Cultural Readings of Imperialism: Edward Said and the Gravity of History

Cultural Readings of Imperialism: Edward Said and the Gravity of History

Cultural Readings of Imperialism: Edward Said and the Gravity of History

Cultural Readings of Imperialism: Edward Said and the Gravity of History

Synopsis

The work of Edward Said has had a transformative effect on the way we think about identity and postcolonialism. This collection expands and elucidates Said's work in deapth, matching his skill and insight over an interdisciplinary field of enquiry.

Excerpt

Said has been critical of 'cults like post-modernism, discourse analysis, New Historicism, deconstruction, neo-pragmatism', since they afford their adherents 'an astonishing sense of weightlessness with regard to the gravity of history.' Both the magnetic force and the paramount importance of history are manifest in the essays in this collection however. Grappling with difficult questions concerning the complex relationship between culture and imperialism they undertake diverse explorations of the ideological, economic, political, racial, religious and sexual narratives of empire.

If there is a single strand running through the volume, it is the recall of Said's attention to the historically variable, complex and distinct processes at play in imperial and colonial articulations. However, although all the articles are concerned to reexamine the inflections of the imperial project in the West's cognitive traditions and received representational systems, this book is not an organic collection registering a reassuring unanimity of opinion. Hence our introduction seeks to draw attention to the incommensurability between some of the arguments of the contributors, and to allow the editors to join in the debate. Indeed, because the questions asked of the same and cognate problems have prompted disparate answers, the experience of reading these essays requires constant adjudication, and could be productively unsettling. Such analytic disjunctions are evidence of a volatile debate on matters relating to cultural difference and universals, national or ethnic identity and hybridity, imperial self-representation and the invention of other worlds, postcolonial theory and the dissident intellectual vocation. They also reflect the differing inferences that have been derived from Said's work; his discussion of national attachments, cultural positionings, political affiliations and critical consciousness have invited variable readings. This becomes . . .

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