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Edward Said on the Iraq War

12 Feb
Edward Wadie Saïd (1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003) was a Palestinian American literary theorist, cultural critic, and an advocate for Palestinian rights. He was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a founding figure in postcolonialism. Robert Fisk described him as the Palestinians' "most powerful political voice."

Said is best known for describing and critiquing "Orientalism", which he perceived as a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the East. In Orientalism (1978), Said claimed a "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture." He argued that a long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia and the Middle East in Western culture had served as an implicit justification for Europe and the US' colonial and imperial ambitions. Just as fiercely, he denounced the practice of Arab elites who internalized the US and British orientalists' ideas of Arabic culture.

Said was bestowed with numerous honorary doctorates from universities around the world and twice received Columbia's Trilling Award and the Wellek Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association. In 1999, he won the inaugural Spinoza Lens Award for ethics. His autobiographical memoir Out of Place won the 1999 New Yorker Prize for non-fiction. He was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Royal Society of Literature, and the American Philosophical Society.

Said's writing regularly appeared in The Nation, The Guardian, the London Review of Books, Le Monde Diplomatique, Counterpunch, Al Ahram, and the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat. He gave interviews alongside his good friend, fellow political activist, and colleague Noam Chomsky regarding US foreign policy for various independent radio programs.

Said also wrote a music criticism column for The Nation magazine for many years. In 1999, he jointly founded the West-East Divan Orchestra with the Argentine-Israeli conductor and close friend Daniel Barenboim. The orchestra is made up of musicians from Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding Arab countries.

Edward Said died at age 67 in the early morning of September 25, 2003, in New York City, after a decade-long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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