Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Edward Wadie Saïd (Arabic: إدوارد وديع سعيد, transliteration: Edward Wādi Sa'id; 1 November 193525 September 2003) was a Palestinian-American literary theorist and outspoken Palestinian activist. He was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and is regarded as a founding figure in postcolonial theory.

In 1999, Justus Reid Weiner, a researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, published an article in Commentary, arguing that Said's family did not permanently reside in Talbiya or live there during the final months of the British mandate, and therefore that they could not be considered refugees. According to Weiner, it was only Said's aunt who owned a house in Talbiya, while Said's family visited Jerusalem only occasionally. "On [Said's] birth certificate, prepared by the ministry of health of the British Mandate," Weiner states, "his parents specified their permanent address as Cairo," leaving blank the space for a local address. Weiner suggests Said grew up in Cairo, and probably never attended St. George's Academy in Jerusalem except during brief stays in that city. Weiner argues that Said's name is not on the school registry and that David Eben-Ezra, whom Said mentioned as a classmate, has no recollections of him.

Controversy over Said's early life

Main article: Orientalism (book) Orientalism
Orientalism has had a significant impact on the fields of literary theory, cultural studies and human geography, and to a lesser extent on those of history and oriental studies. Taking his cue from the work of Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, and from earlier critics of western Orientalism such as A. L. Tibawi, Said argued that Western writings on the Orient, and the perceptions of the East purveyed in them, are suspect, and cannot be taken at face value. According to Said, the history of European colonial rule and political domination over the East distorts the writings of even the most knowledgeable, well-meaning and sympathetic Western 'Orientalists' (a term that he transformed into a pejorative):
Said contended that Europe had dominated Asia politically so completely for so long that even the most outwardly objective Western texts on the East were permeated with a bias that even most Western scholars could not recognise. His contention was not only that the West has conquered the East politically but also that Western scholars have appropriated the exploration and interpretation of the Orient's languages, history and culture for themselves. They have written Asia's past and constructed its modern identities from a perspective that takes Europe as the norm, from which the "exotic", "inscrutable" Orient deviates.
Said concludes that Western writings about the Orient depict it as an irrational, weak, feminised "Other", contrasted with the rational, strong, masculine West, a contrast he suggests derives from the need to create "difference" between West and East that can be attributed to immutable "essences" in the Oriental make-up. In 1978, when the book was first published, with memories of the Yom Kippur war and the OPEC crisis still fresh, Said argued that these attitudes still permeated the Western media and academia. After stating the central thesis, Orientalism consists mainly of supporting examples from Western texts.

Said's supporters argue that such criticisms, even if correct, do not invalidate his basic thesis, which they say still holds true for the 19th and 20th centuries and in particular for general representations of the Orient in Western media, literature and film.

Supporters of Said and his influence
In a 1997 revised edition of his book Covering Islam, Said exposed the biased reporting of the Western press, and anti-Islamic media "speculations about the latest conspiracy to blow up buildings, sabotage commercial airliners, and poison water supplies."

Criticism of US Foreign Policy
Definitions of Palestine and Palestinian · Palestine Palestinian territories · Refugee camps Geography of the Gaza Strip · Geography of the West Bank Electoral Districts · Governorates · Cities in the West Bank & Gaza Strip East Jerusalem · Arab localities in Israel See also: Template:Arab citizens of Israel
PLO · PNC · PLC · PFLP PNA · PNA political parties Flag of Palestinians See also: Israeli-Palestinian conflict timeline See also: Template:Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
See also: Template:Politics of Palestine
Christianity Al-Aqsa Mosque · Dome of the Rock · Church of the Nativity · Rachel's Tomb · Church of the Holy Sepulchre ·Edward Said Church of the Annunciation See also: Template:History of the Levant Art · Costume & embroidery · Cuisine · Dance · Language · Music Hany Abu-Assad· Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Yasser Arafat · Hanan Ashrawi Mohammad Bakri · Rim Banna Mahmoud Darwish · Emile Habibi Nathalie Handal · Mohammed Amin al-Husseini Faisal Husseini · Abd al-Qader al-HusseiniEdward Said Ghassan Kanafani · Ghada Karmi· Leila Khaled · Rashid Khalidi · Walid Khalidi · Samih al-Qasim · Edward Said · Khalil al-Sakakini · Elia Suleiman · May Ziade · As a pro-Palestinian activist, Said campaigned for a creation of an independent Palestinian state. From 1977 until 1991, Said was an independent member of the Palestinian National Council who tended to stay out of factional struggles.
Furthermore, he was one of few Palestinian activists who at the same time acknowledged Israel and Israel's founding intellectual theory, Zionism. Said was one of the first proponents of a two-state solution, and in an important academic article entitled "Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims," Said argued that both the Zionist claim to a land - and, more importantly, the Zionist claim that the Jewish people needed a land - and Palestinian rights of self-determination held legitimacy and authenticity. In this way Said stood out among the crowd of Palestinian activists as one who could simultaneously stand at the center of Palestinian nationalism on the one hand and intellectual, meta-nationalistic humanism on the other. This uncanny self-assurance in both base political and elite intellectual spheres helped raise his status in the intelligent public's eye.
Said's books on the issue of Israel and Palestine include The Question of Palestine (1979), The Politics of Dispossession (1994) and The End of the Peace Process (2000).

Pro-Palestinian activism

Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966)
Beginnings: Intention and Method(1975)
Orientalism (1978)
The Question of Palestine (1979)
Orientalisme (1980)
Literature and Society (editor) (1980)
The Middle East: What Chances For Peace? (1980) [co-contributor with Joseph J. Sisco, Shlomo Avineri, Saburo Okita, Udo Steinbach, William Scranton, Abdel Hamid Abdel-Ghani and H.R.H. Prince Saud]
Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World (1981)
The World, the Text and the Critic (1983)
After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (1986) [with photographs by Jean Mohr]
Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question (1988) [contributor and co-editor with Christopher Hitchens]
Yeats and Decolonization (1988)
Musical Elaborations (1991)
Culture and Imperialism (1993)
The Politics of Dispossession (1994)
Representations of the Intellectual: The Reith Lectures (1994)
The Pen and the Sword: Conversations with Edward W. Said (1994) [Conversations with David Barsamian]
Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process (1996)
Entre guerre at paix (1997)
Acts of Aggression: Policing "Rogue States" (with Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark) (1999)
Out of Place (1999) (a memoir)
Henry James: Complete Stories, 1884-1891 (Editor) (1999)
The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After (2000)
Reflections on Exile (2000)
The Edward Said Reader (2000)
Power, Politics and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said (2001)
CIA et Jihad, 1950-2001: Contre l'URSS, une désastreuse alliance (2002), with John K. Cooley
Culture and Resistance: Conversations with Edward W. Said (2003) [Interviews by David Barsamian]
Freud and the Non-European (2003)
From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map (Collection of Essays) (2003)
Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (with Daniel Barenboim) (2003)
Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2005)
On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain (will be published posthumously April 2006)
Criticism in Society (year of publication unknown)
Edward Said: A Critical Reader (year of publication unknown)
Jewish Religion, Jewish History (Introduction) (year of publication unknown)
Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature (year of publication unknown) See also
"I think that there has been a tendency in the Middle East field to adopt the word "orientalism" as a generalized swear-word essentially referring to people who take the "wrong" position on the Arab-Israeli dispute or to people who are judged too "conservative." It has nothing to do with whether they are good or not good in their disciplines. So "orientalism" for many people is a word that substitutes for thought and enables people to dismiss certain scholars and their works. I think that is too bad. It may not have been what Edward Said meant at all, but the term has become a kind of slogan."

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