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Horizons in Post-Colonial Studies
Pal Ahluwalia and Bill Ashcroft

Edward Said alld the Post-Colollial EDWARD SAID AND

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

Narratives ofColollialism: Sugar, Java alld the Dutch

G. Roger Knight
ISBN 1-56072-710-1 EDITORS

WlJite alld Deadly: Sugar alld Colollialism

Pal Ahluwalia, Bill Ashcroft and Roger Knight (Editors)
ISBN 1-56072-814-0

Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Huntington, New York
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Pal Ahluwalia and Bill Ashcroft (Series Editors)
Library ofCongress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
ISBN 1-59033-157-5. Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadltim
Copyright 200 I by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. ArifDirlik
Huntington, New York 11743
Tele. 631-424-NOYA (6682) Fax 631-425-5933
Patrick Williams
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval Patrick Bralltlinger
system or transmitted in any form or by any means: electronic, electrostatic, CHAPTER 4: WORLDLINESS 73
magnetic, tape, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise without Bill Ashcroft
pennission from the publishers.
Linda Hutcheon
The authors and publisher have taken care in preparation of this book, but make
no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for CHAPTER 6: EUROPE'S OCCIDENTALISMS 107
any errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for incidental or consequential Susanne Zan top
damages in connection with or arising out of infonnation contained in this book. CHAPTER 7: THE EVOLUTION OF ORlENTALISM AND AFRICANIST
This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information Pal Ahluwalia
with regard to the subject matter covered herein. It is sold with the clear
understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal or any other CHAPTER 8: POSTCOLONIALISM AS NEO-ORIENTALISM: SAROJINI
professional services. If legal or any other expert assistance is required, the NAIDU AND ARUNDHATI ROY 145
services of a competent person should be sought. FROM A DECLARATION OF Elleke Boehmer
Mutapha Marrouclti
Printed in the United States ofAmerica NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 187

Pal Altluwalia alld Bill Ashcroft (Series Editors)


Post-Colonial Studies has undergone a meteoric rise in the past decade in

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

Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim

There are few public intellectuals today who demonstrate more

completely than Edward Said the paradox of identity in an increasingly
diasporic and culturally heterogeneous world. Whether this is because his
public profile is so high, his political advocacy so urgent and vociferous, or
his intellectual reputation so widespread, there hardly seems to be a cultural
critic more visibly caught up in a web of contradictions. We find
contradictions everywhere in his work and life: contradictions between his
beliefs and preferences; contradictions between his highly Westernised
professional persona and his Palestinian identity; contradictions between his
view of professional work and his place in the contemporary landscape.
Perhaps the most contradictory aspect of his place in contemporary theory
is his relationship with 'the post-colonial.' Although his pronouncements on
the subject have not been carved in stone, it is clear that he has neither a close
acquaintance with contemporary post-colonial theory, nor a clear
understanding of its goals. Claimed by many to be the originator of post-
colonial studies, he demonstrates little interest in this (or any) field of cultural
theory. In many respects this contradiction demonstrates better than anything
else his desire to act as a 'secular' 'amateur' intellectual. While his place in
post-colonial theory is so significant, his increasingly obsessive rejection of
any theory that appears to be 'academic' has meant that more often than not he
x Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim Introduction Xl

has turned his back on what may be, educationally, his major constituency. As he expresses it, Said's view of 'secular criticism' is at odds with any
This paradox is symptomatic, not only of Edward Said, but also of post- field ofliterary studies which employs a 'priestly' and abstruse specialization,
colonial theory. There is possibly no other contemporary movement beset by which ignores the injunction to 'criticize' in the pursuit of the theologies of
such a range of definitions and interpretations, and, consequently, such a theoretical dogma. Who would not agree with this? But is there in this
multi-facetted collection of objections and controversies. In what other field of vigorous amateurism a danger of doing exactly what Said warns against, of
study do we see greater confusion and anxiety about its very name; what other ignoring the worldliness of theory? For 'criticism' exists no more in a vacuum
theory experiences such complaint and condemnation from the very people than does theory and when that theory pays urgent attention to the material,
whose names have come to be associated with it? And yet, just as the how much more imperative is it to be driven by a systematic view of power
contradictions of Said's work are a sign of its vitality, so too, the paradoxes relations? This paradox is both symptomatic and central to Said's ambiguous
and plurality characterising post-colonial studies are a sure sign of its relationship with post-colonial studies. For whatever his expressed opinion
dynamism and strength. about post-colonial theory (and what little there is seems contradictory) there
In a field that demonstrates so well Said's own thesis in Beginnings that is no doubt that the recurring elements of his own theory are in funda~
all cultural and theoretical movements have many beginnings rather than a agreement with the interests and trajectory of post-colonial critics.
single origin, a field with which he has had an ambivalent relationship, to say -Clearly, we intend thIS collecfion to-dfaw away from the myth of origins,
the least, his Orientalism has been widely accorded the status of a seminal the myth of Said's place at the beginning of post-colonial theory, for a more
text. One introduction after another puts Said at the beginning of a theory to critical, searching, and, in the end, more productive view of the value of his
which he makes little mention throughout his career. It would be hard to find a work to the various branches of post-colonial studies. There is hardly a more
more desperate need for origins than this need to find a 'beginning' for post- quoted source in this field, but almost always it is for the wrong reason. The
colonial theory. But if any 'beginning' is to found in this overdetermined 'great man' myth renders stagnant the very ideas for which he is celebrated.
discourse it is to be found in the many beginnings of colonial occupation. Rather than providing a myth of origins, Said's work is capable of providing a
If post-colonial theory is to be described in general terms as the vigorous theoretical energy to the field. This volume demonstrates the
intellectual engagement with the consequences of colonization, then it began controversy surrounding his work as well as the different directions in which
in the work of colonized writers as soon as they were forced into colonial his work can be taken, the ways in which it can focus critical thinking about
education systems. Systematic theorizing of colonization and its attendant colonialism and power relations.
features such as race, language, resistance and representation first found in ~ The opening essay by Patrick Williams exposes the nature of the
Frantz Fanon, was long preceded by theory which could not claim the name contradictions surrounding Said's place in contemporary theory. Williams
theory in the creative writing of colonial intellectuals. Said's Orienta/ism takes issue with Said for the latter's ostensible disavowal of and indeed
stands as a reference point, a marker at an imagined junction of the many negative, even superficial, assessment of post-colonial theory - distinguished
tributaries that had been feeding the growing awareness of post-colonial here from the main stream of Western theory - and for what amounts to an
cultural production since World War II. Tributaries as disparate as offhand dismissal of the post-colonial intellectual on the part of Said. This is
'Commonwealth' literary study; the cultural commentary of C.L.R. James and not simply a critique of Said's lack of awareness of part of the worldliness of
other Caribbean intellectuals; the phenomenon of the Heinemann African his own text, but a demonstration of the kinds of methodological diversity and
Writers Series; Kwame Nkrumah's thesis ofneo-colonialism and the growing defmitional paradox that characterises post-colonial studies itself. In Said's
opposition to development theory; the establishment of institutes such as relationship with post-colonial theory we discover some of the more
Dhvanyaloka in India - all these flow into the overdetermined stream of problematic consequences of the secular critic, and indeed, his ambivalent
contemporary post-colonial studies. relationship with the field is the focus of this volume.
xii Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim Introduction Xlll

A prominent factor in Said's relationship with the post-colonial lies in the "Worldliness" for a post-colonial agenda. This view of worldliness, although
affinities he has with contemporary cultural studies, and nowhere is this more it is inspired by literary theory, suggests that he may be closer to the
obvious than in Culture and Imperialism in which Said gives credit to materialism of the Ahmads and Dirliks than they realise (as is the project of
Raymond Williams, who has a similarly complex relationship with a field of post-colonial studies). Ashcroft views Worldliness as Said's most "post-
study for which he is often held to be an originator. Patrick Brantlinger colonial" and also most crucial contribution to critical theory. To the extent
stresses the intellectual affinities between Said and Raymond Williams and that it emphasizes the materiality of the text, the concept of Worldliness (of
points to the influence of Williams and of cultural studies on Said's thinking. both text and critic) thus works to counter the unbridled textuality of much
A refusal to acknowledge Williams' influence on Said, Brantlinger notes, poststructuralist theory. As such, Ashcroft argues, Said's key concept reflects
accounts for many Marxist critiques of Orientalism such as that of Aijaz the aims of post-colonial criticism to represent and intervene in the world.
Ahmad. Moreover, despite the controversy surrounding Said's positioning within the
Said's prominence and his relentless advocacy of the rights of the post-colonial, his insistence on the materiality of the text and his emphasis on
Palestinian people have made him the target of much criticism particularly the necessity for criticism to be politically and socially engaged signal the real
from ultra-conservative journals such as Commentary. The infamous convergence between Said and post-colonialism.
'Professor of terror' slur by Edward Alexander in thatjoumal in 1989 has been One of the keys to the vexed relationship between Said and post-colonial
followed up most recently by Justus Reid Weiner's 'My Old Beautiful Home' studies is the fact that in interest and background, Said is concerned with the
(1999) - to which Mustapha Marrouchi responds in the course of his reading broad impact of Europe's imperialism rather than the specifics of its
of Said's memoir Out of Place- - widely regarded as a politically-motivated colonialism (and also, perhaps, rather than the specifics of resistance). In her
attempt to discredit the foremost spokesperson of the Palestinian cause. Most essay Linda Hutcheon, who views Orientalism as an act of historical
criticisms of Said, however, have been triggered by the apparent witnessing, proposes drawing a very useful distinction between "post-
methodological and conceptual problems of Orientalism. One species of colonial" and "postimperial" discourses. Locating the originary moment of
critique is best represented by Aijaz Ahmad who, in his book In Theory both discourses at the colonial encounter, she assigns to the former denoting
(1992), assails Said for the predominantly Western cultural apparatus of discourses that are concerned with the impact of that encounter over time on
Orientalism and also for the book's allegedly anti-Marxist stance. the colonized. Postimperial discourses, however, are defined as those
In the tradition' of Marxist critics such as Aijaz Ahmad, Arif Dirlik discourses that address the impact of the encounter over time on empire and
expands his criticism of post-colonial studies to include Edward Said. Dirlik its discourses. According to this scheme, and due to the book's primary focus
chronicles the transformation of post-colonialism from radical beginnings (the on the imperial discourses of the West, Orientalism falls within the category
post-colonialism of national liberation movements), to what he perceives to be of the postimperial rather than the post-colonial. Misdirected critiques of
a depoliticized post-colonialism marked by an abandonment of its initial focus Orientalism, Hutcheon notes, are attributable to Said's own positioning as
and by a preoccupation with issues of race and ethnicity (the contemporary both a post-colonial and postimperial historian as well as to the overlap
post-colonialism of identity politics). Contemporary post-colonialism's between the postimperial (a theoretical focus) and the post-colonial (an
overemphasis on cultural identity, Dirlik warns, has the effect of decentering enunciative position) within Orientalism itself. Despite the overlap and
issues of political economy and amounts to possible complicity with structures confusions, however, Hutcheon makes a conVInCIng case for the
of political economy. Dirlik further argues that Said's affinities to and differentiation between the two modes of discourses: the postimperial
positioning between both strains of post-colonialism account for the paradoxes (Orientalism as well as Culture and Imperialism), and the post-colonial which
and contradictions that abound in his thinking. predominates in Said's works on Palestine.
Bill Ashcroft underscores the distinction between Said's professed Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding Said's work, the mode of
antipathy to post-colonial theory and the significance of his concept of colonial discourse analysis initiated in Said's study of Orientalism continues
xiv Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim Introduction xv

to be applied to a plurality of discourses with a view to identifying possible his work is used, may differ from the way he reads it. But ultimately, the
linkages to imperialism. An instance of such application is Susanne Zantop's political meaning of Said's cultural theory emerges in the use to which it may
proposal to expand the Orient-Occident dichotomy central to Said's study of be put, in the project of liberation and transformation lying at the centre of the
Orientalism. What this dichotomy fails to take into account, notes Zantop, are 'post-colonial. '
the "discovery" of the Americas and the consequences of that "discovery" in
terms of producing multiple occidents. Focusing on European representations
of the "New World," Zantop argues that the inclusion of the Americas in the
debate is crucial to the decentring task of post-colonial studies. Pal Ahluwalia
outlines the way in which Said's Orientalist project can stand as a model for
many other examples of the cultural and political relationship between Europe
and its others. A significant case is African Studies. The discursive
construction of 'Africa' and 'the African' is a profound demonstration of the
link between knowledge and power, and reaches even more deeply into the
imagination of the West than does the Orient.
Orientalism's extraordinary currency has not impeded critical activity
aimed at extending, reformulating, and reorienting some of its key
assumptions. Elleke Boehmer, for instance, although she stops short of
suggesting "a knowing complicity" between the post-colonial and neo-
colonialism, nonetheless posits a certain relatedness between post-eolonial
studies and the continuing hegemony of the Western metropolis. This
relatedness is apparent, inter alia, in what she terms "a neo-orientalist
rhetoric" that lingers on in post-colonial literary criticism from the West, its
oppositionality notwithstanding. Juxtaposing the critical reception of the
Indian woman poet, Sarojini Naidu in England in 1892 with the postcolonial
reception of another Indian writer, the novelist Arundhati Roy, in the West in
the 1990s, Boehmer discerns unsettling parallels between colonial discourse
and recent post-eolonialliterary criticism.
Mustapha Marrouchi's wide ranging discussion of Said's memoir Out of
Place reveals how Said's sense of displacement, a sense exacerbated and
ironically demonstrated by the most recent attack by Justus Weiner, is a
function of both the most personal and the most global trajectories of cultural
displacement. This memoire itself leaves us with a very clear sense of the link
between the personal and the cultural, a sense of the materiality and specifics
of exile and displacement. Ironically, it is these specific features of the
experience of the displaced Palestinian academic that best demonstrate the
paradox of the contemporary post-colonial intellectual. Ultimately this
paradox can be seen to be a matter of reading. How we read Said's work, how
Chapter 1




Edward Said is an intellectual of many paradoxes. His work over the last
three decades has articulated the most cogent and sustained critiques of
Eurocentrism, and yet he retains an intellectual and personal commitment to
the values of European humanism, and the products of its high culture. He
owes much of his political and moral stature to his commitment to the
Palestinian cause, at the risk of personal abuse and danger, and yet he is a
relentless critic of nationalism, including Palestinian nationalism. He has
written incisively about the complicity of academic institutions in domination
and hegemony, and yet is ready to rush to the defense of the American
university against its critics from the left and the right. He is a thorough
professional who is critical of professionalism in the name of the public
obligations of intellectuals. While his work has inspired new theoretical
departures in literary and cultural criticism, he disclaims theory as a major
concern of his work. The list could go on-almost indefinitely.
Said himself has been explicit in acknowledging his paradoxes, and
commentators on his work have been quite aware of the ways in which these
paradoxes inform his cultural and literary analyses. Interestingly, Said's
paradoxes or, more strongly, contradictions, rather than undermine his
2 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 3

credibility, have served to empower his work, and enabled him to retain his While Said on occasion uses the fashionable postcolonial tenm "hybridity"
autonomy as a critic against pressures to confonmity of changing intellectual with reference to both himself and his analytical perspective, his is what M.
and political fashions, incl uding those for which his own work may be Bakhtin wrote of as "intentional hybridity," that sets different voices against
responsible. Said's credibility is due in part to an intellectual integrity that one another without denying their (at times) irreconcilable differences
refuses to disavow the many pasts, and the cultural baggage, accumulated in (Bakhtin 1981: 358-359). Rather than submerge difference into an opaque
the course of a complex personal itinerary that has traversed a variety of hybridity, Said, as Mustapha Marrouchi observes, inhabits "a space of
historical and cultural situations; from Jerusalem through Beirut and Cairo to multiple allegiances," or perhaps even more accurately, multiple spaces, that
New York. He has been quite open about the ways in which his "Western" are not always easily reconciled, but provide him with a multiplicity of
and "elite" education have shaped him, about his love for the EuroAmerican interpretive locations (Marrouchi 1998: 209).
writers whose works he subjects to criticism, and even the ways in which his Most discussions of Said with which 1 am familiar focus on the spatialities
background and education have divided him intellectually and esthetically that these paradoxes represent, or produce; at the most fundamental level, the
from the Palestinian and Arab societies he speaks for. Referring to other Third cultural "in-betweenness" that infonms his self-image and his work. 1 would
World intellectuals, more hostile than he to the products of European like to turn here to a paradox that is temporal, that has been suppressed in the
humanism, he states in his interview with Jennifer Wicke and Michael preoccupation with cultural spaces: Said's location in the unfolding of the
Sprinker, with a note of defiance, that "there's no reason for me to perfonm postcolonial. One of the more intriguing paradoxes in Said's career is the part
acts of amputation on myself, intellectual, spiritual, or esthetic, simply he has played in the emergence and legitimation of contemporary postcolonial
because in the experience of other people from the Third World, a black criticism, with its preoccupation with the culture and politics of identity. On
novelist from Nigeria like Achebe or your West Indian friend, can make my the other hand, Said has drawn insistently on an earlier, more politically
Proust or Conrad into someone who is only despicable" (Wicke and Sprinker oriented, postcolonialism preoccupied with questions of national liberation,
1992: 253, emphasis mine). He stands out among so-called postcolonial revolution, and Third World alternatives to capitalism and existing fonms of
intellectuals for his honesty in acknowledging the ways in which his class socialism; and objects to the postcolonialist preoccupation with identity, its
background have both shaped and limited his political choices (253). His repudiation of metanarratives, and even the tenm postcolonial itself (Said
honesty extends to an unwillingness to suppress in ideological generalizations 1998/9: 92). These different versions of postcolonialism also pervade much of
the political dilernrnas facing the Third World, and the Third World Said's writing in tense co-existence, raising questions about his work among
intellectual. contemporary postcolonials who feel uneasy about Said's continued
But there is more to the empowenment than personal attributes. Said has willingness to affirm "binarisms" and even "essentialisms." That Said has
rendered personal experiences into method as he has brought his own diverse nevertheless played an important part in the emergence of this contemporary
and conflicting cultural allegiances into play against one another. He writes in postcolonialism also raises questions concerning his departures from an
his introduction to Culture alld Imperialism that "this book is an exile's book. earlier, politically radical, postcolonialism, that need to be queried for closer
For objective reasons that 1 had no control over, 1 grew up as an Arab with a assessment of some of the more problematic aspects of his thinking. Benita
Western education. Ever since 1 can remember, 1 have felt that 1 belonged to Parry has recognized Said's complex positioning in the field of
both worlds, without being completely of either one or the other" (Said 1993: postcolonialism in observing that,
xxvi). He describes the "perspective" his experience of exile produced as
"contrapuntal," which refers both to a way of thinking about people, and a A critique of culture and imperialism that situates itself on the borders and
method of analysis and reading texts; the method suggesting, to this writer boundaries of knowable communities, intellectual systems, and critical
practices, celebrating the unhoused and decentred counter-energies generated
anyway, a decoding of a text, a culture or whatever with the aid of its
by the displaced critical consciousness, enacts a theoretical mode
acknowledged or suppressed Other, while recognizing the integrity of both. symptomatic of a postcolonial cosmopolitanism which proclaims its multiple
4 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 5

detachments and occupancy of a hybrid discursive space. It is a precarious radical social, economic and political programs into the problematic of
position for a politically aligned theorist to maintain, and a demonstration of cultural discourse.
Said apparently contradicting himself is when in the same breath he
acknowledges the importance of moving from one identity to another, and The postcolonial in its contemporary appearance is shaped by the retreat
afflffi1S that "[O]ne of the virtues of being a Palestinian is that it teaches you from revolution with the reconfiguration of global relations in the eighties.
to feel your particularity in a new way, not only as a problem but as a kind of This retreat is most readily visible in the abandonment in postcolonial
gift" (Parry 1992: 19-20). criticism of two categories that were fundamental to earlier revolutionary
discourses: nation and class. There are complex reasons for the increasingly
I would like to pursue this contradiction a bit further, in the perspective of problematic nature of these two categories in our day, some of which I have
the history of postcolonialism; which requires a diversion from the subject at discussed elsewhere. Here I will speak briefly to those aspects of the problem
hand, but is necessary nevertheless to place what I have to say in historical that are directly pertinent to the issues at hand.
context. As Aijaz Ahmad has pointed out, the idea of the postcolonial itself Ironically, in our day, when formal political colonialism has all but
has a history (Ahmad 1995: I). In its initial, more or less literal, temporal disappeared, it is the nation and nationalism in their claims to homogeneous
sense, it referred to newly liberated colonies, and was quite radical in its cultural identities that appear as the greatest foes of cultural and historical
social, economic and political implications: breaking with the colonial past to diversity, and the free play of individual and group identities-including those
create new societies economically, politically and culturally. Integral to the that are the legacies of colonialism. Whereas an earlier generation experienced
postcolonial vision of this early period (peaking in the 1960s) were ideologies colonialism as erasure of real or imagined native identities, and set out to
of national liberation that sought national autonomy in all realms from the recover those identities through the agency of the nation, postcolonial self-
colonial past as well as the neo-colonial present. National liberation identification with hybridity, in-betweenness, marginality, borderlands, etc.,
movements of this early period were informed for the most part by socialist represents in some fundamental ways the revolt against claims to authentic
programs of one kind or another; which also explains the affinity between national identity of those whose very cultural formation was a product of the
ideologies of national liberation and Third World socialisms such as the colonial encounter at home and abroad. While postcolonial criticism devotes
Chinese. Against an earlier scholarship infused with colonial or neo-colonial much effort to the critique of the ideologies of colonial domination (chief
assumptions, the radical postcolonial vision fostered both at home and abroad among them, Eurocentrism), it ironically also represents an affirmation of the
a new anti-colonial scholarship. colonial past-at least of the colonial past in the postcolonial. The postcolonial
These beginnings are largely forgotten in contemporary conceptions of celebration of hybridity and in-betweenness is a celebration against nationalist
postcoloniality, which not only have tumed their back on these origins, but cultural claims of a culture which includes the culture of the colonizer as a
indeed may be viewed as a negation of the original sense of the postcolonial constituent moment; that also reasserts the claims to cultural priority of those
of which they are products. The ambivalence produced by this dialectical groups in society shaped by the colonial encounter.
positioning is visible in the works of Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and Stuart The failure of postcolonial national liberation regimes to deliver on their
Hall who today are hailed as originators of postcolonial criticism as we have it political, economic and cultural promises is no doubt an important factor in
now, but whose works are nevertheless deeply marked by their points of this turnabout. But so is the proliferation of diasporic populations that has
departure in an earlier sense of the postcolonial, connected to its radical social accompanied economic and political globalization, whose demographic
programs even as they articulated a new discourse of culture that would dispersal has created a situation in which it is no longer possible to identify
ultimately negate those origins. It is not that culture was missing from earlier cultures with national boundaries. One of the important by-products of this
discussions of postcoloniality; but it is a long ways from the "cultural situation-encompassed in slogans of globalization-is increased porosity of the
revolutions" of national liberation movements in which culture appeared as boundaries that earlier separated the colonizers from the colonized; which may
part of a broader political program to the contemporary disappearance of account for the receptivity to postcolonialism among the intellectuals and
6 Arif Dirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 7

institutions of metropolitan centers (unlike, say, in earlier largely negative importation of capitalism through the agency of colonialism and, in spite of
responses to third-worldist separatism). their resentment of imperialist domination, also shared common interests with
There is also a reminder here, however, of the need for caution in the latter. Given the ties of these groups to imperialism, national liberation
generalizing the postcolonial experience, which was historically the most must be unsuccessful so long as they retained their power. Much the same
significant for those who experienced colonialism as a transformative cultural pertained to nation-building as a cultural project: that the recovery of authentic
force. Even in those cases, there is much that is problematic. The questioning national traditions also required the "re-nationalization" of those who had
of authenticity to nationalist claims has had as an underlying purpose the come under colonial cultural hegemony. The Chinese Cultural Revolution in
recognition of equal "authenticity" to those who were products of the colonial the sixties may be seen as one eloquent testimonial to the coincidence of
"borderlands," whose cultures include the cultures of colonialism. economic, political and cultural projects in a situation of obsessive concern
Unreflective promotion of "borderlands," however, has gone beyond such with national autonomy, where the necessity of purging the culturally
demands for recognition to the erasure of all alternatives to the borderlands, "contaminated" classes appeared as a primary task. Such extremist nativism
and "borderlands" that were products of encounters other than the colonial. At was not restricted to China, needless to say, but entered in various ways
a time when claims to ethnic authenticities proliferate, the preoccupation with speculation over the future of national cultures in all national liberation
"borderlands" makes for a blindness to other ways of perceiving cultural self- movements. It is not difficult to appreciate why the revolt against claims to
identification that have as much claim to their self-identifications as diasporic national cultural authenticity on the part of those disenfranchised culturally by
intellectuals and populations. Indeed, diasporic populations are hardly nativism should tum "class" itself into an undesirable category.' On the other
homogeneous, but deeply divided socially; against the insistence on cultural hand, the abandonment of class issues deprives analysis of a major intellectual
hybridity of diasporic elites, large sections of these populations appear to be instrument in evaluating differences in claims to marginality, nourishing
more adamant about their cultural authenticities-traditions-than the pretensions to ethnic unity and homogeneity.
populations at their places of departure. That the "border" claims of Strong traces of the origins of the postcolonial in the colonial persist in the
postcolonialism are taken more seriously at first world locations than in third preoccupation with questions of race and ethnicity. And in its ideological
world origins also point to the power context for contemporary discussions of effects, the generalization of the postcolonial has resulted also in the
culture. There is little that is puzzling about the receptivity in metropolitan generalization of the problematics of ethnicity and race above all other
centers to postcolonialist arguments in favor of "border" cultures, as those questions. The meaning and politics of postcoloniality have been transformed
arguments confirm that metropolitan cultures have become inevitable as postcolonial criticism has suppressed important elements that earlier
components of the colonized. structured the concept of the postcolonial; ethnicity and race have been the
While the retreat from class presents its own problems within the context
of globalization, it is not entirely unrelated to the question of the nation. One I The historical context for these developments is the renunciation by national liberation states
of the fundamental premises of earlier national liberation movements, that of their own pasts. Nevertheless, this does not eliminate the contradictions generated by past
legacies. Thus, a state such as the Chinese, has abandoned its earlier commitments to national
distinguished them from other forms of Third World nationalism, was autonomy in the economic realm; but it continues to pretend that cultural boundaries can and
conviction in the necessity of a social revolution as a prerequisite of national should be policed. This is less convincing than ever before in its contradictions with the
liberation and autonomy, which also explains their affinity to socialism. The economic policies of the regime. Arguments in favour of borderlands cultures are obviously
of important critical significance in the critique of such policies. On the other hand, such state
reason was fairly straightforward from the perspective of a Leninist (if not just policies and postcolonial criticism may be contemporaries, especially with regard to a
a Leninist) appreciation of the contradictions of imperialism: that colonial or compartmentalized isolation of various realms of life from one another, As the Chinese state
imperialist domination required for its effectiveness and perpetuation the wishes to concentrate on the economic realm, and is reluctant to speak to issues of cutture(or
even politics), postcolonial criticism focuses on issues of culture and relegates issues of
complicity of native classes-"feudal" classes bent on preserving their power political economy to the background. Such compartmentalization betrays the legacy of
against new nationalist forces, or "bourgeoisies" who were products of the
8 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 9

chief beneficiaries of the retreat from nation and class-especially in the a product largely of a refusal to address questions of structure and totality-has
homelands of the new version of the postcolonial in metropolitan institutions. facilitated such ideological use of postcolonialism. Such questions of structure
In the academic discourse of the early to mid-1980s, ethnicity and race include the legacies of colonial spaces which persist beneath the appearances
appeared mostly in conjunction with class and gender, which pointed to a of globality and continue to shape not only the configurations of power and
discursive conjuncture between feminism and the postcolonial in it original political economy, but also diasporic motions and cultural formations. An
sense as a problem in culture and ethnicity as well as in the structures of excessive attention to free-floating cosmopolitans conceals that most diasporic
political economy. Class was the first casualty as the postcolonial in its motions are regulated by conditions of political economy and, in the case of
unfolding turned its back on structures of political economy. Issues of gender, migrations out of former colonies, follow paths that end up in the "mother"
too, were quickly infiltrated by issues of race and ethnicity. By the time country.
postcolonialism in its contemporary guise appeared in the nineties, ethnicity On the other hand, the projection of the postcolonial argument to the past
and race had moved to the center of the discourse. Conceived to combat has rendered the colonial past into just one more phase on the way to
ethnocentrism and racism, postcolonial discourse ironically contributes globalization, while erasing the revolutionary pasts that, for all their failures,
presently to the racialization and ethnicization of the languages of both critical envisioned alternatives to capitalist globality. The criticism of the nation, that
intellectual work and politics-with liberal intentions, no doubt, but at the risk does not distinguish between different kinds of nationalism, also serves to
on the one hand of covering up proliferating problems of social inequality and erase the revolutionary movements that took the nation as their premise. So
oppression whose origins lie elsewhere, and, on the other hand, of does the obliviousness to questions of class. In light of what I have observed
contributing to the consolidation of the very ethnic, national and racial above with reference to the re-evaluation of class formations in earlier
boundaries that it is intended to render porous and traversible. Both risks are national liberation movements, it may be understandable why postcolonial
visible plainly in that slogan that has become dear to a an emergent multi- critics from formerly colonial societies should be reluctant to speak to issues
ethnic globalist establishment: multi-culturalism. of class, as they hail for the most part from classes that were (and are) suspect
I have no wish here to go in any depth into a problem that I have in the eyes of nativists. This makes it all the more imperative to speak to
discussed at length in a number of places; namely, the relationship between issues of class, however, as postcolonial elites are increasingly entangled in
globalization and postcolonialism. Suffice it to say here that postcolonial the transnational class formations produced by global reconfigurations. In the
concerns resonate with questions concerning the status of the nation-state, process, the postcolonial argument is mobilized to serve as an alibi for a
classes, identities, etc. in a world where globalization real or imagined has cultural colonialism that is so thorough that it is nearly impossible to speak
also captured the imagination of many; and it is hardly coincidental that the about it, as colonialism itself loses its meaning where it proceeds by consent
two have gained in intellectual popularity in tandem. If globalization for its of the colonized. However diluted in its dissolution of social differences into
promoters represents a break with an older world of colonialism, nationalism generalities about marginality or subalterneity, the postcolonial argument even
and revolution, that requires a re-writing of the past, postcolonialism offers in its later phase initially retained a concern for the underdog; as witness the
valuable tools for doing so. Postcolonialism, in other words, enjoys wide affinity postcolonial critics have expressed with the Subaltern historians. By
appeal because it has something important to say about the contemporary now, however, postcolonial criticism has become absorbed into institutions of
world. This also is its predicament as a critical discourse. What is intended as power, its arguments appropriated by those who may feel marginal in certain
a critique turns into a legitimation of a new ideology of globalization when it ways, but represent new forms of power in others. It may be indicative of this
is mobilized in service of the latter. The failure of most so-called postcolonial assimilation to transnational power that any call to disentangle
critics to position themselves critically vis-a-vis the ideology of globalization- postcolonialism as an intellectually and politically critical strategy from its

functionalism, which ignored that the economic is also social, political and cultural, just as the
cultural is at once social, political and economic.
10 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 11

service to new structures of power provokes censorial charges of "Ieft- utilized in European writing since the Renaissance to inform and invigorate
conservatism," racism, and more colorfully, if in language reminiscent of "the economic and political machinery that...stands at the center of
politburo commissars, monsters arising from the netherlands. It may also imperialism," he writes that,
explain why first-world lIluchacho postcolonials should be even more adamant
than third world postcolonial intellectuals in the defense of postcoloniality. It ...if it is embarrassing for us to remark that those elements of a society we
have long considered to be progressive were, so far as empire was concerned,
is even arguable that within the discourse of postcoloniality, the literally
uniformly retrograde, we still must not be afraid to say it. When I say
postcolonial are increasingly marginalized as the postcolonial is abstracted as "retrograde" I speak here of advanced writers and artists, of the working
"method," and appropriated for first world concerns that have little to do with class, and of women, whose imperialist fervor increased in intensity and
the colonial per se. perfervid enthusiasm for the acquisition of and sheer bloodthirsty dominance
Said inhabits both worlds of the postcolonial; the postcolonialism of over innumerable niggers, bog dwellers, babus and wogs, as the competition.
..also increased in brutality and senseless, even profitless, control. Wbat
radical national liberation movements, which informs his writing and his self- enables us to say all of those things retrospectively is the perspective
image, as well as the postcolonialism of identity politics, to the articulation of provided for us in the twentieth century by theoreticians, militants, and
which he has contributed significantly. What I referred to above as his insurgent analysts of imperialism like Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, C.L.R.
dialectical positioning between these worlds helps account for the paradoxes James, Aime Cesaire, Walter Rodney, plus many others like them, on the one
and contradictions in his thinking. On the other hand, what we might perceive band, and on the other hand, by the great nationalist artists of decolonization
and revolutionary nationalism, like Tagore, Senghor, Neruda, Vellejo,
as his quite apparent will to contradictoriness has provided him with an Cesaire, Faiz, Darwish...and Yeats (Eagleton, Jameson and Said 1990: 72-3).
autonomous intellectual identity that enables him to re-read past ideologies
with present concerns, while avoiding entrapment in the ideologies of the These anti-colonial writers' names and works (with Fanon holding a
present, because he continues to invoke the past against the present; special place) appear repeatedly in Said's work, and so do the issues that they
contrapuntal reading temporalized, so to speak. Contrapuntal reading, raised; it is possible to detect in Said's writing on occasion even the language
however, is not the same as a dialectical resolution of the questions raised by in which they raised those issues. He remarks in his interview with Jennifer
the history of the postcolonial, and the self-conscious will to contradiction, Wicke and Michael Sprinker that, "what Fanon calls the conversion, the
however powerful as a critical tool, in the end exacts its own price in transformation, of national into political and social consciousness, hasn't yet
substituting for political utopia the utopianization of the itinerant intellectual. taken place. It's an unfinished project, and that's where I think my work has
Said perceives his work as heir to, and continuous with, the critique of begun" (236). He is willing to condone, at least as a "tactical" necessity, the
colonialism by an earlier generation of intellectuals who played seminal roles advocacy of redemptive violence by Fanon, and "the extraordinary intensity"
in articulating the tasks of anti-colonial politics and culture in the process of of Cabral's "mobilizing force, his animosity and violence, the way
national liberation. Commenting on the ways in which culture has been ressentiment and hate keep turning up-all the more evident against the
particularly ugly backdrop of Portuguese colonialism" (Said 1993: 274-5). He
2 1 am referring here to the distempered remarks by Stuart Hall with reference to an earlier is equally unwilling to condemn the Marxist (especially Leninist) inspiration
critique of mine of postcolonialism: "We always knew that the dismantling of the colonial
that informed ideologies and cultural products of national liberation
paradigm would release scrange demons from the deep. and that these monsters might come
tTailing all sorts of subterranean malerial," (Hall 1996: 259). The "we always knew" part movements. While Said confesses to an inability to "identify with Marxism"
suggests that postcolonial criticism emerged as some premeditated strategy devised by an because of its totalizations, its tendencies to orthodoxy, and the less than
unnamed group, but Hall does not tell us what the occasion was for the lIconspiracy." That a
savory careers of Marxist parties, Marxists from G. LukAcs to A.Gramsci, T.
distinguished intellectual should be so oblivious to the history in postcolonial criticism is
indicative of the pitfalls in postcolonialist thinking. I, for one, appreciate Hall's readiness to Adorno and R. Williams (especially Gramsci and Williams) are among his
jump to the defense of his fellow-"conspirators," but such name-calling avoids the issues acknowledged inspirations.
involved-with which he would seem to agree, and which coincide with theoretical and
political positions he has adopted elsewhere.
12 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 13

Such claims may not mean much, as these various writers and literary keep in currency" (32) (emphasis mine). Even in the case of "defensive
figures are claimed by most contemporary postcolonial intellectuals in their nationalisms" such as those of the Third World, it is imperative for the
re-readings of the past, but unlike in the case of the latter, Said interestingly intellectual who seeks critical independence not to put solidarity ahead of
readily confesses to "limitations" of background in his ambivalent relationship criticism, as these nationalisms, too, perpetuate oppression of "disadvantaged
to Marxism (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 260-261).3 His involvement with the populations locked inside... unrepresented or suppressed" by the "status quo
Palestinian cause is no doubt a central element in the way he reads national powers of the national state," which "provides the intellectual with a real
liberation and Marxist texts, as the Palestine liberation movement in the 1960s opportunity to resist the forward march of the victors" (39). By the time Said
and 1970s was widely perceived by friends and foes alike as one of the many concludes his discussion, there is little doubt left in the mind of the reader that
anti-colonial national liberation struggles of the time. If Said's "Palestinian the public intellectual must at all times resist incorporation into the collective
nationalism" drives him to the texts of national liberation for answers, the "we" if slhe is to maintain critical autonomy against pressures of culture and
texts themselves, read with due regard for their integrity, compel attention to language, or the political demands for loyalty.
the politics and theories that inform them. Palestinian nationalist though he is, The reader of these lectures is likely to be surprised, then, by Said's
Said acknowledges nevertheless that "[I] draw out patterns from my peculiar prolific use of "we" and "our" a few years earlier in what may be his most
background, not so much my ethnic background, but the non-European personal work, After the Last Sky. He writes there, with reference to
background" (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 230). Palestinian identity, that:
This background also plays an obvious part in Said's ambivalence on the
question of nationalism. Over the last decade in particular, criticism of "the Identity-who we are, where we come from, what we are-is difficult to
fetishization of national identity," for its oppressive consequences as well as maintain in exile. Most other people take their identity for granted. Not the
Palestinian, who is required to show proofs of identity more or less
its destructive divisiveness, has been a constant theme in Said's writing (232).
constantly. It is not only that we are regarded as terrorists, but that our
In one of the series of lectures that comprise his 1994 volume, existence as native Arab inhabitants of Palestine, with primordial rights there
Representations ofthe Intellectual, Said devotes a few pages of his discussion (and not elsewhere), is either denied or challenged. And there is more. Such
to the use of pronouns such as "we" and "our" in political language, which as it is, our existence is linked negatively to encomiums about Israel's
refer not only to the writer or the speaker, but suggest "a national corporate democracy, achievements, excitement; in much Western rhetoric we have
slipped into the place occupied by Nazis and anti-Semites; collectively, we
identity" (1994: 29). He observes in elaboration that "there seems to be no
can aspire to little except political anonymity and resettlement; we are known
way of escaping the frontiers and enclosures built around us either by nations for no actual achievement, no characteristic worthy of esteem, except the
or by other kinds of communities (like Europe, Africa, the West, or Asia) that effrontery of disrupting Middle East peace...We have known no Einsteins, no
share a common language and a whole set of implied and shared Chagall, no Freud or Rubinstein to protect us with a legacy of achievements.
characteristics, prejudices, fixed habits of thought" (30). On the other hand, he We have had no Holocaust to protect us with the world's compassion. We
are "other," and opposite, a flaw in the geometry of resettlement and exodus
is quite obviously wary of the implications of such "corporate thinking," (Said 1986: 16-(7).
which makes it "only too easy to repeat collective formulas, since merely to
use a national language at all (there being no alternative to it) tends to commit It will not do to ascribe these contrasting stances to the nostalgic tone of
you to what is readiest at hand, herding you into those stock phrases and this earlier work against the more analytical orientation of the lectures, or a
popular metaphors for 'us' 'and them' that so many agencies, including passage of time that has witnessed a transformation of the author's views.
journalism, academic professionalism, and expedient communal intelligibility, While there may be a tone of nostalgia in After the Last Sky, to view it as
merely nostalgic would be to trivialize both the work and what Said has to say
there. And if there have been shifts in Said's emphases over the years,
3 See, also, pp. 227-229, for the influence of his class background on his response as a young
man to Nasserite socialism.
ambivalence toward nationalism has been one of the persistent traits of his
14 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 15

thinking.' It may be more productive, therefore, to read one statement against A significant segment of Arab Palestinian history has been made up of
the other, so as to bring out the tensions that have animated Said as an peasant fanning and agricultural life...Pastoral and rural forms of existence
dominate in our society. The chances are today that one out of every two
intellectual, and lent his work cultural and political complexity. While it is not
Palestinians you meet is descended from farmers or shepherds, and has deep
quite clear how it applies to him, his insistence on the pronoun "we" with roots in a land descended from farmers or shepherds, and has deep roots in a
reference to Palestinians resonates with his remarks in his lecture about the land worked by small rural communities. It is therefore very tempting to
confinement of the intellect by national language, and even by geographical think of this life as essentially timeless and anonymously collective. I am
region. perhaps an extreme case of an urban Palestinian whose relationship to the
land is basically metaphorical, I view the Palestinian community at a very
Said's lecture may also enable us to read After the Last Sky great remove (1986: 88).'
deconstructively. After the Last Sky is in a fundamental sense a skillful work
of propaganda (in a positive sense of that term), if not just a work of In contrast to a depoliticized postcolonialism that dismisses the nation
propaganda. It was written for Western readers, to impart to them a sense of with deceptive ease, Said's political alignment leads him to reaffirm
Palestinian life in all its variety in order to humanize Palestinians against their nationalism even as he remains suspicious of it on both political and cultural
de-humanization in a hostile environment. It is also a deeply "place-based" grounds. He writes in Culture and Imperialism that "(Njationalism's disabling
work, thanks largely to Jean Mohr's photography which seeks successfully to capacities have been lingered over and caricatured quite long enough by a
capture Palestinian life in its concrete everydayness.' Said, who at the time of large army of commentators, expert and amateur alike, for whom the non-
writing had been away from Palestine for almost four decades, in his Western world after the whites left it seems to have become little more than a
commentary reflects on these photographs which recall for him memories of nasty mix of tribal chieftains, despotic barbarians and mindless
Palestine, but also serve as reminders both of the varieties of Palestinian life, fundamentalists" (1993: 275-6). This affirmation in turn is informed by a
and his own distance from the immediacy of Palestine. If he essentializes recognition of the deep inequality in power that persists between the First and
being Palestinian against his recognition throughout the text of the diversity of the Third Worlds, which is suppressed in contemporary postcolonial criticism
Palestinian life in Israeli Palestine and in exile, it is only partially out of in the preoccupation with identity politics, politics of location, or the
nostalgia; for without the self-identification he reads into the photographs, the negotiability of cultural identities; in other words, in the separation of culture
work would have lost much of its propaganda value. These considerations from politics. While quite contemporary in his recognition of multiple
may not make the writing any the less essentialist (in a way that contrasts with complicities in the making of colonialism as well as postcolonialism, Said
the place-based diversity implied by the photographs), and Said's self- insists nevertheless that,
identification any the less real, but they suggest a need for reading the text in
more complex ways, with due attention to its politics, the distance between the An entire massive chapter in cultural history across five continents grows out
author and the text, and the ambivalence that peeks through its homogenizing of ...collaboration between natives on the one hand and conventional as well
nationalism. Said's self-identification as a Palestinian in this text is an as eccentric and contradictory representatives of imperialism on the other. In
imagined if not a willed self-identification; or, as he puts it, a "metaphorical" paying respect to it, acknowledging the shared and combined experiences
that produced many of us, we must at the same time note how at its center it
one. He writes of several photographs of rural life in Palestine that, nevertheless preserved the nineteenth century imperial divide between native
and Westerner. The many colonial schools in the Far East, India, the Arab
world, East and West Africa, for example, taught generations of the native
4 For the persistence of certain questions in Said's work over the years, see, Tim Brennan
(1992: 74-95). Said himself continues to use "we" insistently with reference to Palestinians,
most recently in an interview on the Serbian crisis on the BBC show, "The World Today," 16 6 Said's willful ambivalence on the question of the nation has a parallel in Stuart Hall's
April 1999. ambivalence on the question of cthnicity. Hall, too, is critical of essentialized ethnicity, even
S I am unable to expand here on the idea of the "place-based," which appears further in the as he recognizes the importance of ethnicity to the political identity of the oppressed. See,
discussion below. For an elaboration of the idea, readers may be referred to Dirlik (1999). Hall (1996: 110.121).
16 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 17

bourgeoisie important truths about history, science, culture. And out of that the great majority of the displaced, when he writes that, "there is a great
learning process millions grasped the fundamentals of modem life, yet difference ...between the optimistic mobility, the intellectual liveliness, and
remained subordinates of a foreign imperial authority (1993: 263-4). 'the logic of daring' described by the various theoreticians on whose work I
have drawn, and the massive dislocations, waste, misery, and horrors endured
How this was achieved is the subject of Orientalism which, for all its
in our century's migrations and mutilated lives" (1993: 332). Politically, he
shortcomings, is likely to remain as Said's most lasting contribution to
complains of "the extent to which, at least outside the Occupied Territories,
postcolonial thinking. It is in many senses a pivotal work; a cultural product of
the [palestinian] movement is dominated by class interests that are not at all
a transition between the two senses of the postcolonial.
progressive. There is a tremendous confluence of the high Palestinian
Terry Eagleton, citing Raymond Williams, points to an "impossible irony"
bourgeoisie in the PLO, and with it an ideological dependency upon the
of nationalism; that "it class. To have it and to feel it, is the only way
United States viewed as the private fiefdom of whichever administration
to end it. If you fail to claim it, or give it up too soon, you will merely be
happens to be in office" (1993: 332). The issue of class in his thinking is not
cheated, by other classes and other nations" (1990: 23). To overcome
merely a tactical one, but a persistent problem of oppression and liberation, as
nationalism, he remarks, it is necessary first to go through it. The problem to
when he writes, with reference to the periodical, Subaltern Studies, that,
which he points is not a philosophical or a theoretical problem but a historical
one. The resonances of the word subaltern derive from Gramsci's usage in the
With some qualification, there is some of this same sense of irony in Prison Notebooks in which, ever the astute political analyst and theoretical
Said's approach to nationalism. Said, following Fanon, draws a distinction genius, he shows how, wherever there is history, there is class, and that the
between "independence" and "liberation": "If I have so often cited Fanon, it is essence of the historical is the long and extraordinarily varied socio-
because more dramatically and decisively than anyone, I believe, he economic interplay between ruler and ruled, between the elite, dominant, or
hegemonic class and the subaltern and, as Gramsci calls it, the emergent
expresses the immense cultural shift from the terrain of nationalist class of the much greater mass of people ruled by coercive or sometimes
independence to the theoretical domain of liberation" (1993: 268). This shift mainly ideological domination from above (Said 1988: vi).
entails a transformation of national into social and political consciousness,
transcending the nation in its compass, and aiming at some kind of universalist While Edward Said, to my knowledge, has not spoken extensively and
humanism. The necessity of national consciousness on the way to liberation, systematically to the problem of revolution that to an earlier generation
that appears in Fanon's work as an immediate historical necessity, and for seemed to be inextricable from questions of national liberation and class
Eagleton and Williams, as irony, however, appears in Said's thinking also as struggle, he has not repudiated it either. I noted above the ways in which he
tragedy: "It's the tragedy, the irony, the paradox of all anti-imperial or seems on occasion to condone the violence advocated by national liberation
decolonizing struggles that independence is the stage through which you must thinkers and theorists. But the issue of revolution is not merely one of
try to pass: for us independence is the only alternative to the continued horrors violence. Fanon also perceived in the process of revolution the process of
of the Israeli occupation, whose goal is the extermination of a Palestinian creating a new national culture, that would ultimately transcend nationalism to
national identity" (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 236-237). create new cultural forms on the way to liberation. On a rare occasion, Said
I will comment below on the possible significance of this addition of sounds quite like Fanon when, discussing the Palestinian intifada, he observes
"tragedy" to irony and paradox. More immediately here, very much in the that,
tradition of earlier writers on national liberation, Said continues to invoke
class as a problem both for independence and liberation. I have noted above ...we should present the intifada as an alternative, an emergent formation, by
Said's frequent references to his own class background, that in his view which on the simplest level Palestinians under occupation have decided to
"disadvantages" him on some political issues. He is also sensitive to declare their independence from the occupation by providing different, not so
much models, but different forms for their lives which they themselves
differences in experience of exile or migration between those like himself, and
18 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 19

administer, develop and have in fact created...!t's a cultural movement which immediacy in much of this earlier writing to the need to create and/or invent a
says that we are not going to cooperate, we can't any longer live under the national culture to fulfill the urgent task of national independence and
occupation, and therefore we must provide for ourselves...So what has
liberation, that is missing from Said's work. While a thinker such as Fanon
happened is that now with the expropriation of land, with a domination of the
network of settlements defended by the Israeli army, there is the possibility was quite aware of the heterogeneity and fragmentedness of being black, he
for the Palestinians to provide an agricultural alternative to that one. That is retained a faith nevertheless that a new historical narrative could be
to say, the use...of private gardens and houses and the creation of a food reconstructed in the process of the struggle for national liberation. Said, on the
delivery service through the collectivization ofbakeries ...places on the West other hand, while he frequently refers to a Palestinian identity (against his
bank...have become in effect liberated zones (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 237-
repudiation otherwise of homogeneous national identities) that has been
shattered by the experience of exile, is sceptical of the possibility of
There is an interesting elision in Edward Said's work of the difference reconstructing a historical narrative of the nation, as when he notes that, "there
between genealogy and history. Said has been insistent on the centrality of are many different kinds of Palestinian experience, which cannot be
history to literary and cultural analysis.' And he has been sensitive in his assembled into one. One would therefore have to write parallel histories of the
analyses to the changing environment of both culture and politics, as in his communities in Lebanon, the Occupied Territories, and so on. That is the
concluding chapter to Culture alld Imperialism, where he discusses the central problem. It is almost impossible to imagine a single narrative" (Said
problems thrown up by a changing world situation. On the other hand, in a I994b: 119). And when he wills such a narrative into existence, as in After the
great deal of his work, most notably in Orielltalism, as critics have pointed Last Sky, he views the task as a "tragic" necessity, and perceives his
out, the genealogy of ideas seems to take precedence over history and relationship to such a narrative as "metaphorical." In the end, the insistence on
historical context (which need not be linear, but concretely historical, with the possessive pronoun, "we," in After the Last Sky suggests not just a willed
attention to diversity in time and space). This is true in some respects for the identification with a national narrative that does not exist, but also the
genealogy he establishes for his own work. While Said is quite justified in production of an exilic nationalism that is abstract and off-ground. Abdul
stressing his genealogical affinities with an earlier generation of postcolonials, JanMohamed observes astutely that "Said's subject-position is only partly that
he has had little to say on how his historicity separates him not only from of articulator and defender of Palestinian aspirations within the West; he is
contemporary postcolonials, but also from this earlier generation. It is also an active and important producer of the evolving Palestinian
important to read Said's work, in other words, not only in its continuities but identity...[Said, in his book, rhe Question ofPalestine,] is motivated not only
also with an eye to the ways in which he breaks with the past, which account by the current plight of Palestinians, but also by a utopian vision of Palestine,
for some of his affmities with a contemporary postcolonialism. a 'nonplace,' an idea that galvanizes Palestinians everywhere" (JanMohamed
While Said may quite justifiably point to the commitment in his work to 1992: 104). We may add, however, that ultimately the idea is Said's own, a
the liberationist utopianism of an earlier generation of national liberation product of his idiosyncrasies, that are not necessarily shared by most
theorists who perceived national independence as one phase of a more Palestinians, as he is willing to admit.
transcendental historical project of liberation, he would be more hard put to it Similarly with the question of class. Said's recognition of the importance
to claim them for his feeling of disconnectedness to the nation (or the ethnic of class-related questions to the project of liberation draws on the legacy of
or racial group), or his fragmented vision of the nation; which in the last Marxism in earlier national liberation movements. On the other hand, in spite
analysis may rest upon different conceptions of history. There is an of his references to the fundamentally economic and political nature of
imperialism and colonialism, his attention to the question of class is restricted
to its implications for national struggles, divorced from class analysis in the
7 See, for example, "Reflections on American 'Left' Literary Criticism," in (Said 1983: 158- critique of capitalism, and the internationalism that motivated earlier national
177; 167-168), where he complains of the obliviousness to history of new trends in literary liberation theorists who perceived in the struggle for national liberation a
criticism, and compares revisionist work in history favourably to that in literary criticism.
20 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 21

struggle both for the nation-and against a capitalism which was viewed, the locations for unpleasant fundamentalism's, and as a good, cosmopolitan
rightly or wrongly, as the ultimate source of colonialism. The project of New York intellectual, is not beyond speaking of them with a hint of
"liberation," as distinct from "independence," was in fact premised on just contempt, as in his condescending reference to Youngstown, Ohio, in his
such an internationalism, that drove Canadian (Norman Bethune) and Arab- conversation with Salman Rushdie, as "a town I don't know, but you can
American (George Hatem) doctors to fight in the Chinese Revolution, or for a imagine what it's like" (Said I994b: liS). According to Said, Youngstown,
brief time rendered Guangzhou (Canton) in South China into the Ohio, is a recipient of Palestinian immigrants, and he is concerned mainly
"headquarters" of world revolution. Said dismisses "internationalism" a bit with their plight. But Youngstown, Ohio, in the American "rust belt," is also
too cavalierly, when he observes that, "the force of the phenomenon I am an old working class city in decline with the decline in steel industries, and the
talking about [that is, subaltern struggles] is that it takes place in many globalization of the US economy; its non-Arab inhabitants, too, may be
different places, and I suppose those places taken all together could be deserving of empathy-and solidarity.
considered international. But I think it still has very deep roots in a local and The question here is not whether earlier ideas of nation, class or revolution
national situation" (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: 235). Internationalism, needless should be preserved intact in the unfolding of postcolonial criticism. New
to say, is hardly inconsistent with "roots in a local and national situation," but, times indeed call for new conceptualizations both of liberation, and of the
on the contrary, unlike contemporary globalism, is premised on those problems to be confronted to that end. Said's own thinking is in some ways
localisms. Said's apparent reluctance to recognize this earlier internationalism entrapped in the contradiction between the present and the past; playing the
as a unifying force across the various worlds is all the more ironic, as he one against the other, but unable to transcend the parameters they set. Said's
observes elsewhere that the presence in metropolitan areas of supporters for personalization of contradictions makes him unable or unwilling to see them
Third World causes eliminates an earlier need for drawing strict boundaries as also products of confrontations between shifting social formations; an
between the different worlds of colonialism and anti-colonialism (231-33). unwillingness that is very much informed by contemporary suspicions of
What he does not say is that the global cosmopolitans of whom he speaks now totalities.' At the same time, his assumption of continuity with the past also
inhabit not "places" or political movements but universities, idealized evades the problems presented by the enormous political distance between the
locations where complex "hybridities" may be discussed and negotiated (Said present and the past. In the end, Said's critical stance is achieved at the cost of
1991). And if universities are indeed locations where classes may be less an inability to look through the present with the critical help of the past to
visible than most other locations, they are also locations the inhabitants of consider radical altematives for the future; leaving the past behind without
which play an active part in erasing the question of class in society in general. forgetting it, and overcoming the complicities with power of the present while
One of the serious shortcomings in Said's analysis is his failure to address taking seriously the new problems that it has thrown up. National liberation is
questions of class under contemporary conditions of globality, that indeed no longer a problem when, by his own admission, the very status of the nation
produce transnational classes that abolish earlier distinctions between the First
and the Third Worlds, but do not therefore abolish the importance of class.
8 One wishes that Said followed more closely on the question of the postcolonial the acute
Admirable though he is in his acknowledgment of his own class positions, too awareness of the relationship between structure and agency that informs his analyses. He
much emphasis on the personal distracts from the need to address broader observes, with relationship to the relationship between culture and the individual, that: "AII
this, then shows us the individual consciousness placed at a sensitive nodal point, and it is this
questions of social formations. Said has little to say about the significance of consciousness at that critical point which this book[The World. the Text, and l/le Crilic]
contemporary class formations understanding which may be essential both to attempts to explore in the ronn of what I call criticism. On the one hand, the individual mind
contemporary projects of liberation, and to the role intellectuals may play in registers and is very much aware of the collective whole, context, or situation in which it
finds itself. On the other hand, precisely because of this awarenessa worldly self-situating, a
their realization. For all his insistence on "places," as in the statement above, sensitive response to the dominant culture-that the individual consciousness is not naturally
Said celebrates the "placelessness" of a New York, which makes his defense and easily a mere child of culture, but a historical and social actor in it. And because of that
of "places" seem less than genuine. He associates places and localisms with perspective, which introduces circumstance and distinction where there had been only
conformity and belonging, there is distance, or what we might also call criticism," (1983: 15).
22 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 23

has become problematic. That he continues to speak, however paradoxically, whose activities were not appreciated by his other cosmopolitan colleagues,
as if a contemporary postcolonialism is continuous with that of the past, serves let alone the public at large (Said 1976: 35). Exile, under the circumstances,
mainly to conceal the history that divides postcolonialism past and present. could not but appear as occasion for mourning. In his 1986 essay, "The Mind
While Said's paradoxes enable him to distance himself from the past and the of Winter," where he addressed the question of exile directly, he referred to
present, the "dis-identification" thus achieved also obviates the need to the liberating potential of exile, while still mourning it, and wrote that, "I am
confront the issues raised by the juxtaposition of the past against the present. speaking of exile not as a privileged site for individual self-reflection but as an
Said assumes the mantle of past theorists without sharing in the political and alternative to the mass institutions looming over much of modem life" (Said
ideological burdens that they faced. On the other hand, that same mantle 1984: 54). It is my impression from reading his works-and it must remain as
disguises his relationship to a present in which the Third World intellectual an impression-that over the following decade, as he has brought his two
occupies a vastly different place in the metropolitan centres than in the past. worlds closer together before a public more receptive to his politics, he has
The avoidance of the need to account for the gaps between the present and the moved in the direction of privileging exile as the site for a superior form of
past is a condition of the predicament faced by a contemporary knowledge, even as the mournful aspects of exile have receded to the
postcolonialism whose contestatory stance over issues of cultural identity background. This may also have something to do with his and an increasing
displaces political issues to the realm of culture, and refuses to confront its sense of distance from Palestine, which he first expressed following his return
possible complicity otherwise with the structures of power in a new situation to Palestine/ Israel in 1992.'
of globalism. While no one in good conscience could say of Said that he is a The exilic self-consciousness, in Said's own self-image, accounts for
defender of a contemporary establishment, we may perhaps observe of his many of his paradoxes. He concluded his interview with Wicke and Sprinker
contrasts with earlier national liberation theorists what he has to say himself of in 1989 with a confession to a perpetual sense of placelessness, and an
what he describes as the "degradation" of George Lukacs' theories at the uncertainty "about what I'm doing and my whole enterprise" (Wicke and
hands of Lucien Goldmann: Sprinker 1992: 263)." But exile has also empowered him, and his paradoxes.
Il is exile that enables Said to use the pronoun "we" (with reference, variously,
I do not think... that degradation here has a moral implication, but rather...that to being Palestinian, American, or "Western") against his own theoretical
degradation conveys the lowering of colour, the greater degree of distance, positions; an option that is not open to others, non-exilic migrants, who
the loss of immediate force that occurs when Goldmann's notions of perceive their places of origin not just as "beginnings," but also as places that
consciousness and theory are compared with the meaning and role intended
by Lukacs for theory. Nor do I want to suggest that there is something must be repudiated as locations of oppression-I am referring here, reluctantly
inherently wrong about Goldmann's conversion of insurrectionary, radically (out of a resistance to confound the personal and the political, and the private
adversarial consciousness into an accommodating consciousness of and the public), to my own inability to identify with a Turkish society that
correspondence and homology. It is just that the situation has changed continues to suppress its past atrocities, as against the Armenian minority, and
sufficiently for the degradation to have occurred, although there is no doubt
is incapable, therefore, of forestalling continued atrocity and oppression
that Goldmann's reading of Lukacs mutes the latter's almost apocalyptic
version of consciousness (1983: 236). presently, as with its Kurdish minority. The history in identity, in the latter
case, becomes more important as a question than the multiplicity of identities.
Said's "postcolonial cosmopolitanism" has been kept under check over the
years by his political commitments, by his affiliations with earlier ideologies
9 "Return to Palestine-Israel/' in The Politics of Dispossession (1994: 175199). Said's
of national liberation, and by his exilic self-consciousness. In one of his
acknowledgment of the differences in "language" between himself and the Palestinians living
earliest interviews, he described himself as living in two worlds separated as if in Palestine, or his alienation from Palestinian political leadership, has not kept him from
in different boxes; the world of the cosmopolitan literature professor in a continued involvement in Palestine, and Palestinian issues.
10 Said has referred to this sense of uncertainty most recently in his article, "On Writing a
prominent American university, and the world of the Palestinian nationalist,
Memoir," (1999: 8).
24 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 25
So do the places of arrival against the places of origin. It does not take an very strong for me. I would say that's the single strongest strand running
"uncritical gregariousness" to identify with places of arrival against origins, if through my life: the fact that I'm always in and out of things, and never really
only because creative politics, while mindful of the past, needs also to come to of anything for very long" (Saluzinsky 1987: 123). While such a statement
terms with where one lives, and how. This may mean anonymity, and suggests the profound alienation of the placeless stranger, it is the knowledge
disappearance of identity into place, but that is not much of a problem if produced by such alienation that Said privileges. He writes, without apparent
identity is conceived in terms of its historicity, and the abolition of ethnic qualification:
identity is viewed as a desirable goal.
It may also be the case that too much preoccupation with identity, which is no exaggeration to say that liberation as an intellectual mission, born in
Said shares with contemporary postcolonial criticism, ends up erasing the the resistance and opposition to the confinements and ravages of imperialism,
historicity of the question of identity, easily reverts back to the presumption of has now shifted from the senled, established, and domesticated dynamics of
culture to its unhoused, deeeotrcd, and exilic energies, energies whose
reified cultural identities that defy history, and is depoliticizing in its
incarnation today is the migrant, and whose consciousness is that of the
consequences. I I Inhabiting a multiplicity of spaces without being entrapped by intellectual and artist in exile, the political figure between domains, between
any of them offers obvious critical possibilities. It may also serve the ultimate fonns, between homes, and between languages (1993: 332).
goal of criticism which, according to Said, "must think of itself as life-
enhancing and constitutively opposed to every form of tyranny, domination If I may return to IanMohammed's statement above, what is being
and abuse; its social goals are non-coercive knowledge produced in the utopianized here are not new "possibilities of group formation," but the
interest of human freedom" (Said 1983: 29). I say "it may" quite self- placeless intellectual, and the kind of knowledge that produces and is
consciously because there is an elision in much of Said's writing of the produced by such an intellectual-critical knowledge that nourishes off paradox
difference between textual criticism, or even the criticism of power, and and contradiction. Such knowledge may help against the ravages of past
"knowledge produced in the interest of human freedom." Abdul IanMohamed localisms and their contemporary manifestations, but it is also oblivious to the
who in his incisive essay has described Said as a "specular border place-based knowledges by which people conduct their everyday lives in order
intellectual," observes that such an intellectual "subjects...cultures to analytic to survive. If place-based knowledges need global visions to overcome their
scrutiny rather than combining them; he or she utilizes his or her interstitial parochialisms, globalized knowledge without attention to concrete places may
cultural space as a vantage point from which to define, implicitly or explicitly, easily slip into complicity with new forms of power.
other, utopian possibilities of group formation" (JanMohamed 1992: 97). Said Said himself has managed to ward off such complicity by retaining
himself frequently refers to borders and border crossings, but even localized commitments, however imaginary, against the invasion of off-
borderlands inhabitance would seem to appear potentially suffocating to him, ground globalism. If his paradoxes distance him from the past, they also help
as he also associates "contrapuntal" with "nomadic," and tells us that: "The ward off the predicament of complicity in the present. But the avoidance is
need for a relatively more unbuttoned, unfixed, and mobile mode of personal, and tenuous. It may seem strange to say of a politically committed
proceeding-that's why the Deleuzian idea of the nomadic is so interesting-is to individual like Said, but needs to be said anyway, that the very paradoxes in
me a much more useful and liberating instrument...You might say the real his politics inexorably displace political concerns toward the realm of culture,
conflict is between the unhoused and the housed" (Wicke and Sprinker 1992: and utopianized cultural places, such as the university, where politics may be
241). The issue here is not merely one of method of analysis. In a similar vein, interpellated into cultural politics. While cultural politics is not to be
he says of himself that "The sense of being between cultures has been very, disdained, if it is to serve the purposes of "liberation," it needs to be returned
to where it may serve this goal for society at large: the everyday lives of
people in concrete places. Living with contradictions in the end is not a
II For a critique of Said's usc of culture, specifically with reference to Orientalism, see, James
Clifford, "On Orienlalism," in Clifford (1988: 255-6).

26 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 27

substitute for resolving them, hopefully toward the end of human liberation, problem that it would overcome. There are other ways of self-identification
and not the extinction of any meaningful sense of being human. than ethnic and national origin. To overcome national and ethnic identity, it is
necessary in my opinion to view identity itself historically, as the product, not
determinant, of personal or group trajectory. This, interestingly, is also Said's
AUTHOR'S NOTE point in his discussions of "beginnings" that are not determinants of what
follows, but are subject to all the contingencies of history; it is all the more
This is the second essay I have written over the last six months on a puzzling, therefore, that he should also be insistent on multiple identities that
contemporary intellectual (the other was on the Indian thinker, Ashis Nandy). resist history, which, however complicated, non-linear, and resistant to
I have written these essays reluctantly, not so much out of the historian's narrativization it may be rendered by the vagaries of identity formation,
qualms about writing on contemporaries, but out of a resistance to assumes some coherence nevertheless in the process of living. I differ from
contributing to what I perceive to be a tendency of contemporary intellectual Said most importantly in my insistence on greater attention to places of arrival
life to create if not to fetishize iconic intellectuals. I have felt a simultaneous against places of origin, and on the place-based against offground
obligation to write these essays, however, as this tendency needs to be cosmopolitanism, which informs my critique above.
confronted as an intellectual and political problem. I also feel that if we are to A number of friends and colleagues have read the paper. I would like to
grasp postcolonialism as a problem, we need a better understanding of those name especially Terry Eagleton, Fred Inglis, Charles Lock, Masao Miyoshi,
whose works have played an important part in its historical unfolding. Benita Parry, Roxann Prazniak, Michael Sprinker, Richard Todd and Zhang
Writing this essay has been particularly difficult because, while I am Xudong. I am grateful for their comments and encouragement.
sympathetic to Said's positions, I am also critical of his stance, and I have had
to be quite careful in my criticisms as I would hate to play into the hands of
the politically motivated hostility that has been directed at him over the years. WORKS CITED
Having attended an American school myself (Robert College in Istanbul), I
am appreciative of much of what Said has to say on questions of identity. Ahmad, Aijaz (1995), "The Politics of Literary Postcoloniality," Race and
These questions are not questions of abstract ethnicity, but questions of Class, 36.3: 1-20.
everyday life; as the student in the course of such schooling moves daily from Bakhtin, M.M. (1981), The Dialogic Imagination, (ed. Michael Holquist, tr.
a class, say, on English literature, where slhe is taught the glories of Chaucer Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist), Austin, Texas: University of Texas
or Shakespeare, to a class on Turkish literature, where the instructor tells Press.
himlher that Europeans at the time of those great authors defecated in their Brennan, Tim (1992), "Place of Mind, Occupied Lands: Edward Said and
living rooms while subjects of the Ottoman Empire basked in the glory of Philology," in Sprinker 1992: 74-95.
hamams. Such contrasts do not just create different identities in the same Chambers, Ian and Linda Curti (1996), The Post-Colonial Question, London:
person, they also create an urge to transcend silly and self-serving claims to Routledge.
ethnic and national identity. Entrapment in ethnic and national identity may be Clifford, James (1988), "On Orientalism," in James Clifford, The Predicament
inevitable for the underprivileged who are not allowed to escape it, or an exilic of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art,
intellectual such as Said where the very condition of exile makes it an Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 255-276.
intractable problem. I also believe, however, that the preoccupation with Dirlik, Arif (1999), "Place-Based Imagination: Globalism and the Politics of
ethnic and national cultural identity that is a prominent a feature of Place," Review XXIT.2 (Spring).
contemporary intellectual and political life, especially in the United States, Eagleton, Terry (1990), "Nationalism: Irony and Commitment," in Eagleton,
needs to be resisted because it contributes to the perpetuation of the very Jameson and Said: 23-39.

28 ArifDirlik Placing Edward Said: Space Time and the Travelling Theorist 29

Eagleton, Terry, Fredric Jameson and Edward W. Said (1990), Nationalism, Said, Edward (1994), The Politics of Dispossession: the Stmggle for
Colonialism and Literature, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Palestinian Selj-Determination 1969-1994 New York: Pantheon.
Press. Said, Edward (1998/9), "Edward Said, in conversation with Neeladri
Hall, Stuart (1996), "Cultural Identity and Diaspora," in Padmini Mongia Bhattacharya, Suvir Kaul and Ania Loomba, New Delhi, 16 December
(ed.), Contemporary Postcolonial Theory: A Reader, London: Arnold 1997," Interventions, 1.1(1998/9): 81-96.
Books. Said, Edward (1999), "On Writing a Memoir," London Review of Books,
Hall, Stuart (1996), "When was the post-colonial: thinking at the limit," in Ian Volume 21 Number 9(29 April): 8-11
Chambers and Linda Curti (1996). Sa1uzinszky, Irnre (1987), "Edward Said," in Criticism in Sociely: Interviews
Marrouchi, Mustapha (1998), "Countemarratives, Recoveries, Refusals," London and New York: Methuen.
boundary 2 25.2(Summer 1998): 205-257. Sprinker, Michael ed. (1992), Edward Said: A Critical Reader Cambridge,
Parry, Benita (1992), "Overlapping Territories and Intertwined Histories: MA: Blackwell.
Edward Said's Postcolonial Cosmopolitanism," in Sprinker 1992: 19-47. Wicke, Jennifer and Michael Sprinker, "Interview with Edward Said," in
Said, Edward (1993), Culture and Imperialism, New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Sprinker 1992: 22 I-264.
Said, Edward (1994), "Holding Nations and Traditions at Bay," in
Representations of the Intellectual, The 1993 Reith Lectures New York:
Pantheon Books.
Said, Edward (1994b), "On Palestinian Identity: A Conversation with Salman
Rushdie," in Edward W. Said, The Politics ofDispossession: The Stmggle
for Palestinian Selj-Determination, 1969-1994 New York: Pantheon: 107-
Said, Edward (1976), "Interview," Diacritics, 6.3(Fall): 30-47.
Said, Edward (1983), The World, the Text and the Critic, Cambridge MA:
Said, Edward (1984), ''The Mind of Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile,"
Harper's Magazine No. 269: 49-55,
Said, Edward (1986) After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives, photographs by
Jean Mohr. London: Faber and Faber.
Said, Edward (1988), "Foreword," Selected Subaltern Studies, (ed. Ranajit
Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak), New York: Oxford University
Said, Edward (1990), "Yeats and Decolonization," in Terry Eagleton, Fredric
Jameson and Edward W. Said, Nationalism, Colonialism and Literature
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press: 69-95.
Said, Edward (1991), "Identity, Authority and Freedom: The Potentate and the
Traveller," (31st TB Davie Memorial Lecture, 22 May 1991), Cape Town:
University of Cape Town.
Chapter 2



Patrick Williams

In the truly remarkable oeuvre of Edward Said, the figure of the

intellectual looms large. I In addition, Said himself is increasingly being
acknowledged as one of the late twentieth century's representative
intellectuals. 2 Much of Said's work has involved engaged analysis of
intellectual production of all sorts and from all sites - institutional and non-

I This is reflected in the fact that at least two of the contributions to the present volume address
directly questions of intellectuals in relation to Said. While this essay will try hard to avoid
overlap with Patrick Brantlinger's analysis of the public intellectual, it is worth noting in
passing that numbers of post-colonial intellectuals - including, of course, Said are among the
mOTe prominent and influential of public intellectuals today. Robert Boynton's discussion of
African-Americans (Boynton, "The New Intellectuals") as the epitome of contemporary
public intellectuals in the United States recognises one dimension of that.
2 This is not without its problems, perhaps most particularly in tenns of being taken to represent
a pre-given position. In the most recent general study of intellectuals, (Goldfarb 1998) Said
figures as 'the subversive intellectual', caught up in the stagnation and contemporary
irrelevance of the Left. However, the fact that we are told that he is an ideologue, that he is
"subversive not in the name of truth but of an identity position", that he is guilty of "simple-
minded leftism", and that he and others like him behave as if communism had not ended,
suggests that the author may have a few intellectual problems of his own.
32 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial '" 33

institutional; on the side of different forces and forms of oppression, or approach. Even when the movement concerned was the PLO and the cause as
resolutely ranged against them; aspiring simply to be 'private', or determined compelling as justice and freedom for his own people, Said has always held
to be as public as possible - and has enlarged understanding in all the areas he back: "I refused all inducements to join one of the groups or to work in the
has covered, as well as in others where his insights have inspired work in PLO, largely because I felt it was important to preserve my distance. I was a
disciplines apparently little related. It is difficult to find his equal today in partisan, yes, but a joiner and member, no. "(Said 1995a xxiv)' In that kind of
terms of his embodiment of committed and courageous taking of positions and perspective, refusal to identify with post-colonialism is nothing special.
defending of causes combined with generosity of spirit. The present essay (in At the level of post-colonial literature, there is the paradox that although
what will no doubt look to some as the very opposite of a spirit of generosity) Said has frequently championed individual post-colonial writers, or used them
will take as its starting point an intriguing absence in Said's work - post- as illustrative examples in his work, post-colonial texts more generally seem
colonial studies in general and post-colonial intellectuals in particular. A to suffer in comparison with Western canonical ones. There is, for instance,
discussion of this sort is, of course, anything but disinterested; as Pierre the feeling that the inclusion of post-colonial texts on university curricula is
Bourdieu (of whom more later) says: likely to occur for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way:

We have an interest in the prohlems that seem to us to be interesting.... But to one can sympathize with the dissatisfaction of students who come here from
say we are interested in a problem is a euphemistic way of naming the the Third World looking for ways out. But I'm not sure that the way out is
fundamental fact that we have vital stakes in our scientific production simply the mechanical substitution of post-colonial fiction for nineteenth
(Bourdieu, 1993: 49), century fiction (Sprinker 1992: 257).

Post-colonial studies seems to me not only an interesting but also an In addition, a certain (post-colonial) questioning of canonical texts - which
academically and politically important (and of course endlessly conflicted and may form the basis for calls for 'mechanical substitution' - also strikes Said as
contested) area of current intellectual production - and Said's silence on it is inappropriate or inadequate:
thus also a matter of interest.
It is indeed hard not to register the post-colonial as an enormous silence in There's no reason for me to perfonn acts of amputation on myself,
Said's work, and even as a growing or more entrenched one, given that he was intellectually, spiritually or aesthetically, simply because in the experience of
(briefly) content to use the term a decade ago. Whether such silence is the other people from the Third World, a black novelist from Nigeria like
Achebe, or your West Indian friend, can make my Proust or Conrad into
mark of a principled refusal or, however paradoxically, the sign of something someone who is only despicable (Sprinker: 1992: 253).
more akin to the cultural conservatism and disciplinary boundary policing
which he so acutely identifies in the work of others, may be difficult to Apart from the fact that making Conrad 'only despicable' is not part of
ascertain. There is, nevertheless, an undoubted irony in the turning away from Achebe's argument, (he could be said to be offering nothing more than a
the concept of post-colonialism by the man who has done so much to heartfelt 'politics of representation' reading of Conrad, of the kind which Said
stimulate inquiry in that area, and who for many might represent something himself does in a more sophisticated and successful manner), it is interesting
like the very figure of a post-colonial intellectual. ) At the same time, the to note both the strength of feeling and level of personal investment here with
reluctance to sign up to any movement, party or group - particularly anything regard to the canonical: loss of 'my Proust' would be an 'amputation'. Said, of
which hints at the merely fashionable - has always been part of Said's course, has always been unapologetic in his admiration for the monuments of

3 Said is not quite alone in this high-profile disavowal - another paradigmatic post-colonial
intellectual who has recently gone back on earlier positions is Gayatri Spivak. In a
forthcoming piece she says, among other things: "In the era of cyberpolitics and eleclTonic 4 There is of course an interesting tension between Said's years of commitment to, and
capitalism, the "postcolonial" seems to me to be residual" (Spivak 1999). involvement in, the Palestinian struggle, and his refusal to Join',
34 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 35

Western culture, but the fact and manner of their defence against illegitimate desperate-docile intellectual activity from, say, a special issue of Boundary 2
intruders from the Third World strikes a curious note. devoted to Said, or indeed a volume of essays in his honour.
If Said very much wants to hang on to Western literature, something like Said is far from alone in his unhappiness with the 'hopelessly tiresome ...
the opposite is the case with (Western) theory. His silence on post-colonialism jargon' of post-colonial theory. Certain post-colonial theorists (most obviously
at the theoretical level may be no more than the result of his loss of interest in or notoriously, but not exclusively, Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak) have
theory generally, following its decline, in his view, into "a guild designation been repeatedly accused of j argon-ridden obscurantism, as has the kind of
now that has produced a jargon I find hopelessly tiresome" (Sprinker 1992: post-colonial work most strongly influenced by post-structuralism or other
249). Said's statement from 1991: "I simply lost interest in literary theory forms of 'high' theory. Such criticisms have come from those within the field
about ten years ago. It just doesn't strike me as something that is of interest to as well as outside, and for the former at least, have in no way diminished the
me in what I'm doing on a given day"(247) is also important. If theory 'died' importance either of theory or of the field. For Said, however, even at rare
for him in 1980 or thereabouts, then clearly a lot of flogging of dead horses moments when he appears well-disposed towards post-colonial studies in
has taken place since. Ironically, many people would see 1980 (or general, the 'excess' and 'risible jargon' he perceives (Said 1995b, 350) clearly
thereabouts) as precisely the moment when literary theory took off - though constitute a significant stumbling block.
perhaps Said's loss of interest is not unconnected to what might be seen as the In addition, terminological excess and a share in the general problems of
professionalisation, institutionalisation, even vulgarisation of theory which its the 'post-' are among the factors which can lead post-colonial studies to have
eventual success involved. Though the institutionalisation of oppositional what in Said's eyes is the most deleterious of effects: luring intellectuals away
forms of theory - Marxism, feminism, latterly post-colonialism - has generally from any sort of meaningful political engagement. In the wake of the
been perceived in terms of loss of resistant potential, for a critic like Stuart generalised failure of intellectuals - especially in the United States - to respond
Hall it is a (painful) necessity: "One needs to go through the organisational to American imperialism in the shape of the Gulf War, Said said:
moment - 'the long march through the institutions' - to get people together, to
build some kind of collective intellectual project" (Hall 149). One would pretty much have to scuttle all the jaw-shattering postmodemisms
Along with theory's 'success' has come accusations that it is merely that now dot the landscape. They are worse than useless. They are neither
capable of understanding and analyzing the power structure of this country
fashionable, and for critics such as Russell Jacoby, that applies very much to
nor are they capable of understanding the particular aesthetic merit of an
post-colonial studies, which may ultimately prove to be no more than "another individual work of art. Whether you call it deconstruction or postrnodemism
boutique in the academic mall of human knowledge" (Jacoby 1995: 17). For or poststructuralism or post-anything, they all represent a sort of spectacle of
others, however, the pressures of fashion constitute a more generalised giving back tickets at the entrance and saying, we're really out of it. We want
problem for intellectuals: to check into our private resort and be left alone. (Said 1995a: 316)

There is something desperate in the way in which 'free intellectuals' hand in Said's growing objections to theory are also based on what he sees as the
their essays on the required subject of the moment, currently desire, the body, latter's totalising aspirations, its desire to install itself as all-encompassing
or seduction. And there is no more dismal reading, twenty years ou, than system. Thus he is at pains to point out in Culture and Imperialism that he is
these obligatory exercises brought together, in perfect harmony, by the not proposing a "completely worked out theory" and that the book offers a
special issues of the major 'intellectual' magazines (Bourdieu 1993: 43).
"globalized (not total) description" (233) though it is not clear exactly what -
beyond the ideological (and theoretical) unacceptability of the T-word - would
For some, that would no doubt be a perfect characterisation - and
constitute the difference. Certainly, to the extent that post-colonial theory is
dismissal - of the current state of post-colonial studies, though we might ask
forced to address universalising phenomena, it immediately risks being or
on what reliable grounds it would be possible to distinguish such dismal and
becoming too all-embracing in a way that other theories are not. This,
36 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 37

however, could be understood otherwise: if post-colonial theory has to grapple A further post-colonial absence in Said's writing, and the one which most
with imperialism, the globalization of capitalism, etc., then its own global concerns us here, is intellectuals. A similar process is discernible here to that
reach might be seen as entirely appropriate, grounded in material conditions in which operates in relation to texts and theory: there is no discussion of post-
a way that, for instance, deconstruction might not be, and any universal colonial intellectuals (texts or theories) in general; when individual post-
pretensions on the part of the latter would need to be resisted. colonial intellectuals (texts or theories) are mentioned, they are not identified
The refusal of theory-as-system, and of all-encompassing models in as such. Even when the discussion involves intellectuals in relation to
general, is the intellectual or conceptual correlate of the political party, nation concepts or processes such as exile which for so many other critics are
or ethnic group whose claims and clutches he is determined to avoid. For Said, paradigmatic of post-colonialism, the term is still avoided. The notable
collectivities - by their very nature, no doubt - constrain the individual's sphere exception to this is the paper "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World". Even
of operations, and this applies particularly to intellectuals. As a result, he is here, although Conor Cruise O'Brien in the accompanying discussion is quite
concerned to resist such limitations, and hence refuses all kinds of wrong to remark that Said has more to say about the pre-colonial world, the
nominalised belonging and identification. In this context, it would be possible post-colonial somehow contrives to slip out of focus. Also, the critical
to see post-colonialism as naming yet another (potentially) constricting intellectual activity Said notes in this article is in areas such as theories of
identity; just one more label to be avoided. development and dependency, and not those of literature and culture. In the
At the same time as criticising theory, Said has expressed his interest in more recent "Third World Intellectuals and Metropolitan Culture"
the kind of analysis which is historically based, which is not confined within (subsequently absorbed, along with "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World",
traditional disciplinary or discursive boundaries, and which tries to construct into Culture and Imperialism) Said addresses both the particular gap
historical or intellectual linkages - all of which, one could argue, applies to so represented by literature and culture, as well as one of Orientalism's most
much of the work done in the post-colonial field, and which even a profound frequently remarked upon absences - the voices of intellectuals answering
sceptic like Jacoby is prepared to admit: "Any evaluation of post-colonial Orientalism and imperialism back, theorising and representing anti-colonial
theory must acknowledge its salutary effort to challenge repressive intellectual and post-colonial resistance.
divisions of labour." (Jacoby, 17). In addition, Said has repeatedly accused In terms of the growing silence (or resistance) on Said's part regarding
theory in general of ignoring colonialism and imperialism: post-colonialism, it is perhaps worth noting that when "Intellectuals in the
Post-Colonial World" is dispersed across Chapter I of Culture and
All the energies poured into critical theory, into novel and demystifying Imperialism, most of the references to post-colonialism, and particularly to
theoretical praxes, like the new historicism and deconstruction and Marxism, post-colonial intellectuals, are reworded or simply removed. Probably the
have avoided the major, I would say detennining, political horizon of modem
Western culture, namely imperialism (1993: 70). most frequent transformation is to 'post-imperialism', a term which begs even
more questions and raises more potential problems than post-colonial. One of
However, a strange and unexpected 'ignoring' is also taking place here - the more significant problems relates to the fact that some of the most useful
precisely of all those books and articles which, following his lead and that of thinking in this area has been based on a particular differentiation between
others, have attempted to tackle imperialism, its practices and cultural colonialism and imperialism, with the former seen as a distinct historical
products, in a range of ways.' phase of the latter, and one which is almost entirely concluded. The latter, on
the other hand, considered as the globalizing of the capitalist mode of
production, is a process which is far from finished, and therefore to talk of
S It is no doubt invidious to name even a few names, but the work of Neil Lazarus, Nicholas 'post-imperialism' in this context as having already arrived would make no
Thomas, Petcr Hulme, Ranajit Guha and the Subaltern Studies group, Benita Parry, and, yes, sense. Work done in post-colonial studies in the last decade would allow the
GayatTi Spivak (to take some rather random and disparate examples) is theorised. politicised, retrospective argument which would emphasise the sense of 'post-colonial' as
historicized. engaged with imperialism - and exemplary in different ways.
38 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 39

either the discourse of resistance to colonialism and therefore potentially a question which is not settled in reality, that of knowing who is an
contemporary with it, or as the discourse of anticipation of the eventual intellectual aDd who isn't, who are the 'real' intellectuals, those who really
realize the essence of the intellectual. ID fact, one of the major issues at stake
achievement of a properly post-colonial state. Said might then be argued to be
in the literary or artistic field is the definitioD of the limits of that field, that
using 'post-imperial' in either anticipatory or resistant mode; there is, however, is, of legitimate participation in the struggles (1990: 143).'
nothing in his use of the term to support such a view. The process of
transforming or omitting the post-colonial in the passage to Culture and If these -the (positive) legitimation of the boundaries of a field and of the
Imperialism is all the more remarkable, given that by the time of its participation of certain individuals within it - are significant examples of, in
publication in 1993 post-colonialism had gained far greater currency (and thus Bourdieu's terms, 'symbolic power', how much more so are those gestures
potential intellectual resonance) than it had when "Intellectuals in the Post- which delegitimate, not only individuals but entire fields, as Said does in one
Colonial World" appeared in 1986 (whereas 'post-imperialism' remains an of his most recent interviews. Asked by Ania Loomba whether he thought the
awkward and deeply troubling term). field of post-colonial studies was subject to some of the same problems as
If the role of intellectuals in the post-colonial world has (despite Said's Orientalism, he responded:
article) yet to receive its proper theorisation, it has so far not lacked for
denunciations, and some of the best-known polemical interventions, such as I would rather myself not talk about it because I do Dot think I belong to that.
those by Aijaz Ahmad, Anthony Appiah and Arif Dirlik, regarding the nature First of all I don't think colonialism is over, really. I don't know what they are
of post-colonialism, and the legitimacy, utility or scope of the term, have really talking about... So I think to use the word postcolonialism is really a
misDomer aDd I think I referred to the problems of that term in the Afterword
focused on intellectuals. There is a notable dynamic here, with post-colonial to Orientalism (199819: 82).
intellectuals who do not want to identify themselves as such attacking others
who do. If, as Zygmunt Bauman has argued, "Any attempt to define Apart from the recognised refusal to be labelled or co-opted, this
intellectuals is an attempt at self-definition; any attempt to accord or deny the represents the striking dismissal of a substantial body of recent and continuing
status of an intellectual is an attempt at self-construction" (Bauman 1992: 81), intellectual endeavour. It is striking because on the face of it one would have
then one of the things being played out here is a particular kind of power thought that Said would have been sympathetic to what post-colonial studies
game, a territorial struggle for certain forms of (intellectual) legitimacy. Said is trying to do - not least because part of it is precisely the same as what he
himself has frequently rejected the ideology of what he terms "possessive himself does, in terms of textual or cultural analysis, in Orientalism or Culture
insiderism", the idea that only a particular identity grants the holder the right and Imperialism. It is striking, too, because his categorisation of post-colonial
to research or speak on a particular topic: studies seems to have so little to do with current practice. In the response just
quoted, Said goes on to say:
I mean simply that if you believe with Gramsci that an intellectual vocation
is socially possible as well as desirable, it is an inadmissible contradictioD at
I mean colonialism in the fannal sense is over, but I am very interested in
the same time to build analyses of historical experience around exclusions, neo-colonialism, I am very interested in the workings of the International
exclusions that stipulate, for instance, only women can understand feminine
Monetary Fund aDd the World Bank, and I have written about them. I care
experience, only Jews can understand Jewish suffering, only formerly very much about the structures of dependency... (199819: 82).
colonial subjects can understand colonial experience (1986: 55).
The suggestion that people working in the post-colonial studies somehow
The processes of labelling and accreditation, inclusion or exclusion (of
believe that colonialism (in the shape of neo-colonialism) is past and gone
self and/or others) are central to strategies in the intellectual field. This,
despite the self-confident pronouncements of those involved in the field, is a
practice without closure, since, as Bourdieu has pointed out, it relates to 6 Defining the 'real' post.colonial intellectuals is one part of the 'game' (in Bourdieu's terms)
which the present essay will not attempt.
40 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 41

indicates that unfortunately in a sense Said really doesn't know what they are "When exactly... does the 'post-colonial' begin ?" queries Ella Shohat in a recent
talking about. It is of course perfectly possible to read all kinds of work in discussion of the subject. Misreading the question deliberately, I will supply here
postcolonial studies which betrays no necessary or immediate concern with an answer that is only partly facetious: When Third World intellectuals have
arrived in frrst world academe (328-9).
the workings of the IMF or the structures of dependency, but then some
readers might feel that the same could be said of a number of Said's own
Here in his opening sentences, Dirlik inadvertently does exactly what he
literary and cultural analyses - though it would be a peculiarly rash or ill-
later criticises post-colonial intellectuals for doing - taking the local for the
informed commentator who attempted on that basis to suggest that Said
global - since although the 'arrival' of Third World intellectuals may mark the
himself had no interest in international political matters. (And if the political
inauguration of post-colonial studies in the United States, that is not the case
affiliations of someone as clear and committed as Said can be overlooked or
in other first world academic centres, for example Britain or Germany, where,
misinterpreted in particular pieces, how much more understandable is that in
on the contrary, the presence of more Third World intellectuals would be
the case of the mass of 'ordinary' post-colonial intellectuals ?) Ultimately,
post-colonialism may prove to be a misnomer, as Said suggests, but then what
Similar worries to Dirlik's are voiced by Gayatri Spivak:
are we to make of his preference for 'post-imperialism' in terms of its
implications for the disappearance or persistence of international structures
Neocolonialism is fabricating its allies by proposing a share of the centre in a
and practices of domination and exploitation? seemingly new way (not a rupture but a displacement): disciplinary support
The interview continues: for the conviction of authentic marginality by the (aspiring) elite....
When a cultural identity is thrust upon one because the centre wants an
[Ania Loomba] I just wanted to finish this by saying that there is a whole identifiable margin, claims for marginality assure validation from the centre
debate about the literary emphasis of post-colonial studies or the genesis, the (Spivak 1993: 57, 55).
disciplinary home, from which it began. One of the unfortunate spillovers is
that precisely those material details - you know what ArifDirlik says- The fact that these are repeated does not affect the parochial reach of the
claims in so far as they relate to the behaviour of post-colonial intellectuals.
[Said] (intervenes) - are left out. Yes I agree. I have quoted Arif Dirlik Otherwise, they have a general (but not specifically post-colonial) application
precisely for that reason (1998/9: 83).
in terms of how the 'centre' in any hegemonic system works to co-opt those
outside its 'natural' constituency - and conversely how those outside the centre
Dirlik is well known as the author of one of the most trenchant attacks on
may aspire to advancement or reward. (The assertion that Dirlik's and Spivak's
post-colonial intellectuals, and in view both of the approving reference and
claims do not apply to the situation in post-colonial studies in Britain should
because his article offers a more sustained discussion of the question of
not be taken as suggesting any superior resistance to co-optation, simply that
intellectuals, it is useful to examine his reservations alongside those of Said.
there is not the same constituency hoping for promotion.)
"The Postcolonial Aura" is powerfully written, and makes uncomfortable
Among Dirlik's central concerns is the relation of post-colonial
reading for anyone - especially anyone with materialist or socialist affiliations
intellectuals to global capitalism: formed by it, complicit with it, and
-working in the post-colonial field, firstly because of the strength of its
simultaneously repudiating its power in their writings, (when not simply
denunciation from a 'friendly' theoretical-political position, and secondly
ignoring it altogether in his view). There are, however, all sorts of problems
because it can leave the reader wondering how such a powerful critique could
with this. Dirlik's observations on the (academic) emergence of post-colonial
get things so wrong...
studies in the contemporary period of global capitalism are correct, but not his
Questions of the identity, location and behaviour of intellectuals are
conclusions regarding the linkages of complicity (with no other grounding
central to Dirlik's discussion of post-colonialism:
than the bare fact of simultaneity). Exactly the same chronology could be used
42 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 43

to argue for post-colonial studies as in fact resistant reaction to the neo- The latter point is representative of a typical stumbling block in
colonial or globalising moment of capitalism. More importantly, Dirlik's view discussions of intellectuals - the (unresolved) issue of the extent to which
of post-colonial studies as more or less springing fully co-opted from the head questions of location (class ! geographical ! institutional ! hierarchical ! etc)
of capitalism (to mangle a classical allusion) ignores that significant part of and formation (social! cultural! class! gender! intellectual) are regarded as
the discipline's roots which lie in the tradition of anti-colonial writing and simple indicators or ineluctable determinants of the nature of intellectual
activism of Cesaire, Cabral, Fanon and others. praxis and production. Probably more than any other similar group, post-
Dirlik's contention that post-colonial critics in general deny the colonial intellectuals have been subject to routine dismissal precisely on
'foundational' importance of capitalism rests on his reading of an article by grounds oflocation in the West (especially if that is combined with location in
Gyan Prakash. In itself, the reading is correct - there is no getting away from a university deemed elite). What that rather simplistic kind of argument
the fact that Prakash makes just such a denial; for example: "we cannot ignores is the fact that 'the West' is not ideologically homogeneous in itself,
thematize Indian history in terms of the development of capitalism and nor able to enforce ideological compliance on anyone who happens to reside
simultaneously contest capitalism's homogenization of the contemporary within its increasingly porous borders. It also ignores issues of hierarchy and
world." (Prakash 1992: 13). The problem is rather that Dirlik once again status among institutions both nationally and internationally: Columbia
mistakes the local for the global. In this case, he takes Prakash's article for the University may be more 'powerful' than the University of Kelaniya, but
whole of post-colonial studies, when in fact, impressive and thought- equally an institution like the University of Singapore can far outrank the
provoking though the piece is, it is arguably eccentric in terms of debates University of Sunderland on the global stage. Also, as Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
within the field, and certainly in no way represents anything resembling a points out, the institutional gamut from elite and powerful to obscure and
consensus or dominant view. There is the additional problem for Dirlik's rnarginalised runs through universities in India as much as in the United
extrapolation that Prakash is arguably quite wrong: apart from the curious States, and entrenched norms and practices may be more constraining on the
self-limiting aspect of such a theoretical gesture, it conflates the (analytical work of post-colonial intellectuals in situ than in the West (Raj an, 1997).
and political) importance of recognising and understanding the historical role An attempt to engage with particular examples of post-colonial
of capitalism with the simple acceptance of capitalism's global 'success'. intellectual formation and location, and one which also does so on the basis of
Like Said, Dirlik is concerned to establish his (problematic and a specific theory, rather than generalised assertions, is Anthony Amove's
paradoxical) distance from post-colonialism: "I myself share in the concerns "Pierre Bourdieu, the Sociology of Intellectuals, and the Language of African
(and even some of the viewpoints) of post-colonial intellectuals, though from Literature". Although its focus is, as stated, African, it has potential for
a somewhat different perspective than those who describe themselves as such" moving general post-colonial debates beyond simple accusations of
(328). Although there is the sense of a division of post-colonial intellectuals culpability or complicity. Amove's account, while more sympathetically
into the suspect or illegitimate ("those who describe themselves as such") and inclined than some others we have encountered, does not necessarily offer
others less gripped by unseemly haste to be part of the club, it is somewhat much immediate comfort. He draws on Bourdieu's theories of intellectuals in
unclear why Dirlik would wish to admit to even partial alignment with a order to assess the arguments around post-colonial cultural production
discourse or approach which otherwise seems to him so utterly compromised polarised and personalised in terms of Chinua Achebe versus Ngugi wa
("postcoloniality is the condition of the intelligentsia of global capitalism", etc Thiong'o and their views on language choice. Amove is also interested in the
(356)). It is also unclear how, being in his own words "(more or less) one of location of intellectuals - though in terms of various analytical 'fields' of class
the Third World intellectuals in First World academe" (328), he manages to or 'social space', rather than Ivy League universities. In particular, he is
avoid being part of the compromised "intelligentsia of global capitalism". concerned with the way that their location in these fields causes Achebe and
Ngugi, in his view, to misrecognise both the nature of their position and the
terms of their disagreement. For Bourdieu, "artists and writers, and more
44 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 45

generally intellectuals, are a dominated fraction of the dominant class." It is precisely in this context - the competition within a field for a dominant
(Bourdieu 1990: 145), and this membership of the dominant class is, in position, with the recognition and cultural capital (convertible to economic
Amove's eyes, what Ngugi in particular misrecognises. (Such an apparent capital through the institutions of publishing, teaching, lecturing and award-
refusal or inability to recognise a problematic privileged location has, on the granting) it confers - that Ngugi's and Achebe's 'position-takings'... on the
language of African literature should be situated. (288).
face of it, some connection with Dirlik's criticisms.) Although Ngugi is able to
critique Achebe's unwarranted generalising of his own petit-bourgeois
The idea that Ngugi might be more urgently concerned with things other
experience to represent the nation as a whole, he remains, for Amove, unable
than the accumulation of (convertible) cultural capital - such as opposing the
to recognise the problems caused by "the effacement of his class position in an
neo-colonial regime in Kenya for example - is either not entertained or
idealization of his relationship to 'the people'" (286) Amove goes on to say:
dismissed as another form of self-misrecognition. For Amove, the most
particular form of Ngugi's misrecognition is, as mentioned, his relation to the
Ngugi's use of 'the people' is bound up in the struggle for cultural capital, for
'people'. Bourdieu suggests that:
social recognition, and the "profit of distinction" (LSP 55) that is secured by
being recognised as an authentic spokesperson for the dominated classes,
someone who can be seen as "courageous" and "conunitted" for his decision the 'people' or the 'popular' ... is first of all one of the things at stake in the
to write in Gikuyu (287). struggle between intellectuals. The fact of being or feeling authorized to
speak about the 'people' or of speaking/or (in both senses of the word) the
Although Amove opens his article by considering - and rej ecting - the 'people' may constitute, in itself, a force in the struggles within different
fields - political, religious, artistic...
idea that using Bourdieu in this context might represent a "colonial the stances adopted towards the 'people' or the 'popular' depend in their form
imposition", there are nevertheless grounds for wondering whether Bourdieu's and content on specific interests linked first and foremost to belonging to a
generally powerful and persuasive arguments quite fit their chosen post- cultural field of production and, secondly, to the position occupied within
colonial object. Firstly, there is the question of whether intellectuals this field (1990: 150).
necessarily belong to the dominant class. Apart from the fact that it leaves no
space for anything resembling Gramsci's organic intellectual, emerging from - The first section of this is unobjectionable as the recognltton of a
and belonging to - subaltern as well as dominant classes, the idea that going to particular kind of politics of the sort Bakhtin and Voloshinov would endorse.
school and university automatically declasses / reclassifies in this way For Bourdieu, however, the access to the role of spokesperson inevitably
someone like Ngugi from a landless peasant background assigns enormous involves a break with the 'people', in which case the 'people' can presumably
power to cultural institutions to influence and situate individuals. (Ironically, never have a 'genuine' spokesperson, one who is not vulnerable, like Achebe
this institutionaVcultural effect is something which Amove is at great pains to and Ngugi, to the charge of idealizing or romanticizing their relationship with
play down when it is a case of Ngugi arguing for colonialism's profound the people (since he or she is no longer fully one of them).
mental impact on colonised peoples, especially through education.) The second part of the quote from Bourdieu reinforces the containing or
Achebe and Ngugi's position within the 'field' of intellectual (here, literary constraining sense of the field. Ngugi's use of the 'people', and his behaviour
and cultural) production appears remarkably constraining or determining towards those he sees as his people hardly seem to be those constituted by his
(especially in view of Amove's basically materialist stance) in relation to class position within the field: world-famous novelist and head of a university
location, and the possession and deployment of, in Bourdieu's terms, 'cultural department. Bourdieu's theory (as used by Amove) appears to take no account
capital' and 'symbolic power'. Essentially, once you are in, there seems to be of the possibility of someone located within the field of literature deriving
no way out of the 'field'. Also, there is the assumption that, once located in the their stance and organising their behaviour towards the 'people' on the basis of
field, Achebe and Ngugi inevitably follow its logic: concepts derived from a completely different field - politics, for instance.
Above all, Amove's view of Ngugi crucially - and surprisingly, given his
46 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 47

materialist approach - ignores the possibility of praxis as an activity which can And in case there is any doubt about whether Ngugi might somehow be
connect the intellectual and the 'people'. In Ngugi's case, the best-known conceptualising imperialism in culturalist terms:
example was his involvement in collaborative radical theatre projects with the
people of his village of Kamiriithu using indigenous languages and cultural Imperialism is the rule of consolidated fmance capital, and since 1884 this
forms. The first of these projects was strongly Gikuyu-based; the second monopolistic parasitic capital has affected and continues to affect the lives of
aimed at the production of a more truly national-popular form. The fact that even the peasants in the remotest comers of our countries (2).
the first led to his imprisonment without trial for a year did not stop the
- not Ngugi 's most elegant exposition, perhaps, but scarcely one that could
attempt at a second (which had more than a little to do with his subsequent
be called culturalist. From a certain perspective, of course, the strenuous
exile). From exile Ngugi has been involved (culturally and more 'practically')
distinctions drawn between the cultural and the material would appear not
in the protracted struggles to establish democracy in Kenya - participation, in
only ideologically loaded, but also virtually meaningless: the materiality of
his view, in people-oriented praxis.
culture, its practices and processes, as well as its products, has been one of the
If, however, Amove and Bourdieu are correct, and the basis for all of this
basic tenets of cultural studies, with which post-colonial studies shares a great
is no more than a fundamental self-misrecognition, it is difficult to see what
deal of common analytical ground, political aspirations and even intellectual
sort of legitimate linkage a post-colonial intellectual, or any other, aiming for
connection with ordinary people (whether at the modest level of simply
If the use of Bourdieu might seem to lead to an underestimation of the
retaining class belonging, or the much more ambitious one of mass political
extent to which a post-colonial intellectual like Ngugi might retain links with
mobilisation) could ever hope for. In tum, the prospects for any post-colonial
'the people', or might be engaged in the struggle for more than just 'the profit
intellectuals' relation to politicised agency would look extremely bleak.
of distinction' in his mobilisation of 'the people' (discursively and practically),
Another of Amove's criticisms ofNgugi is one which is frequently leveled
there are nevertheless other aspects of his thought which appear more
at post-colonial intellectuals - the bias towards culturalism and neglect of the
promising in our context. In his inaugural lecture at the College de France,
material, which we have already encountered in Said's comments, and will do
Bourdieu said:
so again. For Amove: "the tendency of positions generated from the
dominant-dominated position [i.e. that of intellectuals] to interpret the social
it is supremely difficult for intellectuals to escape the logic of the struggle in
world according to culturalist protocols tends to obscure the economic stakes which everyone willingly turns himself into the sociologist of his enemies, at
of cultural struggles" (289). If, however, the dominant-dominated is the the same time as Turning himself into his own ideologue, in accordance with
position of all intellectuals (according to Bourdieu and Amove) that ought the law of reciprocal blindness and insight which governs all social struggles
logically to mean that all intellectuals produce culturalist readings of the for truth. It is, however, only if he apprehends the game as a game, with the
stakes, rules or regular sequences that are proper to it, the specific interests
world. In addition, it is impossible to see this - as it is intended - as a useful
created in it and the interests satisfied by it, that he can both extricate himself
assessment of Ngugi. Even in the book on which Amove bases his discussion through and for that distancing which grounds theoretical reptesentation, and,
(and which is admittedly one of Ngugi's more culturalist), Decolonising the simultaneously, discover himself to be implicated in the game, in a
Mind, there are numerous examples of statements like the following: determined place, with his own determined and determinant stakes and
investments. (1990: 183-4).
The language question cannot be solved outside the larger arena of
economics and politics, or outside the answer to the question of what society One result of this is the recognition of the morally and ideologically
we want. But the search for new directions in language, literature, theatre. loaded - and, for Bourdieu, ultimately untenable - nature of the distinction
poetry, fiction and scholarly studies in Africa is part and parcel of the overall between 'good' intellectuals (proper, legitimate, non-eo-opted) and 'bad'
struggles of African people against imperialism in its neo-colonial stage
(complicit, co-opted, contaminated) with which so many critics operate. In
48 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 49

this perspective, since everyone is variously involved and implicated in the Even intellectuals who are lifelong members of a society can, in a manner of
field, no one is pure. At the same time, even if there is no position of purity speaking, be divided into insiders and outsiders... those who can be called
available, there is, in Bourdieu's opinion, the possibility of a more or less yea-sayers, and on the other hand the nay-sayers, the individuals at odds with
their society and therefore outsiders and exiles so far as privilege, power and
detached or distanced position. Whether or not they can actually achieve a
honours are concerned. (Said 1994: 39).
position of (relative) detachment from which to scrutinise society, and how
they might get there, is a recurrent issue for intellectuals, post-colonial and Here, the acquisition of critical perspective seems to be a function of a
other. Said is a great believer in the possibility of this, but some of his critics kind of intellectual asceticism and to have less to do with position than with
have been less than convinced: its renunciation, while the intellectually enabling aspect of distance
(geographical, cultural, hierarchical) from power, prestige or privilege could
Said's constant questioning of the role of the intellectual assumes - against explain why post-colonial intellectuals could be better than average critics of
the evidence and argument of his own book [Orienralism} - his or her ability
to operate in a separate space independent from contemporary ideology, even the system (and, equally, why some would aim for the kind of dubious
without the customary benefit of the scientific knowledge of Marxism.... advancement noted by Spivak).
Said's difficulty is that his ethical and theoretical values are so deeply For other theorists, critical distance can simply be a function of the
involved in the history of the culture that he criticizes that they undermine his practice of being an intellectual - though this may not in itself be absolutely
claims for the possibility of the individual being in a position to choose, in an
straightforward. Glossing Bourdieu, Dick Pels says:
uncomplicated process of separation, to be both inside and outside his or her
own culture (Young 1990: 132).
As soon as we begin to observe, we effect an epistemological break that is
simultaneously a social break, because we withdraw more or less completely
Although Robert Young identifies an area of difficulty in Said's thought, it
from the world. This posture of the 'impartial observer' is not only socially
is by no means certain that Said is as trapped as Young thinks. For example, exceptional but is also supported by concrete social privileges (Pels 1995:
the question is not necessarily one of simple voluntaristic selection: Said is 86).
concerned with where intellectuals are objectively positioned, not just where
they might hope or choose to be. The more they occupy positions proximate Whether the latter are quite what Said has in mind when he talks of
to, or within, structures .and systems of power (like Orientalism), the less they privilege, Bourdieu's account reminds us again that the position of
can opt for "an uncomplicated process of separation". As Said discusses later intellectuals is complex, and that privilege, even if unsought, may not be so
in Representations of the Intellectual, the inside/outside location of easily relinquished.
intellectuals which might create their critical distance comes more easily - if The importance, indeed the crucial difference, of the post-colonial
that is quite the word - with the experience of displacement, migration, perspective on these questions is brought out by Gayatri Spivak. Firstly, there
diaspora, or, in his favourite term, exile. These forms of dislocation, which is her repeated call to intellectuals, especially in the West, to "unlearn" their
result in intellectuals belonging fully neither to their culture of origin nor to privilege. This, if nothing else, implies (contra Bourdieu) the possibility - if
the one in which they find themselves, are widely recognised as both also the difficulty - of members of the 'dominant-dominated' fraction aligning
formative and representative of the post-colonial world. Once again, however, themselves with others who are in no way part of the dominant stratum,
Said chooses not to discuss this aspect, even though two of his three chosen though it must be distinguished from the dangerously seductive 'spurious
exiles are paradigmatic post-colonials - CLR James and VS NaipauI. marginality' which she warns of. Secondly, Spivak's work emphasises just
Somewhat more problematically, Said extends intellectual exile from the how - far from constituting a 'more or less complete withdrawal from the
actual to the metaphorical: world' - the act of observation, especially in the colonial context, represents a
significant intervention in the world. The gaze of the ('impartial') observer
here is intimately bound up with imperial surveillance, the accumulation of
50 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 51

knowledge as power, and the deployment of power as the freedom to observe Although, as mentioned earlier, Bourdieu's account suggests that the
at will. This in tum indicates how and why post-colonial intellectual activity construction of friends and foes stretches right across the intellectual field,
must not simply replicate undifferentiated concepts of what it is that Bruce Robbins argues that this type of procedure may belong more to certain
intellectuals do. disciplines than others (and indeed perhaps not to all). Especially in the
humanities, he suggests, it produces a 'rhetoric of praise and blame',
To gel a grasp on how the agency of the post-colonial is being obliterated in
order to inscribe him and her as marginals, culture studies must use
determined by the professional pact that the humanities have concluded with
specialisms, but also actively frame and resist the tyratu1y of the specialist
'society at large' . a pact to transmit values from the past to a commercialized
(Spivak 1993: 74).
or dehumanized present seen as acutely in need of them - and therefore as
invested with considerable social force (Robbins 1993: 101).
The use of the imperative - 'must...resist the tyranny of the specialist' - is
significant. For Bourdieu, discussions of intellectuals slip inexorably from the Robbins also notes the disciplinary pressure to produce such rhetoric,
descriptive to the prescriptive or, as he calls it, the normative. This is certainly however little one wants to do so. The quasi-obligation to produce a discourse
true of Said, who moves from a broad descriptive category of intellectuals of value and valorised objects would then suggest one reason why intellectuals
such as: "Today everyone who works in any field connected with either the such as Dirlik continue to operate with the categories they do. The relation of
production or distribution of knowledge is an intellectual in Gramsci's sense" such constraints to post-colonial intellectuals would once again be complex -
(1994: 7). to a narrower prescriptive one: "The intellectual's representations ... to the extent that they are removed from traditional disciplinary pressures,
are always tied to and ought to remain part of an ongoing experience in they have less need to operate in terms of praise and blame; at the same time,
society: of the poor, the disadvantaged, the voiceless, the unrepresented, the the circumstances in which they think and write - precisely post-colonial - are
powerless" (84). At the same time, this 'fall' from objectivity into involvement obviously a powerful incitement to the production of a discourse of value,
can seem appropriate in view of the increasingly acknowledged importance of with potentially a high 'praise and blame' level.
the ethical dimension of post-colonial analysis - from Said's own early query Said of course has on various occasions strongly rejected what he sees as a
as to the possibility of non-dominative knowledges, to the growing attempt to useless - even directly harmful - 'politics of blame' or 'rhetoric of blame' as a
use Levinas' maximally ethical stance towards the Other as the basis for post- strategy in the post-colonial context, though he has had rather less to say about
colonial practice. the utility or otherwise of praise. In "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World"
Interestingly, Bourdieu is subject to the same slippage from the he says: "I want first to consider the actualities of the intellectual terrain
descriptive to the normative which he identifies in others. In addition to common as well as discrepant in the post-colonial cultural discourse,
sociological descriptions of what intellectuals are and do, we find him - rather especially concentrating on what in it gives rise to and encourages a rhetoric
ironically, and against his own best insights - asserting what they must do in as well as a politics of blame," (45) and goes on to offer a 'politics of secular
order to be proper intellectuals: interpretation' as a more rewarding alternative. It is interesting, however, that
he should regard it as the internal features of post-colonial cultural discourse -
To be entitled to the name of intellectual, a cultural producer must fulfill two rather than the range of external forces acting on it, for instance - which are
conditions: on the one hand, he must belong to an autonomous intellectual
world (a field), that is, independent from religious, political, and economic responsible for the rhetoric and politics of blame, and could this in tum be an
powers (and so on), and must respect its specific laws; on the other hand, he indication of why he appears so little enamoured of post-colonial discourse?
must invest the competence and authority he has acquired in the intellectual Said briefly refers to some of the terminological debates surrounding post-
field in a political action, which is in any case carried out outside the colonialism in the Afterword to the 1995 edition of Orientalism, though
intellectual field proper (Bourdieu 1991: 656). (wisely no doubt) he makes no attempt at summary or intervention.
Nevertheless, this discussion of post-colonialism stands in sharp contrast to all
52 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 53

he has written (or not) on the subject before or since. The manner in which he We are clearly a long way from the idea of post-colonial readings as
mentions post-colonialism in the interview quoted earlier locates it firmly and offering Conrad as 'only despicable', precisely 'dishing the dirt' on him. What
simply as a terrain of problems - incomprehensibility, irrelevance, superficial has changed ? And why - having made the quite startling claim for it as the
culturalism as opposed to political engagement - and leads us to expect more important partner in a global revolution of consciousness - does Said
something similar in the Afterword. What we initially find is the following: revert, in the interview quoted earlier, to the deeply negative, and worryingly
"There has been [in the years since the publication of Orientalism] a superficial, version of post-colonial studies within the space of a year or two ?
revolution in the consciousness of women, minorities and marginals so Although geography is only one of the disciplinary areas to be affected by
powerful as to affect mainstream thinking worldwide. Two broad currents can post-colonial studies, or, conversely, on which work in post-colonial studies
be distinguished: post-colonialism and post-modernism..."(350). Although he has drawn, it is interesting that the acknowledged interaction with such a
sees the two emerging together in the 1980s, Said clearly differentiates (literally) materially-grounded field does not affect Said's later negative
between them, unlike a range of critics who, on no good evidence, conflate or assessment of post-colonialism's apparent neglect of the material.
over-align them: "As a child of postrnodernism, postcolonialism too is Perhaps the most surprising of Said's positive evaluations of post-colonial
expressive of the logic of this phase of capitalism..."; "I am reminded of studies in the Afterword is the perceived connection to 'universal concerns'.
something the Cuban-American critic Roman de la Campa said to me in This is surprising firstly because elsewhere post-colonialism figures as
conversation, to the effect that 'postcoloniality' is postrnodernism's wedge to negative, divisive or sectarian, productive Cas we have seen) of a politics or
colonise literatures outside Europe and its North American offshoots..."; "I rhetoric of blame. It is also surprising because addressing universal concerns,
would further offer that postcoloniality can only have meaning if we accept or, even more so, upholding universal values, is for Said the epitome of proper
postrnodernism as the only current legitimizing narrative.'" Said, on the other intellectual activity: "[The intellectual's] raison d'etre is to represent all those
hand, despite recognising an occasional overlap, distinguishes for example: people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug. The
"This crucial difference between the urgent historical and political imperatives intellectual does so on the basis of universal principles..." (Said 1996: 9). In
of post-colonialism and post-modernism's relative detachment..."(35 I). that sort of perspective, post-colonial intellectuals ought to be the
Similarly, even when post-colonialism, like post-modernism, interests itself in contemporary intellectuals, rather than a group not worthy of consideration in
the local, the former "seems to me to be most interestingly connected in its their own right. (Certain forms of contemporary theory would of course be
general approach to a universal set of concerns, all of them relating to extremely unhappy with the idea of the actual or possible existence of
emancipation, revisionist attitudes towards history and culture..." (351-2). Said universal values, but that is not the issue here.)
further recognises the interdisciplinarity of post-colonial studies in its, for For Bourdieu, defending 'the universal' is one of the most urgent tasks for
him, particularly interesting extension to questions of geography, and finally intellectuals, but for him it is definitely not an ahistorical category:
says of the field:
Against a universal pragmatics in Habermas' sense, a politics of the universal
one of the most interesting developments in post-colonial studies was a re- should be proposed. Transhistorical universals of communication do not
reading of canonical cultural works, not to demote or somehow to dish the exist, but socially establisbed forms of communication favouring tbe
dirt on them, but to re-investigate some of their assumptions, going beyond production of universals do exist. (1991: 661).
the stifling hold on them of some version of the master-slave binary dialectic
(352-3). Post-colonial studies offers an important sense of what such a politics of
the universal needs to address:

From the standpoint of postcolonialism, it is today impossible to think about

politics without invoking tbe category of universality. For in tbe postcolonial
'Dirlik (1994; 348), Ahmad (1995; I), Davies (1994: 80).
54 Patrick Williams Nothing in the Post? - Said and the Problem of Post-Colonial ... 55

world system, experience is multiply overdetennined, and not least by Lazarus, Neil (1990), Resistance in Postcolonial African Fiction. New Haven:
imperialism itself. Social identity has become world-historical in its Yale University Press.
constitution (Lazarus 1994: 219). Lazarus, Neil (1994), "National consciousness and the specificity of (post)
colonial intellectualism," in Colonial Discourse / Postcolonial T7leory. ed.
If some of the language here sounds a little old-fashioned, it is worth
Francis Barker et.a!. Manchester: Manchester University Press: 197-220.
recalling the words of a resolutely internationalist - if not post-colonial -
Morley, David, and Kuan-Hsing Chen, eds. (1996), Stuart Hall: Critical
intellectual: "Those who cannot defend old positions will never conquer new
Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London: Routledge.
ones." (Trotsky 1973: 178). It is the sort of sentiment with which it is difficult
Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1986), Decolonising the Mind. London: James Currey
to imagine Said disagreeing, whatever qualms he might have about the author,
Pels, Dick (1995), "Knowledge politics and anti-politics," Theory and Society.
not to mention some of the new positions currently being conquered.
24: 79-104.
Prakash, Gyan (1992), "Postcolonial Criticism and Indian Historiography,"
WORKS CITED Social Text. 31/2: 8-19.
Rajan, Rajeswari Sunder (1997), "The Third World Academic in Other Places;
Ahmad, Aijaz (1995), "The Politics of Literary PostcoJoniality," Race and or, the Postcolonial Intellectual Revisited" Critical Inquiry. 23 (Spring):
Class 30 (3): 1-20. 596-616.
Amove, Anthony (1993), "Pierre Bourdieu, the Sociology of Intellectuals, and Robbins, Bruce (1993), Secular Vocations. London: Verso.
the Language of African Literature," Novel. 26, 3 (Spring): 278-96. Said, Edward (1978), Oriemalism. New York: Vintage.
Bauman, Zygmunt (1987), Legislators and Interpreters. Oxford: Polity Press. Said, Edward (1992), Culture and Imperialism. London: Chatto and Windus.
Bauman, Zygmunt (1992), "Love in Adversity: On the State and the Said, Edward (1994), Representations ofthe Intellectual. London: Vintage.
Intellectuals, and the State of the Intellectuals," Thesis Eleven 31: 81-104. Said, Edward (1995a), The Politics ofDispossession. London: Vintage, .
Bourdieu, Pierre (1990), In Other Words. Oxford: Polity Press. Said, Edward (1995b), "Afterword to the 1995 printing". Orientalism.
Bourdieu, Pierre (1993), Sociology in Question. London: Sage. London: Vintage,: 329-54.
Bourdieu, Pierre (1991), "Universal Corporatism". Poetics Today. 12: 4 Said, Edward (1986), "Intellectuals in the Post-Colonial World". Salmagundi.
(Winter): 655-669. 71/2 (Spring-Summer): 44-81.
Boynton, Robert (1995), "The New Intellectuals," Atlantic Monthly. March: Said, Edward (1990), "Third World Intellectuals and Metropolitan Culture".
53-70. Raritan. IX, 3: 81-97.
Davies, Carole Boyce (1994), Black Women, Writing and Identity. London: Said, Edward (1998/9), "Edward Said, in conversation with Neeladri
Routledge. Bhattacharya, Suvir Kaul and Ania Loomba, New Delhi, 16 December
Dirlik, Arif (1994), "The Postcolonial Aura," Critical Inquiry 20 (Winter): 1997," IntenJentions, 1.1(1998/9): 81-96.
328-56. Spivak, Gayatri (1993), Outside in the Teaching Machine. London: Routledge.
Goldfarb, Jeffrey C. (1998), Civility and Subversion. Cambridge: Cambridge Spivak, Gayatri (1999) "The Labour of the Negative", IntenJelllions, 1,2
University Press. Sprinker, Michael ed. (1992), Edward Said: A Critical Reader Cambridge,
Hall, Stuart (1996), "On postmodernism and articulation: an interview with MA: Blackwell.
Stuart Hall," in Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. eds. Trotsky, Leon (1973), In Defence ofMarxism. New York: Pathfinder.
David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen. London: Verso: 13 I-150. Young, Robert (1991), White Mythologies. London: Routledge.
Jacoby, Russell (1995), "Colonial writers lost in the post," Times Higher.
(December 29): 17.



Patrick Brantlinger

In "What Is an Author?" Michel Foucault writes that "a person can be the
author of much more than a book-of a theory, for instance, of a tradition or
discipline within which new books and authors can proliferate." Foucault
suggests calling such meta-authors "initiators of discursive practices," and he
names as two prominent examples Marx and Freud (131). As does Foucault
himself, both Raymond Williams and Edward Said come close to being
"initiators of discursive practices." A case can at least be made that Williams
initiated the discursive practice of cultural studies and that Said has, if not
exactly initiated, certainly had a formative role in the discursive practice of
postcolonial studies.
Of course, as is undoubtedly true of all complex cultural formations, both
cultural studies and postcolonial studies have multiple points of origin.
Besides Williams, E. P. Thompson, Richard Hoggart, and Stuart Hall helped
to initiate cultural studies as it took shape in and around the Birmingham
Centre in thc early sixties. A full genealogy of cultural studies would include,
moreover, members of the Marxist historians group besides Thompson, as
well as all of the intellectuals whose theories Williams analyzed in Culture
alld Society, from Edmund Burke and William Cobbett to R. H. Tawney and
58 Patrick Brantlinger Edward Said anci/versus Raymond Williams 59

Christopher Caudwell. So, too, as Aijaz Ahmad notes, postcolonial studies in the persistence and the durability of saturating hegemonic systems like
its American and European university settings arose only after the onset of culture," Said there declares, "when we realize that their internal constraints
"the second phase of decolonization" with the Cuban revolution of 1958-59 upon writers were productive, not unilaterally inhibiting." He continues: "It is
(1992: 39). By the time Said's Orientalism appeared in 1978, a great deal of this idea that Gramsci, certainly, and Foucault and Raymond Williams in their
anti-colonial intellectual work, almost all of it outside western universities, very different ways have been trying to illustrate. Even one or two pages by
had already been accomplished. In this regard, Frantz Fanon may have a Williams on 'the uses of the Empire' in The Long Revolution tell us more
greater claim to being the initiator of postcolonial studies than does Said. But about nineteenth-century cultural richness than many volumes of hermetic
despite these points, and also despite the many criticisms and reservations textual analyses" (1993: 14). Said returns to Williams a few pages later, at the
Ahmad has about Said's work, Ahmad writes: end of the introduction to Orientalism, when, after noting the parallels
between anti-Semitism and Orientalism as well as the irony that those
...Said is undoubtedly the central figure and ...he has at least influenced, if parallels have for "an Arab Palestinian," he adds:
not always directly defined, virtually all the main positions which have had
the greatest influence in detennining approaches to questions of colony, But what I should have contributed here is a better understanding of
empire, nation and postcoloniality as these questions have surfaced in literary the way cultural domination has operated. If this stimulates a new kind of
theory since the publication of Orientalism in 1978 (14). dealing with the Orient, indeed if it eliminates the "Orient" and "Occident"
altogether, then we shall have advanced a little in the process of what
However complex the origins of the two movements may have been, prior Raymond Williams has called the "unlearning" of "the inherent dominative
to Orientalism, postcolonial studies in western universities did not exist, just mode" (1993: 28).
as prior to Williams's Culture and Society cultural studies did not exist.
Whether either cultural studies or postcolonial studies amounts to a In a brief account of his friendship with Williams, Said recalls that, when
"discursive practice" in Foucault's meaning of that phrase is debatable, though he was head of the English Iostitute at Harvard in the early 1970s, he invited
postcolonial studies has a more obvious, public, indeed global genealogy Williams to participate. Williams declined, however, because of the Vietnam
reaching far beyond the academy. Cultural studies, on the other hand, at least War. Williams later reviewed Said's The World the Text. and the Critic -
according to some perhaps ungenerous interpretations, remains both favourably - for the Manchester Guardian.' The two first met in London in
academically insular and inherently British in orientation. I will consider some 1985, when they were panelists on a television program dealing with
of Ahmad's criticisms of Said's work later in this essay. Besides pointing to "intellectuals" (the other panelists were David Caute, Julia Kristeva, and
the major influence that Williams had on cultural studies and that Said has had Roger Scruton). They met again in 1986 at a conference on "Cultural Studies,
on postcolonial studies, I will first review the personal and intellectual Media Studies and Political Education" held at the Iostitute of Education in
connections between Williams and Said and then, focusing partly on the London; a central attraction of the conference was the public dialogue
chapter on Said in Ahmad's In Theory, examine some of the similarities and between the two (the edited transcript of this dialogue appears as "Media,
differences between cultural studies and postcolonial studies. Margins and Modernity" in Williams, The Politics of Modernity). And on
Said has on many occasions acknowledged Williams's friendship and October 10, 1989 Said delivered the first Raymond Williams Memorial
influence on his own work. As its title suggests, Culture and Imperialism in Lecture in London, since published as "Narrative, Geography and
particular is a self-conscious extension and also critique of Williams's Culture Interpretation" in New Left Review. Io his comments on his fiiendship with
and Society. Io the introduction, Said writes: "I need hardly say that many Williams, Said adds: "Along with E. P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, and one
parts of this book are suffused with the ideas and the human and moral
example of Raymond Williams, a good friend and a great critic" (xxvii).
Orientalism, too, reflects Williams's influence: "...we can better understand
I Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977.
60 Patrick Brantlinger Edward Said and/versus Raymond Williams 61

or two others [Williams] was a member of the Friends of Bir Zeit University, major factors even within the confines of British history and culture.' This
so he was very sympathetic to our [Palestinian] cause." 2 limitation has led Paul Gilroy, among others, to see in Williams's work a
The meeting, friendship, and intellectual relationship between Williams source of the "doggedly ethnocentric focus" (1993: II) of much cultural
and Said seems, at least on first glance, an odd sorting out of destinies. And studies, at least within Britain. Needless to say, Gilroy has played a major role
indeed there are major intellectual differences between the two that will be in changing that focus, moving cultural studies in the directions both of work
one focus of this essay. But the main similarity, and attraction, between the on race and racism within Britain and of postcolonial studies.
two is at once ethical and political, and is well-expressed by Said's defmition In their 1986 dialogue, Said reminds Williams of the moment in Politics
of the goal of all critical intellectuals as the production of "noncoercive and Letters when one of the interviewers for New Left Review points to the
knowledge ... in the interests of human freedom" (1983: 29). Williams's moral omission of imperialism from Culture and Society. Said indicates that
and political example, including his long record of activism on behalf of Williams responded by saying that his "Welsh experience...hadn't been as
democratic socialism, human rights, and nuclear disarmament, has been important to [him] then as it later became" (Said and Williams 1989: 196).
paralleled on an international scale by Said, including especially his advocacy Williams also said that, in Culture and Society, he had at least mentioned
of the rights to political, cultural, and media representation of the Palestinians. Thomas Carlyle's racism and, in the chapter on "industrial novels," had
Furthermore, a number of key concepts developed by Said owe at least stressed emigration as an "escape" mechanism in Victorian fiction. Williams
something to related ideas in Williams. Besides their general insistence that went on to tell his interviewers:
neither literature nor any other form of culture can be fully understood in
isolation from the social context within which it is produced, and that The way I used the tenn community actually rested on my memories of
therefore "secular criticism," as Said calls it, must necessarily be, in part, Wales.... But the Welsh experience was also precisely one of subjection to
social criticism, Said's ideas of "filiation" and "affiliation," for example, are at English expansion and assimilation historically. That is what ought to have
least akin to Williams's "knowable community" versus its antithesis in the alened me to the dangers of a persuasive type of definition of community,
which is at once dominant and exclusive (1981: 118-119).
abstract, in some ways "unknowable" and anonymous experience of the
modem city and of mass society (1983: 17-21). So, too, "travelling theory" is But "the Welsh experience" never did finally lead Williams to a full
an extension, perhaps, of several patterns or lines of thought in Williams; Said consideration of it as an outcome of imperialism. (One can only speculate that
makes Williams's reception of the Marxist-structuralist sociology of Lucien if Williams had been Irish instead of Welsh, the result might have been very
Goldmann a key illustration of what happens or can happen to theories as they different: compare Terry Eagleton's work on Ireland in Heathcliff and the
"travel" from context to context (1983: 237-242). But if Williams is usually Great Hunger and elsewhere.) Throughout his work, "the Welsh experience"
close at hand when Said is discussing such concepts, there are also continued to tum on the idea of a "knowable," close-knit, rural, and working-
differences-ones suggested by the contrast, which is potentially also an class community that Williams, as in his novels Border Country, Second
antithesis, between Williams's emphasis on "community" and Said's emphasis Generation, and The Fight for Manod, saw as disrupted by capitalist
on "the world" and "worldliness." industrialization and modernization, without ever precisely connecting these
The main criticism that Said and other postcolonial intellectuals have had with imperialism. Although he sympathized with and to a certain, rather aloof
of Williams's work concerns what Said, in his Memorial Lecture, calls extent participated in the Welsh "neo-nationalist" movement (Williams 1981:
Williams's "stubborn" "Anglocentrism" (Said 1990: 83). Only a few passages 240), that aspect of his political activism is simply not comparable to Said's
in T7,e Long Revolution, The Country and the City, Orwell, and elsewhere
mention imperialism, and Williams very rarely considered race and racism as
3 It is symptomatic that, while there is an entry for "imperialism" in both the first (1976) and
second (1983) editions of Williams's Keywords, "race" makes an appearance only in the
2 This account is in the Conn of an email message to me from Said. dated June 12, 1999. second edition, under the heading "racial."
62 Patrick Brantlinger Edward Said and/versus Raymond Williams 63

impassioned and very courageous participation in the Palestinian cause. 4 "The Viswanathan concludes, "suffers from the reintroduction of ... economic and
Welsh experience" tended to serve Williams as an autobiographical ideological determinism in the absence of a relational and conjectural
synecdoche for, or particular instance of, British working-class experience, [conjunctural?] analysis of imperialism" (224). This is quite apart from the
coupled with the problem of maintaining the economic and cultural vitality of quantitative short shrift Williams gives to imperialism, racism, and even
regions and local communities against the pressures of capitalist and Ireland and the Irish throughout his work.'
governmental centralization. Far more tragically, "the Palestinian experience," Viswanathan's critique, and others by Leslie Roman, Forest Pyle, and R.
as Said calls it in The Question of Palestine (ix), involves ongoing war, Radhakrishnan in Views beyond the Border Country, raise the question of
genocide, and the direct, continuing imperialist appropriation of territory from whether cultural studies in general can serve as a basis for pursuing
the Palestinian Arabs by Israel, with the backing of American and European postcolonial studies. To put this question differently, on one understanding
mass media, financial, and military support. postcolonial studies is an offshoot of cultural studies, but on another it is
While capitalism and class conflict in the industrial era are central to necessarily a distinct, in some ways even antagonistic, field of theoretical and
Williams's analyses of the dynamics of British "culture and society," for Said practical debate and political struggle. The question cannot be adequately
imperialism takes priority, and not just because of his own experience as a addressed without considering the roles that "diasporic intellectuals" such as
Palestinian. After all, as Marx understood, it was the "primitive accumulation" Stuart Hall have played in the development both of the British New Left and
through early imperialist ventures, including the slave trade, that provided the of cultural studies (Morley and Chen 1996: II). But the key issue has to do
financial basis for capitalist industrialization to develop (and not only in with whether cultural studies has or even can shed the at least residual
England, but elsewhere in westem Europe). In her contribution to Views organicism and "Anglocentrism" that cling to Williams's models of culture,
beyond the Border Country, Gauri Viswanathan offers an extended analysis of community, and communication.
what she calls "the limits of metropolitan cultural theory" in relation to British Said himself comes close to making this point when, during his 1986
"colonialism." According to Viswanathan: "we would have to go back dialogue with Williams, he says, "for me...culture has been used as essentially
to...WilIiams to trace the genealogy of a critical approach that consistently and not a cooperative and communal term but rather as a term of exclusion.
exclusively studies the formation of metropolitan culture from within its own Certainly if you read Culture and Society again, and take almost without
boundaries" (218). As she notes, it isn't exactly that Williams completely exception all the maj or statements on culture in the nineteenth century by the
ignores the imperial factor, but he minimizes it in a number of ways. In his great sages and novelists, they refer to 'our' culture as opposed to 'theirs,'
most extended account of imperialism, at the end of The Country and the City, 'theirs' being defined and marginalized essentially, in my argument, by virtue
the stress is on British economic exploitation of its colonies. Viswanathan ofrace" (Said and Williams 1989: 196). Said goes on to mention a number of
rightly complains: "In his analyses of British culture Williams radically other factors, related to "exclusion," that inform his conception of culture as it
questions that same analytical framework of economic determinism by which involves both race and imperialism: "And so I think culture has to be seen as
he simultaneously explains British imperialism" (225). In other words, not only excluding but also exported; there is this tradition [e.g., English
Williams understood imperialism as a one-way street-an imposition by the literature] which you are required to understand and learn and so on, but you
colonizer on the colonized-without developing a model of "reciprocity" or cannot really be of it; you can be in it but you are not of it. ...and then of
"hybridity" like that which characterizes his understanding of community, course the whole problematic of exile and immigration enters into it, the
communications, class conflict, and even "neo-nationalism" in the British people who simply don't belong in any culture; this is the great modem or, if
context. "Williams's reading of Britain in relation to global power," you like, post-modem fact, the standing outside of cultures." (Said and

4 On Welsh neo-nationalism, see Torn Nairn, The Break-Up of Britain, (1986; 196-215). On
Said and "the Palestinian experience," see, besides The Question ofPalestine and Said's other 5 See Williams's remarks, however, about both Ireland and race/racism in Towards 2000, pp.
writings on that topic, the essay by Nubar Hovespian 1992, "Connections with Palestine." 193-196.
64 Patrick Branllinger Edward Said ami/versus Raymond Williams 65

Williams 1989: 196). Said doesn't mean, of course, that anyone is ever Much that is valuable in Williams's thinking arises from the increasing
culture-less; he does mean that millions of people today suffer the experience need that he saw to figure out the relationship, identity, or difference between
of being "exiled" or "excluded" or otherwise alienated from dominant cultures culture and ideology. This theoretical urgency was a main form taken by his
they nevertheless find themselves living within or moving between. Nor are career-long negotiations with Marxism. In these negotiations, Antonio
such people in the minority or "minorities." Certainly as the so-called Third Gramsci's theory of hegemony came to serve Williams, as it has more
World relates economically and culturally to the centres of European and generally served cultural studies, as a via media between the economic
American power, it is the vast majority who experience alienation, determinism of the base-superstructure model and the reduction of social class
domination, exclusion. and power relations to mere functions of textuality or discourse, as is the case
Said's postcolonial stress on the experiences of cultural exclusion, exile, with Foucault and more generally with poststructuralist cultural criticism.
and immigration have no parallel in Williams's work in part because, in This is also how Said uses Gramsci in Orientalism and elsewhere; the idea
contrast to "the Palestinian experience," what Williams has to say about of hegemony is what allows him to do a sort of theoretical balancing act-what
Welshness always comes back to tradition, rootedness, and a sense of some of his critics, including Aijaz Ahmad, believe is a contradictory
belonging, rather comfortably, to a minority "nationality" or culture within the balancing act-between Marxism and poststructuralism. In White Mythologies,
so-called United Kingdom. At the same time, the sense of communal and Robert Young, for example, considers Orientalism a Foucaultian project that
cultural rootedness is part of what Said both admires and perhaps envies about dodges some of the main implications of Foucault's theorization of discourse
Williams: "For all the great critics of the twentieth century...WiIliams is, in and power. Thus, Young notes, Said "rejects Foucault's downgrading of the
my opinion, the most abiding, the most organically grounded in the profound role of individual agency" (134). He quotes Orientalism:
and sustaining rhythms of human life..." (Said 1990: 82). Nevertheless, as
Benita Parry notes, "Lodged within [Said's] handsome appreciation of Unlike Michel Foucault, to whose work I am greatly indebted, I do believe in
Williams's pathbreaking studies is a commentary on the irrelevance of the the determining imprint of individual writers upon the otherwise anonymous
collective body of texts constituting a discursive formation like Orientalism
colonial experience to his revisionist narrative of the making of English (23).
culture, the zones of exclusion staking out the ground on which Said offers an
interpretation of imperialism as COllstitutive of metropolitan cultures" (1992: Said clearly wants to assign both agency and responsibility to authors for their
21; her italics). It is precisely the "constituting" of European cultures through roles in constructing, supporting, or contesting modes of cultural domination,
their empire-building, and as much from the "margins" to the "centre" as the including imperialism. He also wants to acknowledge literary or aesthetic
other way around, that is the subject of Culture and Imperialism, making it quality and power. The dual aspects of art and literature, one aesthetic and the
also in various ways Said's rewriting~xtension and correction-<>f Culture and other ideological, are never separable from each other.
Society." And, inclusive or totalizing though Williams intended his conception From a very different perspective than Young's, Ahmad also criticizes
of culture to be, exclusion is of major importance both in Said's thinking about Said's apparent privileging of canonical, western authors: "...what is
how culture operates and more generally in postcolonial studies focused on remarkable is that with the exception of Said's own voice, the only voices we
imperialism, racism, and the many diasporas and migrations that are such encounter in [Orientalisl1l] are precisely those of the very Western canonicity
major factors in a postrnodern world dominated by war, ethnic cleansings, and which, Said complains, has always silenced the Orient" (Ahmad 1992: 172).
transnational capitalism. But Ahmad's reasoning here is tautological: both Orientalism and Culture and
Imperialism are perforce focused on "Western canonicity," because
6 Said comments directly both on his indebtedness to and on the limitations of Williams's work Orientalism and imperialism (as discursive or ideological formations) are
at various moments in Culture and imperialism. Besides the introduction, which 1 have western constructions and impositions on the rest of the world. Ahmad is
already quoted, see Said's criticisms of The Country and the CiJy-a book he greatly admires-
on pp. 65 and 82-83 of Culture alld Imperialism.
66 Patrick Brantlinger Edward Said and/versus Raymond Williams 67

simply restating the major point that Said is making, while assuming that he well as in Said, as a version of "postrnodem pastiche' (202 and elsewhere).
can tum it into a valid criticism of that very point. But Williams himself, and more generally the cultural studies movement that
Ahmad is no doubt right that Said is deeply indebted to the "High he helped to generate, committed the (theoretical) sin of theoretical
Humanism" of Eric Auerbach, Leo Spitzer, and others, as he is certainly right "eclecticism" many times over. Citing Said's insistence that texts must be
to praise Said for being, in "the field of Cultural Studies...our most vivacious studied in their "affiliations" with the social, economic, and political, Stuart
narrator of the history of European humanism's complicity in the history of Hall points out that eclecticism rather than theoretical consistency has been
European colonialism" (163). But it would be fairer to stress, as does Said one of the strengths of cultural studies, part of what has allowed it to hold
himself, that Said's critique of that "complicity" comes through cultural "theoretical and political questions in an ever irresolvable but permanent" and
studies, or anyway through the work and influence of Raymond Williams, productive "tension" (Hall, "Cultural Studies" 1996: 271-272).
more obviously than through "High Humanism." This is all the more ironic, That Williams never engaged in theoretical debate with Foucault, Derrida,
given the high praise that Ahmad accords Williams (46-49). Ahmad sees or even Louis Althusser may be a virtue, but is more likely another limitation
Williams as developing in an increasingly leftward, Marxist direction, and of his work (compare Said's critical engagements with especially Foucault and
adds: Derrida in The World, the Text, and the Critic, or Jiirgen Habermas's often
analogous engagements with these and many other theorists in The
The work of his last decade went from strength to strength...though the Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, among many other places). But
breadth of its engagements was hardly to be contained in a given book. In the Williams's "culturalist" reformulations of the Marxist base/superstructure
process, Williams helped to sustain a level of critical discourse not easily model and of certain Marxist conceptions of ideology as mere "false
dislodged by the kind of new fashions and new orthodoxies that came to
dominate literary studies-in sections of the British Left itself but, even more, consciousness" clearly moved him, and cultural studies after him, in the
in the United States (49). direction of the poststructuralist emphasis on "discourse." This emphasis in
turn allows both Williams and Said to focus on issues of representation and
At the end of this passage, Ahmad expresses his Marxist hostility to the misrepresentation in the linguistic, cultural, and political meanings of these
various versions of poststructuralist theory, including Foucaultism, that have terms (see, for example, Said's "Representing the Colonized"). And
challenged Marxist historical materialism in a variety of ways. poststructuralism has also supplied Said and many other cultural critics and
Neither acknowledging the influence of poststructuralism on Williams's theorists with tools for theorizing other forms of "difference" besides and in
thinking, nor acknowledging the full influence of Williams on Said's thinking, relation to social class.
Ahmad reaches what seems to me the mistaken conclusion that Orientalism As for Williams, noting "the terror of economic reductionism" expressed
and the later essays that went into the making of Culture and Imperialism are by the founders of Cultural Studies, Jim McGuigan points to the many
either Foucaultist in a doctrinaire way or marred by a "theoretical eclecticism occasions when they have said, in effect, "The Marxist bases/superstructure
[which] runs increasingly out of control: sweeping, patently poststructuralist paradigm is a necessary starting place for thinking about culture and ideology,
denunciations of Marxism can be delivered in the name of Gramsci, using the but it is also too crude. The relations between cultures and economic modes of
terminology explicitly drawn from Althusser, and listing the names of production are multi-leveled and reciprocal rather than straightforwardly
communist poets like Aime Cesaire, Pablo Neruda and Mahmoud Darwish to deterministic." Williams makes these points in "Base and Superstructure in
illustrate the sites of resistance" (200). No doubt it would be unfair to Ahmad Marxist Cultural Theory" (1980: 31-49) and also in Marxism and Literature,
to infer from this statement that for any non-communist even to name where he writes: "A Marxism without some concept of determination is in
"communist poets" is either a logical inconsistency or sacrilege. More to the effect worthless. A Marxism with many of the concepts of determination it
point is the issue of theoretical "eclecticism," which Ahmad repeatedly now has is quite radically disabled" (83).
dismisses, in Fredric Jameson, Gayatri Spivak, Ranajit Guha, and others as
68 Patrick Brantlinger Edward Said andlversus Raymond Williams 69

For Williams, neither a crude economic determinism nor a complete in the "aesthetic dimension" a source of utopian possibility, so Williams and
abandonment of base/superstructure analysis made sense. To lose sight of the Said see such a source in great literature and art. Why else is it that so many
economic altogether, or even to treat it as another aspect of a given social novelists, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers have been censored,
formation, on a par with politics or religion, also meant losing sight of class incarcerated, executed, or otherwise silenced by repressive regimes around the
conflict as the central dynamic of history. Yet Williams always insisted that world and throughout history? Culture and Imperialism names many such
culture is an active, productive process or set of processes that can challenge writers, artists, and intellectuals. So do Said's numerous books and articles on
but that can't be neatly separated from economic factors. In a sequel to his the Palestinian struggle.
"Base and Superstructure" essay, Williams examines "communication" as a But it isn't the "humanist" or "idealist" privileging of western, canonical
"means of production" (1980: 50-63). Given the proximity of the terms, one literature that Ahmad finds most upsetting about Orientalism. It is instead
can substitute "culture" for "communication" and reach the same result. what Ahmad calls Said's "breezy dismissal" of Marx as an Orientalist and
Williams writes that "communication and its material means are intrinsic to all even a collaborator with British imperialism:
...forms of labour and social organization, thus constituting indispensable
elements...of the productive forces" (SO). Though rejecting McLuhan's So uncompromising is [Orientalism] in its Third-Worldist passion that
Marxism itself, which has historically given such sustenance to so many of
"technological determinism" (52), Williams argues that "A theoretical
the anti-imperialist movements of our time, can be dismissed, breezily, as a
emphasis on the means of communication as means of production...should child of Orientalism and an accomplice of British colonialism (195) .
...encourage new approaches to the history of the means of communication
themselves" (53). But what Said actually says about Marx in Orientalism differs considerably
Williams did not, of course, arrive at the facile conclusion that from breezy dismissal:
communication, or discourse, or textuality is all that there is. Gramsci's
conception of hegemony allowed him to analyze various modes of cultural Karl Marx identified the notion of an Asiatic economic system in his 1853
domination while continuing to assert quite logically that such analysis was analyses of British rule in India, and then put beside that immediately the
both materialist and Marxist. At the same time, if instead of Foucault's human depredation introduced into this system by Englisb colonial
interference, rapacity, and outright cruelty. In article after article he returned
"discourse," Williams continued to use and emphasize the term "culture," the with increasing conviction to the idea that even in destroying Asia! Britain
differences between their theoretical positions were not finally, perhaps, very was making possible there a real social revolution (153).
significant. And though Said, perhaps especially in Orientalism, uses
"discourse," "representation," and "culture" almost interchangeably, that is not This passage is only a fraction of Said's treatment of Marx and Marxism
necessarily a matter of theoretical inconsistency. For both Williams and Said, in Orientalism. Marx, Said rightly insists, was at once passionately anti-
"culture" names the key site or condition of hegemonic struggles over imperialist and yet also capable of "orientalizing" Asia in three major ways
economic resources, political power, and representation. For both, though no shared by other Orientalists such as John Stuart Mill. First, Marx identified a
doubt in different measures and ways, culture is simultaneously inclusive and static mode of production-the Asiatic mode-that, he believed, held true
exclusive, the very stuff of modes of domination throughout history and at the throughout the Orient. Second, he translated this notion of economic inertia
same time the stuff of human hope and possibility. It is this last, positive or into the claim that all of Asia had no "history" worthy of consideration. And
potentially positive aspect of culture that helps to explain why both Williams third, he believed that, however painfully and tragically, the road of progress
and Said privilege - if that is the proper term - great works of literature for all of Asia was the road that capitalist imperialism was forcing it to travel.
(whether western or nonwestern), even as they combine literary and social These are the same points that Brian Turner, for one, makes about Marx in
criticism. Just as the Frankfurt School theorists-Theodor Adorno, Max Orientalism, Postmodernism and Globalism. The conclusion is inescapable
Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, and more recently Jiirgen Habermas-have seen that "Marx...share[s] much of this Western legacy of perceiving the Orient as a
70 Patrick Brantlinger Edward Said amI/versus Raymond Williams 71

unified system, one characterized by stationariness, lack of social change, the

absence of modernization, the absence of a middle-class bourgeois culture,
and the absence of a civil society" (Turner 1994: 5). Ahmad, Aijaz (1992), In 771eory: Classes, Nations Literatures. London: Verso
A number of Ahmad's criticisms of Orientalism have been made, more Books.
temperately, by Turner, Robert Young, Usa Lowe, and others, as well as by Brennan, Tim (1992), "Places of Mind, Occupied Lands: Edward Said and
Said himself. But that Said "dismissed" Marx as an Orientalist and Philology." Sprinker, ed. Edward Said: 74-95.
collaborator with British imperialism is not a valid criticism. Rather, in Dworkin, Dennis 1. and Leslie G. Roman, eds. (1993),views Beyond the
Orientalism and many other places, Said expresses high respect for Marx, as Border Country: Raymond Williams and Cultural Politics. London and
he does also for Raymond Williams. In Culture and Imperialism, Said New York: Routledge.
criticizes "much of Western Marxism, in its aesthetic and cultural Foucault, Michel (1977), "What Is an Author?" Language. Counter-Memory.
departments," for being "blinded to the matter of imperialism." He goes on to Practice. Ithaca: Cornell UP: 113-138.
cite Habermas's assertion, in an interview published in New Left Review, that Gilroy, Paul (1993), The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double
Frankfurt School critical theory has "nothing to say to anti-imperialist and Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
anti-capitalist struggles in the Third World,' even if, [Habermas] adds, I am Habermas, Jurgen (1987), The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity.
aware...that this is a eurocentrically limited view,''' Said continues: Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Hall, Stuart (1996), "Cultural Studies and Its Theoretical Legacies. Morley
All the major French theoreticians except Deleuze, Todorov, and Denida and Chen, eds. Stuart Hall: 262-275.
have been similarly unheeding, which has not prevented their ateliers from
churning out theories of Marxism, language, psychoanalysis, and history Hall, Stuart (1996), "The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual," Morley and
with an implied applicability to the whole world. Much the same thing can be Chen, eds. Stuart Hall: 484-503.
said of most Anglo-Saxon cultural theory, with the important exceptions of Hovespian, Nubar (1992), "Connections with Palestine," Sprinker, ed. Edward
feminism, and a small handful of work by young critics influenced by Said: 5-18.
Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall (1993: 278). Lowe, Lisa (1991), Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms.
Ithaca: Cornell UP.
Said then asks, "ifEuropean theory and Western Marxism...haven't in the
McGuigan, Jim (1992), Cultural Populism. London and New York:
main proved themselves to be reliable allies in the resistance to Routledge. has... liberationist anti-imperialism tried to break [the]
Morley, David, and Kuan-Hsing Chen, eds. (1996), Stuart Hall: Critical
shackling unity" of western cultural, political, and economic domination?
Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London: Routledge.
One answer to that question is through Said's own work, and more
Nairn, Tom (1981), The Break-up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism.
generally through the postcolonial studies movement which Said has done so London: Verso.
much to shape and inspire. Whether such work is an extension of cultural
Parry, Benita (1992), "Overlapping Territories and Intertwined Histories:
studies or is instead a distinct development necessarily critical of cultural
Edward Said's Postcolonial Cosmopolitanism," Sprinker, ed. Edward
studies is fmally, perhaps, undecidable. What is at least clear is that, as far as Said: 19-47.
Said himself is concerned, Marx, the Marxist tradition, and Raymond
Said, Edward (1978), Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.
Williams as a major recent exemplar of that tradition must continue to be read,
Said, Edward (1979), "Orientalism Reconsidered." Race and Class 27:2
respected, and emulated for postcolonial studies to achieve its own goals of (1985): 1-15.
cultural critique and liberation from imperialist and racist domination.
Said, Edward (1979), 77le Question ofPalestine. New York: Times Books.
72 Patrick Brantlinger

Said, Edward (1983), The World, the Text, and the Critic. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard UP.
Said, Edward (1990), "Narrative, Geography and Interpretation." New Left
Review 180: 81-97.
Said, Edward (1993), Culture and Imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Said, Edward, and Raymond Williams (1989), "Media, Margins and
Modernity." In Raymond Williams, The Politics ofModernism: 177-197. Chapter 4
Sprinker, Michael, ed. (1992), Edward Said: A Critical Reader. Oxford:
Turner, Brian S. (1994), Orientalism. Postmodernism and Globalism. London
and New York: Routledge. WORLDLINESS
Viswanathan, Gauri (1993), "Raymond Williams and British Colonialism: The
Limits of Metropolitan Cultural Theory." Dworkin and Roman, eds.
Border Country: 217-230.
Williams, Raymond (1980), Problems in Materialism and Culture. London:
Bill Ashcroft
Williams, Raymond (1981), Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left
Review. London: Verso.
Readers of this book will by now be aware of how complicated and
Williams, Raymond (1983), Towards 2000 London: Chatto and Windus
Williams, Raymond (1989),Resources of Hope: Culture Democracy. paradoxical Edward Said's relationship with post-colonial studies can be seen
to be. While we can never take any of Said's pronouncements on matters of
Socialism. London: Verso.
Williams, Raymond (1989),The Politics of Modernism. Ed. Tony Pinkney. contemporary theory as fixed in stone for all time, it is clear that he has neither
a close acquaintance with post-colonial theory, nor, in many of his statements
London: Verso.
Young, Robert (1990), White Mythologies: Writing History and the West. New (because he hates all 'isms'), a clear understanding of its aims. Post-colonial
theory itself, as we may deduce from Arif Dirlik's view of its supposed non-
York and London: Routledge.
materiality, is open to almost endless interpretation. So, not surprisingly, it is
not at all clear what Said himself means by the term. Nevertheless, whether
we accept the myth of Said's originary status or not, a close look at Said's
writing, to assess what, exactly, is identifiably 'postcolonial' about his work,
might prove to be of great benefit.
Edward Said and Orientalism have become synonymous in contemporary
critical thinking. If any book has stood out as a pivotal text in contemporary
cultural theory it is his ground breaking analysis of Europe's discursive
construction of the Orient. But this book, and indeed, all of Said's work, can
only be understood fully in the context of his view of the role of the
intellectual in contemporary society and the function of criticism itself.
Despite the widespread celebration of Orientalism, and its pivotal place in
74 Bill Ashcroft Worldliness 75

post-colonial theory, it is the concept of 'worldliness' which stands as Said's the euphoric reception of deconstruction by the American academy in the
most significant contribution to critical theory.' Apart from arguments about seventies which Said helped introduce (1971; 1971a; 1972). As post-
his status as a post-colonial intellectual, and whether he is aware of it or not, structuralism begins to wane, Said's commitment to 'worldliness' remains as
worldliness defines Said's post-coloniality. Worldliness underlies the project strong as ever. Yet one more paradox in a paradoxical career, we find that
of Orientalism itself, and perhaps more importantly, represents a view of the Said's extensive reputation as a cultural critic is underpinned by his much
text, of the material situation of writing, of the loca/ioll of literature, which lesser known intellectual position as a literary theorist, particularly his stance
will outlast the poststructuralist anxiety which often haunts contemporary on textuality.
critical practice. The issues which stand out in Said's writing include: his concept of
It is this dogged and unfashionable commitment to worldliness, rather 'secular criticism,' by which he means a criticism freed from the priestly
than the immensely influential analysis of knowledge/power in Orientalism restrictions and unreflective certainties of intellectual specialization; his
that best characterises Said's place in that shifting field called 'post-colonial concomitant advocacy of 'amateurism' in intellectual life; a need for the
theory.' While Said's 'place' in post-colonial theory is controversial, both intellectual's actual or metaphoric exile from 'home,' and his passionate view
politically and historically, (and by most accounts constantly changing), there of the need for intellectual work to recover its connections with the political
is no doubt that at the level of the materiality of the text, and the commitment realities of the society in which it occurs, to recognize its 'worldliness.' It is the
to understanding writing as a political practice, his interests converge very relationship of criticism to the world which underlies his exposure of the way
strongly with post-colonial analysis. Said's own worldliness, the paradox of in which the 'Orient' has emerged as a discursive construction, and how
his identity, is so pronounced, and such a central feature of his cultural theory, contemporary 'Islam' continues to evolve as an alien construction of the West,
that he forces us to re-assess the nature of the link between the text and its indeed of the way the West continually constructs its others.
author. The controversies surrounding his position as a post-colonial The almost obsessive commitment to 'secularism' and 'amateurism' in
intellectual, several of which are aired in this book, may well benefit from a critical practice and the suspicion of intellectual specialization this produces,
consideration of the issue of worldliness. In the end, the proper assessment of puts Said in an ambiguous relationship with that discourse with which so
Edward Said's relationship to post-colonial theory may not reside so much in many have connected him - post-colonial criticism. As Patrick Williams
his cultural criticism, in books such as Oriell/alism, as in his contribution to points out in this volume, Said's flirtation with the term in the 1980s has
textual theory. Whatever his stated view of the critical landscape, worldliness turned to opposition, partly, as becomes clear, because he has not read much
is Said's most 'post-colonial' contribution to textual analysis. post-colonial theory, but mostly because he remains suspicious of
The trenchant consistency of Said's position and the wide-ranging scope 'specializations' of any kind. Hence, a discussion of 'Edward Said and the
of his interests have been obscured by two things: the dominance of Postcolonial' is a far from simple or hagiographic activity. No contemporary
poststructuralism in textual analysis over the last two decades; and the cultural critic is more paradoxically located in a political and professional
extraordinary prominence of Oriellialism in his reputation as a cultural critic. milieu. This paradox is the key to Said's own worldliness, for it leaves him in
In the concept of worldliness we discover a principle which retrieves the a certain antipathy, if we are to read the signs aright, with the very intellectual
materiality of the world for political and cultural theory and which offers a discourse which has been a major vehicle of his increasing stature as a cultural
powerful resource in the post-colonial resistance to the poststructuralist critic.
dispersal of meaning. Said's insistence on the materiality of the text, the This question of worldliness, of the writer's own position in the world,
'worldliness' of its production and reception, its being-in-the-world, pre-dates gets to the heart of another paradox central to this consideration of Edward
Said's work - how do we read texts? For, any text, Said's included, is
constructed out of many available discourses, discourses within which writers
I Thisl and other aspects of Said's work, are mOTe fully elaborated in Bill Ashcroft and Pat themselves may be seen as subjects 'in process', and which they may not have
Ahluwalia, Edward Said: the Paradox of Identity London: Routledge 1999.
76 Bill Ashcroft Worldliness 77

had in mind when they put pen to paper. Worldliness begins by asking one of emerges. "In having given up the world entirely for the aporias and
the most contentious questions in politically oriented theory: who addresses us unthinkable paradoxes of the text, contemporary criticism has retreated from
in the text? And this is a question we must ask of Edward Said's work, for its constituency, the citizens of modem society, who have been left to the
there is no other cultural theorist who so intimately constructs his identity hands of 'free' market forces, multinational corporations" (1983: 4).
through his own texts. Ultimately, worldliness is concerned with the The alternative to such specialization is a fonn of criticism from which
materiality of the text's origin, for in this material being is embedded in the ambiguity and contradiction cannot be entirely removed but which happily
very materiality of the matters of which it speaks; dispossession, injustice, pay that price in order to reject dogma. As lanMohamed puts it, within this
marginality, and subjection. In many respects it is this concept of worldliness, paradoxical formulation "criticism functions to define that which is
a commitment to which underlies his examination of Orientalism, rather than simultaneously to be affirmed and denied" (1992: Ill). Criticism is thus not a
Orientalism itself which constitutes Said's most strategic contribution to post- science but an act of political and social engagement, that is sometimes
colonial theory. paradoxical, sometimes contradictory, but which tries to avoid solidifying into
It is the approach to the text's worldliness, and the desire for criticism to dogmatic certainty. The problem with Said, of course, is that his textual theory
actually speak to an intellectual's public audience, that drives Said. All has developed no clear way of distinguishing dogma from commitment, nor
approaches to literary criticism, he claims, have fallen into the trap of has his own commitment always avoided the lure of dogma.
specialization, a 'cult of professional expertise' which has rendered them
marginal to the pressing political concerns of contemporary societies (1983:
1). In contrast, "Secular Criticism" dispenses with 'priestly' and abstruse THE TEXT IN THE WORLD
specialization in favour of a breadth of interest and an 'amateurism' of
Structuralism radically disrupted the classical realist assumption that texts
approach which avoids the retreat of intellectual work from the actual society
such as books were simple communications from a writer to a reader. But the
in which it occurs. No matter how much intellectuals may believe that their
legacy of its subtle and influential investigation of the structures of texts was
interests are of "higher things or ultimate values" the morality of the
the neglect of the fact that texts are actually located in the world. To treat the
intellectual's practice begins with its location in the secular world, and is
text as merely a structure of the paradigmatic and syntagmatic, say, is to
affected by "where it takes place, whose interests it serves, how it jibes with a
divorce the text, which is a cultural production, a cultural act, from the
consistent and universalist ethic, how it discriminates between power and
relations of power within which it is produced. Such a tendency concretizes,
justice, what it reveals of one's choices and priorities" (1994: 89).
and to some extent renders inert, the desire which drove the text into being in
The secular trinity he espouses - 'world', the 'text' and the 'critic' - is in
the first place: "a desire - to write - that is ceaseless, varied, and highly
direct contrast to the 'theologies' of contemporary theoretical schools which
unnatural and abstract, since "to write" is a function never exhausted by the
lead, he claims, to a continually inward-turning professional critical practice.
completion ofa piece of writing" (1983: 131). Thus, for Said, the notion ofa
American criticism, according to Said, had retreated, by the seventies, into the
text not only extends beyond its spatial and objective location in the work, as
labyrinth of'textuality', the mystical and disinfected subject matter of literary
it does for Barthes, it extends beyond the material presence of the script.
theory. Textuality is the exact antithesis of history, for although it takes place,
Writing is the complex, and generally orderly translation of many different
it doesn't take place anywhere or anytime in particular. "As it is practiced in
forces into decipherable script, forces which all converge on the desire to
the American academy today, literary theory has for the most part isolated
write which is a choice made over the desire to speak, to dance, to sculpt
textuality from the circumstances, the events, the physical senses that made it
(1983: 129). The failure to take this into account in literary criticism is not
possible and render it intelligible as the result of human work" (1983: 4).
simply a problem for structuralist and poststructuralist analysis. In some
Ironically, the increasingly complex and even dazzling program of
respects much professional literary criticism has reduced the text to an object
contemporary theory has left it less and less to say to the society from which it
78 Bill Ashcroft Worldliness 79

and in so doing obscures its own real relations with power. But the concept of verbality. The structural features of textuality are an extremely useful
the text's worldliness is crucial, for any analysis of a discourse such as analytical tool, but they run the risk of positing the social and political
Orientalism: such a discourse both constructs and 'emerges' from a particular significance of the text as merely an effect of textuality, an invention of those
kind of world. It is the exposure of the link between academic textual practice textual strategies which inscribe it. Clearly, the political necessity of the text's
and such relations of power which underlies Said's critique of Orientalist worldliness is crucial for the post-colonial text in particular, not only for its
discourse. capacity to represent the world but also for its aim to actually be in, to
Clearly, in societies with no tradition of literary writing, the desire to write intervene in the world. This worldliness is a feature of all texts as a feature of
can become a highly charged and highly mediated political act. Why one form their way of being in the world, but it is obviously critical to those dominated
of writing and not another? Why at that moment and not another? Why societies attempting to resist and transform the discourses of the dominant.
literary writing anyway? The fulfilment of the post-colonial desire to write Theoretically, the key challenge for Said is to negotiate a path between
often occurs as a function of that ambivalence instituted by the disarticulation two attitudes to the text which in different ways misrepresent how texts have a
of colonialism itself. But in any case, there are sequences, constellations, being in the world. On the one hand, the classical realist position sees the text
complexes of rational choices made by (or for) the writer for which the as simply referring to the world 'out there.' Such a view fails to take into
evidence is a printed text (1983: 129). Writing is not some sort of second account the ways in which language mediates and determines what is seen in
order representation of an experience which is already there, but it may be the world. On the other hand, a structuralist-inspired position sees the world as
produced for something formed in the writing itself. We may thus dismiss the having no absolute existence at all but as being entirely constructed by the
idea of literature being a copy of an original experience, just as we may reject text. This view would not allow for any non-textual experience of the world,
the idea of history as a line moving from origin to present. nor for any world outside the text. Said negotiates these extremes in this way:
A text, in its actually being a text is a being in the world (1983: 33). That the text (and by this we can mean speech, pictures and all other forms of texts)
is, it has a material presence, a cultural and social history, a political and even is important in negotiating our experience of the world, but the worldliness
an economic being as well as a range of implicit connections to other texts. and circumstantiality of the text, "the text's status as an event having sensuous
Any simple diametrical opposition asserted between, on the one hand, speech, particularity as well as historical contingency, are considered as being
bound by situation and reference, and, on the other, the text as an interception incorporated in the text, an infrangible part of its capacity for conveying and
or suspension of speech's worldliness, is misleading. Texts have ways of producing meaning" (1983: 39). This means that the text is crucial in the way
existing which even in their most rarefied form are always enmeshed in we 'have' a world, but the world exists as the text's location, and that
circumstance, time, place and society, "in short, they are in the world, and worldliness is constructed within the text. The text has a specific situation
hence worldly" (1983: 35). This is crucial fact which has been obscured by the which places restraints upon an interpreter, "not because the situation is
contemporary obsession with signification: while the meaning of the text hidden within the text as a mystery but because the situation exists at the same
might be deferable, its locatedness is not. Locatedness is the point from which level of surface particularity as the textual object itself' (1983: 39). The text
the elaboration of meaning proceeds, not the unreachable point to which the does not exist outside the world, as is the implication in both the realist and
understanding of meaning is directed. structuralist positions, but is a part of the world of which it speaks, and this
Like Derrida, Said disputes the idea that speech is prior to writing, that the worldliness is itself present in the text as a part of its formation.
written text merely reflects or reproduces the ideal spoken text. But Said Writing is 'affJ.1iative' rather than 'filiative' with experience; it "counters
rejects Derrida's proposition of the deferral of signification, the endlessness of nature." But in this affiliation with the social world, this production of
interpretation. Rather, for him, texts announce their materiality, their experience Said sees one of the most resonant confirmations of the text's
worldliness by their situatedness in just the same way as speech. Rather than a worldliness. While filiation (or inheritance) suggests a utopian domain of texts
separation from the world, or from speech, texts announce their link with connected serially, homologously and seamlessly with other texts, in a body of
80 Bill Ashcroft Worldliness 81
works called, for instance "English Literature," affiliation (or active turning, so the filiative connection of the intellectual to some professional
association) is that which enables a text to maintain itself as a text, the "status specialisation seems to remove him or her from the very world in which the
of the author, historical moment, conditions of publication, diffusion and work of the intellectual can take effect. More sinisterly, it prevents
reception, values drawn upon, values and ideas assumed, a framework of professional practice from any recognition of the actual relations of power
consensually held tacit assumptions, presumed background, and so on" (1983: within which it operates. In both cases the filiative connection to some form of
174-5). The affiliations of the text constantly lead us back to its worldliness, tradition removes the possibility, as it removes the desire, for agency, the
for we are drawn to ask the questions "Where is the text taking place?" "How possibility to speak truth to falsehood, oppression and injustice. Worldliness is
is it taking place?" (Ashcroft 1996: 6). Affiliation draws us inexorably to the affiliative, and the tendency for the critic to be locked into some limited
location and the locatedness of the text's production. professional identity must be resisted at all costs because it removes the critic
Affiliation sends the critical gaze beyond the narrow confines of the from the a fundamental responsibility - to criticize.
European literary canon, or any literary tradition, into this cultural texture. "To
recreate the affiliative network is therefore to make visible, to give materiality
back to the strands holding the text to society, author and culture" (Said 1983: THE CRITIC
175). This concern with the materiality of the text also allows Said to read the
texts of English literature 'contrapuntally' (1993: 59), to see the extent to Criticism, for Said, is personal, active, entwined with the world,
which they are implicated in the broad political project of imperialism. implicated in its processes of representation, and committed to the notion that
Traditionally assumed to be connected filiatively to the discourse of 'English the intellectual, through the operation of the oppositional, critical spirit, can
literature,' the text now can be seen to be affiliated with the network of reveal hypocrisy, uncover the false, prepare the ground for change. The critic
history, culture and society within which it comes into being and is read. operates within as complex a network of affiliations as does the text. Critics
Said has also used the concept to describe the way the network of are not the simple translators of texts into circumstantial reality. The
affiliation links colonised societies to imperial culture. Cultural identities are reproduction of textuality in criticism is itself bound up in circumstance, in
understood as "contrapuntal ensembles" (1993: 60) and the often hidden worldliness.' Indeed, for both post-colonial writer and critic, this worldliness
affiliations of both imperial and colonial cultures are amenable to a is a crucial factor, for the manner and target of its address, its oppositionality,
contrapuntal reading. Clearly, the concept of affiliation is useful for describing its revelatory powers of representation, its liminality, are fundamental features
the ways in which colonized societies replace filiative connections to of its being in the world. Ontology and epistemology are joined: what it can
indigenous cultural traditions with affiliations to the social, political and know is indistinguishable from what it is ill the world. That is to say that the
cultural institutions of empire. Affiliation refers to "that implicit network of way in which the post-colonial text exists in discourse determines what can be
peculiarly cultural associations between forms, statements and other aesthetic said.
elaborations on the one hand and, on the other, institutions, agencies, classes, Consequently, the 'worldliness' of the critic is just as fundamental as the
and amorphous social forces" (174). Said links the concept to Gramsci's worldliness of the text. Thus, when we read Said's analysis of Orientalist
notion of hegemony by suggesting that the affiliative network itself is the field discourse, or the link between imperial culture and imperial domination, or the
of operation of hegemonic control, and this may be evident particularly in the continuation of this link in contemporary representations of Palestinians
case of the control of imperial culture. (1980; 1981), the issue of worldliness becomes a crucial feature of the
We can see the significance of Said's preference for affiliation extending engagement of those texts. Orientalism for instance, does not simply aim to
into every aspect of his work. For just as the idea of the text related investigate the array of disciplines or to exhaustively elaborate the historical
'filiatively' to "English Literature" seems to sever it from its connection with or cultural provenance of Orientalism, but rather to reverse the gaze' of the
the world, to the extent that critical appreciation becomes ever more inward discourse, to analyze it from the point of view of an 'Oriental' - to "inventory
82 Bill Ashcroft Worldliness 83

the traces upon... the Oricntal subject, of the culture whose domination has problems, values, even lives to be fought for" (1983: 28). Here, we find
been so powerful a fact in the life of all Orientals" (Said 1978: 25). How Said, encapsulated his view of the function of the public intellectual.
the celebrated American academic, can represent himself as a marginalised This is a difficult, not to say determinedly heroic position, but it cannot be
oriental, demonstrates how paradoxical worldliness can become. separated from the social historical conditions of his own location as a
The problem with contemporary criticism is an extreme functionalism Palestinian speaking from the 'centre,' the elite metropolitan academy. That is
which pays too much attention to the text's formal operations, but far too little to say, Said's own life has provided ample evidence of the need to aim one's
to its materiality. The result of this is that the text becomes "a kind of self- criticism in every direction: antagonism from Arafat, exclusion from
consuming artefact; idealized, essentialized, instead of remaining the special Palestinian politics, and the banning of his books in Palestine. Too often,
kind of cultural object it is with a causation, persistence, durability and social oppositional criticism can become stuck in an uncritical and unreflective
presence quite its own" (1983: 148). The materiality of the text refers to ideological mire. For Said, criticism is by its very nature oppositional; "If
various things: the ways, for example in which the text is a monument, a criticism is reducible neither to a doctrine or a political position on a particular
cultural object sought after, fought over, possessed, rejected, or achieved in question, and if it is to be in the world and self-aware simultaneously, then its
time. The text's materiality also includes the range of its authority. But these identity is its difference from other cultural activities and from systems of
all locate it in the world. thought or of method" (1983: 29). This is salutary advice for critical positions,
The need for criticism to return to the world is the desire of post-colonial such as post-colonial ones, which see themselves, if not exactly embattled and
criticism in general. It is all very well, for instance, to unravel the endless marginalized, at least providing a venue for the critical work of those who feel
paradoxes involved in the question 'what is reality?' while safely ensconced in culturally dominated.
the metropolitan academy. But if that reality involves material and emotional Said's refusal of both the rarefied world of pure textuality and the
deprivation, cultural exclusion and even death, such questions appear self- ideologically impacted world of political dogma, is the ground of his effort to
indulgent and irrelevant. This 'secular' return to the world captures the reconnect literary criticism with the world of political and cultural reality. The
particular nature of the ambivalent relationship between post-colonial studies essence of Said's critical spirit, despite his impassioned espousal of the cause
and contemporary theory, quite apart from Said's direct exposure of the of those marginalized by what some have called "NATOpolitan" hegemony, is
constructions of the post-colonial world by the West. the refusal to be locked into a school, ideology or political party, and his
For Said, criticism goes beyond specific positions. Criticism that is determination not to exempt anything from criticism. Whether he has achieved
"modified in advance by labels like "Marxism" or "liberalism" (1983: 28)" (or this to the extent he might have wished, particularly in his discussions of
"feminism" or, paradoxically, "postcolonialism" as well, we may assume), is Orientalism and Islam, is debatable, but it does not diminish the fundamental
to him an oxymoron. "The history of thought, to say nothing of political impetus of his desire to return criticism to the world.
movements is extravagantly illustrative of how the dictum "solidarity before The consequences of 'worldliness' are quite profound for the critic. Said
criticism" means the end of criticism" (1983: 28). This really gets to the heart introduces the disarming, not to say disconcerting idea of the critic as
of what Said means by 'secular criticism,' for it is not only the quasi-religious 'amateur,' by which he means that the critic must refuse to be locked into
quietism of complex and abstruse theoretical thought - that of the "priestly narrow professional specializations which produce their own arcane
caste of acolytes" which he rejects, but also the ideologically impacted and vocabulary and speak only to other specialists. The cult of professional
impervious position of "the dogmatic metaphysicians" (1983: 5). He takes expertise in criticism is pernicious because it surrenders the actual material
criticism so seriously as to believe that "even in the very midst of a battle in and political concerns of society to a discourse dominated by economists and
which one is unmistakably on one side against another, there should be technocrats. This situation obtains in every developed nation in the world
criticism, because there must be critical consciousness if there are to be issues, today, to the extent that economic and technological discourse is regarded not
only as being the best and most canny representation of the real world, but the
84 Bill Ashcroft Worldliness 85

only true reflection of human affairs. Questions of justice, oppression, THE PARADOX OF SAID'S IDENTITY
marginalisation, or hemispheric, national and racial equality are submerged
almost entirely beneath the language of money economy with its utopian When we talk about the affiliations of the critic, it becomes extremely
dream that 'if the figures are right everything else will fall into place.' difficult to relegate criticism to some idealized zone of textuality. For the
It is in such "amateurism" that the worldliness of the critic can be fully critic, the affiliations within which he or she operates are crucial to what is
realised. This does not mean a superficial dilettantism but a reversal of the actually produced. Said's own case is a consummate demonstration of this:
trend of literary theory (in particular) to tum its back on the circumstances and occupying a prestigious position in a major university, he has become one of
real events of the society for which criticism actually exists. The word the most widely known critics in the world. In his own position as a powerful
'amateur' is a useful one because its perjorative connotations disrupt our sense and prestigious academic, he must engage constantly on the one hand with the
of the function that the intellectual fills in contemporary society. Asked why academic discourse which, in a sense, gave him intellectual birth and from
he used the term amateur rather than 'generalist', Said replied that he was which he speaks, and on the other hand with the extensively marginalised
drawn to the literal meaning of the French word which means a love of position of his own constituency - the Palestinian and Islamic world.
something, "very involved in something without being professional" (Ashcroft Edward Said's own worldliness is marked by a series of contradictions,
1996: 8). Said's own work is ample demonstration of the somewhat ironically which, far from being debilitating, demonstrate the paradoxical nature of all
termed business of the amateur. His province has been everything from identity formation, and in particular the identity of diasporic peoples. A great
literary theory, to textual criticism, history, discursive analysis, sociology, deal of the problem with 'regulated' identities, such as national, ethnic or
musicology, anthropology, and all this emerging in a form of cultural studies religious filiations, is that the formula is generally unable to accommodate the
which, above all, has highlighted the politics of cultural difference in the post- actual disparate, contradictory and developing character of subjectivity.
colonial world. There is possibly no other contemporary cultural theorist who Because of his public profile Edward Said demonstrates these contradictions
demonstrates so well the situatedness of the text of criticism, who reinforces in full measure. But most significantly, he reveals that contradiction may well
so completely the need to consider the affiliations of criticism itself in any be an essential feature of identity, this is precisely why restricted notions of
appreciation of its relationship with the text or texts it scrutinizes. identity tend towards exclusion rather than inclusion.
The attempt to produce a criticism which engages the real material ground The celebrated American academic who passionately and paradoxically
of political and social life is one which persists unflaggingly over the last claims his status as a marginalised and besieged Palestinian, reveals
twenty years. For Said, criticism continually crosses the boundaries between contradictions at many other levels. The cultural critic reveals himself to be a
academic and journalistic texts, between professional and public forums, and cultural elitist in his tastes, preferring Western music and canonical literature;
between professional specialisations for at base its character and purpose are the cultural critic who repeatedly constructs himself as an exile has a home in
urgent and immediate. "Criticism must think of itself as life-enhancing and Columbia University, indeed, could not live anywhere but New York.
constitutively opposed to every form of tyranny, domination, and abuse; its Lionized and famous yet victim of a "uniquely punishing destiny," the destiny
social goals are noncoercive knowledge produced in the interests of human of an exile, Edward Said demonstrates above all the paradox of the textual
freedom" (1983: 29). The refusal of ideological or theoretical dogma also nature of identity, the worldliness he espouses so forcefully, being one which
underlies Said's willingness to consider what normally might be regarded as in his case is 'written' constantly, inscribed in all his criticism. Paradox and
conservative positions, particularly in relation to the efficacy of historical and contradiction are the very essence of Said's own worldliness, because this
empirical scholarship, alongside radical views of social and political relations. 'world' is the world of the exile.
For Said, exile is the key to the secular, non-partisan capacity of the public
intellectual to criticize, to "speak truth to power," to expose sham and injustice
in governing institutions. Perhaps the best conception of the world of the
86 Bill Ashcroft Worldliness 87

critic's worldliness can be found in a passage from a twelfth century Saxon as well as that oppositionality and critical rebelliousness which is the very
monk called Hugo of St Victor which Said uses more than once: mark of the public intellectual.
Perhaps the deepest paradoxes emerge from the intellectual's relationship
The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom to culture, because while he or she may be saturated by culture, the deep link
every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the between that culture and place locates the exile within the unsettling
entire world is as a foreign land. The tender soul has fixed his love on one provisionality of a diasporic culture. The connection between culture and
spot in the world; the strong man has extended his love to all places; the
perfect man has extinguished his (cited in Said 1984: 55). place does not refer simply to a connection with a nation or region, but
includes "all the nuances or reassurance, fitness, belonging, association, and
"Only by embracing this attitude," says Said, "can a historian begin to community, entailed in the phrase at home or in place. .. It is in culture that
grasp human experience and its written records in their diversity and we can seek out the range of meanings and ideas conveyed by the phrases
particularity" (1984: 55). So, paradoxically, to the critic for whom "the entire belonging to or in a place, being at home in a place" (1983: 8). This places the
world is as a foreign land," the almost boundless affiliations of the text's exile in a singular position with regard to history and society, but also a much
worldliness are readily accessible. Such an attitude not only makes possible more anxious and ambivalent position with regard to culture:
originality of vision, but also (since exiles are aware of at least two cultures) a
plurality of vision that is essentially contrapuntal (1984: 55). "Because the "a mind of winter" in which the pathos of summer and autumn as
much as the potential of spring are nearby but unobtainable. Perhaps this is
exile sees things both in terms of what has been left behind and what is actual another way of saying that a life of exile moves according to a different
here and now, there is a double perspective that never sees things in isolation" calendar, and is less seasonal and settled than life at home. Exile is life led
(1994: 44). Thus the form of contrapuntal reading which enables Said to outside habitual order. It is nomadic, decentred, contrapuntal; but no sooner
explicate the deep embedding of imperialism in the Western canon in Culture does one get accustomed to it than its unsettling force erupts anew (1984:
and Imperialism, is posited as a habit of mind of the exile. 55).
But while exile is an almost necessary condition for true critical
Much of the contradictory nature of Said's view of the interrelation of
worldliness, "the achievements of any exile are permanently undermined by
exile, intellectual and culture, can be explained perhaps by the fact that for
his or her sense of loss" (1984: 49). While it is "the unhealable rift forced
him exile is both an actual and a metaphorical condition:
between a human being and a native place" (1984: 49), nevertheless, the
canon of modem Western culture "is in large part the work of exiles" (1984:
The pattern that sets the course for the intellectual as outsider is best
49). This tension between personal desolation and cultural empowerment is exemplified by the condition of exile, the state of never being fully adjusted,
the tension of exile in Said's own work, a tension which helps explain his own always feeling outside the chatty, familiar world inhabited by natives...
deep investment in the link between the text and the world. For that very Exile for the intellectual in this metaphysical sense is restlessness,
worldliness is the guarantee of the invalidity of the text's ownership by nation movement, constantly being unsettled, and unsettling others. You cannot go
or community or religion, however powerful those filiative connections might back to some earlier and perhaps more stable condition of being at home;
and, alas, you can never fully arrive, be at one in your new home or situation
be. The most insistent of these filiations, that of nationalism, arises "to (1994: 39).
overcome some form of estrangement - from soil, from roots, from unity,
from destiny" (1984: 50) because just "beyond the perimeter of what One can detect a certain slippage even here between the actual and the
nationalism constructs as the nation, at the frontier separating "us" from what metaphorical which suggests that for Said exile is also an act of will that the
is alien, is the perilous territory of not-belonging" (1984: 51). It is the very intellectual performs in order to stand outside the comfortable receptivity of
risk of entering the territory of not belonging which the 'worldly' critic must home or nation. For it is difficult to see how far the idea of metaphoricity can
take, because the frontier of the nation sets a limit to openness and originality, be taken without dissolving the concept of exile altogether.
88 Bill Ashcroft Worldliness 89

Certainly in the most powerful exilic influence upon Said, Theodor

Adorno, the combination of separation from home and the willed distancing
from the everyday world seems complete. The "dominating intellectual Ashcroft, B. (1996), "Interview with Edward Said", New Literatures Review,
conscience of the middle twentieth century, whose entire career skirted and 32: 3-22.
fought the dangers of fascism, communism and Western consumerism" (Said JanMohamed, A. (1992), "Worldliness-without-World, Homelessness-as-
1994a: 40), Adorno is a figure whose intellectual and personal life has Home: Toward a Definition of the Specular Border Intellectual" in
uncanny echoes in Edward Said's. But curiously, whereas Adorno is the Michael Sprinker (ed.), Edward Said: A Critical Reader, Oxford:
consummate example of the exiled intellectual, he is also one who Blackwells.
problematizes the notion, because: Said, E. (1971), "Abecedarium Culturae: Structuralism, Absence, Writing,"
TriQuarterly, (Winter).
Adorno was the quintessential intellectual, hating all systems, whether on our Said, E. (1971a) "What is Beyond Formalism?" MLN, December 1971.
side or theirs, with equal distaste. For him, life was at its most false in the
aggregate - the whole is always the untrue, he once said - and this, he Said, E. (1972), "Michel Foucault as an Intellectual Imagination," Boundary 2,
continued, placed an even greater premium on subjectivity, on the (July) 1: 1. 1972.
individual's consciousness, on what could not be regimented in the totally Said, E. (1978), Orientalism, New York: Vintage Books.
administered society (1994: 41). Said, E. (1980) The Questioll ofPalestine, London: Vintage.
Said, E. (1981) Covering Islam, New York: Vintage (1997)
In some respects, Adorno was an exile before he left home. To what Said, E. (1983), The World, the Text alld the Critic, Cambridge: Harvard
extent actual exile exacerbated the tendencies of metaphoric exile already University Press.
deeply embedded in his nature is a matter of conjecture. Said, E. (1984), "The Mind of Winter: Reflections on life in Exile", Harpers,
It is in exile perhaps, that the unresolvable paradox of Edward Said's 269: 49-55.
worldliness is located. For the line between geographical displacement and Said, E. (l99Ia), "Identity, Authority, And Freedom: The Potentate And The
intellectual distancing seems impossible to draw. The worldliness of the exiled Traveler", Transition, 54: 4-18.
intellectual does not exist outside textuality, and yet it is a reality which Said, E. (1993), Culture alld Imperialism, London: Chatto and Windus.
transforms our understanding of the text: while a text has a being in the world, Said, E. (1994), Represelltatiolls of the Intellectual, The 1993 Reith Lectures,
all being is textual at some level. Said's identity is constantly written in his London: Vintage Books.
work in a way which blurs the edge between work and life. But that Said, E. (1994a), The Pen and the Sword: Conversations with David
materiality within which the text and the critic must be addressed, that Barsamian, Monroe: Common Courage Press.
worldliness which disrupts the priestly program of textual analysis, is the key Said, E. (1994b), The Politics ofDispossession, London: Chatto and Windus.
to Said's importance to contemporary cultural and literary theory. Like a cork
continually bobbing to the surface, the passionate claim for the text's
worldliness survives all attempts to dissolve writing into the endless deferral
of poststructuralist analysis. It is this worldliness which gives intellectual
work its seriousness, which makes it "matter," which returns to writing its
cultural and political force.
Chapter 5


Linda Hutcheon

There is no doubt, as Robert Young (1990: 126) and many others have
pointed out, that Edward Said's Orientalism opened up the academic literary
scene to the serious study of imperialism. It was both in itself a significant
work of literary and cultural history and a self-conscious positioning of the
very act of writing history within a larger context, a "strategic formation," as
Said called it, that acquired "strength and authority" through its presence "in
time, in discourse, in institutions" (1979: 20). Nevertheless, unlike the
traditional (usually national) histories that have aimed to legitimize their
literatures and cultures through a teleological narrative of progress and
development,' this history's intent was more to "de-legitimize" (Clifford
1988: 266), and fittingly its narrative took a different form - that of an
insistent and repetitive witnessing of the constructions and consequences of
imperial power. What it de-legitimized was the way the "Orient" had been

I On the continuing power of the teleological model in the writing of literary history even from
the perspectives of what today we would call "identity politics," see Hutcheon,
"Interventionist Literary Histories."
92 Linda Hutcheon Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing 93

represented in the discourses of the "West.'" In so doing, it inaugurated a field but totally different, impact of that encounter over time on empire (and its
of research known as colonial discourse studies - the examination of "how discourses of both dominance and decline) is what the postimperial historian
stereotypes, images, and 'knowledge' of colonial subjects and cultures tie in undertakes. 3 Making such a distinction might illuminate some of the
with institutions of economic, administrative, judicial, and bio-medical confusions about and misdirected critiques of Orientalism over the last two
control" (Loomba 1998: 47). decades. It might also allow some perspective on Said's complex self-
Such an interrogation of colonial power can obviously be carried out from positioning in his writings.
two opposite points of reference, however: that of empire and that of colony. The term postcolonial is a contested one in literary circles these days;'
If the latter is what we have come to call "postcolonial," then the former nevertheless, it has also come to provide a capacious space within which to
should most accurately be labelled as "postimperial" to signal its significant negotiate a complex series of issues involving inequities of power within the
difference. It is in its concentration on the imperial discourses of the West that colonial situation. But, in literary historical terms, the perspective taken on
Orientalism constitutes a postimperial literary and cultural history rather than that colonial situation from a postcolonial point of view would be that of the
a postcolonial one. Its act of historical witnessing is different in focus and culture both as colonized and after. A postcolonial cultural history of India,
content from anything we could call postcolonial. I use the idea of witnessing therefore, would not be an extended history of the nation's complex and
here not in its religious sense, but in order to invoke instead its legal and multiple cultures, for such a history would clearly include much besides
especially its historical meanings. Literary and cultural historians like Said are colonialism (Ahmad 1992: 172); instead, it would be a record only of the
analogous to the historians Dominick LaCapra calls "secondary witnesses" impact on and resistances to the traumatic imperial legacy. (Settler-invader
whose task it is to come to terms with "secondary memory" or "the result of colonies would therefore have a different kind of historical narrative of
critical work on primary memory" (LaCapra 1998: 20) - that is, in this case, witnessing than subjugated colonies, largely because they did not experience a
work on literary and cultural texts and their representations. Secondary specific traumatic cultural break with the imposition of empire.') While some
memory is also what the historian "attempts to impart to others who have not have protested the use of the term postcolonial because it linguistically
themselves lived through the experience or events in question" (21). This is, in reproduces the centrality of the colonial narrative, surely that is the entire
the end, why such histories are written: as testimonial witnessings of past point. To call a history postcolonial (rather than Pakistani, Kenyan, or even
traumatic encounters between colonizer and colonized. Although, as we shall Commonwealth) is precisely to state the intent to study the political, historical,
see, the postimperial and the postcolonial represent constitutively different aesthetic, and cultural impact of empire upon colony.
acts of witnessing, it is at once interesting and significant that Edward Said's To write a postimperial or literary history, on the other hand, is not only to
various theoretical and political works have participated in and, indeed, been study the ways in which imperial discourse constructs and represents the
crucial to both. colonized; such a history would also trace the often occulted impact of colony
From a literary historical point of view, the founding moment of the
postcolonial would be that of its contact with empire - a fact embedded in its
very name. The witnessing of the impact of that traumatic encounter over time J A postcolonial perspective can also force a rethinking of imperial canons, of course: "In the
very act of distinguishing the Western literary tradition from its other, one discovers
on the colony (and its discourses of both complicity and resistance) is the task
unsuspected fissures and highly stratified levels of cultural sedimentation at its foundation,"
of the postcolonial historian; the witnessing of the sometimes equally strong, argues Moses (1991: 219). Different writers will look influential in different contexts (217).
With a postcolonial focus, it might be Kipling and Conrad rather than Pound and James that
become significant. Joyce might not be seen as a formalist modernist but as an Irish anti-
2 My quotation marks for this first usage of these two tenns (to be dropped subsequently) are colonialist.
intended to signal my agreement with those critics of Said's text who see an essentiaiizing 'For overviews of these issues, see Shohat (1992); Hutcheon (1995).
and stereotyping of the West into a monolithic whole that, in a sense, duplicates in reverse the S The native peoples of settler~invader colonies like Canada, New Zealand and Australia did, of
work of Orientalism itself. For sample summaries of such responses, see, for example, Buell course, experience such a traumatic break, but their continuing difficult position within these
(1994: 38); Bhabha (1986); Ahmad (1992: 183). cultures suggests that postcolonial may be too optimistic a term.
94 Linda Hutcheon Orielltalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing 95

upon empire. In each case, it is imperial discourse (frequently the canon') that Covering Islam (1981), After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (1986), or The
is the focus of attention and interrogation. Trauma is obviously something Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination
experienced by victims; but it also has an impact upon its perpetrators, as 1969-1994 (1994). Just as Said contains within his person and his intellectual
LaCapra has argued in his work on the vexed aesthetic, ethical and political formation the "traces" of both the Orient and the West and of both political
relationship between memory and history in the context of the "transvaluing" activist and humanist theorist, so too his oeuvre contains within it both
of trauma (1998: 8-9). In Orientalism and in many studies since then, postcolonial and postimperial impulses. He writes from a plural space, a
including Culture and Imperialism, Said has ably shown that, following the version of that "intermediary area" that Homi Bhabha calls the "middle of
colonial encounter, the perpetrator's culture is never the same again either difference" (I997: 435).
(though the difference is not only manifest in various forms of guilt). As While it is evident that the postcolonial and the postimperial are mutually
Balachandra Rajan. has cogently remarked: "Postcolonialists are more implicated and mutually dependent concepts, they are also distinguishable one
interested in how imperial discourse fell apart than in how it came together. from the other. After all, in conflictual historical encounters, those who are
But it had to come together in order to fall apart" (1998: 494). It is precisely subjected might well remember - and forget - differently than those who do
the task of postimperialist cultural historians to examine how imperial the subjecting. As Said has shown, the cultural history of the Orient in the
discourse has come together. West was written from the point of view of the "victors"; that history was also
Interestingly, Edward Said has taken up the position of both at times conveniently forgotten by them. Historically, the winners "can afford
postimperialist and postcolonial historian. He asserts that one of his personal to forget," argues Peter Burke, "while the losers are unable to accept what
reasons for writing Orientalism was to "inventory the traces upon me, the happened and are condemned to brood over it, relive it, and reflect how
Oriental subject, of the culture whose domination has been so powerful a different it might have been" (I989: 106). As postcolonial cultural historian,
factor in the life of all Orientals" (1979: 25). Yet Aijaz Ahmad and others are Said does not so much brood, however, as witness - that is, remember and
not wrong in pointing, nonetheless, to the "overwhelmingly European" nature analyse what happened to the colony, especially to Palestine; by contrast, as
of the book's cultural apparatus and the "authoritative presence" Said himself postimperial historian, Said forces the winners not to forget, and does so by
commands within the Western academy (Ahmad 1992: 171). Despite its showing them the consequences of imperial power on their own metropolitan
postimperial scholarly and theoretical focus, Orientalism' s enunciative culture's representations of both themselves and those oppressed by that
position is nonetheless postcolonial. The signs of such positioning - and power. From this perspective, Orielltalism accomplishes what Said claims of
address - can be seen everywhere, including in Said's decision to limit the Fanon's work: it forces "the European metropolis to think its history together
defmition of the Orient to the Middle East, and thus largely to ignore India, with the history of colonies awakening from the cruel stupor and abused
arguably the most significant of Britain's colonies in cultural terms. 7 As the immobility of imperial domination" (1989: 223). Said's use of the language of
books and pamphlets that follow Orientalism make clear, Palestine is the traumatic encounter here is echoed by many who write about this same need
personal focus of both Said's academic theorizing and his engaged politics. to decolonize European thought: Robert Young writes that the "legacy of
We need only recall such works as The Question of Palestine (1979), colonialism is as much a problem for the West as it is for the scarred lands in
the world beyond" (1990: 126). In each case, the stronger language of trauma
6 For a recent example of how much canonical discourses can teach about the impact of ("cruel stupor and abused immobility" or "scarred lands") is rightly reserved
imperialism, see Rajan, Under WeSlerll Eyes(2000). Lately. there have also been works that for the trauma of the victims, but that trauma is not without its effects on its
study noo- canonical discourses-travel writing, political reports and speeches, religious tracts. perpetrators.
See, for instance, Teltscher (1995).
7 Schwarz articulates boldly the case for India: "India had experienced Westernization [and, he
It is, in part, these latter effects that Orientalism registers and analyzes. As
implies, Orientalization] out of all proportion to other colonized formations. There simply a postimperial work, it does not produce a postcolonial history of the silenced
was no equating colonial India to colonial Africa or colonial Latin American when evaluating and the subjugated, that is, what Gayatri Spivak calls "a narrative, in literary
the cultural legacy" (1997: 110).
96 Linda Hutcheon Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing 97

history, of the 'worlding' of what is now called 'the Third World'" (1985: Flaubert, Burton, Scott, Byron, Vigny, Disraeli, George Eliot, Gautier, Barres,
243-4). Despite its subject matter, its object of knowledge is Western; its Loti, T.E. Lawrence, Forster, and so on.
primary interest is openly in Orientalism not in the Orient itself. In their Of course, what Said calls the "discursive consistency" (1979: 273) of
postimperial articulation, Orien/alism's strong judgmental positions on imperial representations within European culture can lead and have often led
individual Orientalists and on the discourses of Orientalism in general stand in to an internalizing by the colonized of those stereotypes of (and imposed
contrast with, for instance, Bhabha's different - indeed, postcolonial - focus judgments on) them. And this is where the postcolonial cultural history takes
on the colonial impact of the "force of ambivalence" that he locates in over from the postimperial; this, for example, is where Bhabha can analyse the
imperial discourse and that, he implies, gives it its stereotyping currency in hybridization of the Bible as communicated to and understood by Indians (in
and power over the real (not only discursive) Orient (1986: 148-9). "Signs Taken for Wonders"). Here the gaps in imperial discourse can be
In Orientalism, Said never claimed to do other than study imperial worked for their possibilities of resistance - from a colonial perspective. This
discourse, whatever his critics may have asserted (and however postcolonial is also where Xiaomei Chen can theorize "accidentalism" in terms of a post-
his own self-positioning may be). In his introductory remarks to Culture and Mao Chinese self-reappropriation of the West's appropriating construction of
Imperialism in 1993, he addresses his earlier omission of Third World Orientalism. This is postcolonial literary and cultural history - as Said too has
response and resistance to Western discursive domination (xii). While he written it in those pamphlets and books on Palestine. Such is not the
voices a strong interest in the later work in what he calls a "contrapuntal" postimperial space of Orientalism, however. How empire represented itself to
point of view that acknowledges the reciprocity of colony and empire - as itself as well as to others is as central to this different space as how empire
opposed to a "politics of blame" or of "confrontation and hostility" (18) - his represented its silenced "Other" to itself and the world. Orientalism, as Said
position in that book, as in Orien/alism, is still that of what he too refers to as later put it, offered "a worldview with considerable political force not easily
the "post-imperial intellectual." Even ifhis intent is to study the "overlapping brushed away as so much epistemology" ("Representing the Colonized" 211)
community between metropolitan and formerly colonized societies" (18), as in - but that is as true in the imperial as in the colonized context. It is a question
his earlier work Said's main interest here is in questioning the cultural of different acts of witnessing: rather than offering an inventory of the
categories of Western thought, including Western historiography. To that end, traumatic traces of empire upon himself or other colonized peoples, in
he offers what Ahmad has called a "perfectly necessary rereading of the Orientalism Said actually inventories the perpetrator's traumatic acts of
Western archive" (1992: 63). This is what a postimperial cultural history takes discursive violence. The subsequent works on Palestine, however, then take
as its witnessing task, its opportunity, and its responsibility. If Said's later up the other task of postcolonial witnessing.
postimperial works do mention non-Western works, it is also the case that he What Orienlalism offers is an extensive cataloguing of the silencing,
does not always give them the kind of detailed scrutiny he gives to canonical reifYing, essentializing, and stereotyping techniques of the imperial discourses
Western ones (Ahmad 1992: 202). As Said claimed at the very start, of both knowledge and the imagination. It refers to, but does not document,
Orientalism would contribute little of interest to the "lives, histories, and the material effects on the colonized of those techniques which construct them
customs" of the Orient which "have a brute reality obviously greater than as inferior, dehumanized, infantilized. The emphasis is on how empire inflicts
anything that could be said about them in the West" (1979: 5). In short, the trauma, not on the trauma itself. I am using this (admittedly loaded) term
postcolonial was not its focus; instead it claimed to offer an analysis of the trauma in an extended fashion, in full awareness of its associations with
discursive construction of the intellectual and aesthetic superiority and psychoanalytic work done in recent years that has had a major impact on
authority of the West over the Orient within Western culture (1979: 19). It is literary studies.' Concepts of psychological trauma have already been
not Bengali or Egyptian writers and thinkers who are his focus, but the
Europeans - Goethe, Hugo, Lamartine, Chateaubriand, Kinglake, Nervale, 8 See Hartman on what trauma studies appears to offer to literary studies: a connection or "a
more natural transition to a 'real' world often falsely split off from that of the university, as if
the one were activist and engaged and the other self-absorbed and detached" (1995: 543-4).
98 Linda Hutcheon Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing 99

extended to include the social trauma of disaster (that both damages and past within them - as scars of humiliating wounds" (1993: 13): "What an
creates communities), and some of the ways this has been done prove Algerian intellectual today remembers of his country's colonial past focusses
suggestive for thinking about postcolonial and postimperial cultural histories: severely on such events as France's military attacks on villages and the torture
"traumatic experiences work their way so thoroughly into the grain of the of prisoners during the war of liberation" (1993: 11). These are the traumatic
affected community that they come to supply its prevailing mood and temper, memories that the postcolonial cultural historian witnesses, the memories of
dominating its imagery and its sense of self, govern the way its members those who have "suffered the sentence of history," to us Bhabha's felicitous
relate to one another" (Erikson 1995: 190). phrase (1994: 172). Or, in Gyan Prakash's equally vivid terms, the
The work on individual psychic trauma by Cathy Caruth and others is postcolonial "exists as an aftermath, as an after - after being worked over by
equally suggestive - again in extended terms - in conceptualizing that major colonialism" (1997: 491). 9
originary moment of encounter for both postimperial and postcolonial The postimperial also exists as an aftermath, but the focus is very
historical thinking. Theories of the way trauma works belatedly, even different. There is no doubt that Orientalism shares with Said's even more
transgenerationally, recall the belated or "aftermath" quality (Chambers 1998) overtly politically engaged work in the decades since 1978 a scathing
of cultural historical witnessing, of the narrating of the traumatic contact of postcolonial indictment of what he later calls the "dreadful secondariness"
empire and colony - by those who "survived" the experiences of both imposed upon the colonized, "fixed in zones of dependency and peripherality,
enduring and perpetrating the trauma. That originating traumatic moment stigmatized in the designation of underdeveloped, less-developed, developing
becomes transformed, to borrow and extend Caruth's terms, into a narrative states, ruled by a superior, developed, or metropolitan colonizer who was
memory "that allows the story to be verbalized and communicated, to be theoretically posited as a categorically antithetical overlord" (1989: 207). But
integrated into one's own, and others', knowledge of the past" ("Introduction: the body of his actual analyses in Orientalism (as opposed to his statements of
Recapturing the Past" 1995: 153). But the stories of a postimperial history are indictment) is centred on the causes of this situation, examined with a
going to differ in focus and emphasis from those of a postcolonial one. postimperial focus. That these causes need to be examined is manifestly
However, both will presume a reader to whom the responsibility of
remembering can be passed. As Caruth puts it, "the history of a trauma ... can
use of the word trauma, here it would mean the encounter of empire and colony.
only take place through the listening of another" ("Introduction: Trauma and 9 The postcolonial obviously has no monopoly on trauma or its witnessing, and trauma takes
Experience" 1995: II). This agency, this move outward to readers and many different forms. The model for my historical extension here as been Holocaust
listeners, is one of the reasons why trauma can be called "not simply an effect witnessing (see LaCapra 1998) and AIDS survivor narratives, as theorized by Ross Chambers
in his 1998 Northrop Frye Professorship lectures at the University of Toronto entitled "Death
of destruction but also, fundamentally, an enigma of survival" (Caruth 1995: at the Door: Witnessing as Cultural Practice." But there are many others to consider: for
58). In a sense, then, postcolonial histories can also be interpreted as forms of example, for African Americans, it is slavery, not empire, that constitutes the historical
recovery narratives or "testimonial resolution" of witnessing (Felman and trauma. (See Jackson 1989 on this history and its relation to literary history. On the continued
elision of the black diaspora and slavery from Eurocentric cultural historical discussions of
Laub 1992: xvii). modernity, see Gilroy (1993: 45ft). On the ignoring of black women in African American
Ania Loomba writes that colonialism "locked the original inhabitants and literary histories, see both Washington 1990 and Hull 1990). For Chicanos and Chicanas, it is
the newcomers into the most complex and traumatic relationships in human 1848 that marks the date when Mexican citizens north of the Rio Grande became "conquered
subjects-that is to say, Mexican Americans" (Martinez and Lomeli 1985: xi). It has been
history" (1998: 2). Her language here -like that of many others - reveals how argued in fact that the history of the U,S. Southwest is one of multiple traumas: "the
postcolonial as well as postimperial discourses obsessively repeat these extermination of Native Americans, the enslavement of African-Americans, the subjugation
notions of trauma, degradation and humiliation (see Buell 1994: 26; Cobham of the Mexican-American people, the oppression of the working class, and the enforcement of
patriarchy" (Saldivar 1991: 20). For those studying the cultural history of contemporary
1992: 56; Said 1993: 212). Postcolonial writers are said by Said to "bear their China, the Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 1989 "brought modem Chinese history to a
standstill," claims Rey Chow. "This is the standstill of catastrophe" that she calls "the trauma
By "real" world, Hartman means mental health issues, but in my allegorical extension of the of 'June 4'" (1993: 61). Perhaps the only difference between these examples and the
postcolonial situation is that the latter is explicitly named in traumatic terms: postcolonial.
100 Linda Hutcheon Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing 101

evident, but there is an equally strong argument to be made for the importance representation of an unchanging Orient might be seen to function as
of differentiating between this postimperial examination and the postcolonial compulsive repetitions that mark what LaCapra, adapting Freudian terms,
one that would study the effects of those causes: the witnessing from the calls an "acting-out" that can lead to a "working-through" of trauma. The
perspective of the victim of trauma understandably is not the same as that text's verbal and conceptual repetitions tell their own story, in other words,
from the angle of the perpetrator. To construct the colonized as savage, through their very repeating. So too do iterations of another kind: the (well
inferior, or degenerate in scholarly and imaginative discourses is potentially, documented) rehearsal - in Said's own argumentation - of precisely what he
as Said has argued, to legitimate and facilitate political and economic conquest is contesting: from humanism's totalizing impulse to Orientalism' s
and control. But while the ostensible object of study (Orientalist discourse) systematizing and essentializing (see Ahmad 1992: 167-83; Young 1990: 127-
may be the same in a postimperial and a postcolonial cultural history, their 9 and 131-2; Buell 1994: 38).
actual subject would be entirely different because of the difference of focus LaCapra argues that, as the "secondary witness" of trauma, the analyst or
and perspective on the traumatic situation that is being witnessed. historian can counter compulsive acting-out (or the repeating of the trauma)
The stated subject of Orielltalism is the "strength of Western cultural by means of working-through - defined in psychoanalytic terms by Laplanche
discourse," the "formidable structure of colonial domination" (25): "As a and Pontalis as a process "expedited by interpretations from the analyst which
cultural apparatus Orientalism is all aggression, activity, judgment, will-to- consist chiefly in showing how the meanings in question may be recognised in
truth, and knowledge" (204) with the purpose of raising "Europe or a different contexts" (1973: 488). (This describes to some extent exactly what
European race to domination over non-European portions of mankind" (232). Orientalism seeks to do in complex ways.) For LaCapra, working-through is
As LaCapra has pointed out, trauma's effects are felt in complex ways by made possible for secondary witnesses by "informed, argumentative, self-
those who cause it as well as by those who suffer it: trauma "may raise questioning" judgment (1998: 196). Acting-out is thus checked through "the
problems of identity for others insofar as it unsettles narcissistic investments role of memory and critical perspective, which are constituents of working
and desired self-images, including ... the image of Western civilization itself through problems" (1998: 206). From this perspective, Orientalism marks
as the bastion of elevated values if not the high point in the evolution of both an acting-out alld a working-through of the trauma of empire - but with a
humanity" (1998: 9). This is arguably as true in the context of the trauma of postimperial focus on the perpetrator's discourse. It could be argued that,
empire as it is in that of the trauma of the Holocaust. While Aime Cesaire precisely as such, it is crucial for postcolonial history as well: if Said's
eloquently documented the traumatic objectification and dehumanization of postimperialist work inaugurated colonial discourse analysis, it also set the
the colonized, 10 he also noted that the trauma of colonial brutality also stage for and provoked postcolonial responses (and resistances) that in their
degraded the colonizer. For him, it made Europe decadent, indeed "morally, turn looked in detail at the differing impacts of imperial discourses on the
spiritually indefensible" (1972: 9). diversely colonized. This detailed work of differentiation and discrimination
Although a postimperial witnessing is obviously different from a within the colonized context is not the task Orientalism set for itself.
postcolonial witnessing, its verbal form can also betray the familiar external or Nevertheless, once his postimperial task was complete, Said himself then
formal signs of trauma. Critics have frequently noted the tendency of turned to the postcolonial in his work on Palestine. Yet, with Culture alld
Orielltalism toward repetition (e.g. Ahmad 1992: 177). Not only is this quality Imperialism, he later returned to the earlier postimperialist focus, this time
used for effective rhetorical insistence, but perhaps it is also the complex arguing, however, for more of a "contrapuntal" perspective that would take
result of witnessing trauma: the constant reiterations of the thesis of both into account.
Orientalism as the Western construction of a static, essentialized The passion with which Said has argued his case in all his writing is
palpable; all witnessing acts have the power to engage the historian
10 See also Fanen's analysis in Black Skins, White Masks of the inferiority complex created in a emotionally (LaCapra 1998: 12) - and in various ways that range from
colonized society by the "death and burial of its local cultural originality" (1967: 18). For outrage to empathy. Historians like LaCapra who secondarily witness the
Fanon, this was explicitly a form of psychic trauma.
102 Linda Hutcheon Orientalisl/l as Post-Imperial Witnessing 103

Holocaust are in a similar position. Rather than shy away from such full because of this majority/minority borderline quality and this multiplicity of
commitment, LaCapra implies, what is needed is a combination of that with positions, that Said's writing has had the enormous impact that it has."
"the roles or subject-positions of scholar and critical intellectual, a As a de-legitimizing postirnperialliterary and cultural history, Orientalism
combination that does not dispense with rigorous scholarship or conflate eschews the traditional teleological narrative forms of the past, and instead
critical reflection with partisan propaganda but does render allowable or even acts out and works through the trauma of empire through its witnessing
desirable modes of thought that often are discouraged in the academy" (1998: iterations and insistences. As Rajan (1998: 491) notes, the postcolonial
205). Precisely in this way Said's many statements on the necessary and resistance to this work has made it into a beginning, in Said's sense of the
inevitable "worldliness" of theory and criticism were greeted as undesirable word - that is, "secular, humanly produced, and ceaselessly re-examined"
by many in the academy who lamented what they saw as the resultant (Said, 1985: xiii) by both the academy and by himself. But the book's own
"politicization" of the literary. Yet, as Said put it, with characteristic force, in iterative structure and repetitive rhetoric also contribute to this, because
the early pages of Orientalism: "beginning is basically an activity which ultimately implies return and
repetition rather than simple linear accomplishment" (1985: xvii). That
No one has ever devised a method for detaching the scholar from the theorists and critics - both postimperial and postcolonial - also keep returning
circumstances of life, from the fact of his involvement (conscious or
to Orientalism more than twenty years later suggests that something indeed
unconscious) with a class, a set of beliefs, a social position, or from the mere
activity of being a member of a society. These continue to bear on what he was begun. If beginning is "making or producing difference" (1985: xvii), as
does professionally.... For there is such a thing as knowledge that is less, Said claims, then Orientalislll not only made difference but made a
rather than more, partial than the individual (with his entangling and difference."
distracting life circumstances) who produces it. Yet this knowledge is not
therefore automatically non- political (10).

Witnessing has always been a personalized form of political agency, and

this would be as true in the postimperial as in the postcolonial cultural history.
Recognizing that these are two different enterprises - by examining their Ahmad, Aijaz (1992), In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures. London:
different relationships to and positions within the trauma being witnessed - Verso.
does not simplify, but rather complicates our understanding of Said's own Bhabha, Homi K. (1994), The Location ofCulture. London: Routledge.
self-positioning in relation to both. As a prime example of what Bhabha calls Bhabha, Homi K. (1997), "Minority Maneuvers and Unsettled Negotiations."
a "state of acting from the midst of identities" (1997: 438), Said writes from Critical Inquiry 23.3: 431-59.
so many split subject positions that his identities are, in fact, multiple: he is at Bhabha, Homi K. (1986), "The Other Question: Difference, Discrimination
once Western and Oriental, Christian and Arab, American and Palestinian, and the Discourse of Colonialism." Literature, Politics and Theory:
observer and participant, humanist literary critic of the canon" and radical
political analyst, postimperial historian and postcolonial activist. It is arguably

12 Brinner argues that, as a Palestinian Christian, Said is "thoroughly westernized" (1982: 230)
compared to Muslim women anti-Orientalists like Bint al-Shaitai, but it is also significant that
Said's articles are widely read in Arabic newspapers such as al-HaY_I. My thanks to Hos"
It In Beginnings, he writes: "My cultural biases are on the whole tinged with conservatism, as Abboud for this infonnation,
the sheer weight in my text given over to the great masterpieces of high modernism amply 13 A debt of gratitude is owed to those colleagues and friends who have inspired, corrected, and
testifies" (1985: xii). Many have suggested that the same is true of Orielltalism. But this is a provoked me-but above all who been willing to talk and "work through" the issues explored
complex issue: as he admits, his passion is for a Western culture that constructs him as in this essay: Suzanne Akbari, Ross Chambers, Chelva Kanaganayakam, Neil ten Kortenaar,
Oriental. Jill Matus, and Balachandra Rajan.
104 Linda Hutcheon Orientalism as Post-Imperial Witnessing 105

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and appropriated. In Said's words, "The relationship between Occident and
Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of a
complex hegemony... The Orient was Orientalized not only because it was
discovered to be 'Oriental' in all those ways considered commonplace by an
average nineteenth-century European, but also because it could be-that is,
submitted to being-made Oriental" (5/6). Orientalism then, corresponds less to
an attempt to explore and understand the empirical east (although this was the
overriding motivation and intent of many travellers and scholars), than to the
Occident's need to defme itself in opposition to an extemal(ized) other. The
"answer to Orientalism is not accidentalism," Said concludes. "No former
108 Susanne Zantop Europe's Occidentalisms 109

'Oriental' will be comforted by the thought that having been an Oriental Mary Louise Pratt added a new challenge to the opposition between
himself he is likely-too likely-to study new 'Orientals'--<lr 'Occidentals'- of his Occident and Orient and to the exclusive focus on British colonialism in
own making" (328). In other words, by turning the tables, by resorting to postcolonial theory when she demanded, in a response to Edward Said at the
reverse stereotyping, the original binary-dialectical relationship is not 1993 MLA in Toronto, that the west of the European west, namely the
eliminated but perpetuated. Americas, be included in the theoretical models. As she suggested, the
In the over twenty years since their publication, Said's theories have preoccupation with the Orient-Occident dyad tends to overlook that the
received much critical attention, in the east as well as in the west. Critics "discovery" of a "New World" to the west of the Occident had already
accused him of doing precisely what he had denounced: namely of creating a expanded and complicated any simple self-other, Occident-Orient dichotomies
monolithic, totalizing, undifferentiated discourse on Orientalism while to include not just many others, but multiple, multivalent, constantly shifting
deconstructing orientalist discourse as a totalizing static system (Bhabha 1983; Occidents.' The exclusive preoccupation with British and French 19th-century
Clifford 1988; Porter 1983; Ghandi 1998). They reproached him ofremaining colonialism, she argued, has precluded a critical investigation of the many
locked in the binary structures of Hegelianism or Manichean thinking, different manifestations of colonialism throughout history. Hence postcolonial
suggesting instead studies of Orientalism that took into account the roots and critics have lost sight of the coexistence of colonialism in one part of the
cultural specificity of discourse-formation and the psychopathology of the world with decolonization and neocolonialism in another-not to mention new
colonizing subject (Young 1990; Ahmad 1992; Ahmed 1982; Mohanty 1984; forms of "Western" cultural imperialism. (A similar argument was made by
Trotter 1990; Zonana 1993). Or they advocated an investigation of the McClintock 1992 and Shohat 1992.) In short, she suggested that Orientalisms
heterogeneous approaches to otherness within Orientalism-the struggle be studied in connection and productive exchange with a variety of
between power and desire, attraction and rejection identified by Homi Bhabha Occidentalisms.
as constitutive of colonial discourse-and among occidental cultures, as they Pratt's suggestion deserves to be heeded. Clearly, to speak of Orientalism
intersect at specific historical moments and for very specific politico- or Occidentalism independently of one another makes no sense in view of the
ideological reasons.' More recent studies in post-colonial theory, such as multinational entanglements of east and west, north and south, and the
Robert Young's Colonial Desire (1995), Anne McClintock's Imperial Leather resulting multiple forms of subject constitution and othering. Said himself, in
(1995), or Ann Laura Stoler's Race and the Education of Desire (1995), have his Culture and Imperialism, alludes to this "globalized process set in motion
challenged the binary oppositions by highlighting their internal contradictions by modern imperialism," a process that produced "the interdependence of
and tensions. Focusing on "colonial desire" as it was generated in the cultural terrains in which colonizer and colonized co-existed and battled each
metropolis, they explore in detail how theories of race and miscegenation other through projections as well as rival geographies, narratives, and
emerged with and produced colonial ventures, and how colonialist gender and histories" (1993: xx). His analysis, in part, pays tribute to this globalization by
race constructs are reinforced by popular culture or by other discourses. While including references to Latin America and the Caribbean, even though the
these studies also branch out into different colonial scenarios, their focus is Orient remains his main area of interest.
still predominantly on the European Occident, that is, England and France, It is important to emphasize, however, that the categories were never
and on British and French colonialist theory as it applies to the Orient, that is, stable nor clearly separate. They always contained internal geographic and
Africa and Asia. ideological dis-locations that undermined simple dichotomies: Orientalism
actually never referred to the "east" of Europe, that is, the Russian Empire, but
to an imaginary South of the east. Likewise, the Occident was never a unified
, Lowe (1991); Pathak et al (1991); Said himself addresses, for example, his reluctance to geographical or even imaginary territory. For centuries it has consisted of "the
engage in issues of the collective unconscious, in his "Orientalism Reconsidered," (1985).
Significantly, Leela Gandhi demands that critics not only "demonstrate the ambivalence of
the oriental stereotype," but "refuse the pleasures of an Occidental stereotype" (1998: 79). 2 For a more recent discussion of this issue see Mignolo (1995).
110 Susanne Zantop Europe's Occidentalisms 111

West," that is, Europe and North America, and "Latin America," a region emerges is what Peter Schneider called, in reference to Germany, an extreme
considered not so much part of the West as of the "Third World"-a problem Mittellage. an extreme position in the middle, an emphatic in-between
Enrico Santi tried to address by confronting Orientalism not with location that characterizes not just Europe but practically all of today's
Occidentalism, but with "Latinamericanism" (Santi 1992). These semantic cultures, irrespective of their geographic place on the globe (Schneider 1990).
pirouettes are all too familiar to those of us who devise college curricula and As Paul Gilroy reminds us in Black Atlalltic, contemporary national identities
struggle with "non-Western" or "Western" requirements: where or what is the and cultural practices have been constituted in interaction and
West, and what-in view of US cultural hegemony-is not? What is Eastern, interdependence, in and through the mutual and often violent exchanges
now that the East is no longer "red" and no Iron Curtain literally divides the between east and west, south and north.' Eurocentrism, I would argue, is the
globe into two geographic-ideological halves? And what about China, where response to a pervasive sense of dislocation or dis-orientation that plagued
Western ideas and lifestyles are coming from the east, from that distant empire Europe from the 15th century onward and that resulted in a constant
of jeans and Coca-Cola across the Pacific? Is "the West now everywhere," as renegotiating of its position vis-a-vis multiple others'
the title of a German novel of 1994 suggests? (Baroth 1994). The Occident's encounter with the Extreme-Occidellt can be divided into
In this paper, I am exploring-in a somewhat summary and schematic roughly two phases: the colonial period that lasted from Columbus's
fashion- some of the complex interrelations between East and West, North "Discovery of America" to the American independence movements in the late
and South in an attempt to reorient postcolonial studies. The task of 1700s and early 1800s and their reclaiming of a "Western Hemisphere," and
postcolonial studies, namely to de-centre Europe, can only be achieved, if we the period of decolonization in the 19th century, which went hand in hand
include the Americas, north and south, into our reflections. My focus is with European neo-colonialism and US imperialism and which is still
therefore the "New World," "America," "the West," as Europeans conceived, ongoing. 1776 is significant in this context insofar as it marks a break not only
imagined, or represented it against the backdrop of the Old World and the between Europe and the New World, England and its former colonies, but also
Orient, "the East." Ai; I argue, in consonance with a whole host of between North and South. Whereas before, the term "American(s)" had
Latinoamericanistas from Edmundo O'Gorman onward, Europe's battle of referred to the indigenous population of the whole continent~.g. in Joseph
projecting and positioning started as early as 1492 (O'Gorman 1958). It Fran,ois Lafitau's Moeurs des sauvages ameriquaills (1724) or Corneille de
produced not only rival narratives among colonizer and colonized, but rival Pauw's Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains (1768)-after 1776
"Occidentalisms" that competed, and at times overlapped with, European Americans are exclusively those who have "inherited" the right to the land: the
Orientalism(s).' IfOrientalism, as Robert Young has stated, is itselfa "form of European colonists who, by shedding their blood on American soil and
dislocation for the West" insofar as the Orient-if it does not really represent wrenching it from the hands of the British, believe to have established
the east-"signifies the West's own dislocation from itself, something inside themselves as its rightful owners (see Menz 1975: 60).
that is presented, narrativized, as being outside" (139), then European
Occidentalism constitutes a double dislocation. It positions Europe not only in
the Occident, in opposition to an externalized eastern other, but
simultaneously in the West and to the east of "I'extreme occident" (Chadourne 5 See Gilroy (1993). James Carrier (1995) points to the fact that "non-Western" cultures also
(re-)constituted themselves in often essentialist tenns as a consequence of the colonial
1935),' a kind of Wild West, culturally and politically speaking. What encounter. Silvia Spina (1996), on the other hand, focuses less on the imaginary distinctions
than on the processes of transculturation that were produced by the encounter between
Western and non-Western peoples in "the West."
3 An illustration of this multiplicity within the occidentalist stance is the book edited by James 6 I am distinguishing here between Europe's selfcentredness, which emerged during and in
Cartier (1995), in which the contributors explore the "images of the west" in British, French, response to colonialism, and "Eurocentrism" as "the 'normal' view of history that most First-
South East Asian, Japanese and other anthropological discourses. Worlders, Second Worlders and even many Third Worlders and Fourth Worlders learn at
4 The concept was picked up by Jean Philippe Mathy (1993) in his study of French intellectuals' school and imbibe from the media," as Robert Starn (1995) puts it-not because they aTC

approaches to America. different, but because the motivation for espousing Eurocentric views varies.
112 Susanne Zantop Europe's Occidentalisms 113

An anecdote related by Thomas Jefferson illustrates this sea change in OCCIDENT AND EXTlU:ME-OCCIDENT
terminology, mentality, and ideology.' Having moved to Paris in December of
1776, where he would stay until 1785, Benjamin Franklin invited the Abbe European perceptions of and imaginary responses to the New World in the
Raynal and other Frenchmen for dinner one night. When the unfortunate Abbe colonial phase can be explained by the nature of its discovery, conquest and
began to extol Buffon's and de Pauw's theory of the physical "degeneracy" of colonization. Unlike the Orient, which Europeans had travelled, traded with,
the "Americans," his host suggested to resolve the matter "empirically": and fought against for centuries, the occident was radically new, a "new
"Come," says he, "M. l'Abbe, let us try this question by the fact before us. We world," hitherto unknown. Unlike the Orient's, its treasures were mostly its
are here one half Americans, and one half French, and it happens that the "natural" resources: after conquerors had pillaged the indigenous peoples'
Americans have placed themselves on one side of the table, and our French golden and silver artifacts, the settlers had to resort to working the land,
friends are on the other. Let both parties rise, and we will see on which side setting up mines, or cutting trees for export, through exploitation of the
nature has degenerated." As it turned out, the American guests were "of the indigenous work force. And unlike in the Orient, the European invaders had to
finest stature and form," while the Frenchmen were "remarkably diminutive, contend not with cultures experienced in century-old interaction with their
and the Abbe himself particularly, was a mere shrimp." Whereupon Raynal occident, but with peoples completely ignorant of European mentalities and
parried by pontificating about exceptions to the rule which in truth do not European-style warfare, at least at first. As has been noted, despite heroic
affect philosophical laws. resistance in some instances and willing collaboration in others, armed
Beyond implying a critique of a Central European speculative struggles, forced labor, and diseases transmitted by the Europeans wiped out
philosophical tradition that had created its theories unconcerned with large parts of the native population in the Americas (see, for example,
empirical facts, the anecdote highlights the shift in self-perception mentioned Stannard 1992; Crosby 1972).
above. Clearly, Benjamin Franklin and his compatriots felt personally attacked It is therefore not surprising that despite myth transfer from east to west
by theories that had originally been directed at New World fauna, flora, and and parallel conceptualizations-"Amazons," "cannibals," and "headless men"
indigenous populations (see Zantop 1994). They were now the Americans with (acephales) seemed to exist in both hemispheres-different images or
claims to America, as was also suggested by the subsequent interpretation of emphases would surface when it came to verbal and pictorial representations
the Monroe Doctrine of 1823: to demand that America be "for Americans" of the New World? The material conditions of the encounter-the novelty of
meant placing the whole continent, north and south, under United States the New World, the vastness and exuberance of its nature and natural
hegemony.' The "Americans" of yore, on the other hand, became "Indians," resources, the hospitality of the indigenous peoples, and their military
without an India to claim as their own. Any attempt to identify Europe's "weakness" in view of European aggression and greed-led to a textual
accidentalism, that is, its discourse of the West, therefore has to distinguish construction of the American Occident that was often diametrically opposed to
between the two phases and the two accidents that emerged before and after that of the Orient.
Independence. As Anne McClintock and others have pointed out, imperialist discourses
persistently gendered the "imperial unknown:" "As European men crossed the
dangerous thresholds of their known worlds, they ritualistically feminized
borders and boundaries. Female figures were planted like fetishes at the
ambiguous points of contact, at the borders and orifices of the contest zone"
(24). In that respect, imperialist discourse followed any militarist or power
'For the following see Koch and Peden (1944: 179). The anecdote is also related, in the context
of de Pauw's theories, in Gerhi (1955: 265 and 265n).
8 While Monroe's original intention may have been to ward off European intervention and
promote national self-detennination in the Americas, the claim "America to the Americans" 9 On myth transfer in the textual construction of "America" see Mason, (1990); Marchand and
was soon understood to support a US imperial imperative. See Lafcber (1989: 81-85). Passman (1994); see also the article by Mason in the same volume.
114 Susanne Zantop Europe's Occidentalisms 115

discourse, which also gender(ed) winners and losers, insiders and outsiders, as "nature." As an allegory of the New World, America in fact allegorized the
Richard Trexler has reminded us (Trexler 1995: 80). Yet the gendering of unconscious of the Old.
imperialist encounters in the west took different forms from those in the east. Like all allegories of continents, Africa and Asia (and Europe) were also
Representations of the latter were dominated by the iconography of the veil represented as women. Yet as Tiepolo's frescoes highlight, different colonial
and the topos of the harem: colonization implied "lifting the veil," entering the relationships and different colonialist interests triggered different fantasies.
harem to explore its secrets, and wresting power from devious "eunuchs" or The black African woman in elaborate gold jewellery rides not on a savage
aggressive, lascivious "Arabs." (See also McClintock 1992: 31; Said 1978: animal, but on a domesticated carrier of burdens, the camel (in repose!). She is
286; Ahmed 1982). Representations of the former on the other hand hinged on surrounded not by fierce warriors who shoot deer, carry off alligators, and
the notion of the "virgin land"-supposedly unclaimed territory which the devour humans, but by Moorish servants and Arab traders who display the
"conqueror" strove to penetrate, take possession of, and render fertile. From wealth of the continent: cloth, ivory, incense, and gold. As the association
Jan van der Straet's much-discussed depiction of Vespucci's "re-discovery of with the three Oriental Kings suggests, a domesticated Africa will serve
America" (1575) to Cesare Ripa's Iconologia and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's Christianity, that is, Europeans, with goods and resources. Asia in tum is
allegorical frescoes in Wiirzburg (1753), America was represented as a naked dressed in layers of precious cloth. She is sitting on an elephant that drags
woman who invites (male) conquerors to share her riches (See Honour 1976). along the body of a man whose hands are shackled. She is, again, surrounded
Throughout the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, countless foundational by richly clad "Oriental" traders who look down at a group of men -occidental
myths of native maidens willingly falling for the superior Europeans-from the visitors or her own servants?-who kowtow to her (See Buttner 1980).
InkleNarico and John-SmithIPocahontas to Cora/Alonzo and Stedman/Joanna Imperialist Europe, finally, like an absolutist queen, is surrounded by those
stories-served to reinforce the idea of "love at first sight" between colonizer who made her the "superior" civilization: representatives of the churches, the
and colonized and the "child of nature's" voluntary surrender. Yet the arts and sciences in the service of empire.
surrender of the virgin territory was not uncontested, neither in reality nor in Again, the images are above all revealing of European fantasies. Even
the representations. The background to van der Straet's allegory is populated though the lure of Africa and Asia is also depicted in terms of heterosexual
by natives who roast body parts on a spit; Pocahontas's tribesmen threaten to eroticism (the naked, exposed breast or the veiled female body), when it
kill John Smith; and Tiepolo's "America" rides on a gigantic alligator whose comes to the Orient the secret objects of desire are not lands but goods; the
huge open mouth suggests the dangers the European will face if he dares to desired relationship is not complete surrender, but commercial exchange
penetrate the American jungles. Not far from Tiepolo's "America" on her (trade); and the fear and hostility towards that imaginary space are not
natural throne lie a few decapitated heads, reminders of Europe's favourite projected onto its fierce "nature," but on its powerful, "despotic" rulers, whom
fantasy: the horror of being savaged, cannibalized in the contact with the New the Europeans cannot eliminate, but must negotiate with (Said 1978: 237; 286-
World. In the early modern European imagination, America was thus an 7).
ambiguous female figure: both alluring (the hammock, the treasure chest, the The anxieties and ambivalences toward the New World, "the recurrent
cornucopia of natural produce) and threatening (the bow and arrow; the doubling in male imperial discourse," as McClintock has termed it (1992: 26),
alligator; the skulls). As an image of promise and menace, she embodied the find expression in the image of the cannibal queen which harks back to earlier
desires and fears of European colonizers: the desire for land and the mythical representations of threatening femininity or ambiguous masculinity:
exploitation of its resources, and the fears of being annihilated by engulfing the sexually voracious witch who devours children, and the amazon who,
swamps, jungles, diseases or "cannibalistic" natives, in short, by the forces of rejecting her natural role as wife and mother, joins a female warrior horde and
copulates with men at her initiative, killing off any male offspring (see
10 See Hulme (1986) and Zantop (1997). A more recent study (H~lz 1998), demonstrates how Brauner 1994: 1-27). European authors of travelogues and accounts of the
these European panems were perpetuated in 19th-century nationalist fictions in Latin New World resorted to these mythical images of androgyny or transsexuality
116 Susanne Zantop Europe's Occidentalisrns 117

supposedly because the "beardlessness" and long hair of the Amerindians as the configuration of the "noble" vs. the "ignoble savage."n Throughout the
well as socio-sexual practices suggested the absence of clear gender colonial period, descriptions of actual encounters with native tribes oscillated
boundaries (see de Pauw 1768). As Sigrid Brauner and, more recently, between these two poles: there were those Indians who were "hostile" to
Richard Trexler, have pointed out, however, images of transgression were European conquerors and settlers and those who were "hospitable," that is,
created in the service of imperial violence. To paint the indigenous as either who traded with them and subjected themselves to Spanish or English
effeminate "sodomites," treacherous cannibals, or mannish warrior women dominion without resistance. In Columbus's account, these two types figured
allowed Europeans to construct the "civilizing process," that is, the colonial as "Caribs," "fierce man-eating and nomadic" tribes, and "gentle
takeover, as a process of domesticating the savage other and of (re- agriculturalists," the "Arawaks," who live in an earthly paradise and whom the
)establishing a supposedly natural order based on heterosexuality and gender Caribs seek to displace (Hulme 1986: 47). As Peter Hulme suggests, the two
hierarchy. Its corollary were the fantasies of domestication and marital bliss names "mark an internal division within European perception of the native
mentioned earlier, in which European colonizers and native "princesses" Caribbean, a division variously articulated in all European accounts, from
would found new, "natural" alliances based on love and submission. The most Columbus's first jottings in his log-book to the historical and anthropological
popular of these, Marmontel's Les Incas of 1777, combines, once more, all the works written today" (46). While the two also have gendered overtones-the
elements of pre-independence accidentalism: the "marriage" of conqueror and compliant, sedentary savage is given traditionally female characteristics, the
conquered as a means to "pacify" cannibalistic savages and create a new order fierce, nomadic one is gendered male-they undermine the notion that all
based on European supremacy and the natural subordination of the weaker, Indians are degenerate and effeminate, sexually inactive or sexually
i.e., the female or the effeminate male. indeterminate. On the contrary: the true "natural" man is the free-roaming
This binary setup required that the ("natural ") masculinity of the European savage, not the European colonizer bound by his society's conventions.
adventurer/conqueror on the one hand, and the "femininity" or, rather, In the eighteenth century this reversed gender perspective becomes
supposed effeminateness (timidity, weakness, fear in battles, treacherousness, operative, particularly in the "dispute of the New World" between Comeille de
irrationality, self-indulgence, and laziness) of the natives be highlighted-as Pauw and Antoine Pemety, which was carried out at the court of Frederick II
indeed they were. It furthermore explains why European accounts of Native of Prussia, but which affected all of Europe (see Gerbi 1955 and Zantop
Americans were eager to stress the men's alleged lack of sexual appetite and 1994). If to the invaders from war-tom, famine-ridden sixteenth- and
procreational passion: 11 as more potent "real men," Europeans were entitled by seventeenth-century Europe, peaceful domesticated tribes living in paradisal
nature, so to speak, to replace the natives in the possession of the land, virgin bounty had seemed more appealing, to eighteenth-century bourgeois
or otherwise. intellectuals, tired of "effeminate" refmement of the aristocratic elites and of
political repression, the image of the free-roaming innocent, unrestrained by
convention, held greater attraction (Charlton 1984: 124). While both images
"NORTH" VS. "SOUTH" reflected European dreams--<!reams of plenty or dreams of freedom-they were
also meant to legitimate a change in the power differential between colonizers
The gender coordinates of the conquest model outlined above were, and colonized. According to the earlier colonial model, the bad Indians were
however, never fixed or stable. From their inception, they were undermined by those who resisted assimilation; the good, peaceful Indians were those who
another conceptual construct, one that in fact "remasculinized" the indigenous: were willing to surrender. Yet both kinds invited their displacement: armed
resistance "justified" elimination; compliance facilitated instrumentalization

12 The myth of the noble savage has been treated most exhaustively and affinnatively by Stelio
11 See de Pauw, Robertson, Pemety or Hegel on this topic. The alleged lack of the natives' Cra (1990) and in his multiple other publications on the subject. See also Charlton (1984:
sexual interest was a hotly debated issue among European "philosophes.' 115-134), or Radcliff-Umstead (1992 - a review ofCro's work).

118 Susanne Zantop Europe's Occidentalisms 119

and absorption into the colonial power structure. The new eighteenth-century their mind, of a but dastardly spirit, more enslaved by pleasure and more
"independence" model, on the other hand, elevates pre-social, pre-historical sunk in indolence. Accordingly it is in the torrid zone that the Europeans
have most completely established their dominion over America; the most
"primitive" man over the assimilated, integrated citizen: the Indian is now the fertile and desirable provinces in it are subjected to their yoke, and if several
new natural man, uncorrupted by the evils of society. Again, the projection is tribes there still enjoy independence, it is either because they have never been
self-serving at best: as the glorified outsider to civil society and living at its attacked by an enemy already satiated with conquest and possessed of larger
margins, the noble savage can easily be marginalized. Neither scenario areas than he was able to occupy, or because they had been saved from
oppression by their remote and inaccessible situation (Robertson 1788, 2:
disputes the right of the European colonizer to the land-they only define
227-9. In the subsequent paragraph, Robertson modifies this simple
different colonial relations and different modes of displacement. dichotomy by naming exceptions to the rule).
It is not surprising that the latter, Rousseauean image of the free-spirited
noble savage would dominate the second half of the eighteenth century, when The strong, active, intelligent natives, who are comparable to the
more egalitarian political models and independence movements made their European male, yet in an idealized state of nature, are now located in the
presence felt on both sides of the Atlantic-and when Western expansion in temperate zones of the north; whereas the indolent, voluptuous, feeble peoples
North America drove native land-holders further to the margins of American reside in the "torrid zones," that disorderly place to the south that elicits desire
society. The shift from the ideal of the domesticated communal noble savage for conquest and possession. The north thus acquires all attributes of the noble
to the independent nomadic subject therefore also constitutes a geographic savage: his indomitable spirit, his lone-ranger individualism, his sagacity and
shift: after 1776, the noble savage is to be found mostly in the north, where he endurance-whether he appears in the guise of the Last Mohican and Chactas
could serve both as a symbol for the emerging new nation and as a projection or dressed up as a cowboy or frontiersman. He stands for both the noble
screen for European fantasies of self-liberation. As William Robertson writes Indian who "must die" and for North America," the youthful, vigorous,
in his widely read His/ory ofAmerica of 1777: unformed, yet independent nation. The south, in turn, retains all attributes of
the ignoble "lazy native:" (Alatas 1977) it is prone to attacks of irrationality
In surveying the rude nations of America, this natural distinction between the and treachery, the weapons of the weak. It is shaken by repeated revolutions.
inhabitants of the temperate and torrid zones is very remarkable. They may In Hegel's philosophy of history, the north has all the potential, whereas the
accordingly be divided into two great classes. The one comprehends all the
North Americans from the river 5t. Laurence to the Gulf of Mexico, together south, having lost its past glory, is mired in the present. Significantly, this
with the people of Chili and a few small tribes towards the extremity of the division of north and south is conceived of in physical terms: the north forms
southern continent. To the other belong all the inhabitants of the islands, and the head and the upper parts, the south the lower parts of the global body; the
those settled in the various provinces which extend from the isthmus of North is (as yet undeveloped) reason; the South, emotions, sexuality (Hegel
Darien almost to the southern confines of Brazil, along the east side of the
1957). Whereas the North invites Europeans to engage in male competition,
Andes. In the former, which comprehends all the regions of the temperate
zone that in America are inhabited, the human species appears manifestly to the South beckons with female charms.
be more perfect. The natives are more robust, more active, more intelligent, The continental gender division that underlies occidentalist discourses
and more courageous. They possess, in the most eminent degree, that force of after 1776 is never complete and never clear-cut." However, in one way or
mind, and love of independence, which I have pointed out as the chief virtues
of man in his savage state. They have defended their liberty with persevering
fortitude against the Europeans who subdued the other rude nations of
13 Washburn points to the "link between the myths of the vanishing Indian and the noble
America with the greatest ease. The natives of the temperate zone are the Indian," (1983: 64), which appears throughout nineteenth-century literature in Europe as well
only people in the New World who are indebted for their freedom to their as the United States.
own valour. The North Americans, though long encompassed by the 14 Critics of US mass culture, for example, stress the "feminine" elements of North American
fonnidable European powers, still retain part of their original possessions, society; and "male" power is supposedly undermined in the US by a particularly rabid form of
and continue to exist as independent nations . . . Whereas in the warmer feminist assertiveness, whereas the south is scolded for its caudillismo and macho culture.
regions, men are more feeble in their frame, less vigorous in the efforts of None of these discourses appear in pure form, but in tension with one another. Also, it must
120 Susanne Zantop Europe's Occidentalisms 121

another it affects all aspects of European fantasizing about the Americas: doors to Western capital." The pervasive feminization of that region in order
Europeans admire the "virility" of the new American nation, its irresistible to promote sex tourism and other forms of "commerce" has been amply
urge to expand westward, as they decry its youthful ingenuity, its naivete. documented, as have the attempts to transform archaic, atavistic Arabic
They describe the dynamism, the modernity of the new society, as they lament "fundamentalism" into a competitive structure to the West's supposed modern
the materialism and brutal competitiveness of US capitalism. By the same secularism (see Said 1993b).
token, they extol the lure/threat of the South: the tropical delights that await As I have argued throughout this paper, it is important to consider
the weary traveller; the exuberance of its nature, the irrationality and Orientalism within a global framework, i.e., in its dynamic relationship with
fickleness of its politics, the "corruption" of its institutions-a corruption that accidentalism as well as North-South discourses. Only in its interaction with
also affects the transplanted European. Marketing agencies consciously appeal other discursive configurations will it disclose its internal instability, its
to these fantasies when they promote their US products in Europe with "Test overlaps with and difference from these configurations, and the changes it
the West," "Marlboro Man," or "Go West, Man" slogans, and their Latin undergoes over time, as European interest shifts from one area of the globe to
American products with "hot rhythms," tropical drinks, or seductive female the next. It is, furthermore, paramount to focus on gender as one of the
bodies. Rejuvenation, adventure, freedom, and competition are the dreams that organizing principles of these phantasmagoric constructions, for gendered
fuel the identification with/as "the West;" sexual bliss, intoxication, physical tropes provide us with access to the libidinal economy underlying and fuelling
comfort keep alternate longings ("the South") alive. As I have repeatedly the political economy of imperialism. Undoubtedly, Orientalism as well as
pointed out, these gendered fantasies were and are never directly linked to a accidentalism are the product of collective European fantasies-they
physical or historical reality "over there." They are effective counter images of engendered the "useful fictions" that combined erotic longing with hard-nosed
the "over here"-in this case Europe, although they can be found in any economic interests.' Fictions of the Orient and the Occident served not only
"Western"--{)r should I say "Northern"?- society. They are no longer tied to to create the "community" of Occidentals vis-a-vis Orientals-to borrow
colonialism, to a justification of violent land annexation or an overt Benedict Anderson's terminology-but also to define Europe in its precarious
displacement of its traditional owners, but correspond to a covert but no less and shifting relations to the West, the Extreme-Occident, and the South." By
effective takeover of the economies by international capitalist consumer gendering these relationships, Europeans were able to reveal and
imperialism. As such, they are now global fantasies that can be called up for simultaneously mask the libidinal investment inherent in conquest and the
any commercial purposes. appropriation of terrains and resources. Gender fantasies helped to naturalize
When it comes to the Orient, we can also discern a geographic shift. This and stabilize hierarchies that were not only unnatural and unstable to begin
one, however, occurs not in the eighteenth, but in the twentieth century. It is with, but constantly threatened to implode. Anne McClintock is certainly right
"horizontal," marked by the physical distance to Europe (and ideological in stressing that "the gendering of imperialism took very different forms in
distance to the United States) and degrees of susceptibility to "Western" different parts of the world (McClintock 1992: 31). Her conclusion, namely
influences. In this new Orientalism, the Orient is subdivided into "Near East,"
"Middle East," and "Far East." Again, the three regions have gendered IS For the stereotypical image of "the Arab" in the Western media see Said, "An Arab Oriental
connotations. Whereas male-gendered over-sexed fundamentalist "Arab is that impossible creature whose libidinal energy drives him to paroxysms of
overstimulation-and yet, he is as a puppet in the eyes of the world, staring vacantly out at a
nomads" dispute any Western encroachments on their territories in the Near modern landscape he can neither understand nor cope with" (1978: 312) See also (1978: 237,
and Middle East, the "mysterious" but highly exploitable "Far East" opens its 286).
16 I have taken the term Itficciones utiles" from Iris Zavala's discussion of O'Gorman's
"invenci6n" (Zavala 1992: 2).
17 As a curious footnote to this process, see William II, Former Emperor of Germany's 1928
essay entitled "The Sex of Nations" (1928), in which he allies the masculine nations, such as
be borne in mind that "gender" is only one of the many organizing principles affecting
122 Susanne Zantop Europe's Occidentalisms 123

that these distinctions "were symptomatic of critical differences in the Baroth, Hans Dieter (1994), Aberjetzt ist ilberall Westen Berlin: Dietz.
legislative, economic and political ways in which imperial commodity racism Bhabha, Homi (1983), "The Other Question: The Stereotype and Colonialist
was imposed on different parts of the world," however, deserves an Discourse," Screen 24, 6.
addendum. The juxtaposition of Europe's Orientalism(s) with its Brauner, Sigrid (1994), "Cannibals, Witches, and Shrews in the 'Civilizing
Occidentalism(s) suggests that it was above all the power differential between Process," in: 'Neue WeltY'Drille Welt'. Interkulturelle Beziehungen
regions of the world, the relative accessibility of their riches and the degree of Deutschlands zu Lateinamerika und der Karibik Tiibingen and Basle:
competition from their "natives" that determined to what extent Europeans Francke.
would construct one area as feminine and the other as masculine, one as Biittner, Frank (1980), Giovanni Ballista Tiepolo. Die Fresken in der Residenz
seductive and the other as threatening, one as "virginal" and the other as zu Wilrzburg Wiirzburg: Popp.
already "possessed". Furthermore, the shifts in gender attribution that we can Carrier, James (1995), Occidentalism Oxford: Clarendon.
observe in Europe's relations with its others throughout history tell us not just Chadourne, Marc (1935), Extreme Occident Paris: PIon.
about shifts in economic or military power along an east-west-north-south Charlton, D. G. (1984), New Images of the Natural in France: A Study in
axis: they also unwittingly disclose the Europeans' fears of being, no longer, at European Cultural History 1750-1800 Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
the centre of the world. As the east (i.e. the Russian empire) is disintegrating; Clifford, James (1988), "Orientalism," in: The Predicament of Culture
as the "Orient" is subdivided into the most diverse ethnic and .religious Cambridge: Harvard UP.
alliances; as the far east flexes its economic muscle; as military and economic Cro, Stelio (1990), The Noble Savage: Allegory of Freedom Waterloo:
power concentrate in the "Wild West;" and as Europe itself becomes Wilfried Laurier.
"Orientalized" through the influx of people from the Balkans and North Crosby, Alfred (1972), The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural
Africa, Europe, it seems to me, is struggling to consolidate its identity marked Consequences of1492 Westport: Greenwood.
by external and internal dislocation. Eurocentrism, then, becomes the ultimate de la Campa, Roman, et al. eds. (1995), Late Imperial Culture London: Verso.
fantasy of control or containment, the untenable geographical fiction of being de Pauw, Corneille (1768), Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains
Occident, North and Centre at once, and of relegating all others to the Berlin: Decker, trans. as Selections from de Pauw's Recherches
margIns. philosophiques sur les Americains Bath: Crulrwell (1789).
Gandhi, Leela (1998), Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction New
York: Columbia UP.
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Scholarship and Colonial Discourses." Feminist Review 30 (Autum): 61- M. Dorson et a!., eds., Handbook of American Folklore Bloomington:
88; Indiana UP.
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Pathak, zakia et al (1991), "The Prisonhouse of Orientalism." Textual Enlightenment," in W. Daniel Wilson and Rohert C. Holub, eds. Impure
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Porter, Dennis (1983), "Orientalism and its Problems," in: Francis Barker and Zantop, Susanne (1997), Colonial Fantasies: Conquest, Family and Nation in
Peter Hulme, eds.The Politics of Theory Colchester: U of Essex P,: 179- Precolonial Germany, 1770-1870 Durham: Duke UP.
193. zavala, Iris ed. (1992), Discursos sobre la 'Invencion de America'
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MLR 87, 2: 330-34 [a review ofCro's work].
126 Susanne Zantop

Zonana, Joyce (1993), "The Sultan and the Slave: Feminist Orientalism and
the Structure of Jane Eyre," Signs 18, 3: 592-617.

Chapter 7



Pal Ahluwalia

Where I think Orielltalism was useful was in those works that looked at the
cultural component of forms of domination as giving rise to Africanist,
Indianist, Japanesist, etc. types of discourses; as having, in a very narrow
sense, played an important constitutive role in talking about those places.
You could no longer look at, say, descriptions by nineteenth-century
explorers of Africa as if they were just seeing what they saw. There was the
notion of collaborative enterprise having to do with domination of a region.
OriellIalism gave rise to studies of that sort, which I think were salutary.
Edward Said

In 1999, the New York Times, in its summary of the century's

achievements, declared Edward Said to be "one of the most important literary
critics alive." Clearly, Said has crossed the apparent divide between academic
scholarship and public recognition. This accolade reflects the impact he has
had and continues to have on the contemporary cultural terrain. But it also
demonstrates how relevant the concept of worldliness has become to our
consideration of creative and intellectual work (Ashcroft and Ahluwalia,
1999). His influence can be discerned in virtually all the disciplines of the
humanities and social sciences and well beyond. In particular, the term
128 Pal Ahluwalia The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science 129

"Orientalism" is now linked inextricably to the work of Edward Said. More Kate Teltscher's India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India
than twenty years after its publication, Orientalism, which first brought him (1995). But it is not just among those who find Said's work particularly
into the limelight, remains an important albeit much debated book. Said has helpful in untangling the impact of colonial culture on the former colonies that
emerged as a controversial figure who is both revered and reviled, but cannot he has made an impact. Consider, for example, the need for right-wing
be ignored. magazines such as Quadran/ to publish an essay denouncing Orien/alism
more than two decades after its publication (Windschuttle 2000). What clearly
bothered the author of this essay was the impact that Said, the literary critic,
THE EVOLUTION OF "ORIENTALISM" had on the curators and patrons of an exhibition at the Art Gallery of New
South Wales in 1998, entitled "Orientalism; From Delacroix to Klee". He
It is indisputable that Orientalism has had a greater impact on
reports that the notes published in the exhibition catalogue were replete with
contemporary thinking than almost any other book of the last twenty years. It
insights from Said and this endorsement, "was strong enough to create a queue
has changed the way we think about cultural and political relations. No longer
of buyers at the Art Gallery bookshop, all eager to procure the prominently
associated merely with the study of the Orient, it has come to be seen as a
displayed, recently revised Penguin edition of Said's celebrated work,
generic term about the manner in which "other" cultures are dealt with and
Orien/alism" (21). That Said's work had penetrated the very inner sanctum of
represented. An illustration of how influential Said's ideas have become is the West's cultural institutions was, for Windschuttle, unacceptable.
found in Ato Quayson's comment on a half-serious, half-humorous article
which was widely circulated on the internet during the northern winter of
1995/6. In the article, the authors parody the American involvement in Bosnia COLONIAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
with the report that President Clinton had deployed vowels to the war tom
region giving Bosnians such as Grg Hmphrs the chance of becoming George
Humphries, thereby fulfilling the American dream. Quayson shows how the Edward Said's impact on contemporary literary theory has always been
relationship between knowledge and power in the distribution of the vowels is overshadowed by the celebration of Orien/alism. Worldliness has never been
linked to Said and concludes that what is particularly interesting about this taken up in the way or the degree to which Orientalist analysis has been
piece, "is its nonchalant combination of discourse analysis a 10 Said with what adopted. Yet, in what has often been termed a post-poststructuralist
we could take as a parodying of 'serious' media and diplomatic discourse" generation, Said's insistence upon the worldliness of the text looks remarkably
(2000: 6). Orientalism has come to signifY much more than an academic field prescient. While 'worldliness' is a Saidian trademark, it is consistent with the
of study - it has become associated with a particular style of suspect thought \ growing dissatisfaction with poststructuralism among contemporary critics as
which seeks to marginalise dominated peoples. they search for a less abstract politics of the text, a greater sense of the text's
In a profusion of academic articles and books published since place in the world. Although Said did not invent the desire, he has provided a
Orien/alism, the methodology of Orientalism has been appropriated by a wide readily identifiable precedent for placing the text in a material political and
variety of authors who have deployed it in various geographical locations, into cultural context.
many different contexts of cultural relations as well as different power Said's major influence has been unquestionably in the area of colonial
struggles. Inspired by Said, Western accounts of representation have been discourse analysis, which he is regarded as inaugurating, and post-colonial
challenged in such disparate selected works as V.Y. Mudimbe's The Inven/ion theory, on which he has had a profound influence. Gayatri Spivak, a leading
of Africa (1988) and The Idea of Africa (1994), James Carrier's colonial discourse theorist, notes that, "the study of colonial discourse, directly
accidentalism: Images of the West (1995), Javed Majeed's Ungovel'lled released by work such as Said's has...blossomed into a garden where the
Imaginings: James Mill's His(OIY ofBritish India and Orien/alism (1992) and marginal can speak and be spoken, even spoken for. It is an important part of
130 Pal Ahluwalia The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science 131

the discipline now" (Spivak 1993: 56). The post-colonial historian Partha POLITICAL SCIENCE AND AFRICAN STUDIES
Chatterjee invites his readers to share the pleasures of reading Orienlalism, a
book which has a deep resonance for him: The charge that Said levels against Orientalist discourse applies just as
well to area studies, which have tended to treat non-Western societies as
I will long remember the day I read Orielltalism ...For me, child of a "alien" entities. From this perspective, they have revolved around a central
successful anti-colonial struggle, Orielltalism was a book which talked of juxtaposition of "us" and "them," where knowledge about "them" is
things I felt I had known all along but had never found the language to
formulate with clarity. Like many great books it seemed to say to me for the accumulated by and reported to "us." This juxtaposition, central to Said's
fust time what one had always wanted to say (1992: 194). work, is instructive when we examine African Studies and the manner in
which it has chosen to identify, describe, characterise and represent a
Ironically, Chatterjee's pleasure in reading Said is reminiscent of Said's continent that has been marginalised particularly in the last century. Jean
own recollection of fust encountering the literary texts of the Western canon Copans' periodisation of African Studies is as convenient a field of study as
with which he subsequently has had such an ambivalent relationship (Ashcroft any other to examine the hegemony of Africanism. Copans argues that the
and Ahluwalia, 1999). discipline can be delineated in a chronological classification of roughly five
The methodological affiliations between colonial discourse analysis and periods which correspond with dominating disciplines:
the theory of the French intellectuals Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and
Michel Foucault have allowed Robert Young (1995) to proclaim a "Holy 1. To 1860. Exploration of Africa - Literature, philosophy, travel
Trinity" of colonial discourse theorists which includes Edward Said, Homi writing;
Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak. However, Said's disillusionment with Foucault as 2. 1860-1920. Colonial conquest - Ethnography, ethnology;
well as post-structuralism, for its lack of 'worldliness', means that his role as a 3. 1920-1945. Development - Ethnology, applied anthropology;
colonial discourse theorist, or at least as a member of the 'Holy Trinity,' is 4. 1945-1960. De-colonization - Sociology; sociology of
uncertain at best. In the years after the publication of Orienialislll, particularly underdevelopment; and
in the 1990s, Said became affiliated increasingly with versions of post- 5. 1960-? Neo-colonialism. Anthropology, sociology, political economy
colonial theory. The term 'post-colonial' had a long history and did not really (1977: 20).
come to prominence until the late 1980s (Ashcroft et al 1998: 186-92). In a
relatively short time, due to the historical influence of the many critics who Although it is clear that it is not possible to neatly differentiate between
had studied the works of British Commonwealth writers, post-colonial theory the different phases of African studies, and that it would be easy to point to
emerged with a focus on questions of empire and colony. It would be wrong to areas of overlap between the periods delineated and the dominating
assume that this means the concerns of post-colonial theory are restricted only disciplines, this periodisation nevertheless is illuminating. It shows the
to questions of identity politics. Post-colonial theorists have taken to heart centrality of the discipline of anthropology to the discourse of Africanism
Said's criticism that, "students of post-colonial politics have not, I think, until the 1960s. There is now a considerable literature on the role of
looked enough at the ideas that minimize orthodoxy and authoritarian or anthropology and its linkages to imperialism (see for example Said, 1989;
patriarchal thought, that take a severe view of the coercive nature of identity Ahluwalia, 1996; Moore, 1993). Said has observed that perhaps "anthropology
politics" (1993: 264). If Said seems to have jettisoned colonial discourse as we have known it can only continue on one side of the imperial divide,
analysis and his work appears resonant with recent post-colonial theory, it is there to remain as a partner in domination and hegemony" (1989: 225). It is
precisely because such theory is attuned increasingly to his notion of the role of political science, however, which needs to be examined more
worldliness. closely. For the discipline of political science has had a phenomenal impact on
African studies and, indeed, has usurped anthropology's role in this field since
132 Pal Ahluwalia The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science 133

at least the 1950s. A clear gauge of the impact of political science can be science became increasingly important to students of politics. In what can be
gleaned from the statistic that in 1990 there were more than 1,950 members of described as an empirical tum in politics, the over-emphasis on moral and
the US African Studies Association of which 23 percent, the largest normative principles was questioned. However, the need to be scientific was
disciplinary grouping, were political scientists (Sklar 1993: 83). certainly not new. In her study of travel writing, Mary Louise Pratt
In his chapter on the contrihutions of Africanist political scientists to the demonstrates how natural history which was essentially a universalising
discipline of political science, Richard Sklar paints a very bleak picture. He project based upon European knowledge established a new form of
writes that: Eurocentred planetary consciousness. This new planetary consciousness, she
suggests, "is a basic element constructing Eurocentrism, that hegemonic reflex
... few Africanists in the profession of political science are highly regarded for that troubles westerners even as it continues to be second nature to them"
their ability to communicate to the heart of their discipline. By and large, (1992: 15). These natural historians, inspired by Linnaeus, spread out around
Africanists in this discipline are esteemed mainly for their analyses of
the globe in order to classify and categorise, in universal terms for the
Africa's political experience. Their works are read by those who seek
knowledge about Africa, itself, rather than knowledge of the discipline or its European, any known species (Curtin, 1964). It was this systematising of
theory (1993: 83). nature which represented a new form of European planetary consciousness for
Sklar can see no incentive for university appointment committees to hire It is this Eurocentred planetary consciousness which anthropologists
an Africanist political scientist because he "cannot think of a widely brought with them into African studies and the discourse of Africanism. In her
recognized problem or theory, of concern to political scientists generally, that excellent exposition of anthropology's role, Trinh T. Minh-ha argues that:
requires African area expertise to either explore scientifically or explain to
students" (84). He goes on to write that: Anthropology is defined as a science of mall or 'a study of the nalure of the
human s-p-e-c-i-e-s'. Next to the mind doctors-the psychiatrist,
Heretofore, the best-known and most carefully studied political problems in psychoanalyst, and psychologist-is the anthropologist, who also pretends to
Africa have not been specifically or generically African problems. A the precision of a zoologist or a botanist. As a purveyor of 'truth', he has
representative list of such topics would include parasitic statism, militarism, moved from the absolute to the relative and now assumes the role of
dictatorship, public corruption, the insufficient accountability of public purveyor of 'certain truth', pursuing a 'perspectivistic knowledge' while
officials, ineffective political socialization, and differential incorporation of keeping an eye profoundly glued on 'scientific objectivity' as methodological
ethnic groups resulting in conflict, among many others (85). goal (1989: 55).

I have dwelt on Sklar's views not because I agree that students of African It is this quest for scientific objectivity which becomes an important part
politics have failed to make any impression on their discipline but rather to of Africanist political science and one that we should certainly add to Minh-
illustrate how a leading Africanist political scientist, can reach such a ha's list. The application of scientific methodology which was viewed as an
conclusion. What lies at the heart of the problem, one that Sklar has been effective means to discovering principles in nature was seen as an important
seduced by, is the desire of political science to operate at the level of grand tool to help uncover principles in political behaviour which would be vital in
theory. In short, I want to suggest that there are inherent methodological flaws the making of right social choices. Hence, just as in the natural sciences, it
in the manner in which political science has been appropriated to the study of was argued in political science that data could be collected, classified, used to
Africa. formulate generalisations and predications and verified as generalised laws or
The dominance of political science within African studies occurred at tendencies. It was the behavioural school of political scientists who adopted
roughly the same time that the discipline itself was undergoing significant the empirical tum with a vengeance and dominated Africanist political
changes. It was in the middle of the twentieth century that the notion of
134 Pal Ahluwalia The Evolution of Oriental ism and Africanist Political Science 135

science. Their most profound influence was in the forging of a development representativeness by directing a program of economic development on
paradigm. behalf of the nation. The former connected, as in any liberal form of
government, the legal-political sovereignty of the people. The latter
connected the sovereign powers of the state directly with the economic well-
being of the people (203).
The conflation between the nation and the state led to tensions between
The post-colonial state grew out of the nationalist project where
the aspirations of the people and the state and, hence, in most post-colonial
nationalism served a hegemonic function to effect decolonisation. The goal of
states those detracting from state ideology were, and are, being repressed.
such incipient nationalism was independence. Once this independence was
This, it is claimed, is necessarily so because the state has to subsume
achieved, the nationalist project rapidly collapsed and was "disciplined and
particular interests in the general interest. One need only think of the example
normalized under the conceptual rubrics of 'development' and 'modernization'"
of any number of African countries to recognise the zeal with which
(Chatterjee 1993: 3). The normalisation process was one that usually began
development ideology is applied by the state while at the same time
well before independence and was part of the decolonisation process. One
rnarginalising the political process. The developmentalist ideology is not
only has to examine the recent example of the African National Congress
restricted to socialist or capitalist states. The essential difference in the former,
(ANC) in South Africa to realise how the ANC was disciplined prior to the
as Arif Dirlik points out, was the desire on the part of the socialist leadership
first national election in 1994 through a process of "rational" planning in
to forge, "a new culture which is neither of the West nor of the past" (1991:
which this party articulated its goals and aspirations in its Reconstruction and
Development Programme. The plan not only illustrated how the goals of the
The nationalist project and the anti-colonial nationalism which it
ANC were to become synonymous with the South African state but also the
generated sought to create a national culture which would enable colonial
process whereby the South African state was permitted to become part of the
subjects to attain independence and decolonise their minds. It was a process
global system under the regimentation of the West's hegemonic power. As
that Frantz Fanon considered essential, arguing that this could only be

Partha Chatterjee notes, "the very institution of a process of planning became
achieved through struggle. For Fanon a national culture:
a means for the determination of priorities on behalf of the 'nation'" (1993:
202). The planning process serves an important function of power in that it
removes the allocation of productive resources from the political process and I the whole body of efforts made by a people in the sphere of thought to
describe, justify and praise the action through wlllch the people created itself
hence the goals of the state become conflated with those of the nation.
This is necessarily so because part of the nationalist project was to I and keeps itself in existence (1967: 188).

demonstrate the manner in which the colonial state inhibited development and Following decolonisation, the post-colonial state has to create a new
therefore the post-colonial state "represented the only legitimate form of national culture which can legitimate its rule. As noted above, the post-
exercise of power because it was a necessary condition for the development of colonial state achieves this through the exercise of planning and conflating the
the nation" (203). Once again, the South African case is instructive. The ANC values of development with the values of the nation. The key tenets of the new
had to demonstrate how the apartheid state economically marginalised the national culture, then, are a reworking of the centrality of development and
majority of the population and the major goal of the post-colonial state was to modernisation, the twin planks for the justification and civilising mission of
economically empower the majority infusing a developmental ideology for the colonialism. The state effectively dismantles the liberationist potential
state in the process. Chatterjee argues that: generated by the anti-colonial nationalism.
In Africa, with the possible exception of the settler colonies such as
The state was connected to the people-nation not simply through the Kenya, Zimbabwe and Algeria, independence was attained not through a
procedural forms of representative government; it also acquired its
136 Pal Ahluwalia The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science 137

liberation war but through negotiation. The decision of the colonising power in the spirit of Truman's 1949 speech which described the Southern
to hand over government to African successors was based on the perception hemisphere as "underdeveloped" areas:
that these new leaders would reflect and protect their interests. In economies
ravaged by colonialism, the new African leadership faced with a situation of Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap
diminishing resources opted for the ideology of development to deflect and a threat both to them and more prosperous areas. For the ftrst time in
history humanity possesses the knowledge and the skill to relieve the
attention away from the vital tasks of redistribution and transformation. As we
suffering of these people ... I believe that we should make available to peace-
have noted, development was part and parcel of the nationalist claim for loving peoples the beneftts of our store of technical knowledge in order to
independence which was to herald a new era where the African leaders help them realize their aspirations for a belter Iife....Greater production is the
promised that they would deliver what the colonial power had denied the key to prosperity and peace. And the key to greater production is a wider and
population. The idea of development and partnership in development was one more vigorous application of modem and scientiftc knowledge (as cited in
Escobar 1995: 3).
that was promoted also by the colonial powers as they sought to disengage
themselves from direct rule. As Claude Ake has noted:
Modernisation theory is rooted firmly in liberal theory and is based on the
notion that there is an original state of backwardness which is initially
In this supportive international environment, African leaders adopted the
ideology of development to replace that of independence. BUI as it turned universal. It is the West which has overcome this original state and it is a
out, what was adopted was not so much an ideology of development as a process which all "backward" underdeveloped countries can replicate. The
strategy of power that merely capitalized on the objective need for theory is reliant on an evolutionary schema which sees the West as the
development (1996: 9). pinnacle of development and one which all countries could emulate. It was the
economists who initially dominated development thinking with an absolute
After independence, African leaders proclaimed the importance of commitment to economic growth and its "trickle down" effects. But it was the
development as an essential means to consolidating hard-earned political scientists who sought to delineate non-economic factors in the
independence. In the rhetoric which followed, it was hard work and self- modernisation process. They set out to identify cultural, behavioural,
reliance which became the catch-cry of the new development strategy. At the attitudinal and value orientations which characterised "backward" and
same time, a host of development plans were enacted on a five-year basis. "advanced" nations in order identify the relationship between economic
These plans reflected thinking in the West with an emphasis on whatever growth and cultural change. This type of research allowed the political
development strategy was deemed appropriate by donor countries and scientists to see themselves as belonging to a discipline which was relevant
agencies. In short, a thriving development industry on both sides the imperial and one which was based on scientific methodology and hence capable of and
divide emerged. But it was in the West that the development paradigm was relevant to policy formulation.
articulated, namely under the rubric of modernisation theory. It was in this Modernisation theory in the hands of political scientists led to the
context that Africanist political science has had its greatest impact. The adaptation of the evolutionary schema with the formulation of "ideal types"
contribution of Africanist political science needs also to be evaluated against and the characterisation of societies as either "traditional" or "modern".
the backdrop of the Cold War and the West's determination that the new states Traditional societies were portrayed as static, backward and lacking
did not succumb to communism. The establishment of the United States development. The task was to remove those institutional obstacles which were
Social Science Research Council's (SSRC's) Committee on Comparative an impediment to progress and to create a cultural environment which was
Politics in 1954 under the chairmanship of Gabriel Almond can be seen as the conducive to development. It was in this light that Edward Shits denounced all
formative period where modernisation theory became the prescriptive solution things traditional in the hope of showing that the adoption and infiltration of
for Third World development strategies. This committee was clearly working Western values and institutions was the only mechanism to modernity. He
sought to identify "modernizing agents" to which resources were to be
138 Pal Ahluwalia The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science 139

disproportionately distributed in order to quicken the pace of development. He counts as knowledge by setting the agenda - be it "basic needs", "sustainable
noted that: development" or "good governance" - which in tum legitimises their very
authority. This can be discerned in the following extract from a World Bank
The most enthusiastic support for industrialization and modernization comes document where the latest "fad" is popular participation:
from those who have been in contact with the West, either in Europe or
America or through intrusions and representations in their own country. The
Fostering popular participation is a deeply serious maner, but it is not rocket
accepted contact with the West has been predominantly through Western
science. When the reams of paper are put aside, we development
educational institutions and... Western-inspired home (1958:
professionals sense intuitively that participation is a good thing, and we
233). know how to foster it...(Dichter 1992: 89).
In short, the goal which traditional societies needed to set themselves was
It is not surpnsmg that deeply embedded within these ideas of
to aspire to Western society. During the 1960s, the SSRC's Committee on
development is the sense of Western superiority, as is the case in the discourse
Comparative Politics came to dominate modernisation theory with the
of Orientalism. The linkage between Orientalism and modernisation theory is
publication of Almond and Coleman's (1960), The Politics of Developing
obvious and it is one that Said himself has established albeit in a different
Areas. This work was infused strongly with functionalist theory, "process" and
behaviourism. Almond explained that the methodology was aimed at
"encouraging the development of theory which would enable political science
to deal more adequately with the causation of political phenomena and with ORIENTALISM AND MODERNISATION
the variety of political forms" (1966: 36).
Almond was concerned with classifying political systems believing that In Covering Islam, Edward Said points out that the representations of
there was a universal political process and political culture which could be Islam in the post-War period need to be viewed against the backdrop of the
empirically studied. Political scientists were engaged in developing macro- investment made by the United States in the doctrine of modernisation which
level theory which was able to incorporate the many dimensions of the was and is still supported unashamedly by very large sections of the academy.
development process. Africanist political scientists began to examine A major consequence of modernisation theory was the manner in which it
"political development" which was the movement of traditional societies classified the bulk of the Third World as backward and in need of
towards liberal democracy and encapsulated the problems of nationhood, modernisation. The representation of Islam has been prone to generalisations
national identity, integration and national unity (Binder, 1963). As Dodd has which appear to be all the more bizarre given the complexities of a
pointed out, political modernisation was derived from "the political contemporary world which is no longer comprehensible by simply applied,
transformation undergone in Europe and subsequently in most parts of the universally-constructed propositions.
world since the Renaissance" (1972: 12-13). Although modernisation theory Nowhere were these problems more aptly demonstrated than in the case of
was challenged significantly in the late 1960s and 1970s in the face of the lack Iran. On the one hand, the Shah appeared to be the quintessential modem
of "development" in African countries, development theory remained locked ruler, and Iran a confirmation of the assertions of modernisation theory. On
into defming development in terms of a Western ideal type. What changed the other hand, after his downfall, the country was demonised as a bedrock of
was perhaps the mechanisms and conceptions of the assumed ease in which a fanatical Islamic fundamentalism threatening not only the region but the entire
society could transform itself from "traditional" to "modern". Nowhere is this "civilised" world. It was hardly surprising that, "Orientalism and
more clearly manifested than in the ideology of the World Bank and the IMF modernization theory dovetailed nicely" (30). The Shah of Iran could be seen
which have become the major proponents of contemporary modernisation to be "delivering" his people. modernising and Westemising them. The
theory. Policy makers in these institutions have the power to determine what Iranian revolution became a glaring proof of Islam's fundamentalism. There is
140 Pal Ahluwalia The Evolution of Orientalism and Africanist Political Science 141

little account of the work of Iranian critics, like Ali Shariti, who were arguing worldliness that one can achieve non-coercive knowledge. The production of
that, "Islam had to be lived as an invigorating existential challenge to man, not such knowledge is the challenge which African Studies must embrace.
as a passive submission to authority, human or divine" (68). Said points out
that most analysts failed to comment that, in nearby Israel, the Begin regime
was "fully willing to mandate its actions by religious authority and by a very WORKS CITED
backward-looking theological doctrine" (31). It is clear, for Said, that there are
double standards involved in the Western press: Israel's religious proclivity is Ahluwalia, Pal (1996), Post-colonialism and the Politics ofKenya, New York:
rarely mentioned while Islam is the all-consuming reason for the inherent Nova Science Publishers.
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Post-colonial Studies, London: Routledge.
Ashcroft, Bill and Pal Ahluwalia (1999), Edward Said: The Paradox of
CONCLUSION Identity, London: Routledge.
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The evolution of Orientalism from being the study of the Orient to a more Brookings Institute.
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testimony of the impact of Edward Said's Orienta/ism. As the epigraph of this Developmental Approach Little Brown, USA.
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and Japanesist discourses. While much work has been carried out to illustrate University Press.
the linkages between anthropology and Africanism, what is perhaps less Binder, L. (1963), "Political Modernization and National Integration",
known is the role of political science. Africanist political science and its Economic Development and Cultllral Change, Vol. II, No.3, pp. 327-
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as a universal rational discourse which is applicable to "developing nations". Michael Sprinker, (ed.) Edward Said: A Critical Reader, Oxford
By employing "ideal types" and reifying the West as a model which all others Blackwells.
are to emulate, Africanist political science has an inherent Western logocentric ChatteIjee, Partha (1993), The Nation and its Fragments, Princeton: Princeton
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countries of Western Europe, the United States or Great Britain as 'developing' Peter Waterman, (eds.), African Social Studies: A Radical Reader,
or 'modernizing' societies; they belonged to the realm of logos, or pure and London: Heinemann.
invariable presence in need of no explanation" (1991: 10). To address this Curtin, Philip (1964), The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780-
problem, it is important to examine how Said himself has moved from 1850, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
colonial discourse analysis to post-colonial theory. The task, for African Dichter, A. (1992), "Demystifying Popular Participation: Institutional
Studies, is to engage in efforts which can overcome the limitations of Mechanisms for Popular Participation" in Bhatnagar and Williams, (eds.),
colonised imaginations such as development theory. For Said, it is through (' Participatory Development and the World Bank, Discussion paper No.
183, Washington: World Bank.
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Escobar, Arturo (1995), Encountering Development, Princeton: Princeton Windschuttle, Keith (2000), "Edward Said's Orientalism Revisited",
University Press. Quadrant, January-February 2000, pp. 21-27.
Fanon, Frantz. (1967), The Wretched ofthe Earth, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Young, Robert (1995),Colonial Desire" Hybridity in Theory, Culture and
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Sciences and Humanities, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Chapter 8


Elleke Boehmer

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the Twain shall meet
Rudyard Kipling, 'The Ballad of East and West' (1892)

I want to begin with an account of the remarkable critical reception of an

Indian woman poet, Sarojini Naidu (1876-1949), 'the little Indian princess', in
London in the 1890s. I
Born in Hyderabad into a prominent intellectual Bengali family (the
Chattopadhyays), Sarojini Naidu as a girl showed an extraordinary precocity
in writing poetry, mainly in imitation of British Romantic writers - her
ambition was to be 'a Keats for India' (Gosse 1912: 7). At fifteen she was sent
to England, to King's College, London, and then Girton in Cambridge, both to
continue her education, and - her parents' explicit desire - to separate her from
her future husband, a non-Brahmin who was deemed unsuitable as a marriage
partner. In 1892, the same year that Kipling was writing 'The Ballad of East
and West' from which my epigraph is taken, the remarkable facility and

I Naidu's poetry appeared in four collections published between 1895 and 1917: Songs, The
Golden Threshold (1905), The Bird of Time (1912), and The Broken Wing. The 'little Indian
princess' is Yeats's term, according to Maud Ganne (1938: 331).
146 Elleke Boehmer Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and ... 147

seemingly effortless mimicry ofNaidu's poetry, collected in Songs (1895), her bells somewhere in the distance'. She instead began to produce, no doubt to a
first book of poems, came to the attention of some of the foremost English great extent uncynically, a very different type of pastiche, yet one which was
critics of the day, including Edmund Gosse and Arthur Symons. Edmund ironically, and symptomatically, another imitation of a Western invention. In
Gosse later described his encounter with this 'most brilliant', 'most original' effect she was to recreate again the 'tone of the mockingbird with a
work, and its outcome, an equally remarkable mimicry in reverse which he vengeance', though one reverberating from a different vantage point: not the
was to encourage: West as the East due to its colonial education believed it was to be seen, but
the East as seen by the West, represented by an Eastern woman writing from
By some accident...Sarojini was introduced to our house at an early date afler the perspective of the West. In her second and third collections, The Golden
her arrival in London, and she soon became one of the most welcome and Threshold (1905), and The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death and the Spring
intimate of our guests. It was natural that one so impetuous and so
(1912),' Gosse writes, Naidu no longer concealed 'the exclusively Indian
sympathetic should not long conceal flam her hosts the fact that she was
writing copiously in verse - in English verse. I entreated to be allowed to see source of her inspiration'. Addressing herself to 'emotions which are tropical
what she had composed, and a bundle of MSS. was slipped into my hand. I and primitive', she now became, through her Western make-over, 'fully'
hastened to examine it as soon as I was alone, but now there followed a native: 'she springs from the very soil of India'. Combining technical skill
disappointmen~ and with it an embarrassment.... The verses which Sarojini
learned outside 'the magic circle' of the Orient, with inside knowledge, her
had entrusted to me were skilful in fonn, correct in grammar and blameless
in sentiment, but they had the disadvantage of being totally without poems, Gosse believes, will be found 'as luminous in lighting up the dark
individuality. They were Western in feeling and in imagery; they were places of the East as any contribution of savant or historian' (Gosse 1912: 6).
founded on reminiscences of Tennyson and Shelley; I am not sure that they The bizarre and disturbing force of Naidu's ventriloquism is a fascinating
did not even breathe an atmosphere of Christian resignation.... this was the instance of the double-voiced and indeed doubled colonial mimicry of a
note of the mockingbird with a vengeance (Gosse 1912: 4-5). European aesthetic. This complicated mimicry is worth an extended study in
itself, and is probably only fully heard in juxtaposition, when we read her
Disappointed, Gosse then took it upon himself, as he goes on to recount,
poetry side-by-side with an awareness of her nationalist involvements and
to give Sarojini some fatherly advice: she should make herself over again,
rhetoric urging a 'battle' for India (Tharu and Lalita 1991: 329-40). What I am
reconstitute herself as 'a genuine Indian poet of the Deccan', not 'a clever
immediately interested in here however is not so much Naidu's response as
machine-made imitator of the English classics':
such, as the Orientalising and implicitly coercive terms of Gosse's critical
appreciation. These were terms that were echoed in the praise she also
I ventured to speak to her sincerely. I advised the consignment of all that she
had written, in the falsely English vein, to the waste-paper basket. I implored received from the symbolist Arthur Symons who appreciated in particular the
her to consider that from a young Indian of extreme sensibility, who had sinuous sensualisms not only of her work, but of her physical presence
mastered not merely the language but the prosody of the West, what we (Introduction 1905: 9-10; 18). They are also terms, I want to suggest, which
wished to receive was...some revelation of the heart of India, some sincere have repeated themselves across the century in Western readings of foreign,
penetrating analysis of native passion, of the principles of antique religion especially perhaps Indian, writing. It seems to me that it is possible to find in
and of such mysterious intimations as stirred the soul of the East long before
the West had begun to dream that it had a soul... (5). recent criticism of postcolonial work a configuration of cultural differences
between West and East, or North and South - between 'village bells' and
Confronted with this 'sincere' request - in effect a demand from the bazaar cries - not entirely dissimilar from that within which Gosse and
authoritative 'we' of Western literary opinion, sanctioned by the promise of its
still qualified praise - Sarojini did indeed 'docilely', in Gosse's words, work to
shed the trappings of her Romantic masquerade, 'to write no more about
2 Sarojini Naidu, The Golden Threshold (1905), intra. Arthur Symons, was dedicated to Gosse
robins and skylarks, in a landscape of our Midland counties, with the village
and brought together the poems written since his intervention.
148 Elleke Boehmer Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and ... 149

Symons were working' In sometimes imperceptible ways, the past of colonial remarkable 'linguistic inventiveness', and its 'exuberant', 'shape-shifting
discourse appears in certain instances to be repeating itself upon the present narrative' (Beer 1997; Truax 1997; see also van Straaten 1997). The verbal
that is postcolonial criticism. Despite postcolonialism's anti-colonial agenda, intricacy and play are then seen as strikingly contrasted with the disturbing
and its intersection with other liberatory theories such as feminism and subject matter, the 'intimate and revealing portrait of the caste-system', in
minority discourses, forms of the criticism appear to have inherited still particular the focus on the 'forbidden' sexual touch of the untouchable, and on
unexamined categories of the past, and to be reiterating, certainly in their
journalistic manifestations, its objectifications of otherness.
~ the horrific punishment which follows (as well as the novel's interest in child
molestation and incest between twins) (Moss A3 and Truax 5). In some
At this point I want to engage in an exercise of juxtaposition: to keep the reviews, the layerings and interconnections of contrasting experience, of
phrases and images used in the appreciation ofNaidu's work in mind, and turn physical wounding and linguistic artistry, of pain accented by play, and play
to look at the critical reception of an Indian woman writer in the 1990s, one hollowing out pain, are considered as being further elaborated in the cultural
hundred years on from the time of Gosse's ardent appreciation of Naidu, this and political layerings of the narrative; the minglings of Hindu ritual,
English but 'un-English Oriental'. The writer is Arundhati Roy, much-hyped especially Kathikali dance, Marxist activism and Christian proselytizing that
and hailed as the long-awaited female Rushdie even before winning the 1997 characterise social life in Kerala in 1969.
Booker prize for her best-selling first novel, The God ofSmall Things (1997)' Critical elements highlighted in the above overview, we cannot fail to
In the paragraphs that follow, I should immediately say, I want to set to notice, have as it were resonated down the century, from the time of the
one side the criticism of Roy's writing as lushly overwritten, overwhelmed by critical reception ofNaidu. These features are concentrated in particular in the
its poetic effects - though it is important to signal that such criticism certainly conflation of biography, body, and writing which characterises the terms
does exist (See Chew 1997; Clark, 1997; Gorra, 1997; Moss 1997). Instead 1 through which the works of both Naidu and Roy are perceived. Noteworthy,
want to focus on the elements that have repeatedly been accentuated in the though not always typical, is the singling out of a slight body shape as
critical promotion of Roy in the West. First, most prominently, there is, at the somehow corresponding to stylistic whimsicality, or as worth mentioning in
time of writing, her being female in a group of predominantly male younger relation to it. More pervasive is the way in which the decorated writings of
Indian novelists (Vikram Chandra, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Amitav Ghosh, both poet and novelist are regarded as being both appropriate to their Eastern
Salman Rushdie, Shashi Tharoor), and, related to this, her intensely feminine subject matter, including caste restrictions, and also as interacting evocatively
elfin beauty.' Another feature of her experience that is marked out, is her own with the distress that is described: her 'lyric energy', Gosse writes of Naidu,
cross-caste, hybrid background (which is to an extent reflected in the central has an intensity imparted by the sorrow implicit in her subject matter, and
drama of the novel, the love affair between Ammu, the single mother of twins, present in her life - the words could be a paraphrase of comments made about
and the 'untouchable' Velutha). Added to this complex of promotional Roy (Gosse 1912: 7-8).
features, is the 'overwhelmed' response of some of its first British readers to The first thing to remark about these to me intriguing parallels is that there
the novel, especially that of David Godwin her agent.' This powerful effect is is of course very little that is new about a woman writer being either censured
critically accounted for by reference to the novel's 'original' use of English, its or praised, and, either way, objectified, on the basis primarily of her gender
(reinforced by race or ethnic) identity. What is especially striking in these
3 I am here following Arif Dirlik's definition - 'North connotes the pathways of transnational parallel instances however is how the several interconnections converge in the
capitalism, and South, the marginalized populations of the world, regardless of their location' notions, on the one hand, of lyric complexity and emotional intensity, and, on
- though 'South' can also be read less metaphorically in so far that the rich countries of the
world tend to be concentrated in the northern hemisphere (Dirlik 1996: 311).
the other, of singular femaleness. In the case of Naidu, this convergence is
4 Page references will be included in the text. Before 18 October 1997, the novel was already explicitly also tied in with her being Oriental, and her explicitly Orientalized
reputed to have sold 500, 000 copics in 18 languages. poetry. For Gosse she is the foremost Indian poet in English because her
S See, fOT example, 'Interview', Vrij Nederland 18 October 1997: 18-19. (own translation) 'technical skill' illuminates her authentically 'tropical and primitive' emotion,
6 See 'CV: David Godwin', Independent 20 October 1997: BS.
ISO Elleke Boehmer Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and ... lSI

that 'magic circle' of India present in her verse. To this sultry delicate magic harrowing themes and verbal extravagance with her Indian and feminine
her femaleness is then particularly appropriate. The Orient with its perfumes identity (with comparatively little regard for the regional complexities of 1969
and ardent sensations is for Gosse and Symons classically conceptualised as Kerala with which the novel is so intensely concerned)?
feminine. But Naidu's femininity also marks her out as a creature apart. As a To this a response might be that an appreciation of Roy or of other Indian
woman poet of the Deccan she stands out as almost entirely unique. In her writers which lays a positive accent on the feminine qualities of the writing
imitativeness, she is in some sense, safely inimitable - or more explicitly, un- could justly be regarded as an inversion of conventional gendered values. In
imitatable: there will be few more like her to intervene in Western aesthetic my view, however, any such inversion by a postcolonial text must be
perceptions of the East. considered in the particular postcolonial context of its production and
In Roy's case, the Western projection of an Eastern identity onto an Indian reception. This then leads to further questions. Does the implicit
writer appears to be less in evidence. Yet arguably, both in the attention paid characterisation of an Oriental feminine in some postcolonial critiques (of
to her ornate linguistic effects, and in the acceptance of its excesses (which is which I am taking the critical reception of Roy as symptomatic), not leave
what is clearly involved in the book's popularity and success), there is a tacit embedded entrenched differences between an exotic and impassioned East and
understanding that this style in some way suits, while also contrasting a consuming West, interested in yet distancing itself from the East's
productively and provocatively with, the Indian subject matter of the novel. enticements and intensities? And does this characterisation not reinforce ways
The deft verbal play is set against the brutal ravages of caste prejudice, seen in which the West has always scrutinised and objectified the other, whether
since the 1700s as an essentially Oriental problem. Involved with this the East in the case of India, or the South more generally? Aren't there
acceptance is also that excitement over Roy's unique position as a girl among elements of this criticism that create a profound sense of deja vu: Indian
the 'new boys'. In Roy's situation as in Naidu's, therefore, the critical interest writers have been feted and exceptionalized in this way before, at the height of
in verbal effects, and the general responsiveness to their emotional, indeed Empire, and feted in very similar terms?
'tropical', intensity, is significantly inflected and perhaps also intensified by Following on from this, the tendency I want to underline is a critical
their being women writers, which is related to their writing as women, from inclination to regard as more culturally alive, interestingly authentic and
women's, and particularly domestic, perspectives. (In this we might think, for intensively postcolonial than other kinds of international writing, the
example, of Naidu's concern with purdah and child marriage, and Roy's with extravagant realism and exuberant word-play' associated with certain Indian
female frustrations in the domestic context, and with the status of the single writers, including Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. What we seem to be
mother in southern Indian society.) up against in this criticism is a replication of inherited categories of colonial
Bearing in mind how Naidu's poetry was seen to require a more Oriental difference - in particular the objectification of otherness memorably described
slant, and how the Orient of her verse was conceived of in feminine terms, I by Edward Said in OrientalislIl (1978). It is an objectification that perhaps
now want to go on to ask whether, in the postcolonial reception and becomes particularly noticeable, and worth questioning, when a woman writer
perception of Roy, we cannot see a similar conflation taking place? It is a is involved. In the criticism we see locked together traditional
conflation which might most succinctly though also I admit sweepingly be characterisations of the eternal feminine and the eternal Oriental - an equally
described as new or neo-Orientalist 7 Even as she herself emphasises that the traditional interconnection which produces a gendered notion of Orientalist
India she writes about is not extraordinary but ordinary, could the critical typicality that has shifted, as it were, from racial character to writing. To
perception of Roy in Western critical circles not be said to intersect her overstate the matter in order to make my point: the writing that is deemed
most interesting seems to be a writing that is perfumed, decorated, sinuous,
7 Gayatri Spivak 1993: 277, and 1991: 226-227, has used thc tcnn new oriental ism to dcscribe sensuous, plural, unruly - most intensely and appropriately so when produced
the homogenising, de-contextualizing effects of late-twentieth-century multi-culturalism. As
will become clear later in this essay. I prefer neo-orientalisrn, by analogy with neo-
colonialism. 8 Accentuated of course by the famously erratic capitalisation of The God ofSmall Things.
152 Elleke Boehmer Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and ... 153

by a woman. Overdetennined in all its strangeness, abstracted from its local polyphony, have perhaps caused postcolonial literary subversions and
context, stereotyped and re-stereotyped, the exotic attraction of the once- multiplicity to become not only too expected as being always already there,
colonized appears therefore, through a complicated process of transference, to but also in consequence to be seen as self-sufficient in their displacement from
have been imported into postcolonial criticism, and, in the process, to have and confounding of a Eurocentric history. In a post-modem context of
been commodified and made safe for a Western readership. shattered temporalities and rejected essences, it has now become almost
This critical interest in a still feminised Orient lays bare what I want to customary to view migrant or Third World texts as having the potential to
explore in the last portion of this paper - the neo-Orientalist underpinnings of undercut or reverse the West's foundational concepts, primarily on the basis of
postcolonial literary criticism from the West, in particular its location in neo- the writer's syncretic or migrant vantage point. This trend is exacerbated by
imperialist centre. Colonial modes of seeing and knowing were notoriously the redemptive story of progress which postcolonial criticism in the Western
articulated through gendered metaphors of penetration and so on. It is liberal academy and in publishing circles, tells itself: its self-representation as
therefore important for us to ask whether the privileging of postcolonial advanced, advancing and democratising because voices from the margins are
women writers as more fully, authentically or differently representing their being given a hearing. So a female Indian writer wins the prestigious prize
alterity than others, can be taken as it we would want to take it - as a justified which Rushdie first claimed for India not so long ago, establishing if there
privileging? Or do Western critics in the process risk deploying native were any remaining doubt about the matter, the cultural striking back of the
women, as before, to signify that which is most exotic, intriguing and strange once-peripheral.'
about once-colonised cultures? Does the gendered primitive remain, though in To generalise therefore: where postcolonial critical attention touches
a magic realist or post-modernised guise, the bearer of the West's exotic down, in East or South, there is a tendency for mixing and multivocality, a
interests and subversive desires? In this regard it is worth reminding ourselves feminine polymorphousness, to reproduce itself whatever the historical or
that The God ofSmal/171illgs tells a heated tale of multiply forbidden desire, a cultural location. And the impression which results is of an energetic if
tale which, exquisitely narrated from a feminine point of view, takes place bewildering babble of novelistic voices which can be best organised it seems,
against the luxuriant tropical backcloth of south India. simply by placing it under the title, postcolonialism, like sweepings under the
In attempting to foreground the neo-colonial and gender biases of the carpet: India in effect remains the teeming spectacle of the Grand Trunk Road
criticism, I am, I should perhaps belatedly stress, having to bracket the in Kim (1901), viewed god-like from on high. As Aijaz Ahmad puts it in a
complicities and nuances of tone through which Roy's prose, as well as typically strenuous essay, 'the whole of the "Third World", ...singularized into
Naidu's writing, may subversively confuse and throw sand in Western eyes. In an oppositionality, [is) idealized as the site, simultaneously, of alterity and
paragraph after paragraph of Roy's dense experimental writing, we see the authenticity' (Ahmad 1992: 33). With this scenario in mind, it is significant, as
English language - the language bequeathed by the British coloniser, as she Arif Dirlik has also pointed out, that postcolonial literary studies have
has recognised - expanded, distorted, excavated, disconcerted. There is to my emerged at a time when global capitalism continues to generate stark
mind no question about the energy and oppositionality of this writing. But economic and power imbalances between different parts of the world, in other
what is up for scrutiny are the evaluative vocabularies and critical techniques words, produces a neo-colonial marginalisation and dependency (Dirlik 1996:
which, in the academy and in the critical columns often supplied from the 294-320). I do not want to go as far as Dirlik in suggesting a knowing
academy, are used to represent, for instance, Roy's work. Can these become complicity between postcolonial studies and global neo-colonialisrn. Yet it
correspondingly oppositional and sensitive to creative ambivalence, without does seem to me that postcolonial criticism is related to, and representative of,
falling into the trap of objectifying difference?
In exploring the theoretical and institutional detenninants of this situation 9 The very phrases used to articulate this advance are often expressive of Western Christian
a little further, we have to recognise how the mostly very enabling currency of humanist values. In this sense we might want to apply Terry Eagleton's line describing the
Homi Bhabha's theories of the hybrid, as well as of Bakhtin's ideas about persistence of total systems in a postmodern world, to postcolonialism: 'The term 'post', if it
has any meaning at all, means business as usual, only more so' (1990; 380-1).
154 Elleke Boehmer Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and ... 155

the continuing dominance of the formerly imperial metropolis. The dominance related lines, Gayatri Spivak has usefully warned that any postcolonial reading
is indicated not only by the persistence of a (neo-)Orientalist rhetoric, but also must be approached as a continuously self-critical, contextualizing, and
by such factors as the location of critics, the subsequent direction of the intensively 'inter-literary' rather than a conventionally 'comparative' exercise
postcolonial gaze at already 'othered' cultures, and the relative neglect of (Spivak 1993: 277).
transnational capitalism as a subject for discussion and critique. Yet it is To circle round to where I began, it is finally essential to remember that
precisely because of this emphasis on the textual over the contextual that resistances do manifest in texts as well as in contexts. II Through a restless
postcolonial studies can in certain respects come to resemble both a layering and contortion of accepted meanings, postcolonial fictions, plays, and
camouflage for a still-powerful centre, and a subterfuge: an 'opportunistic poems, whether in English or in other languages, continually chafe at Western
[adjustment] by the centre of power to accommodate changes of power self-reference and convention. Emerging from beyond established cultural
without loss of authority' (Hamilton 1996: 178, and 149-150).10 borderlines, such texts assert an irreconcilability, an 'enunciatory disorder', as
To say it another way again, postcolonial criticism has landed in terrain Homi Bhabha puts it: a strangeness which antagonistically and creatively
which under another aspect it knows all too well. Here is the familiar city - the interrupts Western forms of understanding (Bhabha 1995: 126-7).
appropriative metropolis; over there, beyond the city walls, are lions and other The mention of disorder and creative interruption finally returns me to
exotic phenomena, the other against which the imperial city defines itself, and what I mentioned earlier with regard to the wayward intricacies of Roy's
which it tirelessly monitors and seeks to control in order to maintain its writing, which I then had to bracket: the 'ambiguous unclassifiable
ascendancy. The difference now is that certain individuals and texts from out consistency' of her writing, to adapt a quotation from the text itself (30). The
there, promoted perhaps by their class positions or other elitist structures, have poems and the poetic exercises in prose of Naidu and Roy respectively, their
been admitted to the city the better to ensure the efficiency of its monitoring. stilted and skittish burlesques, and the evasive or over-stylised arabesqueries
The question must then be, are there ways of cutting through this neo- of their language, demonstrate a subtle subversion that at once co-operates
Orientalist bind in order to give the very real vitality of postcolonial literatures with and exceeds the defmitions criticism imposes. There is something
their due regard? It is evidently true that no cultural or academic interest in chillingly composed if not congealed in a poem of Naidu's like the two-part
reversed values or subversive texts will of itself reverse hierarchies in the 'Songs of my City' from The Bird of Time (1912), in which different voices
world, especially where these postcolonial interests themselves work within obediently perform a pastiche of a many-textured spice-rich India which, in
hierarchies which still exclude East and South. Yet a criticism that remains each one of the paired poems, comes to rest on images of silence and
continually vigilant about what I have called the neo-Orientalist aspects of its confinement or death (Boehmer 1998: 314-15).
own interpretative terms, and of its neo-colonial context, will go some Differently though relatedly, Roy's writing persistently works at unsettling
distance towards at least confronting if not challenging those hierarchies. In and undoing the English language. Strange attractions are created between
order to effect this vigilance it may be necessary to set up provisional words through rhyming and alliterative patterns. Grief-stricken, the mother
narratives of historical change - relatively unbroken temporalities, in other Ammu's eyes are 'a redly dead', a 'deadly red' (31). Having reached the age at
words - which would reveal, for example, the social and cultural determinants which her mother died, Rahel too is at 'a viable, die-able age' (3, with many
which have shaped, and continue to shape, what we now call postcolonial repetitions). Most predominantly, the childish play on language of the seven-
hybridity. But alongside this, and at least as important, postcolonial readings year-old twins at the centre of the story shockingly literalises conventional
also demand a sensitivity to location and agency, including women's agency, actions and sayings, including phrases from Kipling ('we be of one blood, thou
and an effort to relate interpretative practices to local cultural knowledge. On and 1'), so exposing hidden cruelties. At the film of 'The Sound of Music', the

10 For their comments on postcolonialism's neo-colonial complicities, see also: Loornba 1998: 11 For a useful overview of the different axes inscribed or ascribed by postcolonial criticism, see
245-258, and Moore-Gilbert 1997: 3-4, 17-21. Siemon 1995: 15-32.
156 Elleke Boehmer Postcolonialism as Neo-orientalism: Sarojini Naidu and ... 157

Orangedrink Lemondrink Man 'moved Esta's hand up and down [his penis]. Moore-Gilbert, Bart (1997), Postcolonial TIleory: Contexts, Practices, Politics
First slowly. Then fastly' (103). Ammu, forced to leave Ayemenem after the New York and London: Verso.
discovery of her love affair, has to 'pack her bags and leave. Because she had Moss, Stephen (1997), 'A contest won in a vacuum', TIle Guardian October
no Locusts Stand l' (159). As the narrative voice remarks: 'Only the Small 15: A3.
Things were said. The Big Things lurked unsaid inside' (173). Throughout the Naidu, Sarojini (1905), The Golden Threshold, intro. Arthur Symons London:
novel insists on this co-existence and sometimes forgotten interaction of great William Heinemann.
and little 'gods', of small and large forces, grand and petit narratives, if you Roy, Arundhati (1997), The God ofSmall Things London: Flamingo.
like. In a country such as the one Rahel comes from, 'various kinds of despair SIemon, Stephen (1995), 'The Scramble for Post-Colonialism', De-Scribing
competed for primacy'. Personal despair is caught up in and seemingly Empire, eds. Chris Tiffin and Alan Lawson, London: Routledge.
dwarfed by 'the public turmoil of a nation': Spivak, Gayatri (1991), 'Neocolonialism and the Secret Agent of Knowledge',
interview with Robert Young, The Oxford Literary Review:
.That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded deification. Then Small Neocolonialism 13: 226-7.
God (cosy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, Spivak, Gayatri (1993), Outside in the Teaching Machine London: Routledge.
laughing numbly at his own temerity (19). Symons, Arthur (1905), introduction, TIle Golden TIlreshold, by Sarojini
Naidu London: William Heinemann.
WORKS CITED Tharu, Susie, and K. Lalita, eds., (1991),Women Writing in India: 600 B.G. to
the Present, vol. 1 Delhi: Oxford UP.
Ahmad, Aijaz (1992), In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures New York and Truax, Alice (1997), review of The God of Small TIlings, by Arundhati Roy,
London: Verso. New York Times Book Review 25 May: 5.
Beer, Gillian (1997), quoted in The Guardian October 15 1997: A3. van Straaten, Floris (1997), 'Wreedheid als sleutel tot de liefde', NRC
Bhabha, Homi (1995), The Location ofCulture London: Routledge. Handelsblad [Amsterdam] 17 October: 10. (own translation).
Boehmer, Elleke, ed., (1998), "Sarojini Naidu," Empire Writing, Oxford:
Oxford UP.
Chew, Shirley (1997), 'The house in Kerala', Times Literary Supplement 30
May: 23.
Clark, Alex (1997), 'Fatal Distractions', The Guardian 19 June: B4;
Dirlik, Arif (1996), 'The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age
of Global Capitalism', Contemporary Postcolonial Theory, ed. Padmini
Mongia, London: Arnold.
Eagleton, Terry (1990), The Ideology ofthe Aesthetic London: Blackwell.
Gonne, Maud (1938), A Servant ofthe Queen London: Victor Gollancz.
Gorra, Michael (1997), 'Living in the Aftermath', London Review ofBooks 19
June: 22-23.
Gosse, Edmund (1912), Introduction, The Bird of Time: Songs ofLife, Death
and the Spring, by Sarojini Naidu, London: Heinemann.
Hamilton, Paul (1996), Historicism London: Routledge.
Loomba, Ania (1998), Colonialism/Postcolonialism London: Routledge.
Chapter 9


Mustapha MarrOllChi

The botanical garden of my childhood is an enormous expanse of land,

Edenic in my mem01Y.
Jamaica Kincaid. My Garden (Book)

Goethe may first have spoken, in the afternoon of the millennium, of

"world literature," but its existence is quite recent; it was born with
Modernism, and now thrives in an age of Post-Modernism. When writers
became exiles or emigres, when they began to write in their second or even
third language, and above all when the experience of displacement became the
subject of their work, then world-literature was born, for better or worse. Post-
colonial writers are probably the purest example of this negative liberty-
literally homeless, they write repeatedly about the actual and figurative
centrifuges of modern life; infamous as writers to millions who have never
read them, they are celebrated by thousands who cannot read them, for the
hybridity of his narrative, which "is not only double-voiced and double-
accented," Mikhail Bakhtin informs us,

but is also double-languaged; for in it there are not only (and not even so
much) two individual consciousnesses, two voices, two accents, as there are
[doublings of] socia-linguistic consciousnesses, two epochs ... that come
together and consciously fight it out on the territory of the utterance.... It is
160 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 161

the collision between differing points of view on the world that are beyond both the national and international contexts to become embedded in a
embedded in these forms.... Such unconscious hybrids have been at the travelling narrative. As we make our global leap into the next century, one
same time profoundly productive historically: they are pregnant with
example in particular of the post-colonial writer as displaced intelligence
potential for new world views, with new "internal forms" for perceiving the
world in words (1989: 25). emerges most forcefully. The example in question is Edward Said.
"Regard experiences then," Said wrote in the conclusion to his Culture
This hybrid, also known as 'cultural amphibian,' like the test-tube baby, is a and Imperialism, "as if they were about to disappear: what is it about them
miracle of the twentieth century, or, in a darker light, a curious effluent, an that anchors or roots them in reality? What would you save of them, what
unwitting by-product of the great technological, industrial and economic would give up, what would you recover?" (1993: 336). In May of the same
projects of a tumultuous age; an age in which both nations and families are year, he started his "archaeological prying into a very distant and essentially
being flung apart by the forces of history; an age in which everything seems to irrecoverable past," (Said 1999: 216). The experiences it digs for have of
be "shifting, changing, getting partitioned, separated by frontiers, splitting, re- course disappeared, but also has their context, their location, their writer's
splitting, coming apart" (Rushdie, 1999: 322). only resource is memory. Born into a family more or less "out of place"
Straddling the border without even trying, this off-the-edge writer, who wherever they found themselves: Palestinian, Lebanese, but American on their
travels to Paris, London and New York for an assault on the cultural capital, is passports; Anglican in their worship, but otherwise unconnected to England;
as ill-equipped as Balzac and as restless as Conrad, since he or she has only Francophone, but Arabic-speaking amongst themselves--custom-built
genius to declare. Such a writer arrived at the right time, coinciding with an Levantines, in a word, Said maintains that it is "better to wonder ..., not to
explosion of the discipline called Theory, which deflated traditional own a house, and never to feel too much at home anywhere" (294). He praises
philosophy and literature in a such a way that a Jacques Derrida, for example, exile, and the process of intellectual discovery which relative rootlessness
would henceforth appear as a new combination of writer and literary critic. At gives us, without ever glibly glossing over its pain or the cushioning effect of
the same time there was a huge expansion of the uni versity system so that a privilege. He no longer has the need to feel "at home." Although Said enjoys
new public of students was available for the new writing and the new kind of living in New York as a "gateway city that's so much part of the world, I still
theoretical journal. As a result, the traditional separation between writer and feel New York isn't home," he writes. "I don't know where home is, but it
critic was broken down. certainly isn't here" (294). His comments on the experience of multiplicity as
It makes perfect sense; fTee from anything extraneous--certain specifics of both gift and loss are delicate and subtle and can be seen as offering an
time and place-so as to be "glocal," this "new" writer is writing not for a local original reading of Proust's suggestion that true paradises are lost paradises:
audience but for a global one. In the process, he or she finds him or herself
touring the world doing promotion gigs of one sort or another. The irony of Exile is predicated on the existence of, love for, and a real bond with one's
this event called "touring" lies in the writer being encouraged almost not to native place; the universal truth of exile is not that one has lost that love or
home, but that inherent in each is an unexpected, unwelcome loss (1993:
write, and to spend all the time just talking about what he or she writes about 336).
to different audiences. This writer may have started a new genre, similar to the
one we find in The Information by Martin Amis, which is mostly about room This is a truth for those who have lost their love and home, and for those who
service, radio stations and transit lounges. Pushed by publisher(s) and afflicted have not; and for those who have returned to them. Exile, as Said suggests,
by the pressures of being successful and having to go to Singapore, Norway can be a happy and an unhappy condition, a chance of belonging to more than
and Brazil, among other places, the transplanted writer must disseminate as one culture. It can be suffered or sought, or imaginatively borrowed. It is a
well as publicize his. In so doing, he becomes affected by the new way of understanding loss and a way of knowing what there is to lose, the
environment he finds himself in: airplanes, airports, hotels, university paradise that cannot exist until it is gone (Wood 1994). Or, to put it otherwise,
campuses. The chief anxiety caused by dread of crossing the borderline moves home, homeland, place (of the mind) is, as Said insists, crucial to the
162 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 163

construction of one's identity. But it exists not only as a detennining but as a been universalizing from the example of Moliere, and in so doing produces a
detennined cultural location, as a space of memory that alters the identity of description of comedy that is mightily contradicted at almost every station of
the person inhabiting, viewing, passing through, or writing about it as Said literature. For literature's greatest category might be precisely one of
does in Out of Place. While this remembering might be attributed to any systematic comedy: in particular, that paradoxical shuffle of condescension
number of factors, I have found it to become most visible when remembrance, and affiliation we are made to feel by Bottom the weaver, or Don Quixote, or
especially nostalgic remembrance, is regularly intimate with forgetting. Said Uncle Toby, or Zeno, or Pin. Such characters have busy souls. They are
represents his mi(lieux) de me,noire as a haunting place, an expanse that congested by aspiration, an aspiration that outstrips their insight. They claim
contains both joy and sadness. to know themselves, but their selves are too dispersed to be known. It is we
Said grew up in times that had all the more influence on him because they who know them, because we know at least something about them: that they
were conservative and he was not. He remained constantly open-almost to a are self-ignorant. They are rich cavities, into which we pour a kindly offering:
fault, given the confusion of mind it was capable of producing in him-to what if we are the only ones who can provide the knowledge they lack about
was being thought or written and what was happening privately and publicly themselves, then we ourselves have become that lack, have become a part of
around him. Whoever chooses to write on his childhood in Jerusalem, Cairo them.
and Dhour in our own day and age is duty bound to make less of the Edward Said, both as narrator and as character in Out ofPlace, belongs to
idiosyncrasies-the three piece suits, the pipe, the field sports, not forgetting this company. Along with language, what else is at the core of his memory?
the occasional amours-so fatuously overdone in the past and more of how he Where does geography-especially in the displaced fonn of departures,
related to the social, aesthetic and political ideas that came and went in the arrivals, farewells, exile, nostalgia, homesickness, belonging and travel itself-
Middle East in the 1940s and 50s. It suited him well as a rebel to mediate fit in? How do we get from the lone, fragile child to the consummate
between the two environments known to him: at home and outside of it-the intellectual who is in place among the truly important intellects of our
one rough but in its way supportive, the other civilized, mind-sharpening but century? Is the canvas he paints in Out of Place the necessary outcome, the
also callous. And as with dissonant milieux, so it was with individuals: here, "truth," of Said the heroic dissident child? To put it in Hegel's tenns: how
too, Said, when he writes, portrays himself as brokering an annistice between does the ethically impeccable "noble consciousness" imperceptibly pass into
parties who could never in reality get on. If having been born astride two the servile "base consciousness"? Of course, for a "Post-Modem" Third Way
worlds was the unmaking of him as a child, it was the making of him as a reader immersed in New Age ideology, there is no tension: Said is simply
writer and as someone who, when the moment came, threw in his lot following his destiny, and deserving of praise for reclaiming a transcultural
politically, and instinctively one can but add, with the democratic Left. The and often painful upbringing, the experience of multiplicity, its tonnents and
lifelong "reve du bon," which kept him writing year in year out, and which he confusions, but also its liberation and possibilities. To read his memoir is to
feared he could not give up on without lapsing into wordless depression, may come to know his family and his younger self as closely as we know
look flimsy, escapist even, when set against the social and political facts it characters in literature, and to be shown, intimately and unforgettably, what it
could do little to mitigate. But, dreamer or not, he had become, with Sartre, Sir has meant in the last half century to be a Palestinian.
Bertrand Russell, C.L.R. James, James Baldwin, one of the "happy few" great We live in a period of memoir writing (which James Merill jokingly
consciences of the age. called the "me-moir"), in which the narrator is often a victim (of abuse,
In his essay on laughter, Bergson argues that comedy is chastening, not punishment, neglect ). In the culture of complaint it is enough to give voice to
charitable. Laughter is defined by a certain absence of sympathy, a distance a little schrei-ing without seeking to understand the sadistic parents or
and disinterestedness, the philosopher tells us. A world that contained only teachers, and certainly without ever perceiving how so much distress might
pure intelligences would probably still include laughter; a world made up of have left one defonned. Reading Out of Place, one cannot help but think of
pure emotionalists probably would not (1962: Ch.2). Bergson appears to have Foucault's Surveiller et pl/Ilir, and indeed in the last section of that book,
164 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 165

Foucault studies the various systems invented by a reform school for invading
and colonizing a little truant's mind. As Said writes, "... by the age of nine .. , the memory of man plays strange tricks when he tries to recall the events
right through my fifteenth birthday I was constantly engaged in private of his childhood; for it depicts some incidents as clearly as though they had
happened a short time before, whereas it blots out others as though they had
remedial therapies after school and on weekends: piano lessons, gymnastics,
never passed within his ken (1997: 211).
Sunday School, riding classes, boxing, plus the mind-deadening rigors of
relentlessly regulated summers" in a dreary Lebanese resort town, Dhour el- When the man "recalling the child is so complex a mixture of scholar, political
Shweir. This regimentation was internalized and "produced in me a fear of activist, aesthete and self-analyst as Edward Said, the processes of selection
falling back into some horrible state of total disorder and being lost, and I still and distortion are immeasurably elaborated. We all tell stories about ourselves
have it." (1999: 34). These feelings of fear were heightened by his family: a which involve elements of retrospective self-fashioning and cannot easily be
closed-off private corporation. disentangled from any "straight" recall of the past." (see Howe 1999: 2-4)
The memoir restricts itself to what Michael Holroyd calls "a good walk-on Moreover, our families and communities, even nations, forge collective
part," assigning the leading roles to its author and his family. Avowedly narratives into which they expect us to fit. As Said writes: "All families invent
happier with the lives of others than with his own, Said remains as close as the their parents and children, give them each a story, character, fate and even
circumstance permits to the condition of invisible watcher. The memoir had language." He continues, movingly and tellingly,
formerly provided an "exit from myself," he observes. "These details are
important as a way of explaining to myself and to my reader how the time of There was always something wrong with how' was invented and meant to fit
the memoir is intimately tied to the time, phases, ups and downs, variations in in with the world of my parents and fOUT sisters. Whether this was because'
my illness" (II). The narrative shows Said stepping from his own life into constantly misread my part or because of some deep flaw in my being I could
other people's where there seemed to be so much more going on. In doing so, not tell for most of my early life. Sometimes I was intransigent, and proud of
it. At other times I seemed to myself to be nearly devoid of character, timid,
he suggests that in the first instance conveying the story to the reader was a uncertain, without will. Yct the overriding sensation I had was of never being
crucial part of his larger mission as a witness to a period long gone both in quite right. (1999: 3).
time and space, and, secondly, and perhaps more importantly, reminding us,
so he maintains, of St Augustine, who observes: "When I am recollecting and A COnTadian scholar, Said is also, like the subject of The Nigger ofNarcissus,
telling my story I am looking at its image in present time," and Said often a sick man who is nevertheless determined to live until he dies. One of the
rather delicately directs our attention to his memorabilia (photographs, many things to be said about Oul of Place is that it is a heroic instance of
anecdotes, pen, paper, manuscript); all this is happening, we are to believe, as writing against death. Reminiscent of Proust's great novel-cycle because of its
he writes. He will suddenly say of some object like the batch of films, each own recapturing of lost time; and of Balzac, for the clarity of its social and
one carefully encased in the white and blue boxes, left over from the past, .., historical perceptions, the narrative repeatedly explores the negative effects of
touch them with my fingers"-they are there on his desk or at the bottom of exile, division and estrangement, shifting focus from Cairo to Beirut with
one of his nondescript cupboard boxes, provoking his curiosity every now and Jerusalem in the middle, with provocative ease between collective and
then as to what portion of his life is preserved in them as they slowly sink into individual consciousness. As its beginnings show, it is keenly aware of the
oblivion and final disuse; he remarks their present in thinking of their past. inventions, blurrings and imagination - figments that go to make up our sense
One's angle of vision on the past varies along with the passage of time, always of ourselves and our kin. It knows everything there is to know about
present and always giving the past a different appearance or history. displacement, about rootings and uprootings, about feeling wrong in the
In Al-Ayam (The Days), the first modern Arab autobiography, and also the world, and it absorbs the reader precisely because such out-of-place
first modem Arabic literary work to gain international attention, Taha Hussein experiences lie at or near the heart of what it is to be alive in our jumbled,
urges that chaotic times.
166 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 167

The creative wholeness which connects Said's early emotional this rootlessness, the directing force of Said's growing up in Cairo is intimate
experiences with the political form of adult imagination makes it clear that a and familial: the personalities of his parents, who had a good many houses,
chronic and consuming need to be "located" (to use his word) in a known having been, originally, a family of substance and talent. Here their history,
possessed place encourages the writer to under-analyze his politics, and to both as it was and as it was sometimes falsely represented, is told at some
simplify his way to ambiguity. This is not a sly way of saying that Palestinian length. Said, a lover of documented fact, does them proud in a literary sense
nationalism is a neurosis, and that Said's fear of dislocation could be resolved insofar as they step from the page. Both father and mother 100m largest in the
more effectively by visiting a therapist than by writing about the oppressed recollected narrative, prompted, as Said poignantly states, by the diagnosis of
and the silenced. It is, however, to respect the honesty of his acute observation the incurable illness which has afflicted him for the past seven years, and
that he remains faithful to much received thinking about Jerusalem, because which he likens to the "sword of Damocles." The memoir, the most intimately
the brokenness of the Palestinian past, as understood through a quasi- personal book of his 17 to date, and a conscious effort at a more literary form,
nationalist perspective, matches his sense of self: ". . . its fragmentations covers his life until the early 1960s, and forms a record of a lost world. Its
extended into mine," he maintains (1999: 189). There is a duality to place. By initial spur was personal grief. "My mother was dying [of cancer] at the time
this Said means that a place which develops in time both happened and and I thought, there's an end to a special part of my life" (1999a: II).
happens to us, but also that, because the imagination mediates such Like the narrator's mother in Proust's A Ie recherche du temps perdu who
happenings, Cairo is inseparable for him from another familially significant leaves the love bits out, in case her cosseted boy is not yet ready for them,
site, hundreds of miles away, where the extended members of his family Hilda Said had a "fabulous capacity for letting you trust and believe in her,
spend their summer holiday. Said writes movingly about Dhour as "fragile even though you knew that a moment later she could either turn on you with
and transitory" (209). He makes us freshly aware of how this place composed incomprehensible anger and scorn or draw you in with her radiant charm.
of lives in a state of process occupies a transitional zone not just between town 'Come and sit next to me, Edward,' she would say, thereby letting you in her
and country but between the young vitality of new families shouting and confidence, and allowing you an amazing sense of assurance" (1999: 60). The
calling far into the summer night and the quiet of streets with mature gardens rich and attractive portrayal of Hilda as energy itself is the record of a
from which children have gone. For him, the temporality of Dour is most to be muddled life lived with an estimable generosity and resilience that you do not
valued, however, because it is open to space-time border-crossings. But even have to read every word of Out ofPlace to form an altogether higher opinion
there, Said cannot write of "permanence" without qualifying it as "illusory." It of the person who went through it ceaselessly probing, judging and even
is as though, by thinking about dislocation in time as well as space, he has possessing her enfant lerrible, who grew up to be the Arab world's paragon.
translated unhappiness at exile into anxiety about time. At times, though, you begin to ask yourself whether the portrait the author
OUI ofPlace underlines a line in a poem by Philip Larkin: "They fuck you draws of her (so sedative is the effect of her voice on her jumpy Edward) has
up, your mum and dad ..." (1991: 26). It [the memoir] is a candid and searing turned not on memory, but on the bilateral relationships between mother and
examination of parental effect, told with a mixture of love, perplexity and son, "a constellation only she could see as a whole," which so dominates the
resentment. It is also a story of cultural displacement and historical crisis, but, narrative that it rather resembles a double bed of which only one side has been
overwhelmingly, private life dominates public events. The Said family were slept in (64). She rises off these pages as powerfully as, perhaps more
Palestinian by origin, largely resident in Cairo and possessors of American powerfully than, her son rises off his. It is the varieties of Hilda's
passports--except the mother, who was in consequence like a soul in limbo, vicariousness that make Edward so full of comedy and mischief. Though his
forced to wail for a passage across the Styx. They are Christian Arabs, who representation of her is often warm, it is rarely needy; there is never a doubt in
alternate between speaking Arabic and English, they are wealthy amid the our minds that it is this teenaged boy, the eldest, and only son, who has the
poverty of the Levant. They have a foothold in several cultures, and an greater power-the power to excite, to disappoint and to impress his mother.
abiding home in none. And all around, their world is in ferment. Yet, given all He explains: "By the time I was fully conscious of speaking English fluently,
168 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 169

ifnot always correctly, I regularly referred to myself not as 'me' but as 'you.' Said's relationship with his father, though more intimidating, is still a
'Mummy doesn't love you, naughty boy,' she would say, and I respond, in matter of subdued will. Wadie is seen to be both funny and pathetic in his
half-plaintive echoing, half-defiant assertion, 'Mummy doesn't love you, but desire that his son should not follow his own downward path. He-who called
Auntie Melia loves you... .' 'No she doesn't,' my mother persisted. 'All himself William to emphasize his adopted identity-is a powerful but silent
right. Saleh [Auntie Melia's Sudanese driver] loves you,' I would conclude, presence in the narrative. Tall, taciturn, overbearing and uncommunicative, "a
rescuing something from the enveloping gloom" (4-5). In one sense, then, devastating combination of power and authority, rationalistic discipline and
Edward outgrew his mother before he himself grew up; and if this is the case, repressed emotions," Wadie is portrayed as a laconic man whose Victorian
then he had always outgrown his mother, because his mother's emotional need strictness instilled in Said "a deep sense of generalized fear which I have spent
of him had always been more acute than his of his mother. This outgrowing of most of my life trying to overcome" (71). He never told his son more than "10
his mother naturally produces at times a stiff loneliness, as when Said writes or II things about his past" (82). As a result, Said Sr. comes across as
to one of his sisters that his mother's devotion to him makes him feel both agonized, introspective and to a considerable degree self-regarding. An uneasy
loved and sad. At other times, that loneliness-or perhaps "singleness" is the person sprung from an uneasy background.
better word--erupts into a slightly grotesque hypertrophy of authority, in which Generous, combustible, nobly hysterical, facetious when he would like to
the teenager feels impelled to instruct his mother. be solemn, stoical in resolve but crumbling in practice, free in spirit but
Hilda Said, whom Edward worshiped, is an extraordinary mixture of actually tied to the train of his destiny by the modesty of his ticket, Wadie is in
naivete and sophistication. She smothers her only son with attention and fact an affecting father, one who has a kind of anxious serenity. Out ofPlace,
concern, but her ambivalence has him in a constant state of uncertainty. At a very moving book, shows that he was less naive, much less unlettered and
one moment she is all admiration and affection; at another she is cold and more worldly than his son; but the two men share an ungoverned
dismissive. He is for ever in pursuit of her approval. "As I look back over the delightfulness, and are, at the same time, stalked by an ungoverned anxiety.
years," he writes with gripping affection, Dad is an overflowing spirit, breathing the germs of vicarious aspiration over
his clever and dutiful son. There is often a hope, however unwitting, that the
I can see the real anxiety induced in me by my mother's withdrawal, where son may not resemble the father, who grounds his own dreams in his liberated
the need to reconoect with her was kept alive paradoxically by the obstacles and intelligent Edward. In some respects Wadie Said must have been an ideal
she placed before me: She had become a taskmaster whose injunctions I had
father: on the one hand, he existed to be outgrown, and knew it; and yet on the
to fulfill. Yet the emptiness into which 1 fell during and after my errands
when she gave little warmth or thanks genuinely bewildered me. The other, his support of his five children was absolute, and could never be
intelligence of our relationship was temporarily gone, in Dhour replaced by outgrown, or even rivalled. His love was greater than his authority: thus he
the series of drills set for me to keep me out of everyone's way (1999: 156). was never paternally ex officio, but always instead a kind of civilian in
fatherhood, an amateur at paternity. What is delightful about the father who
In later life, she tells him: "My children have all been a disappointment." He lives in these pages is that unlike most ambitious parents, he does not squeeze
is devastated, and reflects with the wisdom of adult vision that her his son for guilt. Quite the opposite. He does not envy his son his experiences,
overwhelming effect has had shattering results on his ability to form mature or reproach him for them, but instead identifies with them so strongly that he
relationships with other women. But she is also his mentor and support. shares them, takes them over. It is as if Dad, in dispensing advice so freely
Brilliant and manipulative, Hilda divided her children, always keeping Said Jr. and confidently, has already lived, in a previous incarnation, the experiences
and his sisters "off-balance," neurotically difficult to please, giving always the he so longs to hear about; his son is his avatar. It is here that Edward Said
impression that "she had judged you and found you wanting" yet instilling in combines analysis with reverence for his domineering father and vivid,
him the love of literature and music on which he built a career (211). evocative prose, as in this passage:
170 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 171

In June of 1957, when I graduated from Princeton, it culminated in my provoke his warmth. In time, he learned to perform, to act a part. Again, one
father's insisting on taking me to a brace and corset maker in New York in has the impression of a true self, a writing self, kept in the wings.
order to buy me a harness to wear underneath my shin. What distresses me
about the experience is that at age twenty-one I uncomplainingly let my In the upshot, his father battled to mould him, to create the "Edward" he
father feel entitled to truss me up like a naughty child whose bad posture imagined as his only son. Yet, by forcing his extremely unwilling departure to
symbolized some objectionable character trait that required scientific Mount Hermon at age 15, later engineering his exile from Cairo and
punishment. The clerk who sold us the truss remained expressionless as my supporting him financially throughout his student years, he made possible for
father amiably declared, "See, it works perfectly. You'll have no problems"
(1999: 64). him to shake free of that very mould, to discover his hidden self. His mother,
simultaneously cherishing and undermining him, was yet the foundation for
And, of course, Dad has really lived these experiences, because he has the sustaining passions of his life: language and music. Throughout the
imagined them so many times. There is a nobility in this attitude, a mental memoir Said examines their characters in detail, generously, trying to see and
triumph. Dad is the victor of systems, because his fantasy is an army, running represent them as their own selves, linked to but apart from the personae they
on a thousand legs. were as his parents. In effect, while his body and blood are subject to the most
As a result, the son who caught these balloons of aspiration and advice at detailed medical analysis and procedure, himself and those he holds dear are
Harvard and Princeton seems at first unrelated to his emotionally ragged subject to the most detailed psychological and historical analysis. How it must
Father. He tends to board himself where Dad spreads himself. While Wadie is hurt. Out of Place is essentially a record of the emotions. The plot has been
amiably generous to all, Edward can be royally haughty to others. While Dad determined by others: fate, history, politics, his parents.
is uncertain, burying his fragility in a muff of warm advice, the son seems The bonds in Arab families usually extend far beyond parents and
adamantine, extraordinarily confident and penetrating for his years. While the siblings. Said convinces us that he regarded his aunt's house as "home" even
father is lavish with banality, the son's responses are defined by the thrift of if it was not his actual domicile. The nostalgia for it persisted. As time went
their omissions. One has a sense of a young man reserving the self for his by, the life with his extended Jerusalem family acquired a languid, almost
work, and sharing only his dilutions with his family. Edward does eventually dream-like aspect for him, in contrast to the more tightly organized and
reveal himself in time, and the reader is able to discern an anxiety and pride disciplined regime with his parents and sisters, who are a shadowy presence in
that seem reminiscent of his father's. "I only realized years later, when I had the memoir. Edward was the central figure, that is made clear. During a
gone my own way: that there was more to 'Edward' than the delinquent yet summer vacation in Dhour, in retreat from Victoria College (Cairo) where he
compliant son, submitting to his father's Victorian design" (79). In America, had done less than brilliantly in his first year of school, Said found himself
young Edward already has an incipient aristocratic liberty of mind, while his talking to Zeine Zeine, professor of history at the American University of
father has laboured all his life for his small supplement of liberty. The Beirut. As he explains, he sensed, at the time, a power in the encounter. Now
difference derives in part from the fact that the son, unlike his father, is able to it strikes him with the force of a delayed remembering. "A gifted storyteller,
feel free on so little freedom. The passing respect of a sufJragi suffices, Professor Zeine went with me on my first museum visit, to Cairo's Wax
because such gestures are essential to Edward's sense of life, but not to his Museum, where in the funereally still, empty rooms framed by elaborate wax
sense of self. Dad's political metabolism is, by comparison, inefficient; his scenes from modern Egyptian history, Zeine would speak grippingly about
sense of freedom too clumsy and massive to be nourishing. There are too Muhammad Ali, Bonaparte, Ismail Pasha, the arabi rebellion, and the
many wants to please. Edward's wants are superbly narrow: he wants to be Denshawi incident" (166). Another no less important person in Said's life as a
respectfully left alone, so that he can concentrate his self-originated freedom, child is his Jerusalem aunt Nabiha, his father's sister. She is an emblem of all
and convert it into writing. "I wanted to get beyond the various cages in which the realities abstracted from the Jerusalem-Cairo axis. She stands for the
I found myself placed, and which made me feel so dissatisfied, and even sufferings of ordinary folk-not least because, according to Said, she was the
distasteful to myself' (31). His family, and especially his abundant mother, first person to give shelter to the many displaced Palestinians who flocked into
172 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 173

Cairo after 1948. One advantage of reading about her is that the narrative careers out of transmitting, interpreting and debating representations of the
allows us to identify the grounds of al-manfa (exile and estrangement), where native "Other," it is also used by Said who, in placing him or her in the
the complexity of collective history meets, and is partly defeated by, her margins of his memoir's characterization and action, exults in the role of the
investment in a psychology of belonging. Said's engagement with Palestine, dominant master. Out of Place provides a fierce instance: "As my day began
as he describes it, drew on deep emotional roots, particularly his affection for at seven-thirty, what I witnessed was invariably stamped with night's end and
his aunt. "Whatever political ideas she may have had were hardly ever uttered day's beginning-the black-suited ghafJeers, or evening watchmen, slowly
in my presence: they did not seem necessary at the time. What was the central divesting themselves of blankets and heavy coats, sleepy-eyed sufJragis
importance was the raw, almost brutal core of Palestinian suffering, which she shuffling off to market for bread and milk, drivers getting the family car
made it her business to address every morning, noon and night" (154). Later, ready. There were rarely any other grown-ups about at that hour" (37).
Said would observe that it was both the annexation of Palestine by Israel in Narratives like this one strike the reader as a portrait of the native servant as a
1948 and the sheer scale of the Arab defeat in 1967, with the new wave of resourceful Sam Weller or a solid Nelly Dean even if Said gets a good deal of
refugees it unleashed, that reconnected him with his former self. quiet, sometimes slightly pained, fun out of it.
Augustine, patron saint of confessional telling, also writes about its Holding and discovering secrets, the servants' disclosures are often the
paradoxes. "I can be far from glad remembering myself to have been glad, and means of the plot's resolution. The relation the reader perceives between them
far from sad when I recall my past sadness." Said's account of his family and those they serve are dense with complexity and sophistication. Their
home emphasizes its constant moody temper and its joyless eccentricities, but presence creates space in which the narrative is at liberty to move beyond
he recounts them with suave good humour as if they had by now become itself: they provide another way of seeing the motivation and action of the
enjoyable and even funny. Indeed, this is a book that from the outset rejoices dominant class represented here by Wadie Said (male, learned, comparatively
quietly and continually in the painful idiosyncrasies of the family. It [the wealthy, or to put otherwise, a successful Willy Loman). The dust jacket of
book) impresses its family portraits upon us as well as teaches us a good deal the American edition blithely exhibits the order of things: the poorly dressed
about bourgeois behaviour creeping into the narrative through the servants' faithful figure wearing a tarboosh standing alone in front of the main branch
entrance. The note is perfectly struck in the descriptions of the other Arabs, of the Cairo Standard Stationery Company on Malika Street (Cairo) embodies
the underclass of Egyptian Muslims who are made to serve, clean, wait on, silent gestures toward the overpowering Wadie Said (in a bow tie standing in
drive, baby-sit Edward and his sisters. Kitchen maids, house maids, the doorway) who is seen to relish his narrative mission of bringing
chauffeurs, gardeners, hurrying messengers and other unlettered characters do lmowledge and order to the world. It is this resilience that defines the literary
not get to represent themselves or tell their stories. In fact, they are scarcely representation of the servant, who is often the interface between the reader and
perceived as capable of having stories, which are not so much refused as ruled the text's scheme of values, which is regularly undercut by his, or her, canny
out by the author. It is in keeping with Said's carefully controlled tone that he presence, still winking at the reader.
makes as little as possible of their presence, except, that is, as subalterns The strong heritage of servants means that the narrative's pretensions to
operating from below. His ability to discern and identify the hidden political realistic truth are challenged by their presence. The servant's disobedience, or
agendas and contexts in the canons of Western culture, from the invisible even fidelity, becomes a means of breaking free from the ground rules of
colonial plantations that guarantee the domestic tranquility and harmony of realism. Freedom within service is marked in his or her language. Full of
Mansfield Park to the hundreds of the Egyptian lives sacrificed before the proverbs (the proverbial servant is as old as Sancho, or older) and
imperial spectacle marked by the composition of Aida-the opening of the malapropisms, quotations and garrulous eccentricities, the language of the
Suez canal-falters when it comes to servant figures, acting as doubles, who, it servant can express a refusal to follow directions issued from above.
seems, played a maj or role in the making of their betters. They come across as "Everyone lives life in a given language," Said writes, "everyone's
unimaginable pieces of history. If the East was used by Europeans to make experiences therefore are had, absorbed, and recalled in that language" (1999:
174 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 175

xiii). More telling still are the assumptions that underlie the servant's atmosphere of his home was saturated with unhappiness the book that
language. Here, Said knows that it is not his vocation to speak for the describes it sounds reasonably contented. It (home) was material for a
domestic minor and the marginal. He sees himself fulfilling the task of writing narrative that tries as hard as possible to be a set of "biographemes," in
a memoir (which he conceived as a testimony to his children) from a position Barthes' formula. The calm, though, belongs to the writer at his desk,
of cultural ascendancy, and seems untroubled by the thought that his dismissal remembering pain with a pleasure not immodestly insisted on, and enhanced
of the other narrative, that of the faithful servant, might in itself dwindle into by a liberal use of legitimate real voices. At its centre, Out ofPlace turns out
the marginalized utterance of a lost cause. This is what Slavoj Zizek has aptly to be a stirring coming-of-age story, detailing the writer's journey from
called the "interpassive socialism" of the Western academic Left. These youngster to university student to full-fledged artist. Inventive in its style and
leftists are not interested in activity-merely in "authentic" experience. They technique, Said's narrative paints a moving portrait of its hero's quest to
allow themselves to pursue their well-paid academic careers in the West, create his own character, language, life and art; "to forge in the smithy of my
while using the idealized Other (servant in this case, in other instances, it soul the uncreated conscience of my race" (Joyce, 1999: 23).
could be Cuba or Nicaragua) as the stuff of their ideological dreams: they It is an irony worth noting by way of an epilogue that in the summer of
dream through the Other, but turn their backs on it if it disturbs their 1999 Said found out that his past had been rewritten-that he had not been
complacency by abandoning socialism and opting for liberal capitalism (see schooled at the school he attended; that he had not lived in and been obliged to
Zizek 1999). leave Jerusalem; that he and his family were not refugees from Palestine; that
If all there was to Said were his stories of an edifying Western bourgeois he was a "liar"- by someone he had never heard of while attending Daniel
liberalism, of the sort Zizek describes, then we could safely abandon him to a Barenboim's master classes in Weimar with 90 Arab and Israeli musicians,
museum-case, but he is of course a creation of a time and a place. And at the including his 10-year-old great nephew, a piano prodigy from Amman.
time and in that place he was as enmeshed within family life as any of us. The Following the attack, Said who is usually one of those people who speaks as
conception of Out of Place arises, too, out of a personal situation. Diagnosed though he is at a poetry recital and exudes calm authority, appeared stung,
with leukemia and struggling with side effects of the treatment, Said decided rummaging through papers that illustrate he is who he says he is, and very
to use the writing of the memoir as therapy and an introspective journey into obviously aware of the bleak absurdity of a situation in which he is forced to
the past. It is the private view of a public man. The impression which endures do so. Disarming, Said reveals why he believes he has become the American
is of a restless spiritual energy ceaselessly grappling with the contradictions, Right's and/or Zionist's latest hate figure: "I symbolize the things Zionists are
complexities and injustices of the world from the perspective of privileged afraid of. I don't believe in partition, and that is why I am dangerous to
minority he inherited from his wealthy but dislocated family. The them.'" For him, the attack was recognition of his growing currency within
circumstances in which the book was written, in periods of remission or Israel, where he has been more visible, writing and narrating a BBC
between bouts of chemotherapy, add to its testamentary force. "Despite the documentary Edward Said: A Very Personal View of Palestine,' which was
travail of disease and restrictions imposed on me by my having left the places timed to commemorate 50 years of Israeli occupation, and championing the
of my youth, I can say with the poet: 'Nor in this bower, / This little lime-tree
bower, have I not mark'd / Much that has soothed me'" (1999: II). Out of
I Quoted in Ed Vulliany, "Disarming-and Dangerous?," The Observer Review 29 August 1999:
Place is not an apologia hastily assembled to counter Zionist polemics. It is a 2. See also, Maya Taggi. "Out of the Shadows," The Guardian 12 September 1999: 12-14;
powerful and, at the most fundamental level, a thoroughly convincing Julian Borger, "Friends Rally to Repulse Attack on Edward Said," The Guardian 23 August
statement about a man who has helped to illuminate our crisis-ridden world. 1999: 7; Christopher Hitchens, "Whose Life Is It Anyway?," The Nation 4 October 1999: 9.
Nowhere is the attack on Said more disfiguring than in Charles Krauthammer, "The Case of
All Post-Modem autobiographers seem to think of themselves as the Suspect Bios," Time 4 October 1999: 84. Krauthamrner makes his findings fiasco the
outsiders, drifters, solitaries, especially if they were writers before they turned cornerstone for his edifice of misrepresentations, misreadings and ultimately his pervert ire.
to self-revelation. Certainly this book is written. For all the evidence that the 2 The documentary program was aired by the Public Broadcasting System (on WNET on July 5,
1999) under the title, "In Search of Palestine,"
176 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 177

cause of reparation; where even far-right Zionists, he believes, are "less rabid for Public Affairs, which employs Justus Weiner.' Suffice it to add that
and more in touch with reality" than those who live in the U.S. Said, who has Comad Black, the owner of The Daily Telegraph, which carried most of the
long pleaded for both sides to recognize the other's history, rebuffed his attack in Europe, also owns The National Post (Canada) and The Jerusalem
enemies' attack in multiple ways, The most sound and unequivocal of them is Post, which supports the right-wing Likud PartY of former Prime Minister
Out of Place, which stands as a corrective; it rectifies what is amiss. "My Binyamin Netanyahu, who in 1988 refused to sit with Said in the same studio
parents moved there [to Zamelek] Cairo in 1937, when I was two" (22). Said during a debate on Night Line, hosted by Ted Koppel (NBC, New York). His
goes on to explain that his parents had already lived in Cairo since 1935, but argument was that Said was a terrorist intent on killing him. 4 Said, on the
decided that he should be born in Jerusalem: an earlier child, born in a Cairo other hand, remains scornful of the suggestion that he wields great power in
hospital, had developed an infection and died. To avoid another disaster, his the media: "The mainstream press makes use of you when it wants to, as a
parents decided that he should be born at "home" in Jerusalem, where he was token or a symbol, but you have no access," he opines in an interview (ibid.).
delivered by a Jewish midwife. The home he refers to was the ancestral family No major US paper, he adds, would publish his response to Weiner, though it
home, lived in by his aunt Nabiha and his cousins, an "upperclass Jewish appeared in the Arab press, Al-Hayat, for which he has written regularly since
neighborhood," but prior to 1947 lived in exclusively by Palestinian 1993. It was also published in Hebrew in the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha 'aretz.
Christians. That "home" was lost in 1948, when his aunt and cousins became There is definitely more than an overtone of exclusion, racism and
refugees. xenophobia in some of the language used in Weiner's essay and letter.' The
"A lie can get halfway around the world," Mark Twain once observed, critique is marked by a violence of language and mindless destructiveness the
"before truth has even put its boots on." So it has proved-but only so far-in likes of which 1 have yet to encounter in any other literary culture-certainly
the matter of Justus Weiner versus Edward Said. Here we approach the crux of not with such a sustained intensity, not even during violent social revolutions
the matter. Is it seriously proposed that Said's out-of-place early life, spent when the slightest ambiguity in ideological content of a work of art is seized
partly in Jerusalem, partly in Cairo, somehow disqualifies him from speaking upon as proof of dangerous, subversive sympathies. This violence has become
as a Palestinian? That it is fine for Weiner, an American Jew transplanted to competitive to such an extent that Weiner even proudly labelled himself
Israel, to speak as an Israeli, but not for Said, a Palestinian re-rooted in New "scholar" and "journalist" in order to place himself beyond any form of rules
York, to speak for Palestine? What Weiner has in fact done is to hijack a of combat or knowledge of its subject. With typical Zionist parochialism and
reputation for Zionist ends. For when a distinguished writer, as distinguished self-obsession, Weiner's argument runs as follows: "I cannot state this often
as Said is, is attacked in this fashion-when his enemies set out not merely to enough or emphatically enough, nothing alleged in Said's own rebuttal or by
judge his books but to sentence and sully his name-then there is always more his defenders shakes my findings by as much as an iota" (2000: 11). This
at stake than the mere quotidian malice of the world of literature. Justus
Weiner's accusations in the neo-conservative magazine Commentary
3 I have read Justus Reid Weiner, "'My Beautiful Old Home' and Other Fabrications by Edward
(September 1999), which made a previous effort at slandering Said 10 years Said," Commelltary (September 1999): 23~32. with care and enthusiasm only to discover how
ago, when it labelled him "professor of terror," despite his consistent rejection Dr. Weiner manages skillfully to bring forward what suits his hogwash thesis and bury
of terrorism or a military solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, are, I everything else, which confirms that Said did indeed attend St. George School, that the Saids
were well known as an old Palestinian family. At least one of the students who studied with
believe, an extension of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict masked as an Edward said as much to Dr. Weiner, who conveniently failed to mention the fact in his attack.
argument against public misbehaving; it is drenched in the usual hypocrisy Other errors are to be noted: Weiner quotes only those whose theses consolidate his own.
4 Piali Roy interviews Edward Said for "Ideas," ese 23 November 1999: 9-10 P.M. The
about norms of conduct, a tactic employed by publicists who try to hide their
interview is detailed, sharp and up to date with Said's views on various topics: peace in the
real agenda. For who appointed Weiner to research Said's past anyway? Middle East, the vocation of the intellectual, reparation, the crisis of the Arab intellectual,
Milken, the former junk bond dealer who was imprisoned in 1991 for insider Arafat.
trading. He is also the leading donor of "Special Gifts" to the Jewish Centre S Weiner's language comes across as noisy, vindictive and pushy. His ideas are put in the
conceptual marketplace with all the fervour with which olhers peddle secondhand Hoovers.
178 Mustapha Marrouchi
The Site of Memory 179

whole by-now discredited charge rests on a misguided critique would need to

victim of his own assumptions, which exert their mindless tyranny over him as
be launched from some metaphysical outer space, for it shares the delusion of
ruthlessly as Stalin held sway over the kulaks. For him, nothing in the world
the reality it detests.
could count as evidence for one's acii/a (authenticity, originality), since what
The very idea that somebody from Palestine, from the ex-colonial jungle
we gullibly call the world is simply a construct of it. He forgets that identity is
should (1) speak and challenge a colonial power like Israel in such an urgent
a constitutive of the self, and so cannot be critically questioned by it.
way and (2) even propose the idea of return and reparation for his people is
And so it goes on, when you are Palestinian, the question of identity
anathema to Weiner, who writes:
becomes a disturbing one. You must rehash the same narrative in order to
reassert your aciila as if it never existed before. This is what Said aptly called
Let me close, then, by restating my conviction that the cause of peace
between Israelis and Palestinians, to which so many of them assert their "beginning and beginning again to tell my story and that of my people to the
devotion, is not well-served but-to the contrary-traduced by an attachment to world" (1987: 34). Additionally, the notion that Said has been vocal,
historical ties. The fact is that the "best-known Palestinian intellectual in the persistent and compelling is even more troubling to Weiner & Co. This is the
world" (as he was recently described on the BBC) made wholesale political spillover from the whole of that standing up to a cause: that of the Palestinian
use of the supposed circumstances of his childhood, weaving an elaborate people anxious to determine their own fate without being pushed over, bullied,
myth of paradise and expulsion from paradise out of one or two
circumstances and a raft of inventions. That myth has been exposed, and its misrepresented, maimed, imprisoned, deported without trial, or simply killed.
purveyor has been revealed not as a refugee from Palestine, but as a refugee Weiner, who accuses Said of straying from the truth, is mealy-mouthed about
from the truth. To judge by the way he and his supporters have responded, it. For what is at stake here is the question of all/hen/icity, a faulting that goes
he, and they, are still on the run (2000: 16). beyond the lines of his laborious article to the arbitrary codes and signifiers
that define identity, which is the yardstick we use to determine who is and
This is Weiner's own denigration of Edward Said. Let us split it into two. who is not eligible for inclusion in the panoply of tribes that are available to us
There is first Palestine and there is secondly the representative of this such as class, religion, race, ethnicity and region. It provides the parameters
Palestine. And that representative also happens to be that same individual who for describing who we are, and often what we can say. The consequences of
opposed the peace process-at least who is held responsible for disagreeing these issues are far from academic. In Israel a debate is raging over who, for
with its content-and therefore has become an ogre to the outspoken purposes of immigration, qualifies not as a citizen (regardless of race, religion,
"conscience" of Zionism and its doyens. gender, sexual orientation, elective affinity) but as a Jew. Since the country's
I will not pursue here the mixed career of Weiner's newly-discovered law of return was passed in 1950, anyone with even one Jewish grandparent
vocation in journalism-the sweeping generalizations, misquotations, the has an automatic right to Israeli citizenship. As a result, all Palestinian
impudence of claims which masks disinterest in andlor ignorance of the property was unilaterally converted into Israeli property robbing therefore the
variants on the Said story, cavalier imposition of far-fetched parameters to Saids and other Palestinian families like them of their homes, lands and
provide a veneer of studiousness and research-, except to mention the homeland.
gratuitous violence of approach, in the violent appropriation of literary This assault leaves the field clear for Weiner's round of rape on the
material and its violent mutilation.' For many readers, both the article andlor literary products of Said, which "raised doubts" about the latter's credentials
letter is a grudge and frontal attack, the upshot of which is: if everyone in the as a "refugee" as a means of trying to discredit his entire body of work. "I had
world must nowadays be a victim of something, Weiner is a self-confessed never had much respect for the intellectual integrity of Professor Said," a
spokesman for the former right-wing Israeli government said. "This proves
6 There is too much of a cultural sheep or lemmings mentality among those who, like Weiner, that my suspicions were not groundless.'" The affront put Said in the
engage in slanderous misrepresentations of others. In a series of audacious bounds, Weiner
refers to Said's memoir, which was originally called Not Quite RigJrl, as "radically revised . ..
in favor of the truer one presented in Out ofPlace" (2000: 12). 'See Gary Younge, "Struggles of the Anist," The Guardian 17 January 2000: 3.
180 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 181

Kafkaesque situation of brandishing documents to prove that he is in fact who andlor it descends to such contemptible tactics, I believe that he or it really
he has always said he was. But there was more at stake, he believes, than his should be drummed out of the profession. I am convinced that it is because of
own integrity. "It is an attempt," he notes, the disgust and outrage felt by many readers that Commell/ary felt bound to
print some of the responses to Weiner's article. Non-committingly, of course,
to pre-empt the process of return and compensation for the Palestinians. It is because "dog does not eat dog." But in doing so, the monthly journal wanted
a way of furthering the argument that the Palestinians never helonged in to make some kind of back-handed-but not complete-amends, by returning to
Palestine.... If someone like Edward Said is a liar, runs the argument, how
can we helieve aU those peasants who say they were driven off their land? .. and writing about Said in a positive and conciliatory fashion.
It is part of the attempt to say that none of this actuaUy happened (2000: 3). The felicitous upshot is that any individual, I do not care if he or she is the
greatest genius ever invented in the world, that anyone individual should have
Or, to put differently, undermine Said's authenticity, went the logic, and you the power to actually label a writer and close down his work of sweat and
undermine the credibility of the Palestinian cause. Only the desperation of a imagination just on a whim is a sign of our imperfect times. That kind of
mercenary hatchet-man could produce the series of constant irritations to power is pathological, perverse and obscene. In no other place in the world
people, who like Said, continue to stand on the margins. The burden of does this kind of affront to human creativity take place. Not even Commell/ary
representation on people who do emerge from desperate circumstances is a deserves the tyranny of Weiner. The sad part of this kind of defamation lies in
heavy one. But that is no excuse to try to deny the validity of their voice. In the acknowledgment that he is not alone. There are many other self-
the case of Edward Said there is, of course, no such thing as the Palestinian proclaimed "critics" and "scholars" who have missed their calling. The Pipes,
experience but, instead, several Palestinian experiences (family, birth, name, the Podhoretzes, the Zions, the Krauthammers, among others, come to mind.
baptism, life, death, burial) or, what Abdelkebir Khatibi has aptly called "Said Beneath these pundits' reactionary commitment to universalist progress and
pluriel." commonality of the intellectual process, let us never dismiss the possibility of
To refer to Weiner the "scholar," however, is to reveal the fact that in opportunism, sordid self-interest and plain will-to-power. Anyone is, of
publishing his essay, Commell/ary has allowed his lies, insults, abuses, short- course, free to choose his weapons, but let no one think that the use of any
sightedness, misinformation of his own readers to remain. In doing so, both particular weapon is the monopoly of the unprincipled, championed here by
the self-fashioned "scholar" and "journalist" as well as the small conservative Daniel Pipes who goes so far as to allow himself to announce quite
American Jewish monthly have behaved with complete professional shamelessly that Said's memoir is a work of "dissimulation.'" Pipes, a mind-
irresponsibility. For them, it was enough to say, "Edward Said is a liar." Here suppressor, will not hesitate to use any weapon in order to aspire to mediocre
as usual, Weiner's rather stagey relish for the defamatory posture leads him intellectual respectability.
astray. It prevents him from seeing that a certain capacity for critical self- It is regrettable that a mere dismissal as an inept zealot will not suffice for
distancing is actually part of the way we are bound up with the world, not the case of Weiner & Co. It will not explain why the pages of his essay and
some chimerical alternative to it. His case fudges the question of how people letter are drenched in so much bile, why such virulence dominates even his
come to change, not necessarily for the better, just as it adopts an untenably few instances of arguable criticism, why smear and sneer are substituted for
provincial view of the relations between a specific identi ty system and clarity or precision of attack. It would be futile to deny the sicklless of "'My
particular bits of evidence. It also suggests that we cannot ask where our Old Beautiful Home'" insofar as it has nothing to do with strict disputation in
identity come from because any answer to this question would be the realm of ideas, of urgent but far-reaching causes which might even be
predetermined by our sense of belonging. traced to purely human motives such as frustrated ambitions. This leaves
In academia, you can hammer your colleagues, safe in the knowledge that, Weiner in the odd position of accruing capital to himself by engaging in
since you all subscribe to the same professional rules, it does not really mean a
thing. But when a man andlor a literary journal descends so low, when he
8 See Christopher Hitchens, "Whose Life Is It Anyway?;' The Na/ion 4 October 1999: 9.
182 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 183

disfiguring Said, a native of Palestine, whose ancestors were born and lived I can't help but dream about a kind of criticism that would not try to judge,
there for generations before they were evicted in 1948 in such butto bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires,
compromisingly subjective language, without the slightest iota of respect for watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea-foam in the breeze
and scaner it. It would multiply, not judgments, but signs of existence; it
literary truth or objective content. would summon them, drag them from their sleep. Perhaps it would invent
As Said has clearly stated in his rebuttal of Weiner's article (Said 2000), them sometimes-all the bener. All the bener. Criticism that hands down
this charge is not new to him or to his readers who feel angered on behalf of sentences sends me to sleep; I'd like a criticism of scintillating leaps of the
all Palestinian refugees, who have been savaged in many ways, unnecessarily imagination. It would not be sovereign or dressed in red. It would bear the
lighming of possible storms (Foucault, 1980: 325-326).
and unjustly savaged, simply because of the psychological warp of Weiner
and, of course, his cohorts, many of whom, I am certain, take their lead from
Said, a Renaissance apparition with an identifiable moral authority in these
him. It is an anger against an assault aimed at preventing understanding and
times of high specialization, has survived harsh judgments and threats, hence a
reconciliation between the victims and the victims' victims. Commentary,
sort of anxiety that finds expression in innumerable symptoms, some funny,
knowing this, has a moral and social responsibility to avoid assigning its
some not. Hence, too, on the part of those who, possessing nothing of their
precious pages to "critics" and "journalists" like Weiner with oversize egos
own, write,-are determined to thwart his vision and barricade the road to
and a dishonest outlook on the facts of life. After all, it is a fact that on
peace between Palestinians and Israelis, accuse him while fancying that they
November 25, 1935, in the early hours of the morning a baby boy, named
can gain a reputation for justice by crying out that they have been robbed-, a
"Edward," was born in Jerusalem. The droit du sol alone, which, in case
sense of impotence when confronted by the naked truth as his memoir anests.
anyone is in doubt, is more than enough for Said to speak about his Palestine.
All of life, it seemed, could turn into a performance piece, as it seemed to
It is this authenticity, above all, that places him in a privileged position of
be for Said when he decided to rebuff his accusers, which was seen as a
reclaiming his identity.
defence of what he stands for, of the world he has hoped for decades to argue
Few writers are as profoundly engaged with their native land as Said, a
into being: a world in which Palestinians would be able to live with honor and
Palestinian, whose essays seek, by noticing, arguing, rhapsodizing,
dignity in their own country, indeed, but also a world in which, by an act of
mythologizing, to write Palestine into fierce, lyrical being. Yet this same
constructive forgetting, the past can be worked through and then left in the
Edward Said also writes: "I have always advocated the acknowledgments by
past, so that Palestinians and Jews can begin to think about a different kind of
each other of the Palestinian and Jewish peoples' past suffering. Only in this
future. In the process, if he comes across a bit of a historical revisionist,
way can they coexist peacefully together in the future" (2000: 4). It is startling
chiding his forebears for their Victorian ways and designs and/or enemies for
to find an admission of something close to generosity. Yet this perhaps is the
their intransigence, he is also apprehensive about the future. A world is
only kind of genuineness and/or vision a writer like Said can afford. In this
passing away, Said writes. "A form of freedom, I'd like to think, even if! am
respect, he offers discord, rags. That is why his writing makes great noise in
far from being totally convinced that it is. That scepticism too is one of the
the mind, the heart.
themes I particularly want to hold on to. With so many dissonances in my life
Lastly, and perhaps sadly for many of us who have lived by the example
I have learned actually to prefer being not quite right and out of place" (1999:
of Edward Said, is that when people "criticize" a Man of Letters like him,
295). Out of Place, like the end of the millennium, which has become a
marketing opportunity; it sells anything - olive oil, Colgate and Chanel No.5;
when they "denounce" his ideas, when they "condemn" what he writes, I
imagine them in the ideal situation in which they would have complete Nike shoes, Tiger Woods and "The Spice Girls," even in the TV ads Uncle
power over him.... And I catch a glimpse of the radiant city in which the Ben's rice, closes on a note of sombre foreboding.
intellectual would be in prison, or, if he were also a theoretician, hanged, of The erstwhile outsider that is Said, then, has now placed himself boldly at
course. the fans et origo, claiming al'lissiill (the tongue) as always-already his own
from the outset. It is hard to know quite how Out ofPlace is the origin and/or
184 Mustapha Marrouchi The Site of Memory 185

product of transplantation, but in any case Said has dug down with his pen to The school [Victoria College] itself was closed for the Friday holiday, but I
the first stratum of the language and appropriated his birthright in al-Quds persuaded the gatekeeper to let us in anyway. As we stood in myoId
classroom, which seemed a good deal smaller than I remembered, I pointed
(Jerusalem). As Harold Bloom might less decorously put it, the belated
out my desk, the teacher's platform from which Griffiths had expelled me,
offspring has now installed himself as the founding patriarch. It might be and the little room where we had imprisoned poor old Mr. Lowe.
argued that Said's anxious need for this move to be legitimated is a sign of the At that moment a very angry-looking woman wearing a head covering and
cultural colonization it aims to overcome. Yet, having reversed his cultural Islamic-style dress swept into the room demanding to know what we were
dispossession, he then in a kind of mocking pseudo-Hegelian negation of doing, I tried to explain the circumstances ("Use your charm," said my
daughter, Najla) but to no avail. We were trespassers, and as school director
negation, reverses the reversal. In searching for the pitch or enabling note of she was demanding that we leave immediately. She refused my extended
the work, he finds it in the weighty, big-voiced utterance of some family hand, staring at us with a surfeit of nationalist hostility and unbending zeal as
relatives like that of his aunt Nabiha. Having kicked free of Palestine soil into we shuffled out, rather cowed by her evident outrage. The British Eton in
the upper air, he now has the confidence to touch down on it again. The result Egypt had now become a new kind of privileged Islamic sanctuary from
is a marvelously sturdy, intricate reinvention, which betrays its author's poetic which thirty-eight years later 1 was once again being expelled (Ibid., 213).
[Emphasis added]
dabs less in its earthiness than in its airiness. It is the canny colloquialisms and
certain spoken phrases in Arabic like tislamU or mish 'arfa shu biddi 'amal? This is it: to voice rejection and (un)belonging, uncannily, Said locates in the
or rouh 'ha or Khalas, which are most Saidesque, not the smell of the soil of language into which he is metamorphosing himself the precise equivalent to
Palestine. If the stark subject-matter is redolent of "Between Worlds," the the stroke of local colour in the original home (Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, the
treatment has the mild touch of insouciance of an earlier collection like After U.S.). The paradox is this: in Joyce, in Nabokov, the polyglot impulse
the Last Sky. This writer is so superbly in command that he can risk generates a superabundance of stylistic invention; the voices grow more and
threadbare, throwaway, matter-of-fact phrases like "of no small importance" more voluminous. In Said, the exact opposite occurs; out of an extreme
or the "best part of the day" (1999: 175). pressure of language means a nakedness is born. There is a precedent to this
The narrative, as Georg Lukacs once observed, requires historical paring down in Conrad, whom Said treasures. Yet the sense of a certain
conditions which the steam-engine and the telegraph put paid to (1999: 34). routine, of the formulaic, nags: the omission of connective parts of speech, of
Mechanically-reproduced commodities have lost the aura of ancient objects, punctuation; the insistence on the monosyllabic. That bicycle race is there,
just as the self-conscious fictions of modernity have lost what Zizek calls with its faintly circularity and ennui. As he has observed: "This is what
"attempts to escape the logic of globalism" (1999: 2). But modem objects, dislocation and insecurity breed, this need to hold onto one's position of
typified for Lukacs by Charles Bovary's extraordinary, convoluted, visually authority indefinitely, this feeling that one is indispensable. I am tom about
unpresentable hat, have also shed what seems to us the unalienated candour of this" (1996: 15). Will his pessimism change? Or will it come to be known as a
material things in Oul ofPlace, which exist more as narrative elements than as despairing afterward to the emptying of man in early twenty first-century
literary enigmas. In any case, we no longer believe in heroism, or that the globocracy and genocide? It is difficult to say. But how much richer, though
world itself is story-shaped, and we ask of literature a phenomenological no less subversive, a Said radiates, darkly if you will, out of (even) the most
inwardness which is of fairly recent historical vintage. All of this is a signal laconic of parables.
(mis)fortune for Edward Said, an artist so exquisitely gifted and imaginatively
capacious that only a work of mightier scale would answer to his abilities as a
ghareeb (an exile), who has been forced to see himself as marginal, non-Arab, WORKS CITED
non-American, alienated, marked on both sides of the cultural dividing line.
The following paragraph expresses the pain of this exclusion best: Bakhtin, Mikhail (1989) The Dialogic Imaginalion: Four Essays. Trans. Caryl
Emerson. Austin: University of Texas Press.
186 Mustapha Marrouchi

Bergson, Henri (1962), The Two Forms of Memory (trans. Nancy Margaret
Paul and W. Scott Palmer) London: George Allen.
Foucault, Michel (1980), Politics, Philosophy, Culture, Interviews and Other
Writings 1977-1984, ed. Laurence D. Katzman. New York & London:
Routledge, (1988)
Howe, Stephen (1999), "An Outsider's Inside Story," The Independent29
September 1999: 2-4
Hussein, Taha (1997), T7,e Days. Trans. Kenneth Gragg & Hilary Wayment.
Cairo: American University in Cairo Press
Joyce, James (1991), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man New York:
Larkin, Philip (1991), Collected Poems New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Rushdie, Salman (1991), "On Palestinian Identity: A Conversation with
Edward Said." In Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 198/- Pal Ahluwalia teaches politics at the University of Adelaide. He is the
1991. London: GrantaPress, 1991: 166-187. author and co-author of several books including Post-Colonialism and the
Said, Edward (1987), "Cairo Recalled: Growing up in the Cultural Cross Politics of Kenya (1996), Edward Said: the Paradox of Identity (1999) and
Currents of I940s Egypt." House and Garden (April 1987): 32-45. Politics and Post-Colonial Theory: African Inflections (200 I).
Said, Edward (1988), "The Voice of a Palestinian in Exile." Third Text
(Spring/Summer 1988): 23-41. Bill Ashcroft teaches in the School of English at the University of NSW.
Said, Edward (1988), Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the He is the author and co-author of several books, including the seminal T7,e
Palestinian Question. Eds. Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens. New Empire Writes Back (1989), The Post-Colonial Studies Reader(1995), The
York: Verso. Gimbals of Unease: T7,e Poetry of Francis Webb (1996) Key Concepts in
Said, Edward (1992), "Palestine, Then and Now: An Exile's Journey through Post-Colonial Studies (1998), Edward Said: the Paradox of Identity (1999)
Israel and the Occupied Territories." Harper's Magazine (December and Edward Said (2000). His most recent works are Post-Colonial
1992): 47-51. Transformation (2001) and On Post-Colonial Futures (2001).
Said, Edward (1993), Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf.
Said, Edward (1999). Out ofPlace: A Memoir. New York: Knopf. Elleke Boehmer is the author of Colonial and Postcolonial Literature
Said, Edward (1999a), "Living by the Clock," LRB 29 April 1999: 9-12. (1995), Empire, the National and the Postcolonial (2002), and of three novels,
Twain, Mark (1999), The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of including Bloodlines (2000). She has edited Empire Writing (1998), and
Quotations London: Dover coedited Altered State? Writing and South Africa (1994) as well as a special
Weiner, Justus (1999), '''My Beautiful Old Home' and other Fabrications by issue of Interventions on Transnationalism (2001). She has published
Edward Said," Commentary (September): 23-32. numerous essays and articles on postcolonial writing and theory and is the
Weiner, Justus (2000), [Letter], Commentary (January 2000): 9-16 Professor of Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at Nottingham Trent
Wood, Michael (1994), "Lost Paradises," The New York Review of Books University, UK.
3March 1994: 44-46
Zizek, Slavoj (1999), "'You May!': Slavoj Zizek writes about the Postmodern Patrick Brantlinger is Rudy Professor of English at Indiana University.
Superego," LRB 18 March: 3-6. He is author of several books, including Rule OfDarkness: British Literature
And Imperialism 1830-1914 (1988), Fictions of State: culture and credit in
188 Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim Notes on Contributors 189

Britain, 1694-1994 (1996) and, most recently, Who Killed Shakespeare? Susanne Zantop is the author of several books, including Colonial
What's Happened To English Since The Radical Sixties (2001). fantasies: conquest, family, and nation in precolonial Germany, 1770-1870
(1997); Kolonialphantasien im vorkolonialen Deutschland (1770-1870)
Arif Dirlik is Knight Professor of History and Cultural Anthropology at (1999); Zeitbilde: Geschichte und Literatur bei Heinrich Heine und Mariano
the University of Oregon. His most recent publications are Postmodemity's JosE de Larra (1988). She is the editor and co-editor of several books
Histories: The Past as Legacy and Project (2000) and The Postrevolutionary including The imperialist imagination: German colonialism and its legacy
Aura (in Chinese) (200 I). He is also the editor most recently of Chinese on the (1998). She was tragically killed in 2000. A volume co-edited by her,
American Frontier and (with Roxann Prazniak) Places and Politics in an Age Germans and Indians: fantasies, encounters, projections will be published in
ofGlobalization. 2002.

Linda Hutcheon is University Professor of English and Comparative

Literature at the University of Toronto and past President of the Modem
Language Association (2000). Her books include Irony's Edge: The TheOlY
and Politics of Irony (1994), Splitting Images: ContemporQ/Y Canadian
Ironies (1991), The Politics of Postmodemism (1989), A Poetics of
Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (1988), The Canadian Pos/modem
(1988), A Theory of Parody (1985), Formalism and the Freudian Aesthetic
(1984), Narcissistic Narrative (1980). She has edited and co-edited numerous
books and has published many articles on topics ranging from Canadian
literature to the representation of the body in opera.

Hussein Kadhim teaches Arabic language and literature at Dartmouth

College. He is currently completing a book tentatively titled, "The Poetics of
Colonialism: The Arab Literary Response to European Colonialism."

Mustapha Marrouchi Ii yes in Toronto. He is the author of several

seminal articles including "Decolonizing the Terrain of Western Theoretical
Productions" (1997), and most recently, SignifYing with a Vengeance:
Theories, Literatures, Storytellers (2002). His book on Edward Said, Presence
ofMind, is due in the new year.

Patrick Williams is Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at

Nottingham Trent University. His books include Colonial Discourse and
Post-Colonial Theory (1994); Introduction to Post-Colonial Theory (1996);
Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1999); and a 4-volume edited collection on Edward Said
(Sage 2000).

authenticity 179
Achebe, Chinua 43
Adorno, Theodor 88 Bakhtin, Mikhail 45, 152, 159
affiliation(s) 67, 80 Baldwin, James 162
affiliative 79 Bauman, Zygmunt 38
Afiican National Congress 134 beginnings 27
AfiicanStudies 131, 132 Bergson, Henri 162-3
Africanism 140 Bethune, Norman 20
Afiicanist political science 140 Bhabha, Homi 35, 97,152,155
Ahmad, Aijaz, xii, 4, 38, In Theory binarisms 3
58,65,94,153 binary 116
Aida 173 border 160
Ake, Claude. 136 borderlands 6
Althusser, Louis 66 Bourdieu, Pierre 32, 38, 43, 44-54
amateur ix, 15, 83, 84 Brauner, Sigrid 116
amateurism x, 75, 76, 84 British Commonwealth writers 130
Amerindians 116 British Romantic writers 145
Amis, Martin 160 Burke, Peter 95
Anglocentrism 60,
anthropology 13 I c
Appiah, Anthony 38
Cabral, Amilcar 11
Amove, Anthony 43
cannibal queen 115
Augustine, St. 164, 172
capitalism 36, 62
192 Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim Index 193

Carrier, James 128 Dirlik, Arif38, 40, 51, 73,153 H K

Caruth, Cathy 98 discourse 67, 68
Habermas, Jurgen 67 Kipling, Rudyard 153, 155
Cesaire, Aime 100 discursive consistency 97
Hall, Stuart 4, 34, 67
Chatteryee,Partha 130,134 dis-identification 22
Chen, Xiaomei 97
harem 114 L
Hatem, George 20
class 5, retreat from 6,8,9,43 E Hegelianism 108
Lacan, Jacques 130
class analysis 19 LaCapra, Dominic 92
Eagleton, Terry 16, HeathclifJe and histo!)' 91
class conflict 62 Latinamericanism 110
the Great Hunger 61 Holroyd, Michael 164
class positions 20 Leninist 6
essentialisms 3 humanism 66
Cold War 136 liberation 24
ethnicity 7 Hugo of St Victor 86
colonialism 36,37 locatedness 78, 80
Eurocentrism I, 111, 122, 133 Hulme, Peter 117
colonization x Loomba, Ania 39, 98
Eurocentric histo!)' 153 Hutcheon, Linda xiii, 188
Commonwealth literary study x Lukacs, George 22, 184
exile 2, 23-26, and places of origin hybridities 20
Conrad, Joseph 33, Nigger of
23, and immigration 63,166 hybridity 3, 5
Narcissus 165, 185
Extreme-Occident 111,113,121
contrapuntal 2, 10,24,86,96
I Majeed, Javed 128
contrapuntal ensembles 80
contrapuntally 80
F identity 179
Manichean 108
Manzo. Kate 140
critic, the 81 Fanon,Frantz II, 16, 19,58 IMF (International Moneta!)' Fund)
Marx 62, 70
criticism, and the world 81, 82, its feminism 34 138
Marxism II, 19,34,65,70
oppositionality 83, situatedness filiative 79 immigration 63, 86-88
materiality 82
84 Foucault, Michel 57,66, 130 imperial surveillance 50
McClintock, Anne 108, 113, 121
cultural capital 45, 160 Frankfurt School 68, 70 imperial unknown 113
McGuigan, Jim 67
cultural studies 47, origms 57, 58, Franklin, Benjamin 112 imperialism 7, 36, 37
McLuhan, Marshal 68
and postcolonial studies 63 functionalist theo!)' 138 imperialist discourse, as gendered
memoire writing 163
culturalism 46 fundamentalism 21 113
memo!)' 163
indigenous populations 112
mimic!)' 147
D G intellectual 31, 44
modernisation theo!)' 136, 137, 138,
intellectual specialization 75
De Pauw, Corneille 117 ghajJeers 173 139
intellectuals 36, 37,42
decolonisation 135 Gilroy, Paul 61, III modernism 159
internationalism 20
Derrida, Jacques 130, 160 global capitalism 41 Modernity 120
development 138, 140 globalization 5,8,21,36, 109 modernizing agents 137
development strategy 136 glocal 160 J Monroe doctrine 112
developmentalist ideology 134, 135 Godwin, David 148 Jacoby, Russell 34 Mudimbe, V.Y. 128
diasporic 5 Goldman, Lucien 22 James, C.L.R. x, 11, 48, 162 multiple allegiances 3
diasporic culture 87 Gosse, Edmund 146 JanMohamed, Abdul 24, 25, 77 myth of origins xi
diasporic intellectuals 63 Gramsci, Antonio 44, 66, 80 Jefferson, Thomas 112
194 Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim Index 195

p postcolonialism 8, 18, 24, 34, 40, mother 167, language and music
N 171; 'Intellectuals in the Post-
and postmodernism 52, and neo-
Nabokov, Vladimir 185 Palestine 13, annexation 172 orientalism 145-57 Colonial World' 51; After the
Naidu, Sarojini 145, and Palestinian 166, 179 postimperial intellectual 96 Last Sky 13-14, 19, 95;
'ventriloquism' 147, and Roy Palestinian cause 12 postimperial xiii, 92-103 Beginnings x; Covering Islam
149, Palestinian experience 64 postimperialism 37, 40 95, 139; Culture and
Naipaul, V.S. 48 Palestinian identity, ix, 13, 19,28, post-modem autobiographers 175 Imperialism 2, 15, 18, 35, 37,
nation 5 186 Prakash, Gyan 42, 99 38,39,58,64,65,69,70,86,94,
national identity 12 Palestinian intifada 17 Pratt, Mary Louise 109, 133 95,96, 101, 109; Orientalism x,
national liberation 3, 4, 7, 21 Palestinian nationalist 22 xiii, 16, 18, 39, 52, 58, 59, 65,
nationalism 5, 16 paradox,ofidentity, ix, I, 16,and 68,69,73,81,91,92,95,96,97,
nationalist independence 16 contradiction 24,74,85, 88 99, 100, 101, 128, response in
NATOpolitan hegemony 83 paradoxes 10 Quayson, Ato 128 Quadrant 129, and 'Africanism'
neo-orientalist 145, 154 Parry, Benita 64 140, 151, 161; Out of Place xii,
neo-orientalist rhetoric xiv Pels, Dick 49 R xiv, 159-185; Representations of
New World xiii, dispute of 117, Pernety, Antoine 117 Rajan, Balachandra 94, 103 the Intellectual 12, 48; The
Ngugi wa Thiongo 43, Decolonising place 166 resistance, discourse of 38 Politics ofDispossession 95; The
the Mind 46, placelessness 20 revolution 3, 5, 6, 8, 17,20,21,52, Question ofPalestine 19, 62, 94,
Nkrumah, Kwarne x places 20 53,69, 139 95; The World, the Text and the
noble savage 117-119, PLO 17,33 Ripa, Cesare 114 Critic 59, 67
nomadic 24 politics of blame 96 Robbins, Bruce 51 Said, Hilda 168
postcolonial 3, 92, 93 Robertson, William 118 Santi, Enrico 109
o postcolonial cosmopolitanism 22 Roy, Arundhati 148-155 secondary memory 92
postcolonial criticism 5, 15 Rushdie, Salman 151 secular criticism x, 60, 75, 76, 82
O/Gorman, Edmundo 110
post-colonial cultural discourse 51 Russel, Bertrand 162 secular trinity 76
O'Brien, Connor Cruise 37
postcolonial cultural history 93 secular, intellectual ix,
Occident 107, 113
Occidentalism 107, 109, and gender
postcolonial histories 98
post-colonial intellectuals 32, 37,41,
s Shariti, Ali 140
Shils, Edward 137
divisions 119 Said, Edward, 4, and post-colonial
46, 74 Sklar, Richard 132
oppositionality 152 theory 31-56, objections to
post-colonial states 135 Spivak, Gayatri 4,35,49,94, 129
organic intellectual 44 theory 35, and 'possessive
post-colonial studies 53 Stoler, Ann Laura 108
Orient 107, 120 insiderism' 38, as 'meta-author'
post-colonial theory vii, ix-xii, 35, structuralism 77
oriental 151 57, filiation and affiliation 60,
36,73-76, 108, 129, 130, 140, subaltern historians 9
Orientalism 109, reI. with and Williams 61, and Marx 69,
and jargon 35, 36 sujJragi 170
Occidentalism 121, 127, 139, and location of literature 74, and
post-colonial writer, displaced symbolic power 39
140 'isms' 82, 'speak truth to power'
intelligence 161 Symons, Arthur 146, 147
85, importance in contemporary
theory 88, 127, relationship with
196 Bill Ashcroft and Hussein Kadhim

T Williams, Raymond xi, 16, Culture

and Society 57-58,63, The Long
Teltscher, Kate 129
Revolution 59, The Politics of
testimonial resolution 98
Modernity 59, and 'knowable
text 76, and writing 77, being in the
community' 60, The Country
world 78,
and the City 62, 65; Marxism
textuality 76, and the world 79,
and Literature 67
Third World 2, 139
witnessing 102
Third world intellectual 22
World Bank 138
Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista 114-116
worlding 96
transnational capitalism 64
worldliness 60, 74-89, and
trauma 97, of empire 10 1, 102
orientalism 78, 127, 129
travelling theory 60
world literature 159
Trexler, Richard 114
Trinh T. Minh-ha 133 y
Twner, Brian 69
Twain, Mark 176 Young, Robert 48, White
Mythologies 65, 91, 94, 108,
u 110,130

uniquely punishing destiny 85

utopianism 18
Zeine Zeine 171
v Zionism 178
Zizek, Slavoj 174, 184
Victoria College 171
virility 120
Viswanathan, Gauri 62, 63

Weiner, Justus 176-9
West, 'the' 43
Western literature 34
Williams, Patrick xi, 75, 188