, a scholar who is ‘more interested in a generous awareness’ of the Orient than the ‘detached classification’ that characterises the orientaliste.31 Said’s valuing of individuality in sensibility and critical consciousness may help explain something I’ve always thought curious: the little to no role that Mikhail Bakhtin plays in Said’s thinking.

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I would have thought Bakhtin’s unbuttoned, unfixed and mobile notions—heteroglossia, polyphony, dialogic, carnivalesque, Menippean—would have proven attractive to Said. But I now suspect that Bakhtin’s emphasis on impersonal literary and cultural forces, especially in his theory of genres innovating in their interactions and hybridity, would not allow for Said’s stressing the importance of a personal mythology, the outstanding individual, the genius, who effects a break in history. The disinterest in Bakhtin is, I think, to Said’s loss. It reduces and narrows his sense of cultural possibility. For example, in his essay ‘Criticism between culture and system’ in The World, the Text, and the Critic, Said writes that when Derrida in Of Grammatology totalises Western thought as logocentric, he underplays how much literary representation in effect is already deconstructive in its self-reflexivity, theatricality and performative elements. Said’s examples are, we should not be surprised to see, such classics of the English and European novel as Cervantes, Sterne, Dickens, Flaubert, Conrad, Proust, Joyce.32

V Let’s turn now to Derrida and especially his work, Religion. In my epigraph I quote from ‘Interview with Said’, in which Said suggests that the primary intellectual drama of our times turns on those who wish to be housed or unhoused. I will now argue that Derrida, in his essay in Religion entitled ‘Faith and knowledge: The two sources of “religion” at the limits of reason alone’, desires to be housed within canonical European male philosophy, Eurocentrism, European–Ashkenazi Jewish identity and the contemporary sanctification of Levinas’s messianism that Slavoj Žižek not so long ago was moved to complain about as hegemonic.33 Levinas, it quickly becomes clear, is the guiding ethical figure of his argument.34 It is perhaps above all bad faith that pervades and characterises this essay, offensive in so many ways. Derrida was always fond of initially drawing back from a text, to inspect its provenance, its framing of a philosophical issue, its situatedness in time and place. It was part of his deconstructive procedure. Let’s follow, then, Derrida’s own deconstructive procedure. Religion (1998) was originally published in France in 1996 as La Religion: Séminaire de Capri sous la direction

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de Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vattimo. In a prefatory note, ‘Circumstances’, Vattimo explains that he and Derrida were invited in 1992 to edit a European Yearbook, to be the product of a group of philosophers invited to Capri for a seminar to discuss a certain theme, which Derrida was asked to choose. The seminar took place on 28 February and 1 March 1994. On the contents page, we note that Derrida’s subsequent essay comes first—hubristically long at sixty-six pages followed by eleven pages of endnotes—in what became the book of the conference. Rather puzzling and off-putting is the fact we also instantly see: that there are no female contributors. The seminar and collection of essays that followed were for male philosophers only. Astonishingly, Derrida complains about this phallocentric situation as if he had nothing to do with it, had no responsibility for what had happened, was not an author of the occasion, and it was not ‘sous la direction de Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vattimo’. Let’s inspect the key passage in which he makes this complaint not only for its bad faith concerning gender but also for its many other examples of mauvaise foi: Yesterday (yes, yesterday, truly, just a few days ago), there was the massacre of Hebron at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a place held in common and symbolic trench of the religions called ‘Abrahamic’. We represent and speak four different languages, but our common ‘culture’, let’s be frank, is more manifestly Christian, barely even Judaeo-Christian. No Muslim is among us, alas, even for this preliminary discussion, just at the moment when it is towards Islam, perhaps, that we ought to begin by turning our attention. No representative of other cults either. Not a single woman! We ought to take this into account: speaking on behalf of these mute witnesses without speaking for them, in place of them, and drawing from this all sorts of consequences.35 ‘Not a single woman!’ exclaims Derrida. Why didn’t he stipulate that unless female philosophers were invited, he wouldn’t be attending? Why didn’t he himself invite female philosophers? One would have thought that, pained as he was by such absence, Derrida would be very sensitive to issues of gender in his essay.

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Egregiously and almost comically, he is not. A couple of pages later Derrida says of the excluded gender: ‘We should have, we ought to have, begun by allowing them to speak.’36 Not only should women have been invited but also, says an anguished Derrida, ‘we’—the assembled male philosophers—should have generously given them permission to say something. Throughout the essay, Derrida deploys a language of ‘he’, ‘himself’ (‘a Christian owes it to himself’), ‘men’, ‘man’, ‘Man’.37 At one rather amusing moment, Derrida decides to include ‘woman’, almost as an afterthought, and even then lost among the swarm of androcentric terms, when he portentously refers to ‘all of history, the earth, the humanity of man, the rights of man, the rights of man and of woman … the difference between man, god and animal’.38 More bad faith, indeed disingenuousness, in this passage: a concerned Derrida complains, ‘No Muslim is among us, alas.’ Why didn’t he invite a Muslim philosopher, then? But in any case, isn’t this a curious way of talking? The meeting at Capri to discuss religion involved philosophers, who surely did not define themselves in primarily religious terms, as Jews, Christians and so on. So why lament the absence of a ‘Muslim’, as if Europeans could talk only about Europe and could not themselves be students of the historic and contemporary Islamic world? Think of great predecessors who had already set such an example, such as S. D. Goitein’s multivolume work A Mediterranean Society, which draws on the Cairo Geniza, evoking the entwined lives of Jews and Arabs in the medieval Muslim Mediterranean, or Maxime Rodinson’s writings on the Middle East. We get no sense from his essay in Religion that Derrida himself, as a diasporic North African Arab Jew now living in Europe and the USA, was the heir of a remarkable history, of an Islamic world that historically included native Jewish and Christian communities and that flowered in the convivencia of medieval Moorish Spain, Al-Andalus, famous for its shared intellectual culture of Muslims, Christians and Jews. This was a culture that, in its creativity in philosophy, mathematics, science, medicine, poetry, arts of urban living, architecture, design, cuisine, was not only part of Europe but also, by preserving and developing Greek philosophy and mathematics, saved Europe from intellectual darkness.39 Here is a history that would include that Marrano philosopher Spinoza and that helped to shape European modernity and consciousness.40

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Derrida is clearly assuming in this passage that the Muslim is not part of ‘us’, we Europeans, and not even the reference to Spanish in the ‘four different languages’ spoken by the male philosophers at Capri—he’d just before listed them as ‘German, Spanish, French, Italian’—or a later reference to the ‘Spanish Marrano’, stimulates Derrida as philosopher-king of the occasion to put Moorish Spain on the table for discussion (let alone bring in Spinoza). Nor does the mention of Spanish inspire him to remind the gathering at Capri of such historic Andalusian cities as Cordoba and Granada when he lists the cities that he believes connote Europe: ‘Athens–Jerusalem–Rome– Byzantium’.41 More bad faith, this time truly spectacular, in the reference to the 1994 Hebron massacre in the quoted passage. Given how agitated this sentence is (‘yes, yesterday, truly, just a few days ago’), one would have thought that Derrida might have explained who had perpetrated the massacre and then discussed its implications. Strangely, however, he doesn’t choose to clarify, so we ourselves will have to ponder his silence here. In The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East (2005), Robert Fisk recalls that on 25 February 1994, Baruch Goldstein fired on Palestinian worshippers in the mosque at Abraham’s tomb in Hebron, killing fifty Palestinians and wounding up to 170 others, leaving the mosque spattered with blood. When, says Fisk, Palestinians outside protested by throwing rocks at the Israeli military cordon that was supposed to protect the sacred area, the Israeli troops shot and killed at least another twenty-five Palestinians. Fisk reflects that Western media coverage immediately tried to minimise the number of Palestinians killed and that only two Western news reports called Goldstein a terrorist, while President Clinton described the slaughter as ‘a gross act of murder’ and as a ‘terrible tragedy’, as if, Fisk acidly comments, the victims were not the victims of Israeli terrorism but of some kind of natural disaster. And who was Goldstein? He was, Fisk notes, a major in the Israeli army reserve who wore his army uniform and carried his military-issue rifle when he set out to kill; he was an educated man, an American-born doctor, and a settler associated with the right-wing Jewish Kach movement. Fisk argues that the special fury of ordinary Arabs in response to what occurred in Hebron in 1994 was directed at the double standards of the West, always forgetting past Israeli or Israeli-inspired acts of mass

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murder like the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre or the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacre.42 Astonishingly, Derrida avers, straight after referring to the Hebron massacre of worshipping Palestinians, that we should be ‘turning our attention’ to Islam! One would have thought that Baruch Goldstein’s terrorist action would have prompted him to immediately say: we must now urgently turn our attention to Jewish fundamentalism and Israeli colonisation as a problem not only for the Middle East but also for Europe, the Europe that continuously supports Israel despite its evident oppression of the Palestinians and its every infraction of human rights. He surely should have asked how could Goldstein, a doctor, slaughter other human beings as a way of raising the issue of longstanding Israeli racism towards Palestinians, which regards them as subhuman, then ponder the thought that such racism is historically characteristic of European colonisation worldwide. He might have raised the issue (as Fisk suggests in his analysis of Goldstein’s action) of how Israeli violence is almost immediately forgiven by the West whereas Palestinian violence is slated as terrorism: the same double standards that grounds anger and fury in the Muslim world to this very day, and certainly should have been evident to Derrida in 1994. He might have raised for discussion that Goldstein was an Ashkenazi invader of Palestinian lands, an identity that signified the historic project of Zionism as a movement of European– Ashkenazi settler-colonialism that not only wished to dispossess the indigenous Palestinians of their homeland but also create a Jewish State that would be contemptuous of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews.43 Given, as he says, that the Tomb of the Patriarchs was sacred for all the Abrahamic religions, he could have considered that Goldstein and the extreme-racist Kach movement of which he was part were trying to impose monotheism on Palestine, just as had the medieval Crusaders when they had tried to erase the presence, through massacre and atrocity, of the Jews and Muslims from Jerusalem; to erase all monotheism in the Holy Land except one.44 Derrida might, that is, have raised the point for his fellow male philosophers to contemplate that the ongoing Zionist colonisation in Israel/Palestine is an attempt to impose on the historic plurality of the Middle East and Levant a single religion, people and ethnicity, precisely because Zionism from the 1890s was a project of European colonialism and nationalism.45

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But Derrida goes in quite a different direction. For, almost immediately—and in the spirit of Levinas saying that Muslims and Palestinians are the enemy46—he launches into a damning attack, not on Jewish fundamentalism but on Muslim fundamentalism, which he indicts for its ‘physical violences’ and its ‘declared violations of the democratic model and of international law’, as well as unnamed ‘phallocentric and theologico-political figures’.47 The reference to ‘phallocentric’, after his seminar’s exclusion of female philosophers, and given his own phallocentric language throughout the essay, is jarring. The reference to ‘democratic model’ might have prompted Derrida to muse to his audience that in settler-colonial conditions, democracies are necessarily Herrenvolk or ethnic democracies, as Israel clearly is, leading to the permanent exclusion from the polity of the so-called Jewish State of the remnant within Israel of what had been its majority Palestinian population before the mass ethnic cleansing of 1948.48 As for ‘international law’, he could have reprised for his audience Israel’s almost fantastical degree of flouting of outstanding UN resolutions, in particular UN resolution 194 of 1948, based on the Geneva conventions, saying that the refugee Palestinians can return to their homes in Israel/Palestine; and UN resolution 242 concerning the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and hence the illegality of the post-1967 occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, especially the West Bank and Gaza.49 All these are points made by Said many times, over many years, from The Question of Palestine (1979) to The Politics of Dispossession (1994) and afterwards, in ceaseless coruscating commentary. Said is also far more critical of Judaeo-Christianity than Derrida in this essay is prepared to be. In his remarkable essay, ‘Michael Walzer’s Exodus and Revolution: A Canaanite reading’ (1988), Said argued that the Exodus story unfortunately provides history with a model of a messianic and millennial politics of redemption that can be disturbingly extreme, constituted in zealotry and violence. In his iconoclastic reading, Said suggests that we should focus on the movement as a whole of the Exodus narrative: not only the story of liberation from an oppressive power (Pharaoh in Egypt) and discovery of sacred values while wandering in the desert, but also what happens when the Israelites arrive in the Promised Land. The narrative of Exodus, Said observes, has an inspiring vision of freedom for one people that is yet

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premised on defeat and even extermination for another, the Canaanites, those who already inhabit the Promised Land, a land that by divine injunction and sanction is to be invaded, conquered and occupied. Said suggests that in world history Exodus has proven all too exemplary for the purposes of colonising and invading the lands of others, inspiring Puritans in New England to slay Native Americans or South African Boers to claim and move in on huge areas of formerly African-held lands.50 And in the Middle East, he clearly implies, Exodus is an inspirational text that assists in the dispossession of the Palestinians. Said’s suggestive critique of Exodus as a poem of settler-colonialism and genocidal dispossession inspired a whole new field, what we might call a postcolonial post-secular critical theology, resonating with such writers on the biblical stories as Harry Berger Jnr and Regina M. Schwartz and such postcolonial scholars as Ella Shohat, Ann Curthoys and Deborah Bird Rose, and in my own 1492: The Poetics of Diaspora (2001).51

VI For all that Derrida had been so critical of Western thought in his early work, as in Of Grammatology or his essay ‘White mythology’ in Margins of Philosophy, it is clear that fundamental critique of Europe is the last thing he wants to do in this essay. On the contrary, he now wants to celebrate (with his usual tiresome play of quotation marks, as if distancing himself from his own formulations) ‘Europe’ as a declared ‘European’ in fellowship with ‘we Europeans’.52 He now wants to construct a master narrative that is very similar to that which Levinas had offered in his writings, defining Europe as exclusively Greek and Judaeo-Christian and as the only proper future for modernity and humanity.53 Derrida in this essay addresses his usual canon of European (male) philosophers. The ‘Western tradition’, he intones at Capri, is constituted in ‘Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger’, and it should come as no surprise that he continually invokes Heidegger throughout, with the added implication hanging in the air that of course Derrida himself completes the set; his name can be added to the canon. Only Europe provides models, in thought and religion, that are capable, says Derrida in Levinasian spirit, of being ‘universalizable’.

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Only European ‘republican democracy’ is a ‘universalizable model’. Religion, proper religion, based on Abrahamic notions of ‘salvation’ and ‘redemption’ inspired by the ‘desert’ (surely an allusion to the narrative of Exodus), is, similarly, not simply Abrahamic in provenance; it too can become ‘effectively universal’. In direct Levinasian terms, the model of religion Derrida prefers, ‘the messianic, or messianicity without messianism’, although it would appear to arise from Abrahamic religion, is also, he declares, ‘universalizable’: it provides a ‘universalizable culture of singularities’ that can liberate ‘a universal rationality and the political democracy that cannot be dissociated from it’. Furthermore, we learn, ‘tolerance’ was created in the world by Christians, an apparent fact that even Voltaire recognised because tolerance had its one and only world source in the original teachings of Jesus; such Christian-derived tolerance, Derrida exhorts, should be extended to the rest of the non-Christian world.54 Perhaps, by missionaries. This last assertion concerning the birth of tolerance in original Christianity (leaving aside those fatal moments in the Gospels, for example, in John 8:44 and Matthew 21:43, where Jesus says the Jews are to be banished from humanity because they no longer belong to God, they are the children of the devil) is especially bizarre.55 Hasn’t monotheism acted as a force for intolerance in world history? Even Freud, in Moses and Monotheism (1939), concedes that the belief in one God, inaugurated by Akhenaten in Egypt, gave birth to ‘religious intolerance, which was foreign to antiquity long before this and for long after’. Freud notes that from its first appearance monotheism was a kind of reaction formation, defining itself against that which it forbade or prohibited or persecuted or attempted to erase from history.56 The Egyptologist Jan Assmann, in his Moses the Egyptian (1997), similarly argues that Akhenaten introduced into the ancient world what he calls the Mosaic Distinction: the monotheistic presumption of true and false religion, and that such a ‘murderous distinction’ has worked its destructive way forward in terms of ever more distinctions and subdistinctions, between Jews and Gentiles, Old and New Testaments, Christians and pagans, Muslims and unbelievers, Catholics and Protestants, Calvinists and Lutherans. The Mosaic Distinction, he contends, found enduring narrative form and

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discursive normative power in Exodus. He contrasts monotheism and the Mosaic Distinction with what he considers are the great cultural and historical achievements of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian polytheism, their practices and modes of cosmopolitanism and translatability.57 Notions of tolerance have many possible sources in religious history, in Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Daoism, or pagan religions, or in the religions of hunter-gatherer peoples. Derrida, however, writes in this essay—and this is a major reason why it is so insensitive and offensive—as if non-Europeans don’t exist and certainly could not be part of a shared intellectual conversation. We can compare Derrida’s Eurocentrism here with Karl Jaspers’ cosmopolitan interest in the Axial Age of antiquity, recently reprised by Karen Armstrong in The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (2006).58 Again, it would appear, only Europeans possess an ethics that can become universal. It is perhaps a sign of the ‘late’ Derrida’s intellectual bankruptcy that his Eurocentrism in this essay (advanced with a certain purported hesitation, but Eurocentrism nonetheless) draws on Levinas’s ethics (and supporting metaphors, for example, the nocturnal)59 as his own ethical philosophy: without acknowledging to his audience that he is so drawing on Levinas. One can almost hear Levinas when Derrida tells his interlocutors that the messianic ‘would be the opening to the future or to the coming of the other as the advent of justice’: ‘a decision that can consist in letting the other come and that can take the apparently passive form of the other’s decision: even there where it appears in itself, in me, the decision is moreover always that of the other, which does not exonerate me of responsibility’.60 Do such Levinasian/Derridean formulations provide a coherent ethical philosophy? I am passive, I let the other come to me in the night and make a decision for me, but I am also somehow responsible for that decision, which will be an example of justice … Does this work as an ethics? In its ignoring of ethical practices of selffashioning, of Bildung, is it in any sense admirable? Judith Butler has objected that Levinas’ notions of being somehow passively open to what the other wants is ethically highly dubious. After all, she pertinently asks, what if the other whom one decides to let come is a fascist?61 In my view, Derrida’s articulations as on the ethics of the other— and Levinas’—are a mirage, behind which is vacuity, absurdity and The question of Europe: Said and Derrida

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bad faith. The bad faith of Levinas’s ethics of the other was starkly revealed in an interview he gave in the immediate aftermath of the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacre, when Levinas ethnocentrically declared that the Palestinian was not his other, the only others he recognised were in effect kin and neighbours, and that ‘there are people who are wrong’, a directly racist dismissal of the Palestinians as a people.62 The bad faith of Derrida’s ethics in this essay is revealed in his silent cutting away from identifying and discussing Goldstein’s massacre at Hebron only days after it happened, while a sentence or two later identifying Islamic fundamentalism as the chief enemy of Western reason and ethical universalism.

VII In a comparison of Said and the ‘late’ Derrida as revealed in his essay in Religion, Said comes off very much the better. In particular, Said wished to challenge himself, in terms of an interest in ‘late style’, as in Freud’s wonderfully idiosyncratic last book Moses and Monotheism, or in looking to Deleuze and a kind of female popular romance language of the unbuttoned, unfixed and mobile, whereby to renew approaches (for example, in becoming highly critical of Foucault as scribe of domination) and ways of writing. By contrast, Derrida’s rollcall of canonical philosophers never seemed to change, nor did his mode of writing, which by the end was empty and meretricious, an unwitting parody of itself, a hubris of self-importance. With a fealty to European high literature, Derrida could not be influenced by the selfparody of carnivalesque and popular culture, and indeed his writing is extremely removed from common speech, from any kind of relaxed conversational tone. Where Said wished to be unhoused, Derrida desired to be housed within Europe’s continuing claims to universal superiority. Said spoke in terms of a rich diasporic consciousness acknowledging the many histories and literatures to which he could relate: Arab, Palestinian, European, American, postcolonial, subaltern, Caribbean, Indian, African, world. The ‘late’ Derrida identified with the (apparent) victors in history: a Europe narrowly defined as Greek–Judaic–Christian; Ashkenazi Jewish identity whose parameters had been set by Levinas: Abrahamic monotheism, Jewish and Christian, but not Muslim. Derrida’s life-adventure of identity, at least as created in this essay, was to become European, and indeed his essay in Religion could 282

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profitably be added to the literature of passing, a point made of Derrida in general by Pal Ahluwalia.63 Indeed, Derrida himself, in his disappointing autobiographical essay Monolingualism of the Other (1996), conceded that, despite his lifelong deconstructive critiques of purity, he contracted through his schooling, and still retains, ‘a shameful but intractable intolerance: at least in French, insofar as the language is concerned, I cannot bear or admire anything other than pure French’.64 Perhaps because he so much wanted to pass as French and European, his writing looks as if he’s trying too hard. (In Monolingualism of the Other, Derrida refers to a kind of excess, of hyperbolism, acquired early, that invaded his life and work.)65 Perhaps here is a reason why he was extremely reluctant to criticise European or Euro-American philosophers and critics, even when tainted with Nazism and anti-Semitism, such as Heidegger and Paul De Man. In the essay in Religion, Derrida denied himself a diasporic consciousness that always is aware of more than one history within oneself, for example, an Arab, North African, Sephardic, Andalusian history, as well as European and American histories; instead in this essay he presented his consciousness on a single ‘European’ plane. Even when, as in Monolingualism of the Other, Derrida, playing with possible Algerian identities, refers to indigenous Jewish and FrancoMaghrebian histories, he does not explore identities more widely in space and time than his specific Algerian context.66 In Monolingualism of the Other, autobiography is reduced to egocentricity. Said admired the individual thinker who was prepared, at whatever cost, to be untimely, to stand out against and question ruling concepts and discourses, and clearly in his own case this preparedness would include his own courageous protests at Zionism and Israel, with its reward in the neo-McCarthyite USA of denunciation and vilification.67 Am I being too harsh to think that Derrida, returning to the USA on a regular basis for teaching, deliberately muted criticisms he might have of Zionism and Israel because he wished to avoid public obloquy? Certainly Derrida, as Patrick Cockburn pointed out in a scathing essay, signed the Birzeit Appeal protesting Israeli attacks on Palestinian higher education, but he also accepted a honorary doctorate from Hebrew University; as Cockburn says, by travelling to Israel ‘amidst its government’s horrifying crimes against Palestinians, Derrida offers Israel legitimacy’.68 Could Derrida have regularly returned to the USA if he made sustained and public criticisms of The question of Europe: Said and Derrida

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Zionism and Israel that were comparable in their sharpness to those of Said? Yet, in not being highly critical of Zionism and Israel—a mutedness we can witness in the essay in Religion in which he does not even name Baruch Goldstein as the mass murderer in Hebron—wasn’t he betraying not only the Palestinians but also the Arab Jews held in racist contempt in Ashkenazi-dominated Israel? In the USA, Said waged an often lonely fight for justice for the Palestinians. Imagine how much more powerful Said’s protests would have been if Derrida, the world-famous deconstructionist, had joined him in a common effort to denounce Zionism and Israel for their treatment of the Palestinians and Sephardim. In the most profound sense, Jacques Derrida was indeed the betrayer of Edward Said.69 I’ll end, nevertheless, with a final worry about Said. It concerns the object, perhaps a rock, stone or pebble, he threw on the Israel– Lebanon border to celebrate the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon that had occurred a few days before on 24 May 2000. I know it was playful and not aimed at anyone and an apparently trivial incident. Yet, as a Gandhian, I reflect that Gandhi would not have done it, for he knew the enormous symbolic importance of not ever being violent. Author’s note This essay is a development of my paper, ‘Edward Said’s productive ambivalences: “Sheer folly and derangement” and “Crazy enthusiasms” ’, for Edward Said: Debating the Legacy of a Public Intellectual, Humanities Research Centre conference, 14–16 March 2006. For discussion of the ideas in the present argument, I would particularly like to thank Ann Curthoys, Ned Curthoys, Debjani Ganguly and Ida Nursoo.

Notes 1 2 3 4 5

6

7

See also Curthoys, ‘Hannah Arendt and the politics of narrative’, pp. 348–70. Weber, Points …, pp. 341–2. See Loewenstein, My Israel Question. Cf. Curthoys & Docker, Is History Fiction? pp. 146–53. See Docker, Postmodernism and Popular Culture, pp. 138–45; Said, The World, The Text, and the Critic, pp. 191–201, 211. Cf. Le Doeff, Hipparchia’s Choice, p. 167. My thanks to Moira Gatens for knowledge of Le Doeff’s essay. Benjamin, One Way Street and Other Writings, p. 319.

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8

9 10 11 12

13 14 15 16 17 18 19

20 21 22 23

24 25 26 27

28 29 30 31 32

33

34

35 36 37

I would like to acknowledge how much we learnt from Lisa Lowe’s Critical Terrains. Praz, The Romantic Agony, pp. 66–8, 78, 80, 165, 237. Ibid., pp. 32, 202–3. Cf. Uszkurat, ‘Mid twentieth century lesbian romance’. Cf. Huyssen, ‘Mass culture as woman’; Docker, Postmodernism and Popular Culture, pp. 246–7. Said, Orientalism, pp. 3–4, 118. Ibid., p. 26. Said, ‘Figures, configurations, transfigurations’, p. 14. Wicke & Sprinker, ‘Interview with Edward Said’, p. 250. Ibid., p. 246. Adorno & Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, p. 128. West, ‘Black culture and postmodernism’, pp. 88, 92; cf. Curthoys & Docker, Is History Fiction? p. 181. See also Hall, ‘Black diaspora artists in Britain’, pp. 5, 6, 17, concerning the close imbrications of Black art, anti-colonialism and decolonisation, modern consciousness, and cosmopolitanism. Said, Orientalism, pp. 179–90. Ibid., pp. 26, 190. See Curthoys & Docker, ‘Popular romance in the postmodern age’, pp. 22–36. Wicke & Sprinker, ‘Interview with Edward Said’, pp. 239–41, 244–6. For a devastating critique of Chomsky’s failure to support the gathering world sanctions movement against Israel, see Blankfort, ‘Damage control’ at www.dissidentvoice.org. Wood, Perfumes of Arabia, pp. 48–9. Said, Orientalism, pp. 118–19. Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic, pp. 253. Said, Freud and the Non-European, pp. 28–9. My thanks to Ned Curthoys for alerting me to Said’s reflections on late style in Freud and the NonEuropean. Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust, pp. x, xiv, 68–9. Docker, ‘The Enlightenment and genocide’, pp. 295–6. Said, Orientalism, pp. 180, 188. Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic, p. 250. Ibid., ch. 9, ‘Criticism between culture and system’, pp. 193–4. Cf. Docker, Postmodernism and Popular Culture, pp. 142–3. Žižek, The Puppet and the Dwarf, pp. 3, 5–6, 8. See my review in Political Theory, vol. 33, no. 2, 2005, pp. 304–8. Moyn, Origins of the Other, p. 5, contends that more than any other philosopher Derrida helped popularise Levinas’s thought, and that Derrida went so far as to say that he never objects to his old teacher. Moyn quotes Derrida: ‘Devant une pensée comme celle de Lévinas, je n’ai jamais d’objection. Je suis prêt à souscrire à tout ce qu’il dit’ (Jacques Derrida & Pierre-Jean Labarrière, Altérités, Osiris, Paris, 1986, p. 74). Derrida, ‘Faith and knowledge’, p. 5. Ibid., p. 7. Ibid., pp. 3, 11, 16, 21, 37, 39.

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38 39

40 41

42 43

44 45

46 47 48 49 50 51

52

53

54 55 56

57

58 59

Ibid., p. 24. See Menacol, The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History; Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony; and Docker, 1492, ch. 3, ‘The collision of two worlds: Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Moorish Spain’. Cf. Yovel, The Marrano of Reason, and Docker, 1492, pp. 99–102. Derrida, ‘Faith and knowledge’, pp. 4, 66. While googling concerning Derrida’s biography, I came across a reference to a documentary film I have not seen, D’ailleurs, Derrida (Derrida’s Elsewhere) (1999), that, according to the notes on the web, takes viewers into Derrida’s worlds: that of his work in Paris, and that of his familial and spiritual roots in Algeria and the Spain of Lorca and El Greco. In ‘Faith and knowledge’, however, I can see no acknowledgement of such a diasporic past that would complicate his notions there of Europe. Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation, pp. 503–5. The classic essay here is Shohat, ‘Sephardim in Israel’. See also Shohat, Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices, and review by Ned Curthoys, Holy Land Studies, May 2007. See Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. Cf. Alcalay, After Jews and Arabs, pp. 21, 116–17, 120, 122–7, 128–43, 179; Docker, 1492, pp. 49–50, 77, 185. See Caygill’s profoundly disturbing essay, ‘Levinas’s political judgement’. Derrida, ‘Faith and knowledge’, pp. 5–6. Cf. Kimmerling, Politicide. Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation, pp. 470, 472, 490. Said, ‘Michael Walzer’s Exodus and Revolution’. Docker, 1492, pp. 140–3; Shohat, ‘Antinomies of exile’, pp. 140–1; Rose, ‘Rupture and the ethics of care in colonized space’, pp. 199–205; Curthoys, ‘Expulsion, exodus, and exile in white Australian historical mythology’, pp. 1–18; Schwartz, The Curse of Cain, pp. 55–62; Berger, ‘The lie of the land: the text beyond Canaan’, pp. 125–6. Derrida, ‘Faith and knowledge’, pp. 32–3. For a critique of the ‘late’ Derrida on cosmopolitanism, see Nursoo, ‘En attendant le cosmopolitisme’. See Caygill, ‘Levinas’s political judgement’, p. 11, discussing ‘The RussoChinese debate and the dialectic’ by Levinas in Esprit in 1960, where Levinas makes a brutal distinction between Europe as the ‘Graeco, Judaic, Christian West’ and Asia, which represents the ‘yellow peril’. Derrida, ‘Faith and knowledge’, pp. 2, 8, 14, 18–19, 22–3. Cf. Carroll, Wolf in the Sheepfold, ch. 4. Freud, Moses and Monotheism, pp. 24–6, 28–9, 31, 35, 41, 82. Cf. Docker, ‘The challenge of polytheism’, pp. 215–17. Assmann, Moses the Egyptian, pp. 1–8, 12, 20, 45–54, 136, 168–70, 193, 211, 217. Cf. Docker, ‘In praise of polytheism’, pp. 162–3. Cf. Curthoys, ‘The émigré sensibility of world literature ’. Derrida, ‘Faith and knowledge’, pp. 16, 18. Concerning Levinas’ metaphoric dislike of light and his notion of a desired insomnia, see Hand, The Levinas Reader, ‘Ethics as first philosophy’, pp. 79–80, and ‘God and philosophy’, pp. 167–70.

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60

61 62 63

64 65 66

67 68

69

Derrida, ‘Faith and knowledge’, p. 17. Cf. Levinas, ‘Ethics as first philosophy’, pp. 80–5. Butler, ‘Ethical ambivalences’, p. 18. Levinas, ‘Ethics and politics’, p. 294. Cf. Ahluwalia, ‘Out of Africa’, pp. 147–8. My thanks to Ned Curthoys for telling me about this illuminating essay. Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other, pp. 33, 45–9. Ibid., pp. 48–9. Ibid., pp. 11–14, 49, 52–3. Megill, Prophets of Extremity, argues that Derrida’s Sephardic upbringing in Algiers is important for ‘understanding the depth, rigor, and passion of the attack that he launches on the Western tradition’ (p. 276). My comment would be that a Sephardic genealogy might also and equally prompt an interest in Sephardic intellectual and cultural history as in Muslim Spain whereas, it would now appear, Derrida’s journey was always into the heart of Europe, which at some stage he began less to critique and more to celebrate as destination and belonging. Cf. Docker, ‘Is the United States a failed society?’ Cockburn, ‘Jacques Derrida’, and Wise, ‘Derrida and the Palestinian question’, pp. 167–85. In On Late Style, ch. 4, ‘On Jean Genet’, Said reflects that ‘I’ve always been slightly miffed’ that Derrida in Glas ‘should refer to me anonymously only as ‘an ami’ who brought him news of Genet’ (p. 78). (Thanks to Ned Curthoys for this reference.)

Bibliography Abu-Lughod, Janet L., Before European Hegemony: The World System AD 1250–1350, Oxford University Press, New York, 1989. Adorno, Theodor & Horkheimer, Max, Dialectic of Enlightenment (first published 1944), Verso, London, 1979. Ahluwalia, Pal, ‘Out of Africa: Post-structuralism’s colonial roots’, Postcolonial Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, 2005, pp. 137–54. Alcalay, Ammiel, After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1993. Arendt, Hannah, Men in Dark Times, Jonathan Cape, London, 1970. Armstrong, Karen, The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, Knopf, New York, 2006. Assmann, Jan, Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1997. Bauman, Zygmunt, Modernity and the Holocaust, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, 1989. Benjamin, Walter, One Way Street and Other Writings (first published 1979), Verso, London, 1992. Berger, Harry Jnr, ‘The lie of the land: The text beyond Canaan’, Representations, no. 25, 1989, pp. 119–38. Blankfort, Jeffrey, ‘Damage control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine conflict’, www.dissidentvoice.org.

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Butler, Judith, ‘Ethical ambivalences’, in The Turn to Ethics (eds Marjorie Gaber, Beatrice Hanssen & Rebecca L. Walkowitz), Routledge, New York, 2000. Carroll, Robert P., Wolf in the Sheepfold: The Bible as a Problem for Christianity, SPCK, London, 1991. Caygill, Howard, ‘Levinas’s political judgement: The Esprit Articles 1934– 1983’, Radical Philosophy, no. 104, November/December 2000, pp. 6–15. Cockburn, Alexander, ‘Jacques Derrida: Talking out of both sides of his mouth’, CounterPunch, CounterPunch Diary, 23 May 2003 (accessed online at www.counterpunch.org/cockburn05232003.html). Curthoys, Ann, ‘Expulsion, Exodus, and Exile in white Australian historical mythology’, in Richard Nile and Michael Williams (eds), Imaginary Homelands: The Dubious Cartographies of Australian Identity, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1999. Curthoys, Ann & Docker, John, Is History Fiction? UNSW Press, Sydney, 2005. ——‘Popular romance in the postmodern age’, Continuum, vol. 4, no. 1, 1990, pp. 60–9. Curthoys, Ned, ‘The émigré sensibility of “world literature”: Historicising Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers’ cosmopolitan intent’, Theory and Event, vol. 8, no. 3, 2005. ——‘Hannah Arendt and the politics of narrative’, JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory, vol. 32, no. 3, 2002, pp. 348–70. Derrida, Jacques, ‘Faith and knowledge: The two sources of “religion” at the limits of reason alone’, in Religion (eds Jacques Derrida & Gianni Vattimo), Polity Press, London, 1998. ——Monolingualism of the Other; or, The Prosthesis of Origin, 1996, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 1998. Docker, John, ‘The challenge of polytheism: Moses, Spinoza, and Freud’, in The Politics of Moralizing (eds Jane Bennett & Michael J. Shapiro), Routledge, New York, 2002. ——‘The Enlightenment and genocide’, JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory, vol. 33, no. 3, 2003, pp. 292–314. ——1492: The Poetics of Diaspora, Continuum, London, 2001. ——‘In praise of polytheism’, Semeia 88, 2001, pp. 149–72. ——‘Is the United States a failed society?’, Borderlands e-journal, vol. 4, no. 1, 2005. ——Postmodernism and Popular Culture: A Cultural History, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1994. Fisk, Robert, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, Fourth Estate/HarperCollins, London, 2005. Freud, Sigmund, Moses and Monotheism (first published 1939), Vintage, New York, 1967. Hall, Stuart, ‘Black diaspora artists in Britain: Three “moments” in post-war history’, History Workshop Journal 61, Spring 2006, pp. 1–24. Hand, Seán (ed.), The Levinas Reader, Blackwell, Oxford, 2003. Huyssen, Andreas, ‘Mass culture as woman: Modernism’s other’, in Studies in Entertainment: Critical Approaches to Mass Culture (ed. Tanya Modleski), Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1986.

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Kimmerling, Baruch, Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s War Against the Palestinians, Verso, London, 2003. Le Doeff, Michèle, Hipparchia’s Choice: An Essay Concerning Women, Philosophy, etc (trans. Trista Selous), Blackwell, Oxford and Cambridge, MA, 1991. Levinas, Emmanuel, ‘Ethics as first philosophy’, in The Levinas Reader (ed. Seán Hand), Blackwell, Oxford, 2003. ——‘Ethics and politics’, in The Levinas Reader (ed. Seán Hand), Blackwell, Oxford, 2003. ——‘God and philosophy’, in The Levinas Reader (ed. Seán Hand), Blackwell, Oxford, 2003. Loewenstein, Antony, My Israel Question, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2006. Lowe, Lisa, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1991. Maalouf, Amin, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (trans. Jon Rothschild), Al Saqi Books, London, 1984. Megill, Allan, Prophets of Extremity: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1985. Menacol, Maria Rosa, The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History: A Forgotten Heritage, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1987. Moyn, Samuel, Origins of the Other: Emmanuel Levinas between Revelation and Ethics, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, and London, 2005. Nursoo, Ida, ‘En attendant le cosmopolitisme: Derrida’s cosmopolitics and the waiting room of humanity’, paper given at ‘Following Derrida: Legacies’ conference, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, October 2006. Praz, Mario, The Romantic Agony (first published 1930), Oxford University Press, London, 1970. Rose, Deborah Bird, ‘Rupture and the ethics of care in colonized space’, in Prehistory to Politics: John Mulvaney, the Humanities and the Public Intellectual (eds Tim Bonyhady & Tom Griffiths), Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1996. Said, Edward W., ‘Figures, configurations, transfigurations’, Race and Class, vol. 32, no. 1, 1990, pp. 1–16. ——Freud and the Non-European, Verso, in association with the Freud Museum, London, 2003. ——‘Michael Walzer’s exodus and revolution: A Canaanite reading’, in (eds Edward W. Said & Christopher Hitchens), Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question, Verso, London, 1988. ——On Late Style, Bloomsbury, London, 2006. ——Orientalism, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1980. ——The World, The Text, and the Critic (first published 1983), Vintage, London, 1991. Schwartz, Regina M., The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1997.

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Shohat, Ella, ‘Antinomies of exile: Said at the frontiers of national narrations’, in Edward Said: A Critical Reader (ed. Michael Sprinker), Blackwell, Oxford, 1992. ——‘Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the standpoint of its Jewish victims’, in Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives (eds Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti & Ella Shohat), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1997. ——Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2006. Sprinker, Michael (ed.), Edward Said: A Critical Reader, Blackwell, Oxford, 1992. Uszkurat, Carol Ann, ‘Mid-twentieth century lesbian romance: Reception and redress’, in Gabriele Griffin (ed.), Outwrite: Lesbianism and Popular Culture, Pluto, London, 1993. Weber, Elisabeth (ed.), Points …: Interviews, 1974–1994/Jacques Derrida, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 1995. West, Cornell, ‘Black culture and postmodernism’, in Remaking History (eds Barbara Kruger & Phil Mariani), Bay Press, Seattle, 1989. Wicke, Jennifer & Sprinker, Michael, ‘Interview with Edward Said’, in Edward Said: A Critical Reader (ed. Michael Sprinker), Blackwell, Oxford, 1992. Wise, Christopher, ‘Derrida and the Palestinian question’, Arena Journal, no. 20, 2002/03, pp. 167–85. Wood, Sara, Perfumes of Arabia, Mills & Boon, Sydney, 1988. Yovel, Yirmiyahu, The Marrano of Reason, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1989. Žižek, Slavoj, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2003.

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13

Interacting imaginaries in Israel and the United States Lorenzo Veracini

In his commentary on the second Intifada Edward Said repeatedly argued that a shift in US perceptions had become a necessary prerequisite for change. Quoting Nelson Mandela, he specifically advocated a struggle capable of affecting ‘the imagination and dreams of the entire world’, and referred to the struggles of black South Africans and how they had ultimately received the support of US public opinion: ‘Uninformed and yet open to appeals for justice as they are, Americans are capable of reacting as they did to the ANC campaign against apartheid, which finally changed the balance of forces inside South Africa.’1 His suggestion that South African struggles against apartheid be used as a reference for Palestinian resistance underscores an awareness of the need to interact with US founding mythologies: if Israel could count on automatic US identification and support, Palestinians should rely, for example, on the availability and mobilisation of civil rights images and agendas.2 The first section of this chapter reviews a recent debate on the role and influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Moving beyond understandings of Israeli–US relations based on such notions as ‘ally’, ‘client state’ or ‘powerful lobby’, the second section suggests

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that this relationship is better understood if framed in the context of an isopolitical interaction (a circumstance in which two separate polities maintain a shared ideological framework and allow citizens to enjoy rights and move seamlessly across jurisdictions). The third section analyses how perceptions of Israel in a number of strategically located constituencies in the USA fit within shared settler-colonial narrative regimes. In this section a shared settler-colonial matrix of perception is used to explain an apparent ideological intimacy.3 Although this analysis is suggestive more than exhaustive, an exploration of intersecting settler imaginaries, their resilience and their circulation can help an understanding of US policies vis-à-vis the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Powerful lobby and receptive constituencies An authoritative study compiled by distinguished academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt dealing with the pro-Israel lobby’s role in shaping US foreign policy (initially published in March 2006 by the John F. Kennedy School of Government as a working paper and later, in a summarized version, by the London Review of Books) recently reignited an important debate.4 While Mearsheimer and Walt had concluded that US generosity towards Israel ‘cannot be fully explained on either strategic or moral grounds’, the discussion that followed their essay was perhaps intensified by the fact that these scholars are distinguished figures of a ‘realist’ approach to international relations studies.5 Immediate accusations of presenting unsound or partisan research were compounded by a recurring allegation of anti-Semitic bias (their paper had expected this). On the other hand, Noam Chomsky polemically responded by suggesting that the conclusions of their work (that ‘the Lobby’s activity endanger real US foreign policy objectives with its implications that the “tail is wagging the dog” ’) are misguided. In recent history, Chomsky argues, the USA has supported many compromised regimes and their proxy actions elsewhere.6 Others have also criticised Mearsheimer and Walt’s findings: Joseph Massad emphasised how their argument risks exonerating US governments from responsibility by blaming the influence of the pro-Israel lobby instead; Christopher Hitchens reaffirmed US autonomy and noted that Turkey and Pakistan, for example, despite

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questionable records, have received ongoing US support without needing ethnic lobbies to support their case.7 Tony Judt in the New York Times noted that ‘it will not be self-evident to future generations of Americans why the imperial might and international reputation of the United States are so closely aligned with one small, controversial Mediterranean client state’, while Benny Morris’ intervened in the New Republic; all examples of a multifaceted controversy.8 As a postscript, Haaretz’s US correspondent Shmuel Rosner sorrily concluded: ‘Walt and Mearsheimer have won this round of the battle. They wanted to make a national debate of the issue, and to some extent they succeeded.’9 (An aftermath of this affair was when Judt was effectively boycotted in October 2006 from discussing Israel and the Lobby by the intervention of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress.10) This debate and its terms of reference are certainly not new; indeed, despite the intensity of the debate, the Mearsheimer–Walt piece fits in a long tradition of interpretation regarding US–Israeli engagements.11 In the early 1990s Abraham Ben Zvi, for example, had published a book on Israeli–US relations outlining how what he described the ‘National Interest Orientation’ and the ‘Special Relationship Paradigm’ had interacted with each other since the establishment of the Israeli state.12 Yet these contestations might not be asking the right questions. Despite an extraordinary variety of voices, this controversy ultimately revolves around four critical issues: whether ‘the Lobby’ controls US foreign policy or, conversely, whether Israel is ultimately providing valuable support to US activities and whether or not this is a desirable circumstance.13 The pro-Israel lobby is capable of producing a concerted effort to inform or stifle public debates and perceptions regarding Israel and the Israeli/Palestinian struggle; what is remarkable (and has not yet been satisfactorily explained, besides references to strategic location and practically unlimited resources) is that its effort can be so effective.14 On the issue of the pro-Israel lobby’s capacity for distorting American interests, David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, recently commented matter-of-factly on what he called a ‘misconception’: ‘By placing those arguments into the free marketplace of ideas (that is at the center of democratic political life for all to debate) and by using their legitimate democratic

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rights to transform those arguments into policy, pro-Israel advocates have prevailed. Further, American support of Israel is also a reflection of the depth of the support that Israel has among the general voting public who have also been convinced by those arguments.’15 The proZionist Saperstein has an interest in deflecting attention from the Lobby, yet he may be right in suggesting that Mearsheimer and Walt’s causal order be reversed and ideological identification emphasised. As the lobby’s power may be one result of its ascendancy more than its cause, its pervasiveness should be explained otherwise.16 In another context, Australian academic Ghassan Hage has suggested that the notion of a controlling lobby does not satisfactorily explain political overlap: ‘I think there have been a lot of anti-Semitic modes of explaining this, saying Jews are controlling American politics and this is why you see Americans acting in this way or that way. But I think it has nothing to do with who’s controlling anything! It’s just a structural correspondence between two modalities of being generated by two societies structured along similar warring principles.’17 The following section explores a ‘structural correspondence’.

Isopolitical relationships ‘Convergence’ (alternatively translated as ‘alignment’) remains a current affair in Israel. However, the dynamics of internality and externality involved in this metaphor better describe the association that has developed between Israel and the USA than the uncertain prospect of separation between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. There is a remarkable coincidence in the narrative and language utilised to discuss terrorism: while security-speak in the USA resounds with Israeli usages and informs an increasing number of public domains, proposals to erect a security fence ‘slightly longer than the Israeli version’ at the Mexican border and to use the Israeli ‘fence’ as a template, for example, fit well in a pattern of securitarian identification between two constituencies.18 Converging debates, however, do not only involve a shared ‘security speak’, or the constraints of what Hage defines as ‘warring societies’ (i.e. a focus on targeted assassinations, on comparative anti-insurgency outlooks, on the admissibility of torture, etc.). Israeli unemployed workers forcibly re-entering the workforce in a work for the dole privatisation program

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have done so according to the ‘Wisconsin Plan’, for example, and an Israeli privatisation of the prison system was enacted in mid-2006 (after the prison privatisation law passed in 2004) in accordance with a Texas template.19 Public agendas in the two contexts resonate in ways that need explanation. Parallel to public discourse, convergence is also operating in unprecedented ways in the international arena.20 The Hezbollah/ Israeli war in Lebanon during the summer of 2006 provides a privileged starting point for an outline of an unprecedented dynamic in the close relationship between US and Israeli geopolitical strategy.21 Commenting on the war, former Israeli negotiator Daniel Levy lamented a US position undistinguishable from the Israeli one and its consequences: Witnessing the near-perfect symmetry of Israeli and American policy has been one of the more noteworthy aspects of the latest Lebanon war. A true friend in the White House. No deescalate and stabilize, honest-broker, diplomatic jaw-jaw from this president. Great. Except that Israel was actually in need of an early exit strategy … The American ladder had gone AWOL … Israelis have grown used to a different kind of American embrace—less instrumental, more emotional, but also responsible. A dependable friend, ready to lend a guiding hand back to the path of stabilization when necessary.22 Veteran left-wing Israeli politician Yossi Beilin also remarked an unprecedented lack of US influence in the area: The magnitude of the present folly is reflected in one of the US secretary of state’s recent visits to the region during the course of the second war in Lebanon. Condoleezza Rice was very eager to help end the war in the region, both in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon, but she was unable to meet with the Hamas representatives because the US is boycotting them, she could not visit Syria, because the US is boycotting Assad, she could not speak with Hezbollah representatives, whereas the Lebanese government was

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unwilling to meet with her because of the Israeli bombing that caused many civilian casualties in Qana. In the end Rice met with the Israeli leadership and returned home.23 Contrary to what could be intuitively expected, US unquestioning identification and ‘lack of involvement’ are reciprocally supporting. As these commentators have perceived, undistinguishable stances ultimately prevent effective support.24 Available analytical methods cannot satisfactorily account for this degree of isopolitical interaction and identification. This section argues that there is a better way of framing Israeli–US relations and contends that although it is not a client state, by virtue of representing a US national epic, Israel and its settlement enterprise can be seen as forming an isopolity with the USA: an ‘imagined community’ that operates according to a specific cluster of what cultural theorists Stuart Hall and Paul de Gay call ‘practices of subjective self-constitution’ (imagined communities can be non-national communities).25 Isopolitical relationships are not difficult to envisage, especially if one considers that, besides US Jews routinely being conferred Israeli citizenship rights in accordance of the Law of Return, it is estimated that there may currently be 650,000 Israelis residing in the USA, an astounding statistic, both in absolute and relative terms.26 Yet it is at the imaginative level that the notion of an isopolitical relationship could be most useful in describing a special relationship. A related pattern of perception can explain for example the strong feelings raised by the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the USA, where the dispute ceases being a foreign policy issue and becomes critically embedded in domestic debate, and where the struggle of an isopolitical constituency displaces other concerns. When affect is projected on to the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, what is at stake are ultimately contrasting visions of social order. As psychoanalytic practice suggests, displacement is often one result of contradictory impulses: recurring proposals for legislation enacting political supervision for Middle East studies programs across the USA, for example, also arise from a perception of anti-Israel advocacy as unacceptable and dangerous to national security. The currency of these demands can be understood only in a context in which anti-Israel discourse is also (and especially) anti-American discourse (it worked in similar ways

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during the McCarthy period, when communism was anti-American; a McCarthy-like demand for political oversight over academic institutions could be formulated only in such a context).27 In the end, antiIsraeli advocacy can be credibly represented as ‘anti-American’ because, according to a particular and prevailing ideological configuration, Israel and the USA form an isopolity in which what is successfully labelled ‘anti-Israel’ is also and ipso facto ‘anti-American’.28 It does not seem a coincidence that different US institutions represent a cluster of isopolitical relationships. Whereas Congress is better able to represent a constituency that directly falls (because of isopolitical ties) within its mandate, the Department of State finds it much more difficult, and the presidency occupies an intermediate position.29 Newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for example, could immediately access the President. The modality of this meeting, however, suggests an intimate relationship that goes beyond public diplomacy between allies: Bush and Olmert could be represented as not needing to talk about politics; they were seen as jointly articulating a shared narrative, a circumstance confirming isopolitical links.30 As a result, Israel’s rhetoric and practice of unilateral disengagement from discussions with Palestinians is mirrored by a broad consensus in the USA that Israel retains a moral right to decide its borders without coordination with an indigenous polity. That isopolitical reciprocity acquires further significance if it is contrasted with an aggressive Israeli reaffirmation of a sovereign right to exclude international negotiating contributions. It is symptomatic that the isopolitical relationship become especially apparent as regards Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Territory (i.e. a settler-colonial polity’s moral superiority in relation to invaded indigenous locales and population). When it comes to other arenas, US and Israeli policy can diverge, as they sometimes do, for example, in relation to sales of military technology to third parties. The fact that there is a growing distinction between Israeli and US Jewry and a parallel convergence between US and Israeli constituencies also confirms an isopolitical situation in which two social bodies continuously redefine a particular relationship.31 Recurring contestations regarding the possibility of Jewish life in the diaspora mirror increasing concerns. Although he was forced to apologise for

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his remarks, Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua’s May 2006 attack on Jewish life in the USA (and the scandalised denials that followed) highlighted how an automatic identification with Israel based on shared ‘Jewishness’ may have become increasingly difficult.32 In this context, the ascendancy of US evangelical influence reconfigures in specific ways a long-lasting tradition of Israeli–US identification, a bond progressively more settler and less Jewish.33 The establishment of a superChristian pro-Israel lobby, for example, ‘even stronger than AIPAC’, was recently promoted by televangelist John Hagee (‘Christians United for Israel’ should represent 40 million US evangelical Christians and target congressmen and senators while coordinating a network of key activists).34 Concurrently, besides growing support for Israeli control over the whole of biblical Palestine, and a consequent identification with the politics of occupation, sections of the same milieus are attempting a blurring of the distinctions between evangelical Christianity and Jewry. The effectiveness of these activities should not be measured by a limited capacity to actually convert the individuals they target but by their contribution to an increasing identification with Israel. A similar trend is confirmed by an increasing number of messianic Jews (i.e. Jews who believe in Jesus Christ as the messiah; a movement also known as Jews for Jesus) applying for Israeli citizenship by means of the Right of Return law. In an article dealing with the support for Israel of Jewish Americans, and with the ‘Franklin affair’, in which a Pentagon official was accused of having provided classified material to the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC, Haaretz journalist Eliahu Salpeter noted that the ‘American Jewish media is at pains to remind those who may have forgotten that in discussing the issue of “dual loyalty,” Israel and the United States are not the same country’. The article reported on a case in which an Israeli citizen was appointed in New Jersey to a state homeland security adviser position despite the fact that as a foreign national he could not receive classified information, and on the announcement that the former Israeli consul general in New York was to be appointed CEO of the American Jewish Congress.35 Only in an isopolitical context in which allegiance is attributed to a relationship and not to one or another entity in an exclusive fashion, dual allegiance is a non-issue. This distinction is important because it allows an understanding of the Israeli–US relationship that goes beyond

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traditional formulations of Israeli–US relations. In the end, a longlasting and intractable problem (a recurring suspicion and related accusations of dual allegiance) became an asset.36

Israel-in-the-story How is an isopolitical relationship (the ‘special relationship between two countries’, the ‘sharing the same values and the same strategic goals’) consolidated? Perhaps Mearsheimer and Walt’s portrait of ‘the Lobby’ should be integrated with an appraisal of the cultural imaginary underpinning isopolitical relations, so that the role of shared narratives can also be added to the interpretative frame. Any account of Israel’s extraordinary capacity for ‘fitting in’ with US public discourse should appraise a set of pre-existing and readily available narratives.37 Overlapping narratives may include: the use of biblical imagery, being a ‘fragment’ of Europe outside Europe, a tradition of representation based on being a locale for refuge, shared histories of immigrant integration, parallel theories of exceptionalism (being a ‘city on the hill’, a ‘light unto the nations’), and parallel processes of appropriation of the memory of European Jewry’s destruction.38 In an isopolitical context, narrative, representation and perception become crucial.39 Ella Shohat’s seminal work on ‘the symbiotic geopolitical and cultural discursive links between Israel and the US’ has already perceptively emphasised how settler-colonial narratives had ‘specific echoes in the US’ and touched ‘some sensitive historical nerves within “America” itself’. Shohat was aware of a representational shift whereby the Jewish image in American perception had ‘altered after the establishment of Israel from that of diaspora victim and refugee to the heroic and overpowering Israeli sabra, the fighter for Jewish liberation. “Israel” thus made possible the media transmogrification of the passive “Diaspora victim” into the heroic Jew best exemplified in Paul Newman’s incarnation of the Israeli in Exodus.’40 But this transmogrification cannot be fully understood in its US tradition of perception without reference to representations of American regenerative frontiers. As a product of schizophrenic master narratives, colonial settler state on the one hand and anti-colonial republic on the other, ‘America’ has been subliminally more ready for

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Zionist nationalist discourse than for Palestinian nationalist discourse. The image of the sabra as a new (Jewish) man evokes the American Adam … The classical images of sabra pioneers as settlers on the Middle eastern frontiers, fighting Indian-like Arabs, coupled with reverberations of the early American biblical discourse encapsulated in such notions as ‘Adam’, ‘(New) Canaan’, and ‘Promised Land’ facilitated the sympathetic reception of Zionist nationalism in the US.41 On the other hand, Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens have noted how reality in Palestine was often reduced to a simple ‘binary system’: On one side stood the gallant Zionists who were like ‘us’, on the other a mass of undifferentiated natives with whom it was impossible for ‘us’ to identify. With the Zionists there came to be associated not just the good, the true and the beautiful, but a definite human image of the White settler hewing civilization out of the wilderness, an image that itself drew upon cultural sources in American Puritanism (with its strong philo-Semitic biases), in the nineteenthcentury adventure narratives by Europeans about Africa and Latin America, and in the great modernist epics of the self-made or self-fashioned hero … The story of Zionist achievements in Israel has a steady, reassuring pulse to it. It is continuous, it is peopled with recognizably human figures … it can have a universal validity imputed to or felt in it. The people who speak the narrative represent a world the average Westerner knows.42 In this context, as William F. Lewis noted in a seminal 1987 essay on President Ronald Reagan’s rhetorical performance, ‘narrative theory can provide a powerful account of political discourse’.43 Following his suggestion, Israel’s capacity of fitting in with different audiences, of successfully representing itself as victim even if it is the most powerful actor in the Middle East, and of erasing the distinction between support for Israel and support for its policies can be explained

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with reference to ‘a narrative logic that emphasizes the connections between character and action, not the rational logic that emphasizes the connections between problems and solutions’.44 To understand US perceptions of Israel one should refer to ‘Israel-in-the-story’ and to its consistency with ‘the historical world’ of US audiences.45 Lewis’ analysis of a specific narrative form could easily be applied to another: ‘When narrative dominates, epistemological standards move away from empiricism’: ‘Because his [Reagan’s] story is so dominant, so explicit, and so consistent, political claims are likely to be measured against the standard of Reagan’s mythic American history rather than against other possible standards … The meaning of the story was more important than the particular figure. If Reagan’s estimate erred by 10% or by 100% that would not affect the meaning of the story.’46 Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s Camp David offer, for example, clearly fits this narrative pattern. Whether he had offered 90 per cent of the West Bank, or less, or nothing, as it turned out to be, the myth of a ‘generous’ proposal remained intact.47 Lewis’s analysis of Reagan’s rhetoric is also fitting as regards the moral orientation of pro-Israel rhetoric: Reagan characteristically justifies his policies by citing their goals, while critics of his policies characteristically cite problems of conception or implementation. Reagan’s moral focus has worked well because the shift of emphasis to ends rather than means pre-empts arguments about practicality and because it provides Reagan with a ready response by transforming opposition to policy into opposition to principle … The relationship between means and ends is skewed to an exclusive focus on goals as a means of judgement. If the move from practicality to principle is accepted, it makes the policy immune from most objections.48 In a similar fashion, criticism of Israel’s repressive strategies vis-à-vis Palestinian insurgency becomes a stand against a declared desire for ‘peace’ and ultimately a threat to the very principle of Israel’s existence. A specific narrative form creates a circumstance in which antiIsrael discourse must adjust to a narrative paradigm or it is likely to be effectively dismissed as insignificant, anti-Semitic or both.

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An identification based on an isopolitical consciousness and a remarkable rhetorical capacity link Israel/Palestine and US suburbia in a very special way. A necessity of ‘redesigning’ the whole of the Middle East should be interpreted in the light of the extent to which a specific version of settler consciousness has become strategically located in US public perception. An unquestioning and automatic US support for Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories—’America’s last taboo’, to use Said’s formulation—could then be seen as an outcome of a settler consciousness appeased by ‘frontier’ images of a pioneering enterprise.49 In this context, an ideological contiguity between the settlement enterprise in the West Bank and a specific US electoral constituency goes beyond a simple movement of political solidarity. After all, a preference for suburban sprawl and fenced-in properties, as opposed to the kasbahs of Gaza, Jenin and Nablus—clear examples of the ‘dark corners’ of Bush’s rhetoric—cannot fail to impress and inform American understandings. And while this identification is certainly not unprecedented, this is perhaps truer now as the need to face indigenous insurgency allows a renewed degree of identification. Not surprisingly, appeasing settler-related reflexes has proven to be politically more rewarding than engaging in multilateral action. Whereas an instinctive alignment with Israeli worldviews could also be related to a Protestant notion that prosperity is a manifestation of grace—and Israeli settlements in the West Bank are definitely more prosperous than the Palestinian towns and villages—a capacity for projecting a specific worldview on to the conflict in the Occupied Territories is key to understanding US sensitivities. A constituency’s ideological subservience to a settler narrative can be related to the consolidation of a religious sensibility that draws on a specific reading of the Old Testament and Exodus in conjunction with an embattled and paranoid gaze, obsessed with security, racial profiling, aliens and, after September 11, Arab ‘infiltrators’. Most importantly, this constituency’s idea of a ‘good’ community amounts ultimately to a community of religious and individually armed settlers. Under these circumstances, every attack against an Israeli settlement amounts to an attack against the frontier mentality of this settler-colonial constituency. At times, President Bush’s rhetoric is especially attuned with this, his preferred constituency: ‘There is nothing more deep than

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recognizing Israel’s right to exist, that’s the most deep thought of all … I can’t think of anything more deep than that right.’50 However banal and perplexing, this statement actually makes sense if one considers that, contrary to President Bill Clinton’s aspirations for a postcolonial or neocolonial resolution of sorts in Israel/Palestine, here Israel’s right to exist should be understood as a right to exist as a settler society. An enduring contradiction in US policy vis-à-vis Gaza and the West Bank should be interpreted in this light. The paradox of officially preventing an annexation of parts or the whole of the Occupied Territories while endorsing and ultimately financing the transfer of settlers and their defence can be finally understood as one result of a political consciousness in which a Jacksonian ‘frontier’ ethos meets residual Wilsonian approaches to international legality. From the point of view of settler-colonialism, it is a process that has ultimately come full circle: if it was ‘God’s American Israel’ that was founded by Puritans on Massachusetts Bay, it is God’s Israeli America that a specific constituency is seeing founded on the hilltops of the West Bank.51 ‘Redesigning’ the Middle East is also one consequence of the successful activation of a settler consciousness in the USA, and one legacy of a history of colonial settlement and of the foundational mythologies that relate to it. Facing up to the intersections and entanglements of Israeli and US colonial traditions and imaginations is, then, a necessary step in an attempt to mobilise a once strong and perhaps still surviving anti-colonial and anti-racist rhetorical and narrative tradition in the USA. During the 2006 US mid-term elections campaign concerns were expressed regarding Democratic support for Israel. This was a serious issue and was tackled with references to a Democratic record of consistent pro-Israel activity. While the expected level of support for Israel became an issue after the Republican Jewish Coalition argued that Democrats are weaker on Israel, eventually AIPAC determined that both parties are good for Israel. Yet, besides unquestionable bipartisan support from both parties, public opinion surveys have emphasised that ‘Democratic voters do not side with Israel at the same rate and with the same enthusiasm as Republican voters do’;52 that is, different constituencies interact with different foundational myths in different ways. It seems plausible that Israel as a settler society may mobilise Republican constituencies more effectively

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than Democratic ones (Israel as an immigrant, democratic and egalitarian society performed better with Democrats in past decades). A varied degree of identification with Israel flowing from different constituencies and their imaginaries determines a circumstance in which the pro-Israel lobby’s grip on political establishments may not faithfully reproduce its grip on public consciousness. The only way of breaking an isopolity based on a specific narrative form is by displacing existing identitarian structures and recognising alternative creation stories and narratives of oppression and emancipation. Former US President Jimmy Carter’s recent book may be one step in this direction. While Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006) deploys the term ‘apartheid’ in its title, it also confirms that narratives telling the story of a struggle for civil rights are increasingly becoming a crucial reference in debates surrounding the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict.53 Said’s call for Palestinian rhetoric to proceed like South African denunciations of apartheid envisaged the necessity of finding a narrative form capable of ‘fitting in’ with American perceptions. He knew the power of narrative and rhetorical invention; he knew that people genuinely interested in addressing the conflict need to enunciate alternative narratives and shape different affective possibilities. Notes 1 2

3

4

5 6 7

8 9 10

11

Said, ‘America’s last taboo’, p. 52. See also Said, ‘The only alternative’. Of course, an awareness of how narrative informs perception had been a long-lasting feature of Said’s interpretative approach. On Israeli and US perceptions of settlement activity in Occupied Palestinian Territories, see, for example, Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire. Mearsheimer, ‘The Israel lobby and US foreign policy’. See also Mearsheimer, ‘The Israel lobby’. Mearsheimer, ‘Unrestricted access’. See also Mearsheimer, ‘Letters’. Chomsky, ‘The Israel lobby?’ Massad, ‘It’s US policy that inflames the Arab world’; Hitchens, ‘Overstating Jewish power’. Judt, ‘A lobby, not a conspiracy’; Morris, ‘And now for some facts’. Rosner, ‘The unappreciated love of Walt and Mearsheimer’. See Stoll, ‘Poland abruptly cancels a speech by local critic of the Jewish State’, Goldstein, ‘A right to wrong’, and Journal of Palestine Studies, ‘Special Document File: The Tony Judt-Adl Affair’. On the US–Israel alliance see for example Mansour, Beyond Alliance; Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison; and Tillman, The United States and the Middle East.

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13

14

15 16

17

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19

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Ben-Zvi, The United States and Israel. For earlier works on this topic see Tivnan, The Lobby; Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection; and Chomsky, Fateful Triangle. Denunciations of the role of the pro-Israel lobby in American politics are also not new. A 1980s study by Rubenberg, for example, had concluded that ‘the power of the Israeli lobby over the formation and execution of US Middle East policy has become a virtual stranglehold’ (Rubenberg, Israel and the American National Interest, p. 375). Particularly enthusiastic about automatic identification are neoconservative foreign policy advisors Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, etc. Advocates of ‘realist’ approaches have consistently supported a more flexible approach. Aaron David Miller, for example, was quoted in an August 2006 article pointing out the danger inherent in a situation where ‘there is no daylight whatsoever between the government of Israel and the government of the United States’ (Stolberg, ‘Bush’s embrace of Israel shows gap with father’). For a documented and convincing description of the pro-Israel lobby’s effectiveness, see Massing, ‘The storm over the Israel lobby’. On the other hand, debate in France during presidential candidate Ségolène Royal’s tour of the Middle East in December 2006 involving CRIF (Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France) confirms the comparative lack of influence of another pro-Israel lobby. See ‘Mme Royal critiquée à Paris, bienvenue au Proche-Orient’, and Ben Simon, ‘A snub from Ségolène Royal’. Rosner, ‘Rosner’s guest’. Israel, of course, means remarkably different things to a variety of different peoples. For a bewildering array of identitarian possibilities, see for example Dershowitz, What Israel Means to Me. Hage, ‘Warring societies (and intellectuals)’, p. 43. The Australian government’s ‘Israel-first doctrine’ confirms how an effective pro-Israel lobby may find an especially sympathetic reception in settler-determined political context. While in July 2004 Australia voted with the USA, Israel and heavyweights Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau against a UN resolution condemning the security wall being constructed in the West Bank, in November 2006 it did the same on a similar condemnation of Israeli bombing of civilian areas in Gaza. On Australia’s pro-Israel lobby, see Loewenstein, My Israel Question. See CNN/Associated Press, ‘Israeli fence is example for US’, and Rosner, ‘Israeli advice on the Mexico fence: Be ruthless’, which reports former California Governor Pete Wilson citing the West Bank wall as a model for the construction of a proposed US ‘barrier’ along the Mexican border. The Israeli consortium of companies who won the tender hired Texasbased private prison operator Emerald Correction Management for professional consulting. See Galnoor, ‘From Texas to Be’er Sheva’. See Cooley, An Alliance against Babylon. During his time as prime minister, Ariel Sharon went to see George Bush no less than eight times, possibly an all-time record. In an expression of isopolitical ties Sharon used to call

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21

22 23 24

25 26

27

28

29

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31 32 33

Bush the ‘best president Israel has ever had’ (Marcus, ‘Walking on eggshells’). On the two-way dialogue between Israeli and US military approaches, see Hersh, ‘Watching Lebanon’. One could also argue that serious debate in the USA regarding Israeli contribution as an ally following Mearsheimer and Walt’s work might have contributed to a propensity for military adventurism against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Levy, ‘Ending the neoconservative nightmare’. Beilin, ‘The clash of civilizations’. The May 2006 AIPAC backed Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act was so sweeping a move that the Bush administration ended up opposing it. As a result, important segments of American Jewish public opinion initiated a campaign to institute an alternative and more moderate pro-Israel lobby. Hall & de Gay, Questions of Cultural Identity, p. 13. Identification between Israeli and American constituencies is also emphasised by the fact that victims of Palestinian resistance have often been Israeli and American, as in the cases of Leonard Klinghoffer, victim of the Achille Lauro hijacking in 1985 (also a television movie with Burt Lancaster and Eva Marie Saint), and kidnapped soldier Nachson Wachsman in October 1994. Columbia Unbecoming, for example, a documentary film presenting allegations against Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad, fuelled a debate that went beyond issues of academic freedom and protocol. See Freedman, ‘Keeping things in perspective’, p. 29. For arguments highlighting a structural similarity between anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, see Rosenfeld, Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism, and Markovits, ‘European anti-Americanism (and anti-Semitism)’. More than a hundred members of the US Congress and the mayor of New York visited Israel in the summer of 2003. While this is a traditional period for US representatives to get in touch with their constituencies, it can be assumed that travelling to Israel is one very effective way to respond to the concerns of an anxious electorate. See Lis, ‘New York Mayor Bloomberg visits bombing site, victims’. ‘The intimate meeting on the porch, part of which was conducted as a man-to-man talk, and during part of which Aliza Olmert participated as well (Laura Bush was out of town), was devoted mainly to bonding. They spoke about their families, their children, sports and politics’ (Benn & Rosner, ‘A push from Bush’). Olmert’s triumphant reception at a joint session of both houses in Washington a month earlier stands in marked contrast with a June 2006 London meeting with a group of members of parliament attended by about sixty representatives, ‘far less than the 200 to 300 that had been expected’ (Benn, ‘Olmert to British MPs’). See for example Moore & Troen, Divergent Jewish Cultures. See Garber, ‘A promised land of their own’. See McAlister, Epic Encounters, especially chapter 4, ‘The good fight’, and Durham, ‘Evangelical Protestantism and foreign policy in the United States after September 11’.

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34 35 36

37

38 39

40

41 42 43 44 45 46 47

48 49 50 51

52 53

Shamir, ‘New Christian pro-Israel lobby aims to be stronger than AIPAC’. Salpeter, ‘The Jewish world’. Ganin’s Uneasy Relationship, for example, deals extensively with the evolving political nature of American Jewry’s perceived ‘dual loyalty’. Initial concerns that Israel and the USA would conduct conflicting policies (as it happened in the Suez crisis is 1956) was eventually resolved by reframing ‘dual loyalty’ in the context of a ‘special relationship between two countries sharing the same values and the same strategic goals’ (a definition that epitomises isopolitical ties). See also Sarna, American Judaism. Historian (and fervent Zionist) Barbara Tuchman, for example, defends Israeli settlements in the West Bank by noting that ‘Israeli settlements in occupied territory have been virtuously denounced by Americans with short memories of how Texas was settled and then annexed’ (Tuchman, Bible and Sword, pp. xi–xii). See Little, American Orientalism. See for example Philo & Berry, Bad News From Israel; Christison, Perceptions of Palestine; and Aruri, Dishonest Broker. Shohat, ‘Antinomies of exile’, pp. 121, 140, 132. The success of Leon Uris’ Exodus epitomises the nature of the relationship between American literary taste and the Middle East. Douglas Little notes that few ‘novels have sold 4 million copies faster while winning wide critical acclaim than Exodus’. A prequel to Exodus, The Haj, also sold two million copies (Little, American Orientalism, pp. 29–32). Shohat, ‘Antinomies of exile’, pp. 140–1. Said & Hitchens, Blaming the Victims, pp. 5–6. Lewis, ‘Telling America’s story’, p. 281. Ibid., p. 283. Ibid., p. 288. Ibid., p. 289. On the Camp David summit of 2000 see for example Swisher, The Truth about Camp David; Malley & Agha, ‘Camp David’; and Ross, The Missing Peace, especially pp. 650–771. Lewis, ‘Telling America’s story’, p. 291. Said, ‘America’s last taboo’, pp. 45–53. Quoted in Weisberg, More George W. Bushisms, p. 84. This wouldn’t be the first time imperial imagination regarding Palestine and colonial circumstances have become entangled. See Hamilton, God, Guns and Israel, especially pp. 17–101. Rosner, ‘Kentucky notes’. Carter, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.

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Benn, Aluf, ‘Olmert to British MPs: Israel will not withdraw to indefensible pre-’67 lines’, Haaretz, 14 June 2006. Benn, Aluf & Rosner, Shmuel, ‘A push from Bush’, Haaretz, 26 May 2006. Ben Simon, Daniel, ‘A snub from Ségolène Royal’, Haaretz, 6 December 2006. Ben-Zvi, Abraham, The United States and Israel: The Limits of the Special Relationship, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993. Carter, Jimmy, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. Chomsky, Noam, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians, Pluto Press, London 1993. ––—‘The Israel lobby?’, ZNet, 28 March 2006, www.zmag.org/content/print_ article.cfm?itemID=9999§ionID=11. Christison, Kathleen, Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on US Middle East Policy, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1999. ‘Israeli fence is example for US’, CNN/Associated Press, 18 May 2006. Cockburn, Andrew & Cockburn, Leslie, Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship, HarperCollins, New York, 1991. Cooley, John K., An Alliance against Babylon: The US, Israel, and Iraq, Pluto Press, London, 2005. Dershowitz, Alan (ed.), What Israel Means to Me, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2006. Durham, Martin, ‘Evangelical Protestantism and foreign policy in the United States after September 11’, Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 38, no. 2, 2004, pp. 146–58. Freedman, Samuel G., ‘Keeping things in perspective’, in American Jewry and the College Campus: Best of Times or Worst of Times? (Lipstadt, Deborah E., Freedman, Samuel G. & Seidler-Feller, Chaim), American Jewish Committee, New York, 2005. Galnoor, Itzhak, ‘From Texas to Be’er Sheva’, Haaretz, 18 June 2006. Ganin, Zvi, An Uneasy Relationship: American Jewish Leadership and Israel, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, NY, 2005. Garber, Larry, ‘A promised land of their own’, Haaretz, 14 May 2006. Goldstein, Evan R., ‘A right to wrong’, Haaretz, 12 October 2006. Gorenberg, Gershom, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967–1977, Times Books, New York, 2006. Hage, Ghassan, ‘Warring societies (and intellectuals)’, Transforming Cultures eJournal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2006. Hall, Stuart & de Gay, Paul (eds), Questions of Cultural Identity, Sage, London, 1996. Hamilton, Jill, God, Guns and Israel: Britain, the First World War and the Jews in the Holy City, Sutton, Stroud, UK, 2004. Hersh, Seymour M., ‘Watching Lebanon’, New Yorker, 21 August 2006. Hitchens, Christopher, ‘Overstating Jewish power: Mearsheimer and Walt give too much credit to the Israeli lobby’, Slate, 27 March 2006, www.slate.com/ id/2138741. ‘Special Document File: The Tony Judt-Adl Affair’, Journal of Palestine Studies, XXXVI, 2, 2007, pp. 77-85.

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Judt, Tony, ‘A lobby, not a conspiracy’, New York Times, 19 April 2006. ‘Mme Royal critiquée à Paris, bienvenue au Proche-Orient’, Le Monde, 4 December 2006. Levy, Daniel, ‘Ending the neoconservative nightmare’, Haaretz, 10 August 2006. Lewis, William F., ‘Telling America’s story: Narrative form and the Reagan presidency’, Quarterly Journal of Speech, no. 73, 1987, pp. 280–302. Lilienthal, Alfred M., The Zionist Connection II: What Price Peace? North American, New Brunswick, NJ, 1982. Lis, Jonathan, ‘New York Mayor Bloomberg visits bombing site, victims’, Haaretz, 29 August 2003. Little, Douglas, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2002. Loewenstein, Antony, My Israel Question, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2006. McAlister, Melani, Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and US Interests in the Middle East, 1945–2000, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2001. Malley, Robert & Agha, Hussein, ‘Camp David: The tragedy of errors’, New York Review, 9 August 2001. Mansour, Camille, Beyond Alliance: Israel and US Foreign Policy, Columbia University Press, New York, 1994. Marcus, Yoel, ‘Walking on eggshells’, Haaretz, 28 April 2006. Markovits, Andrei S., ‘European anti-Americanism (and anti-Semitism): Ever present though always denied’, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, August 2005, www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-markovits-05.htm. Massad, Joseph, ‘It’s US policy that inflames the Arab world: Blaming the Israel lobby’, CounterPunch, 25 March 2006, www.counterpunch.org/ massad03252006.html. Massing, Michael, ‘The storm over the Israel lobby’, New York Review of Books, 8 June 2006. Mearsheimer, John & Walt, Stephen, ‘The Israel lobby and US foreign policy’, John F. Kennedy School of Government Working Paper RWP06–011, 13 March 2006, http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/ RWP06–011/$File/rwp_06_011_walt.pdf. ––—‘The Israel lobby’, London Review of Books, 28 June 2006, www.lrb.co.uk/ v28/n06/mear01_html. ––—‘Letters’, London Review of Books, 28 September 2006, www.lrb.co.uk/ v28/n09/letters.html. ––—‘Unrestricted access’, Foreign Policy, no. 155, May/June 2006, pp. 57–8. Moore, Deborah Dash & Troen, S. Ilan (eds), Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel and America, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2001. Morris, Benny, ‘And now for some facts: The ignorance at the heart of an innuendo’, New Republic, 8 May 2006. Philo, Greg & Berry, Mike, Bad News From Israel, Pluto Press, London, 2004. Rosenfeld, Alvin H., Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism: A New Front of Zealotry, American Jewish Committee, New York, 2003, www.ajc.org/site/ apps/nl/content3.asp?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=846637&ct=875059.

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Rosner, Shmuel, ‘Israeli advice on the Mexico fence: Be ruthless’, Haaretz, 23 May 2006. ––—‘The unappreciated love of Walt and Mearsheimer’, Haaretz, 24 June 2006. ––—‘Kentucky notes: GOP, Israel, Dirt’, Haaretz, 5 November 2006. ––—‘Rosner’s guest’, Haaretz, 6 November 2006. Ross, Dennis, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, 2004. Rubenberg, Cheryl A., Israel and the American National Interest: A Critical Examination, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1986. Said, Edward W., ‘America’s last taboo’, New Left Review, no. 6, 2000. ––—‘The only alternative’, ZNet, 8/03/01, www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2001–03/08said.htm. Said, Edward W. & Hitchens, Christopher (eds), Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question, Verso, London and New York, 1988. Salpeter, Eliahu, ‘The Jewish world: Such a thing as too much support for Israel’, Haaretz, 5 October 2004. Sarna, Jonathan D., American Judaism: A History, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2004. Shamir, Shlomo, ‘New Christian pro-Israel lobby aims to be stronger than AIPAC’, Haaretz, 4 April 2006. Shohat, Ella, ‘Antinomies of exile: Said at the frontiers of national narrations’, in Edward Said: A Critical Reader (ed. Michael Sprinker), Blackwell, Oxford, Cambridge, MA, 1992. Stolberg, Sheryl Gay, ‘Bush’s embrace of Israel shows gap with father’, New York Times, 2 August 2006. Stoll, Ira, ‘Poland abruptly cancels a speech by local critic of the Jewish State’, New York Sun, 4 October 2006. Swisher, Clayton E., The Truth about Camp David: The Untold Story about the Collapse of the Middle East Peace Process, Nation Books, New York, 2004. Tillman, Seth, The United States and the Middle East, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1982. Tivnan, Edward, The Lobby: Jewish Political Power and American Foreign Policy, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1987. Tuchman, Barbara W., Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, Ballantine Books, New York, 1984. Weisberg, Jacob, More George W. Bushisms, Fireside, New York, 2002.

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14

Palestine, Project Europe and the (un-)making of the new Jew In memory of Edward W. Said Patrick Wolfe

Early in 2003, I was part of a small group that organised a countrytown rally against the then-impending US assault on Iraq. Styling ourselves RAP—Rural Action for Peace—we managed to bring out close to a thousand marchers, who, for an all-too brief interlude, transformed Healesville, Australia, into a site of global political resistance. In the course of our celebratory post-rally libation, the conversation turned to Israel. To my dismay—although hardly surprise—more than one member of the group seemed to have no trouble combining a commitment to pacifism with support for Zionism. Given the circumstances, the ensuing discussion was characterised more by bonhomie than by resolution. Thus I was genuinely surprised, a couple of days later, when one of our members—a dauntingly well-informed welfare adviser and long-time Australian Labor Party activist—stopped me in the street to declare, in the manner of one fresh from seeing the light: ‘Israel and the Palestinians—it’s all about land, isn’t it?’ I recall this incident not to suggest naivety on my friend’s part. On the contrary, his grasp of issues regularly puts me to professional

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shame. Rather than naivety, his very sophistication is the point, since he exemplifies how a discerning and conscientious intelligence, thoughtfully exposed to an extensive range of Western media, can yet suffer from elementary myopia where Israel is concerned. Edward Said confronted this problem throughout his public life. In the case of my own myopia, the initial illumination did not come from Said’s work, which I had yet to encounter, but from Maxime Rodinson’s Israel: A Colonial-Settler State?1 When, having read Rodinson’s book, I later came across Said, I read him first and foremost as a Palestinian. Accordingly, as I began to think about trying to register my debt to Said for this collection, I went back to Rodinson’s book. For something like thirty years, I had held on to the crystal-clear insight that it had given me. Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians is like Australia’s relationship to the Aborigines. In both cases, European intruders strove to dispossess indigenous people and replace them on their land. The name for this relationship is settler-colonialism. Since that time, I have recurrently attempted to refine my understanding of the central concept/institution of settler-colonialism, which, being an exercise in replacement, I have seen as primarily governed by a logic of elimination.2 On returning to Rodinson’s book, however, I found that it was not quite as I had remembered it. In particular, it was less structural than my recollection. Rather than specifying what constitutes settlercolonialism and how it characterises the Israeli state, Rodinson was principally concerned to demonstrate that Israel is an extension of what we might call Project Europe: the Zionism on which it is founded was organic to, and shaped by, European imperialism. As a comparativist, I found this disappointing, since there was nothing specific to settler-colonialism about it. How, for instance, should we distinguish, say, British India from Australia, let alone decide whether Israel resembles either? Moreover, in addition to European sites of settlercolonialism (the Americas, Australasia, etc.), I would like a general account of settler-colonialism to be able to include such relationships as those between Chinese and Tibetans, Tswana and Khoi-San, Russians and Chechens, or Indonesians and Papuans. It should also be able to accommodate settler-colonialism that is internal to Europe, such as that imposed on the Irish, Basque or Sami peoples. For Rodinson, by contrast, Israel was categorically settler-colonial

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because it was scripted within Europe and projected on to the world outside Europe. This is not to deny that Zionism was inspired by European history and circumstances. Indeed, in its original enunciation, Zionism proposed a positive alternative to a history of anti-Semitism and pogroms that was specifically and entirely European. As such, it was not so much a projection as a rejection of Europe—in Australian terms, it was as if the convicts had decided that they wanted to go. Indeed, this metropolitan motivation has provided Zionism with one of its central justifications for dispossessing Palestinians: Zionism was intended to rescue Jews, not to hurt anybody else. It had nothing against the natives of Palestine. Jews were compelled to flee Europe— it was entirely legitimate that they should do so—and native people just happened to get in their way. As Isaac Deutscher said somewhere, Zionists were no more responsible for harming Palestinians than a man leaping from the roof of a burning building would be responsible for harming the passer-by on whom he happened to land. Here, then, is a major difference between my structural approach and Rodinson’s Eurocentric one. From the native’s point of view, settlercolonisers’ particular circumstances and intentions are not the issue. For natives, the issue is that, at the hands of the settlers, they face elimination. Palestinian rights do not depend on whether or not it can be shown that, somewhere in nineteenth-century Europe, a Jewish theorist or theorists imagined expelling the natives from the land of Zion (or, if they did so imagine, whether or not they kept quiet about it). Dispossession is not altered by absent-mindedness.3 Obvious though it may seem, this point has important implications for the legitimation of Israeli settler-colonialism and, accordingly, for Western myopia concerning the ongoing catastrophe of Palestine. This is because the idea that Zionists planned the expulsion of the natives in advance of Palestinians’ ‘miraculous’ 1948 mass flight is seen as injurious to the crucial image of Israelis as victims. So long as Israelis are cast as victims, their opponents figure contrapuntally as the persecutors of Jews, a formula whereby Palestinians have been cast as succeeding to the mantle of Nazism.4 Thus it is understandable that a number of scholars should have devoted considerable energy to demonstrating that the delicately termed ‘transfer’ of Palestine’s Arab population was

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actively envisaged and systematically planned from the very beginnings of Zionism.5 Revealing though such findings may be, however, in the end they are not the point. Nor, correspondingly, is the fact that many if not most Jewish settlers may well have arrived in Palestine with commendable motivations that did not include malevolence toward the natives. Indeed, a number of them were surprised to find that Palestine was inhabited at all, let alone by the established agricultural community that they found there6—a surprise that testified to the success of Zionism’s ideological claim that a land without a people was waiting for a people without a land. Dupes or not, however, the arrivals were nonetheless settler-colonisers, and the natives whom they were surprised to encounter were nonetheless dispossessed. Thus we should avoid the quagmire of voluntarism—as well, of course, as the misplaced concreteness of reified abstractions—in favour of an approach that relates historical outcomes to the practical logic of the human activities that produce them. This is the sense in which I use the term ‘logic of elimination’ in relation to settler-colonialism. In what follows, I shall try to characterise the applied practical logic that has produced the continuing elimination of Palestinians from their ancestral homeland. * On the face of it, the catastrophe (al-Nakba) that overtook Palestinians from 1948 onwards did not look like an accident. Engulfed by fighting between Jewish7 and Arab forces—or, in many cases, on the mere approach of Jewish forces whose reputation for indiscriminate massacring had preceded them8—Palestinian households generally preferred discretion to valour and took to their heels. On attempting to return home once the threat had passed, however, most of them found that the familiar path was now barred to them. If they managed to slip through Jewish lines (many were summarily shot in the attempt), they found, often as not, that home had vanished overnight, razed to the ground, its crops burned and fruit trees uprooted.9 Or perhaps Jewish strangers, Holocaust survivors recently arrived from Europe, had already been moved into their home, although they themselves had not moved out of it. It all happened so suspiciously quickly. As Israeli journalist and historian Tom Segev has described it,

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on an instant, ‘Free people—Arabs—had gone into exile and become destitute refugees; destitute refugees—Jews—took the exiles’ places as the first step in their lives as free people. One group lost all they had, while the other found everything they needed—tables, chairs, closets, pots, pans, plates, sometimes clothes, family albums, books, radios, and pets. Most of the immigrants broke into the abandoned Arab houses without direction, caught up in a frenzy of take-whatyou-can, first-come, first-served.’10 The temporary sojourn down the road turned into a dehumanising refugee camp banishment or a life of exile in a foreign country. It is so to this day. As it turned out, this lightning takeover was part of (or, at the very least, consistent with) a plan, the notorious Plan Dalet, which provided a range of measures for ensuring that Palestinians who had been driven from their homes would be prevented from returning.11 By 1961, after more than a decade of massive immigration, the proportion of Israeli Jews living in Palestinian people’s houses was still as high as a third.12 But the evidence that Palestinian expulsion was integral to Zionism from the outset is based on more than the mere fact that Jewish military planners recognised an opportunity when they saw one.13 It is also a matter of more than mere utterances—for every incriminating statement that early Zionists made (usually in private), it is easy enough to find a number of soothing assurances, coined for public consumption, in which the same people asserted their intention to live in harmonious tandem with Palestine’s Arab population. As observed, the issue is not even the existence of a Zionist master plan, well substantiated though that is. Rather, the issue, to which we now turn, is the practical logic of Zionism itself. * Settler-colonialism destroys to replace. As Theodor Herzl, founding father of Zionism, observed in his allegorical manifesto-cum-novel, ‘If I wish to substitute a new building for an old one, I must demolish before I construct.’14 In a kind of realisation that took place half a century later, one-time deputy-mayor of (West) Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti recalled, ‘As a member of a pioneering youth movement, I myself “made the desert bloom” by uprooting the ancient olive trees of al-Bassa to clear the ground for a banana grove, as required by the

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Figure 14.1: Elimination by reconstitution: village mosque converted into a bar for the artists’ colony that occupies Ain Hawd under the eyes of its Palestinian owner-builders, who currently live exiled within view in an ‘unrecognised’ town that remains unconnected to Israeli power, sanitation or water grids. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape.

“planned farming” principles of my kibbutz, Rosh Haniqra.’15 Referring to the extension of this logic practised by Gush Emunim, the fundamentalist group that spearheads the building of Jewish settlements in post-1967 occupied Palestine, dissident Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling depicted the group as reawakening ‘the dormant codes of the immigrant-settler political culture’.16 Kimmerling’s meaning is clear enough, but the reified metaphor of a code

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pre-empts analysis. We are not going to find this code written down anywhere—or at least, if we were to, it would amount to less than what Kimmerling means. Writing of Zionism’s ideological beginnings, the staunchly Zionist writer Yosef Gorny expressed himself more carefully: The fact that a people which was not resident in the country was laying claim to it by reason of historical rights in itself undermined the exclusive right of the country’s Arab residents to voice the same claim. In other words, the trend to territorial concentration [of Jews], even if it did not entail the return to Zion of the majority of the Jewish people, was aimed at a fundamental transformation of the status quo as regards proprietorship of the country.17 Gorny’s formulation absolves early Zionist theorists, many of whom had not set foot in Palestine, of the requirement for clairvoyance. The ‘fundamental transformation’—Palestinian expropriation—inhered in the nature of their enterprise. Moreover, this consequence had nothing to do with the Holocaust, which remained half a century into the future. With Gorny’s account, then, we have the beginnings of a practical logic. True, it remains ideational rather than smelted through historical experience, but, in its coherence, it shows that Palestinian dispossession was no random quirk of history. Palestinian dispossession followed from Zionist theory as a consistent outcome rather than as an accident or unintended consequence. How it did so is another matter. Ideas do not have lives of their own. They are born, reproduced, discarded and transformed in and through human activity. In his rigorous and illuminating account of the origins of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, Gershon Shafir stressed immediate local factors, arising from concrete Jewish–Arab interchanges on the ground in Palestine, to the exclusion of European-inspired ideology. Conventional Israeli histories trace the ideal of the conquest of labour (kibbush avoda) or Hebrew labour (avoda Ivrit), which underpinned such central institutions of the Israeli state as the kibbutzim and Histadrut, back to the concept of productivisation, which had been promulgated by Zionist theorists in Eastern Europe.

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Productivisation had been championed in response to the selfloathing that discriminatory exclusions from productive industry, particularly agriculture, encouraged in Eastern European Jewry (in this sense, as Shafir observes, Zionism mirrored European antiSemitism.18) As initially conceived in late nineteenth-century Europe, productivisation was not designed to disempower non-Jews. It was rather designed, autarkically as it were, to inculcate productive selfsufficiency in a Jewish population that had been relegated to urban (principally financial) occupations that were stigmatised as parasitic by the surrounding gentile population; a prejudice that those who sought to build the ‘new Jew’ endorsed insofar as they resisted its internalisation.19 Once the aggressive young Zionists of the Second Aliyah20 had settled in Palestine, however, the doctrine evolved into a weapon of ethnic conflict, as Jewish industries were actively discouraged from employing non-Jewish labour, even though Arabs worked for lower wages and, in many cases, more efficiently: ‘ “Hebrew labor,” or “conquest of labor” … was born of Palestinian circumstances, and advocated a struggle against Palestinian Arab workers. This fundamental difference demonstrates the confusion created by referring “Hebrew labor” back to the productivization movement and anachronistically describing it as evolving in a direct line from Eastern European origins.’21 As it was forged on the ground, the conquest of labour subordinated economic efficiency to the demands of building a self-sufficient proto-national Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine) at the expense of the surrounding Arab population. This situated struggle produced the new Jew as subject of the labour that it conquered. In the words of Zionist architect Julius Posner, reprising a folk song, ‘We have come to the homeland to build and be rebuilt in it … the creation of the new Jew … [is also] the creator of that Jew.’22 As such, the conquest of labour was central both to the institutional imagining of a goyim-rein (gentile-free) zone and to the continued stigmatisation of Jews who remained unredeemed in the galut (exile, diaspora). From Shafir’s account, we can see how the positive force that animated the Jewish nation and its new-Jewish subjects issued from the negative process of excluding Palestine’s indigenous owners. Given his perspicacity, however, it is hard to see why he should insist

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Figure 14.2: The New Jew: 1938 Jewish National Fund propaganda urging colonisation of the Galilee. Segev, One Palestine Complete. Central Zionist Archives.

on insulating theory from practice as thoroughly as he does. After all, to rehearse a dialectical truism, theory is a form of practice. The suggestion that Zionists arrived in Palestine innocent of the invasive praxis that found expression in the conquest of labour not only naturalises that praxis as arising spontaneously. It also thereby casts those arriving Zionists as refugees rather than as colonists.23 Thus it is important to remember that the Jewish Colonisation Association, founded in 1891, was also a creation of the European theoretical

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activity that coined the doctrine of productivisation. Whatever latterday Israeli apologists may say about Zionism being an anti-colonial movement (since it resisted the British), early Zionists were in no doubt as to its colonising aspirations; aspirations that were faithfully put into practice on the Palestinian ground. In this latter sense, then, as Rodinson argued, Israel is a creation of the European colonial mentality. As Shafir demonstrates, however, this is by no means the whole story. Certainly, settler-colonialism requires theoretical expression—’return to Zion’, ‘terra nullius’, ‘Manifest Destiny’, etc.—but its eliminatory logic is realised in the practical contest between native and invader. The advocates of the new Jew would have agreed with Shafir. The new Jew could not exist in Europe. He (and it surely was he) would be a creation of a future that could take place only in Zion.24 This would remain a core theme of the settler-colonial nation state. By way of introduction to his terrorist memoir, for instance, future Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin announced that, in addition to his Jewish readers, he had also written the book for gentiles, ‘lest they be unwilling to realise, or all too ready to overlook, the fact that out of blood and fire and tears and ashes a new specimen of human being was born, a specimen completely unknown to the world for over eighteen hundred years, “the FIGHTING JEW” ‘.25 It is important to note that the fighting Jew’s opponents were not only Arabs. They conspicuously included the British, whose ignominious retreat from the Palestine Mandate had in no small measure been an achievement of Begin’s Irgun fighters. More significantly, in harking back eighteen hundred years—which is to say, to the fighting Jews of Masada—Begin was also rejecting the fallen Jews of the diasporan interim. When this rejection was refocused from the diaspora to Palestine, however, Arabs came to take the place of the fallen Jews. * In settler-colonial ideology, expropriation is routinely justified on the ground that the native is unproductive. Zionism was no exception. Its Palestinian Other, iconically a rootless nomadic Bedouin rather than a settled fellah (farmer), mirrored the unproductiveness of the rejected European Jew. Correspondingly, in excluding Arabs from its productive economy, Zionism replicated the exclusion of Jews from

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the productive economies of Eastern Europe. In other words—and this is much more than a formal irony—the new Jew made European Jews of Palestinian Arabs.26 It is crucial not to make the mistake of viewing Zionism’s adversaries as simply gentiles (European gentiles in Europe; Arab ones in Palestine). If anything, Zionism’s principal adversary was the old Jew: the unreconstructed self-identifying parasite that, in so identifying, was the shameful collaborator of European anti-Semitism. To this extent, as Joseph Massad has argued, Zionism endorsed anti-Semitism.27 In forging the new Jew on the settler-colonial ground of Palestine, Zionism was exorcising the diaspora (Begin’s eighteen hundred years) from the Jewish soul. A kind of self-hatred was preconditional to this transformation. Ascent (aliyah) was not merely a matter of leaving behind gentile others, who, as goyim, did not ultimately count. Much more importantly, it was a matter of leaving behind a strenuously rejected self. Extirpating Europe from the old-Jewish self was the inseparable obverse of extirpating Arabs from the new-Jewish self. Herzl’s metaphor of a building referred as much to this internal demolition and rebuilding as it did to the effacement and replacement of the natives of Palestine. As such, it casts light on the zeal with which Zionists have prosecuted the cause of Palestinian elimination. Zionism’s Janus face—simultaneously both an internal rejection of the diaspora and an external rejection of the Arab—is multiply contradictory. The rejection of the old Jew is central to these contradictions. Zionist ideology is hard-pressed to accommodate the old Yishuv, the religiously oriented Jewish community that had managed to live in Palestine for centuries without becoming new Jews.28 Of greater moment for the maintenance of the Israeli state, however, is Zionism’s constitutive rejection of the diaspora. The material implications of this situation can hardly be overstated. Israeli economist Ira Sharkansky was astonished to discover that the Israeli government spent more than the gross national product (not government revenue, GNP!). As Sharkansky discovered, this extraordinary situation resulted from the government’s receipt of payments that do not figure in GNP calculations: ‘There are grants from overseas governments and private contributors, plus loans from overseas and domestic sources.’29 Rather than providing security for international Jewry, in other words, the reverse is the case. Israel remains critically dependent

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on the support of a diasporan population whose rejection is foundational to Zionism. Moreover, Zionism’s other rejection, that of Arabs, is no less contradictory. A corollary to Shafir’s realisation that the conquest of labour was born of interaction with Arabs is that the existence of the new Jew required the counter-existence of his Arab counterpart. If Israeli Jewish society really were to complete the goal of Palestinian transfer (‘No Arabs, no terror’ read the posters in the highway underpasses30), it would lose the single diversion that has proved itself capable of reconciling that society’s own internal contradictions. Preeminent among these contradictions is the near-majority population that, in a supposedly exclusive polarity, is neither exclusively Jewish nor exclusively Arab but both. Europe was not a representative diaspora. The old Yishuv, after all, were Jewish Palestinians: one among an assortment of nonMuslim ethnicities (Ottoman milets) whose everyday reciprocal disdain had no kinship with European anti-Semitism.31 Thus it is not surprising that so many of them remain anti-Zionist. Within Israel, Arab Jews, Mizrachim (Eastern ones) from such places as Yemen or Iraq, merge in the dominant European–Jewish (Ashkenazi) consciousness with the Sephardic descendants of the Jewish community that was expelled, along with Muslim Moors, from al-Andalus (Iberia) at the end of the fifteenth century. Taken together, Mizrachim and Spharadim test the boundaries of the European-colonial fragment that Ashkenazi Zionists have constructed in Palestine. How, then, did they come to be there? After all, these people had not experienced anti-Semitism, let alone the Holocaust. Moreover, as Elie Kedourie observed, ‘Zionism is a doctrine that had no appeal to oriental Jewries’, while Zionists in their turn ‘had nothing but contempt for the way of life of these Jewries which according to them was primitive, feudal and unprogressive’.32 Mizrachim went to Israel for their own reasons, of course. Prime among these reasons, however, was a consideration that brings us back to the settler-colonial logic of elimination. * Reliance on native labour is a predicament that settler-colonisers avoid if they can. So far as possible, therefore, they bring their labour with them (slaves to the Americas, convicts to Australia, etc.) in preference to the conundrum of rendering themselves dependent on 324

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the productive vitality of a population whose elimination they also require. In this regard, the Zionists of the Second Aliyah were more successful colonisers than their First Aliyah predecessors, whose consciousness of the limited funding that Baron Rothschild afforded them instilled an ethic of economic efficiency that encouraged the hiring of cheap and skilled Arab labour. From the Second Aliyah on, however, there emerged the pattern of diaspora-subsidised, ethnically exclusive inefficiency that, in its developed state form, would subsequently surprise Sharkansky. To build a state-in-waiting, it was more important that the labour be Hebrew than that it be economic. In a context of steady but not overwhelming immigration from Europe (which, with British compliance, Yishuv leaders carefully modulated),33 this inefficient condition was just about viable. As victims of industrial exclusion, Jewish immigrants generally lacked the skills or aptitude necessary for agricultural success. Nonetheless, their children—the Yishuv-born sabras, living prototypes of the new Jew34— bore no such disability, while the surreptitious resort to Arab labour was by no means unknown.35 The Holocaust changed all this. In Israel’s first three years, despite an inflow of around $400 million raised in the USA alone (a stupendous sum), the flood of traumatised immigrants was overwhelming. Moreover, as George Kirk was already able to see, although still close to events: [T]he careful selection and training to which the immigrant ‘pioneers’ (halutzim) had before 1939 been subjected, in order to make them economically useful almost from the time of their arrival in Palestine, could not be applied to the main inflow of immigrants in the years of independence … the new immigrants were of uneven quality, since previous immigration had already absorbed the majority of those inspired by a creative zeal for Zionism. Those who were allowed to leave the Eastern European countries were rather, for the most part, petits bourgeois escaping from the Communist régimes behind the Iron Curtain, and an appreciable number of these sought to follow their traditional pursuit of small trading and went to swell the population of the already overcrowded cities.36

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The industrial and infrastructural challenges involved in the project of consolidating the nation were colossal. Moreover, even if the new state had wanted to fall back on native labour, a standard settler-colonial resort when all else fails, it had already driven most of the Palestinian population into the sand. Earlier in the century, the Yishuv had conducted a short-lived attempt to avoid reliance on native labour by importing Yemeni Jews, but this had soon been abandoned, and the imported Yemenis lapsed into marginal distress.37 In the wake of independence, as the enormity of the problems confronting Israel became apparent, Zionist activists were dispatched to Jewish communities in Arab countries to encourage them to emigrate to the fledgling state. In some cases, fair means sufficed. Zionists had actively participated in British death squads that had been unleashed on Arab Palestinians during their great 1936–39 uprising against the Mandate. This, together with the growing evidence that Zionists intended to expel Arabs from their eventual state, prompted a series of mob outrages against Jewish communities in the Arab world whose ferocity approached that of Eastern European pogroms. In many cases, therefore, Mizrachim were happy to avail themselves of the airlifts that Israel provided. In other cases, however—Iraq being the best known—Jews did not want to go. Incredible as it may seem today, Jews constituted the largest community in Baghdad in 1950, comprising roughly half the population.38 Although Baghdad had witnessed a particularly vicious bout of anti-Jewish rioting (farhud) in 1941, most Iraqi Jews had no desire to exchange their age-old and generally prosperous position in multicultural Arab society for the alien prospect that the visiting Zionists were urging upon them. In the event, although some historical murk continues to shroud the issue, foul means seem to have become the order of the day. Exemplifying what David BenGurion referred to as ‘cruel Zionism’, visiting Zionists seem to have been responsible for the bombing and terrorising of Jewish community targets. Following hard upon the heels of World War II, the whole situation degenerated so threateningly that the trickle of Iraqi Jewish applications to emigrate to Israel swelled rapidly. Rising to the opportunity, the Iraqi government obliged by easing emigration restrictions and commandeering much of the emigrants’ property.39

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The conditions that greeted Mizrachim on their arrival in Israel were hardly redemptory. Their lot was one of substandard camps, arid frontier zones and relegation to menial expendability. Many objected—in some cases, their letters home seem to have stemmed the flow of emigration.40 Over the years, their situation stabilised into a second-class citizenship that was compensated by sharing in their Ashkenazi superiors’ colonial domination of the Palestinians. Significantly, things did not improve for them in the second generation. Rather, as Deborah Bernstein and Shlomo Swirski’s figures showed, the gap between Israeli-born Mizrachim and Ashkenazim widened (by 1975, 42 per cent of Ashkenazim had professional jobs compared to 12.5 per cent of ‘orientals’41). The entrenchment of Mizrachi disadvantage partakes more of the quality of a race or caste situation than of an immigration wave (theirs was certainly no aliyah). As a settler-colonial labour force that is racialised in contradistinction to their Ashkenazi superiors, Mizrachim are more like American slaves than Australian convicts, their subordination being somatically encoded across generations. On the other hand, like Australian convicts, they share the settlers’ common denominator vis-à-vis the natives, only in this case it is religious rather than racial. Racially, their community is with the Palestinian underclass. This is why suicide bombers can merge into the Jewish crowd. This racial community is trumped by religion alone. In Israel, religion not only coincides with the settler-colonial relation of invasion (which, in other settler societies, finds expression as race).42 It also operates as a racial amnesty—nobody has to be told that the Arabs in ‘No Arabs, no terror’ are not Jewish.43 For civic purposes, religion—together with its linguistic reflex, a European-inflected Hebrew—is all that holds Mizrachim and Ashkenazim together. It is not culture or civilisation—Mizrachim are not European, and, in order to justify their deprivation, Ashkenazi political rhetoric makes much of their backwardness.44 As we have just seen, neither is it economic or racial. Nor, we might add, is it historical—unlike Ashkenazim, Mizrachim did not suffer racial genocide as Jews. There is only religion. Israel is the Jewish state, which is to say—and the Law of Return does say—that it is a state for Jews (wherever they may be) as opposed to its citizens (who are not all Jews). Yet,

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from the outset, Zionism held itself out as a secular modernising creed, whose Jewishness was not a theological category but an ethnocultural and historical one. The Zion to which it sought to stage its return was not the land of prophets and priests but that of the Hebrew kings and Maccabees, the original fighting Jews. The problem that Mizrachim pose for Zionism is, therefore, that, sharing neither ethnicity, culture nor history with European Jews, their visibly Arab presence in Israel necessitates the civic promotion of a reactionary rabbinical discourse that was anathema to the founding Zionists. It is the last laugh of the old Yishuv, and a hollow one at that. Hence it is fitting that Boas Evron, who captured this contradiction with terse brilliance, should himself have been a Jewish Palestinian of old-Yishuv stock: The inner contradiction in Zionism derived from the assumption that all the Jews in the world constitute a single entity, an exiled territorial nation. Religion was conceived as a manifestation of this essential national trait, not as the very essence of Jewishness. But any attempt to discover extrareligious traits typical of the Jews as a whole, as Jews, has failed. The very attempt to go beyond religion, for all Jews, was trapped again in religion. The general formula defeated itself.45 The suppressed commonalities between Mizrachim and Palestinians are more than racial. As Arabs, not to say Semitic people, their shared histories and cultural experiences go back centuries. Hence the poignancy of Massad’s observation that, at a 1989 meeting between Mizrachi and Palestinian intellectuals, ‘Many of the Mizrahi delegates addressed the meeting in their native tongue, Arabic.’46 Given that, within Israel, the two Arab communities also share in economic deprivation (although admittedly to different extents), the weight of the ideological burden that religious differentiation is required to carry becomes apparent. It is all that keeps Israel’s Herrenvolk theocracy together. Thus it is not surprising that this overworked differentiation should find hysterical expression in racist rabbinical political organisations that rely on Mizrachi support. But the authors of the freeway posters are fooling themselves. If they really

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did succeed in getting rid of the Palestinians, Zionist Ashkenazim would find themselves confronting a different group of Arabs, only without the differentiating prophylactic of religion to protect them: a naked confrontation with their own racism. Terror indeed. * As Shafir appreciated, then, albeit for different reasons, the new Jew cannot do without the Palestinian. This is why Zionism’s rejection of Palestinians is no less contradictory than its rejection of the diaspora. What positive implications flow from this finding? Above all, it shows that the idea of a two-state solution is an oxymoron. What would Europeans—that is, Ashkenazi citizens of a plural democracy—stand to lose from a unified Palestine/Israel? (Who would object to calling it the Holy Land?) They would lose theocracy, but that would only bring them into line with modern democracies. In the process, they would gain a lot of Arabs, many of them coincidentally Jewish. The ensuing demography of secular political interests can hardly be imagined, but there is no reason to believe that rights and resources would be distributed with anything other than the workaday inequity that prevails in Western democracies. Geographically, the unified state would gain undisputed sovereignty over the whole of contemporary Israel/Palestine (Mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River). Moreover, it would do so without triggering the crisis that Israel currently faces as a result of the irreducible contradiction between Zionism’s twin goals of territorial expansion and ethno-racial exclusiveness. As a result of this contradiction, Israel cannot annex the Occupied Territories, however much it would like to do so, as that would involve incorporating their Palestinian population, which would violate the goal of ethno-racial exclusiveness. In a secular state, however—which is to say, in a state that exists for its citizens rather than for foreign coreligionists—this intractable problem disappears. Eschewing racial or religious criteria, a unified state avoids Zionism’s paradoxical relationship to modernity. To achieve these outcomes, the Law of Return must be revoked, although it could still apply in the case of ethnic Holy Landers, European and/ or Arab, who face persecution as such in other countries. These people would, however, arrive as refugees rather than as colonisers, which would not bring the threat of a resurgence of settler-colonialism.

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This much and more follows from the cancellation of Zionism’s rejection of Palestinians. In regard to its companion rejection, that of the diaspora, it is, of course, hard to say what would happen. Assuming (worst-case scenario) that the funds dried up, however, it should be borne in mind that the bulk of diasporan subsidies is currently devoted to defence spending. Given a unified state, it is safe to say that a significant proportion of that spending would become redundant. Sharkansky noted that, compared to other nations, whose defence spending averages from 1 to 5 per cent of GNP, Israel’s averages up to 40 per cent.47 He did not comment on this figure. Perhaps he was not surprised. Among settler-colonial discourses, Zionism is distinguished by its reluctance to assimilate. Whereas such settler-colonial societies as Australia and the USA have employed a range of biocultural assimilations to eliminate indigenous people (blood quanta, ‘breeding them white’, etc.), Zionism is maximally resistant to this strategy. This resistance, as we have seen, is a consequence of its exclusivity. Since it confounds this exclusivity, a unified state will dismantle Zionism. Crucially, however, a unified state will not conduce to the same end as assimilation policies in settler-colonial nation states. Rather than absorbing the colonised population into the ranks of the colonisers, and thereby eliminating that population, a unified state does not require the elimination of either—or, better, any—of its constituent ethnicities. That is its whole point. Accordingly, a unified state not only dismantles Zionism. In the process, it also dismantles settlercolonialism. Thus it becomes possible to specify the applied practical logic of Israeli settler-colonialism in its absence, as it were, or by negation. That logic, in all its contradictory unsustainability, is the distinctively Zionist combination of territorial expansionism and ethno-racial exclusivity. Its negation is secular, inclusive and territorially secure. Edward Said would approve. Author’s note My thanks to Saree Makdisi, Gabriel Piterberg and Zora Simic for their comments, to Ned Curthoys and Debjani Ganguly for the opportunity, and to Peter Gartlan for the productive intervention. A version of this chapter was presented as an address to the Fifth Galway Conference on Colonialism in 2007.

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Notes 1 2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Rodinson, Israel. Wolfe, ‘Land, labor, and difference’ and ‘Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native’ in Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology. The allusion is, of course, to Seeley’s ‘We seem, as it were, to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind’. It is not clear whether Benvenisti had this in mind when he observed that, after 1967, Israelis ‘created almost absentmindedly a system that conforms to classic colonial models’ (Benvenisti, Conflicts and Contradictions, p. 161). Gorenberg’s Accidental Empire is more overtly ironic. Seemingly oblivious to the Holocaust trivialisation that this analogy entails, Zionist publicists have embraced it. For comment and sources, see Massad, Persistence of the Palestinian Question, pp. 132–4. For Zionist wartime collaboration with Eichmann and other Nazis (which, like that of the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, was pragmatic rather than unholy), see Kimche, Secret Roads, pp. 15–19, 26–38. ‘The Mufti was in many ways a disreputable character, but postwar claims that he played any significant part in the Holocaust have never been sustained. This did not prevent the editors of the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust from giving him a starring role. The article on the Mufti is more than twice as long as the articles on Goebbels and Göring, longer than the articles on Himmler and Heydrich combined, longer than the article on Eichmannáof all the biographical articles, it is exceeded in length, but only slightly, by the entry for Hitler’ (Novick, Holocaust in American Life, p. 158). The major work is Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians. See also, e.g., Flapan’s ‘Myth three’ in Birth of Israel, pp. 81–118; Hirst, Gun and Olive Branch, pp. 129–30; and Woolfson, Prophets in Babylon, pp. 121–6. Mandel, Arabs and Zionism, p. 31. Cf. ‘The truth is that the movement’s leaders knew very well that there were Arabs in the country, and that they opposed the Zionists. From the beginning the Zionists knew their project would involve confrontation with the local people’ (Segev, Elvis in Jerusalem, p. 38). My point is not to deny Zionist planning: it is to assert that the fact of Palestinian dispossession is not dependent on it. The dispossession cannot be reduced by doubting or qualifying the planning. ‘Jewish’ rather than ‘Israeli’ as this process preceded the formation of the Israeli Defence Forces, which consolidated the pre-independence Palmach, Haganah, Irgun (Etzel) and Lehi (Stern Gang) forces of the Jewish resistance to British Mandatory rule in Palestine. ‘This Arab propaganda [concerning Dayr Yasin, the most infamous of Zionist massacres] spread a legend of terror amongst Arabs and Arab troops, who were seized with panic at the mention of Irgun soldiers. The legend was worth half a dozen battalions to the forces of Israel’ (Begin, Revolt, p. 164, n.). Walid Khalidi and his team have painstakingly memorialised the obsessively erased Arab past in All That Remains. For the treatment of those who attempted to return, see Nassal, Palestine Exodus, p. 37 and

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10

11

12

13 14 15

16 17 18

19

passim. At the time of writing, Pappé’s much-anticipated Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine had yet to appear, but it could be expected to shed further light on this and related issues. Segev, The Seventh Million, p. 161. ‘Soldiers who entered abandoned houses in the towns and villages they occupied grabbed whatever they could. Some took the stuff for themselves, others ‘for the boys’ or for the kibbutz. They stole household effects, cash, heavy equipment, trucks and whole flocks of cattle. Behor Shitrit told his colleagues of the Ministerial Committee for Abandoned Property that he had visited some of the occupied areas and saw the looting with his own eyes. ‘From Lydda alone’, he said, ‘the army took out 1,800 truck loads of property.’ (Segev, 1949, p. 69.) Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest, pp. 755–60. For divergent Israeli views on Plan Dalet, see Morris, The Birth of the Palestine Refugee Problem Revisited, pp. 163á6, 263á6; cf. Pappé,Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, pp. 89–93. For an IDF internal document evaluating tactics for scaring Arab householders away (broadcasting loud noises, spreading rumours of impending attacks, etc.), see Morris, 1948, pp. 71–80. Childers’ figure quoted by Fieldhouse, Western Imperialism in the Middle East, p. 194. In the five years following 1948, 375 agricultural colonies (mainly kibbutzim and moshavot) were established, of which 350 were on Palestinian property. See Weinstock, Sionisme contre Israël, p. 298. See especially Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians. Herzl, Altneuland, p. 38. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape, p. 2. The destruction was not only physical. Although most Palestinian villages were razed to the ground and their remains covered with new towns, factories and Israel’s much-vaunted new forests, some were transformed through being renamed, remapped, reconstituted and recommissioned for different purposes in new contexts (see figure 14.1). Kimmerling, Politicide, p. 38. Gorny, Zionism and the Arabs, p. 2. Shafir, Land, Labor, and Origins, p. 81. Shafir is not, of course, alone in this observation, which was a staple complaint of anti-Zionist Jews from the outset. Having noted a range of truly vile anti-Semitic remarks uttered by founding Zionists (e.g. A. D. Gordon’s famous description of Jews as ‘parasites, people fundamentally useless’), Michael Selzer observed that it was no wonder, ‘under these circumstances, that Yehezkel Kaufman, the eminent Israeli scholar, was led to write, “We have been suffering from the disease of Jewish anti-Semitism ever since the Haskalah [Jewish Enlightenment] áThe poison that flowed from Jewish nationalist sources is perhaps the most dangerous of them all á Zionism actually based the [Jewish] national movement on a rationale of charges that it took over from the anti-Semites áá‘ (Selzer, Aryanization of the Jewish State, p. 36). The new Jew was a child of his times, recognisably sharing a discursive provenance with the Aryan superman of Teutonic romanticism and socialist realism’s heroic worker (see figure 14.2). For lively analyses that

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20

21 22 23

24

25 26

27 28

29 30 31

32 33

34

35

36 37 38 39

highlight the figure’s militaristic and gendered nature, see Brenner & Reuveni, Emancipation through Muscles, especially part 1. ‘Aliyah’ (literally, ‘ascension’—i.e., to the Holy Land) is a term used to refer to the successive waves of Zionist emigration to Palestine, the second of which extended from early in the twentieth century to World War I. Shafir, Land, Labor, and Origins, pp. 81–2. Quoted in Le Vine, Overthrowing Geography, p. 167. In response to Deutscher, Joseph Massad has distinguished between Jewish refugees and Zionist colonisers (Massad, Persistence of the Palestinian Question, p. 132). Herzl viewed the option of Uganda, which the British had suggested, only as a possible ‘shelter for a night’ (Evron, Jewish State or Israeli Nation? p. 56). Begin, Revolt, p. xxv; capitals in original. In so doing, as Massad has memorably pointed out, they also made European gentiles—and, accordingly, anti-Semites—of themselves (Massad, Persistence of the Palestinian Question, passim). Massad, Persistence of the Palestinian Question, especially chapter 11. Usage of this term varies. Some restrict it to the ultra-orthodox successors to the Ashkenazi settlers from Vilna who arrived at the beginning of the nineteenth century. See for example Patai, Israel between East and West, p. 81. Sharkansky, The Political Economy of Israel, p. 24. Avishai, ‘Saving Israel from itself’, p. 40. ‘Arab propaganda against Zionism … frequently utilizes arguments and images borrowed from European anti-Semitism. That is deeply disagreeable, but it does not justify one in identifying the two phenomena’ (Rodinson, Israel and the Arabs, p. 324). For a judicious and enlightening comparative historical account of Jewish communities’ respective fortunes among Christian and Muslim societies, see Cohen, ‘Islam and the Jews’. Kedourie, The Chatham House Version, pp. 309, 311. Hyamson, Palestine Under the Mandate, pp. 52–3, 55; Kimmerling, Zionism and Territory, p. 97. According to A. L. Avneri (cited in Gorny, Zionism and the Arabs, p. 5), in 1800, there were 6,700 Jews (the old Yishuv) and 268,000 Arabs in Palestine. In 1880, the year before the commencement of the first Aliyah, there were 24,000 and 525,000 respectively. In 1915, there were approximately 85,000–90,000 and 590,000 respectively. In 1931, there were 174,000 and 837,000 respectively. A Sabra type-case would be Ariel Sharon, born Ariel Scheinerman in 1928 in Kfar Malul, north-east of the newly built Zionist city of Tel Aviv (Kimmerling, Politicide, p. 42). Hyamson, Palestine Under the Mandate, pp. 55, 63, 75; Le Vine, Overthrowing Geography, pp. 71–2. Kirk, The Middle East, p. 317. Shafir, Land, Labor and Origins, pp. 99, 101, 108, 115–16. Kedourie, ‘Break between Muslims and Jews’, p. 21. Numerous authors have recounted these events. See for example Black

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40

41 42 43

44

45 46 47

Panther, ‘Iraqi Jews and their coming to Israel’; Hirst, Gun and Olive Branch, pp. 157–60; Palumbo, Palestinian Catastrophe, pp. 198–201; and Shiblak, Lure of Zion, pp. 119–27. Hirst’s account, which was challenged, has been vindicated by Woolfson, Prophets in Babylon, pp. 182–201 (phrase attributed to Ben-Gurion, p. 199). See also Kedourie (who is coy about the bombings), ‘Break between Muslims and Jews’, pp. 21–64 (coyness on p. 54). Elsewhere, Kedourie was somewhat less equivocal about the bombings. See his Chatham House Version, p. 312. Regarding the Iraqi government’s actions, in addition to Kedourie, see Cohen, Jews of the Middle East, especially p. 35. Interestingly, Cohen does not include Israeli Jews among his Jews of the Middle East. ‘The Zionist underground was worried because letters were arriving [in Iraq] describing the appalling treatment being meted out to the Iraqi immigrants in Israel where directors of banks, important officials, doctors, businessmen, lawyers and artisans, who had left Iraq were received like unclean animals by officials in Tel Aviv. They were disinfected with DDT … in the maabaroth (transit camps), their spirits were broken. Iraqi doctors and lawyers were crowded into tents on the bare earth, far from centres of population. To earn a living, they were hired twelve days per month to weed the roadsides’ (Woolfson, Prophets in Babylon, pp. 198–9). See also Nini, ‘Immigration and assimilation’; Shapiro, ‘Zionism and its oriental subjects’; and Shohat, ‘Sephardim in Israel’. For statistics on Mizrachim reemigrating home, see Patai, Israel between East and West, p. 290. Bernstein & Swirski, ‘Rapid economic development’, p. 75. Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation, pp. 165–8. ‘[In the 1920s, for] the first time in Sephardi history, Arabness and Jewishness were posed as antonyms’ (Shohat, ‘Sephardim in Israel’, p. 11). ‘Dismissing a charge of discrimination against Oriental Jews in Israel’s Civil Service in favor of the Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi, [Prime Minister Levi] Eshkol replied, “It is not a question of their not knowing Yiddish; it is a question of their not knowing anything.’ (Selzer, Aryanization of the Jewish State, p. 67. Italics in original.) Evron, Jewish State or Israeli Nation? p. 62. Massad, Persistence of the Palestinian Question, p. 75. Sharkansky, Political Economy of Israel, p. 10.

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Black Panther, ‘The Iraqi Jews and their coming to Israel’, trans. in Davis, Uri & Norton Mezvinsky (eds), Documents from Israel, 1967–1973: Readings for a Critique of Zionism, Ithaca Press, London, 1975, pp. 126–33. Brenner, Michael & Reuveni, Gideon (eds), Emancipation through Muscles: Jews and Sports in Europe, Nebraska University Press, Lincoln, 2006. Cohen, Hayyim J., The Jews of the Middle East 1860–1972, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1973. Cohen, Mark, ‘Islam and the Jews: Myth, counter-myth, history’, in Jews Among Muslims: Communities in the Precolonial Middle East (eds Shlomo Deshen & Walter P. Zenner), Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1996, pp. 50–63. Evron, Boas, Jewish State or Israeli Nation?, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1995. Fieldhouse, D. K., Western Imperialism in the Middle East 1914–1958, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006. Flapan, Simha, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, Pantheon, New York, 1987. Gorenberg, Gershom, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967–1977, Times Books, New York, 2006. Gorny, Yosef, Zionism and the Arabs 1882–1948: A Study of Ideology, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1987. Herzl, Theodor, Old-New Land [Altneuland, 1902] (trans. Lotta Levensohn), M. Wiener, New York, 1941. Hirst, David, The Gun and The Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, Futura, London, 1978. Hyamson, Albert M., Palestine Under the Mandate 1920–1948, Methuen, London, 1950. Kedourie, Elie, ‘The break between Muslims and Jews in Iraq’, in Jews Among Arabs: Contacts and Boundaries (eds Mark R. Cohen & Abraham L. Udovitch), Darwin Press, Princeton, NJ, 1989, pp. 21–64. ——The Chatham House Version and Other Middle Eastern Studies, rev. edn, New England University Press, London, 1984. Khalidi, Walid (ed.), From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestinian Problem until 1948, Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut, 1971. ——All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington DC, 1992. Kimche, Jon & David, The Secret Roads: The ‘Illegal’ Migration of a People 1938–1948, Secker & Warburg, London, 1954. Kimmerling, Baruch, Politicide: The Real Legacy of Ariel Sharon, 2nd edn, Verso, London, 2006. ——Zionism and Territory: The Socio-Territorial Dimensions of Zionist Politics, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1983. Kirk, George, The Middle East 1945–1950, Oxford University Press, London, 1954. LeVine, Mark, Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880–1948, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 2005. Mandel, Neville J., The Arabs and Zionism Before World War I, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1976.

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Masalha, Nur, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of ‘Transfer’ in Zionist Political Thought 1882–1948, Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington DC, 1992. Massad, Joseph, The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians, Routledge, New York, 2006. Morris, Benny, The Birth of the Palestine Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004. ——1948 and After: Israel and the Palestinians, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1990. Nassal, Nafez, The Palestine Exodus from Galilee, Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut, 1978. Nini, Yehuda, ‘Immigration and assimilation: The Yemenite Jews’, Jerusalem Quarterly, vol. 21, 1981, pp. 86–93. Novick, Peter, The Holocaust in American Life, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1999. Palumbo, Michael, The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of People from Their Homeland, Faber & Faber, London, 1987. Pappé, Ilan, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld, Oxford, 2006. ——The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1947–1951, I. B. Taurus, London, 2001. Patai, Raphael, Israel Between East and West: A Study in Human Relations, Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, 1953. Rodinson, Maxime, Israel and the Arabs, 2nd edn (trans. Michael Perl & Brian Pearce), Penguin, New York, 1982. ——Israel: A Colonial-Settler State? (trans. David Thorstad), Monad Press, New York, 1973. Segev, Tom, Elvis in Jerusalem: Post-Zionism and the Americanization of Israel (trans. Haim Watzman), Metropolitan Books, New York, 2002. ——1949: The First Israelis (ed. Arlen Neal Weinstein), Free Press, New York, 1986. ——One Palestine Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (trans. Haim Watzman), Metropolitan Books, New York, 2000. ——The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (trans. Haim Watzman), Owl Books, New York, 2000. Selzer, Michael, The Aryanization of the Jewish State, Black Star, New York, 1967. Shafir, Gershon, Land, Labor, and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1882–1914, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989. Shapiro, Raphael, ‘Zionism and its oriental subjects’, Part 1, ‘The oriental Jews in Zionism’s dialectical contradictions’, Khamsin, vol. 5, no. 16, 1978, pp. 5–26. Sharkansky, Ira, The Political Economy of Israel, Transaction Books, Oxford, 1987. Shiblak, Abbas, The Lure of Zion: The Case of Iraqi Jews, Al Saqi Books, London, 1986. Shohat, Ella, ‘Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the standpoint of its Jewish victims’, Social Text, no. 19/20 (vol. 7, no. 1–2), 1988, pp. 1–35.

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Weinstock, Nathan, Le Sionisme contre Israël, François Maspero, Paris, 1969. Wolfe, Patrick, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event, Cassell, London, 1999. ——‘Land, labor, and difference: Elementary structures of race’, American Historical Review, vol. 106, 2001, pp. 865–905. ——‘Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native’, Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 8, 2006, pp. 387–409. Woolfson, Marion, Prophets in Babylon: Jews in the Arab World, Faber & Faber, London, 1980.

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Index

Abbate, Carolyn 211 Aboriginal rights 99 academic freedom 32–3 activism civic 10 wisdom 10, 47–8 Ahluwalia, Pal 283 Al-Ahram Weekly 89 Al-Nakba (catastrophe) 316 Aliyah 323, 327 First 325 Second 320, 325 alienation 15, 165, 207 alternative public 68 Althusser, Louis 270 amateurism 10, 23–4, 38, 41, 79–80, 97, 102, 110 , 123–6, 129, 131, 134, 136–9, 314, 324 Americas 9, 71, 89, 122 Amin, Samir 212 Andalusia 7, 276, 283 Ansatzpunkt 8, 169 anti-Semitism 283, 315, 320, 323–4 apartheid 5, 293, 306 Apter, Emily 14, 181, 192–3, 197 Arab-Israeli war(s) 209, 258 Arabs Christian 13 female 253

in American popular culture 259 stereotype of 259 Arafat, Yasser 43 Arendt, Hannah 2, 14–15, 155, 157, 170, 263 Armstrong, Karen 281 Assmann, Jan 280 Atlantic slave trade 123, 141 aufhebung 131 auratic privilege 99 Auschwitz 217 Australia 5 Australian Labor Party 313 Bach 224, 229–30, 236 Bakhtin, Mikhail 164, 266, 272–3 Barenboim, Daniel 13, 213–14, 218, 227 Bauman, Zygmunt 272 Bayoumi, Moustafa 141 Beethoven 12, 28, 209, 215, 217, 225, 229 Begin, Menachem 322 Beilin, Yossi 297 Ben-Gurion, David 326 Ben Zvi, Abraham 295 Benda, Julien 22 Benjamin, Walter 2 Berlin Philharmonic 206

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Berlin Wall 8 Bernstein, Deborah 327 Bertelsmann 31–2 Beruke, Robert 67–8 Bible New Testament 280 Old Testament 166, 304 Bicentenary (Australia) 5, 106 Bildung 156–7, 168–9, 281 biopolitics 126 Bloch, Ernst 28 Blood, Rebecca 62 Bonyhady, Tim 114 Bourdieu, Pierre 97, 110–13 Brady, Veronica 108 British Mandate of Palestine 249 British West Indies 124, 129, 134–5, 137 Bruns, Axel 63 Butler, Judith 281 Camp David 303 capitalism 6, 97, 123, 139, 182, 210 Caribbean literature (19th century) 140 Carter, David 110 Carter, Jimmy 306 Caten, Stephen 249 Cesaire, Aime 27 charisma 27, 29 Chomsky, Noam 270, 294 Chronicle of Higher Education 66 civil rights 5 civilising mission 259 classical liberal tradition 123 Clinton, Bill 305 Cockburn, Patrick 283 Cohen, Kris A 68 Cold War 8 Cole, Juan 65, 77 colonialism 4 anti- 227 archive 9, 127, 130, 135 colonial traditions 5 European 121, 179, 277 industrial 100 Israeli 277

settler (Australian) 2 trauma of 107 white 100 Zionist 277 comparative literature 33, 75, 152, 177, 180, 185–6, 188–90, 193–4, 197, 225 comparativism 2, 7, 8 Connell, Raewyn 50 conservatism (political) 99, 109, 113, 255, 272 contrapuntal 12, 14, 183, 226, 228, 234 analysis 12, 225, 227, 238 ethics 13, 222, 225, 227–8, 235–6 mode 225 opposition 88 representation 78, 88–9 Coombs, HC 111 cosmopolitanism 176–7, 185, 187, 193, 281 counter-representation 6, 79, 89–93 counterpoint 12, 222, 224–7, 234 créolité see mestizaje critical theory 24, 80, 210 culture cross-cultural 12 and imperialism 13 industry of 207, 217–18, 269–70 mass 195, 266, 268, 270 metropolian 9, 122 minority 58 popular 12 subcultures 58 transculturalism 13 Curthoys, Ann 266, 279 Damrosch, David 181, 188–90 Darcy, Emma 250, 255, 257 darstellung 85–6 David Project 32 Dawson, Graham 258 de Man, Paul 264, 283 Deleuze conceptual personae 2 demiurge 11, 29

Index

Edward said.indd 339

339

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democracy 11, 13, 46–7, 93, 162, 231, 280, 329 ethnic democracies see Herrenvolk and modernity 259 Derrida, Jacques 14, 15, 27, 263–85 Dessaix, Robert 110 Deutscher, Isaac 165, 315 diaspora 78 black 138 Islamic 193 Jewish 7, 19, 166, 301, 311, 320, 323–4, 334 Digby, Lady Jame 243 digital age 8 artists 45 cultural productions 195 post-1989 world 195–6 technologies 64 discourse analysis 12, 221, 223, 226 Douglass, Frederick 136 Du Bois, WEB 136 Dylan, Bob 49 émigré 1 ethos 153 philologists 7 Emunim, Gush 318 Enlightenment 162, 217, 269 eurocentrism 15, 121, 191, 273, 281 Evron, Boas 328 exodus 266, 278–81, 301, 304 Eyerman, Ron 44 Fanon, Franz 16, 27 Fascism 167–8 Flaubert, Gustave 12, 98, 242, 270–3 Forbes, Jack 128 Forbes, Rosita 243 Foucault, Michel 11 French Revolution 122 fundamentalism Arab 7 Islamic/Muslim 278 Jewish 277–8 religious 183

340

Edward said.indd 340

Furtwangler, Wilhelm 206 Gandhi, Mohandas 46, 284 Genet, Jean 11, 27, 30 genocide Native American/Indigenous 2, 4 geopolitics 179, 181, 183, 214, 297, 301 Gilman, Sander 245 Gilroy, Paul 138 globalism 177–8, 182 capital/markets 9, 98 intercultural difference 9 and literature 97 and terror 183 globalization 59, 97 Gloster, Archibald 127–8 Glover, Richard 108 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 7, 13, 168–70, 185–9, 214 Goitein, SD 275 Goldstein, Baruch 276–7, 282, 284 Gorny, Yosef 319 Gould, Glenn 12 governmentality 133, 194 racial 126, 129 Grainger, Percy 12 Gramsci, Antonio 22, 27, 37, 42, 97 Green, Dorothy 106 Greg, Melissa 68 Griffiths, Tom 107 Guattari, Felix 14 Guevara, Che 31 Gulf War 78, 259 second 63, 72 Hafiz (Persian poet) 13, 187, 214 Hage, Ghassan 296 Hagee, John 300 Haitian Revolution 124, 125, 131, 137 Hall, Stuart 298 Hamas 43, 297 Hardt, Michael 182 Hartman, Saidiya 133 Hebrew labor 320 Hebron (massacre) 274, 276–7, 282, 284

Index

30/7/07 7:42:27 AM

Hegel, GW 9, 21, 130–2 Herakleitos 101 Herrenvolk 278, 328 Herzl, Theodor 317 heterodoxy 28 Hezbollah-Israeli war 297 historicism 164–5, 170 ethnocentric 154 German 168 instrumentalist 4 philological 158, 164 Viconian 184, 186 Hitchens, Christopher 294, 302 Hitchens, Robert 244 Holocaust 266, 272, 316, 319, 324–5 Horowitz, David 67 Howard era 109 Howard, John 208 Hull, EM 241, 243–6, 248–9, 251, 254, 256, 258 human rights 93, 113, 141, 277 humanism 1, 3 democratic 13, 196, 235–6 philological 7, 8 unhoused 153 humanities 24–5, 40, 121, 15, 176, 178–9, 190–2, 198 Huntington, Samuel 9 hybridity 248–51 iconophilia 8 imagined community 60, 298 individualism 29, 101, 231 post-individualistic age 11, 29–30 intellectualism materialist approach 37 normative approach 37 writer-intellectual 6, 45–7, 98–9, 103, 107, 110, 113, 186 interdisciplinarity 205 internationalism 138 Internet 1–2, 11, 33, 57–62, 64–9, 71–2 age 11, 57, 69 blogging 11 cyber-utopianism 68 media 11

inventio 14, 114 isopolitical relationships 296, 298–301, 304 Israel 4 Israel on Campus Coalition 32 Israeli-Palestinian conflict 294, 298, 319 itjihad 7 Jacobs, Joanne 63–4 James, CLR 27 Jameson, Fredric 28–30, 34, 270 Jaspers, Karl 281 jihad 7 Jordan, Penny 258 Judaeo-Christianity 177, 278 Judt, Tony 295 Juilliard School of Music 207 Kabbani, Rana 242 Kadir, Djelal 188–9 Kant, Immanuel 49, 130, 157, 279 Keating, Paul 208 Kelley, Robin DG 138 King, Martin Luther 49 Kirk, George 325 Klemperer, Victor 7, 154 Koran 7 Kramer, Lawrence 206 Kramer, Martin 33–4 Kraus, Clemens 206 Krentz, Jayne Ann 252 Kurtz, Stanley 33–4, 76–7 labour indentured 9 indentured, Chinese 123–4, 134–5, 140 Lawrence, TE 258 Lazarus, Neil 110 Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich 46 Levant 277 Levinas, Immanuel 281–2 Levy, Daniel 297 Lewis, Reina 242 Lewis, William F 302 liberalism 140, 139, 141, 168

Index

Edward said.indd 341

341

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European 123 modern 140 Lines, William 107 literary criticism 154, 180, 222 logic of elimination 314, 316, 324 Lott, Trent 63 Lowe, Lisa 9, 121, 242 Luxemburg, Rosa 14 Malti-Douglas, Fedwa 197 Mandela, Nelson 293 Massad, Joseph 294, 323, 328 Marx, Karl 130, 133 Mayne, Elizabeth 254 McCarthy era/period 93, 299 neo-McCarthyite 283 McKinney, Jack 101, 103, 114 McKinney, Meredith 105 Mearsheimer, John 294 Melman, Billie 242 messianism 273, 280 mestizaje 140 Middle East 12 migration 16, 70, 123, 156, 181 Mitchell, WJT 195–6, 225 Mizrachim 324, 326–8 modernism 10 global 11 high 11 modernity 121–3, 131, 133, 138, 141, 155, 162, 170, 231–2, 251, 259, 266, 275, 279, 329 Moorish Spain 275–6 Moretti, Franco 181 Mosaic Distinction 280–1 Mulligan, Martin 113 Murray, Les 99, 109, 111 music and aesthetics 13 American jazz 269 Beethoven 28 criticism 205–6 and democracy 228, 230, 232–3 folk 229 musicology 1, 45, 206 popular 12–13, 48–9, 207, 269

342

Edward said.indd 342

West-Eastern Diwan Orchestra 13 Western classical 12, 13–14, 206–7, 210, 214 nationalism 5, 7, 88, 106, 168, 178, 180–1, 185, 187–8, 216, 249, 302 Nazism 207, 218, 283, 315 and Germany 180, 186, 217 Negri, Antonio 182 Nerval 12, 270–1 New Critics 157 New World Order 89, 98, 188 Nietzsche, Friedrich 155, 161, 164, 264, 269 Noonuccal, Oodgeroo (Kath Walker) 106 Olmert, Ehud 299 oratorical machines 59, 61 orientalism 1, 12, 33, 76–7, 79–80, 82–4, 121, 142, 154, 179, 191, 221, 223, 226–7, 236, 241–2, 249, 252, 253–4, 259, 268, 270–2 Ortiz, Fernando 122, 136 Oslo Accords 26 Palestinian National Council 87 People’s Walk for Reconciliation 102 performativity 13 Picasso, Pablo 11 Piccone, Paul 209 phallocentric(ity) 274, 278 philology 2 Arabic 14 extraterritorial 153, 155, 158, 177, 198 German-Jewish 155 Saidian 7, 157 Pipes, Daniel 34 Poirier, Richard 194 political exile 1, 210 polyphonic ethics 222, 228, 231, 236 polyphony 12, 188, 226, 228, 230–5 polytheism (Mesopotamian) 281 Posner, Julius 320 postcolonial(ism) 3 post–Cold War 8

Index

30/7/07 7:42:27 AM

post–Cold War era 8, 178, 193 post-imperial condition of consciousness 227 postmodern(ism) 11, 181, 213, 266, 268 post-national era 152 poststructuralism 222 professionalism 23–4, 41, 43, 79 Promised Land 106, 278, 302 public sphere 63, 70, 88, 93, 126, 184, 194 new 59, 63, 97

Sontag, Susan 32 Spinoza, B 158, 275–6 Spivak, Gayatri 86, 181, 182, 193 Stael, Madame de 185 Steele, Annie 244 Steiner, George 188 student unrest of 1968 209 Subotnik, Rose R 217, 225 Suez Canal 258 sugar 122, 125, 135 Sullivan, Andrew 63 Swift, Jonathan 60–1, 78, 98

Rarotongans 230 Raub, Patricia 244 Read, Peter 107 Reagan, Ronald 25, 302–3 Reith lectures 64, 96–8 Rodinson, Maxime 4, 275, 314–15, 322 romance 12, 266 desert 244, 246, 249–50, 258–9 Rothschild, Baron 325 Russell, Bertrand 27

terra nullius 2, 108, 322 terrorism 90, 181, 183, 189, 277, 296 Israeli 276 Muslim 259 Thomas, Lowell 258 Thurmond, Strom 63 Tiegerman, Ignace 206 Toscanini, Arturo 211 translation 7 cultural 192, 197, 201 and humanism 193 Trouillot, Michel-Rolph 131 Trumpener, Katie 177

Sabra and Chatila massacre 277, 282 Salpeter, Eliahu 300 Saperstein, David 295 Sartre, Jean-Paul 27, 37, 45, 167, 264 scholarship 24, 36, 170, 183, 236 feminist 8, 37, 254 Foucaultian 82 humanistic 8, 190–2 philological 153 and romance 155, 165 Schwab, Raymond 270, 272 secularism 166–7, 191, 226 and criticism 79, 224–5 Segev, Tom 316 Seller, Alexandra 250, 255, 257 September 11, 2001 8 Sharkansky, Ira 323, 325, 330 Six-Day War 75 Shafir, Gershon 319 Shaheen, Jack 259 Shohat, Ella 6, 279, 301 sociology of intellectuals 10, 36, 49

vertreten 85–6 utopia 10, 44, 68, 80, 92, 217 utopianism agonistic form 87 cyber- 87 democratic 230 Valentino, Rudolph 243, 248 Vienna Philharmonic 206 Walt, Stephen 294 Walzer, Michael 278 Wellek, Rene 166, 187–8 Weltliteratur Goethe 7 West Bank 5, 278, 303–5 and Gaza 278, 304 West, Cornell 269 Western tradition 15, 210, 279

Index

Edward said.indd 343

343

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Whitlam Government 102, 111 Wilding, Lynne 253, 257 Williams, Raymond 104 Williamson, David 109–10 Wood, Sara 271 world history 169, 180–1, 218, 279–80 world literature 8, 176–81, 186–91 worldliness 1, 6, 9, 156 Wright, Judith 5, 96, 99–101, 111, 114

344

Edward said.indd 344

Yegenoglu, Meyda 242 Yehoshua, AB 300 Young, Robert 247 Zionism 1, 2, 264–66, 277, 283–4, 313–26, 328–30 Zizek, Slavoj 214, 273 Zonana, Joyce 252

Index

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