Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation

Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation

Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation

Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation


Edward W. Said (1935-2003) ranks as one of the most preeminent public intellectuals of our time. Through his literary criticism, his advocacy for the Palestinian cause, and his groundbreaking book Orientalism, Said elegantly enriched public discourse by unsettling the status quo. This indispensable volume, the most comprehensive and wide-ranging resource on Edward Said's life and work, spans his broad legacy both within and beyond the academy. The book brings together contributions from thirty-one luminaries--leading scholars, critics, writers, and activists--to engage Said's provocative ideas. Their essays and interviews explore the key themes of emancipation and representation through the prisms of postcolonial theory, literature, music, philosophy, and cultural studies.

Contributors: Bill Ashcroft, Ben Conisbee Baer, Daniel Barenboim, Timothy Brennan, Noam Chomsky, Denise DeCaires-Narain, Nicholas Dirks, Marc H. Ellis, Rokus de Groot, Sabry Hafez, Abdirahman A. Hussein, Ardi Imseis, Adel Iskandar, Ghada Karmi, Katherine Callen King, Joseph Massad, W. J. T. Mitchell, Laura Nader, Ilan Pappe, Benita Parry, Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan, Jahan Ramazani, Jacqueline Rose, Lecia Rosenthal, Hakem Rustom, Avi Shlaim, Ella Habiba Shohat, Robert Spencer, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Anastasia Valassopoulos, Asha Varadharajan, Michael Wood


Adel Iskandar and Hakem Rustom


Tucked away in a poorly lit crevice of downtown Cairo and in the shadow of a small alley mosque, Le Grillon, a late-night bar and restaurant that has hosted the city’s writers and political adversaries for decades, is in a part of the city from which Edward W. Said often felt estranged. A repository of the city’s unpreserved yet vibrant collage of discordant memories of its many identities and histories, the eatery that was once frequented by foreigners, Levantine merchants, and Egyptian aristocrats is now almost exclusively local. Its secluded location and unassuming appearance once attracting the region’s oppositional voices, Le Grillon now houses a dusty bookshelf lined with progovernment propaganda. Ignored and unattended to, the shelf is easily overlooked by the café’s oldest commoners, there to relive the city’s cultural and political heyday, if only for a few hours. On a warm July night in 2005, a small group of writers, poets, physicians, aging revolutionaries, and intellectuals convened to honor Khairy Shalaby, one of Egypt’s most prolific contemporary authors, who had only days earlier received the country’s highest literary accolade. The gathering was a mosaic of starkly contrasting personalities, accented by such animated characters as political cartoonist Ahmed Toughan, an anticolonial Arab nationalist in his eighties and a compatriot of Frantz Fanon’s in Algeria.

The evening began with a poetry recital by Shalaby —interspersed with glimpses of his literary life spent mostly in Cairo’s graveyards and impoverished ‘Ashwa’eyat, or shantytowns—but soon turned to ruminations about the city’s old days. Striking a contrast with his own Cairene experiences, Shalaby described a cosmopolitan and opulent side of the city inhabited by the teenage Edward Said as both unrelenting in its mosaicism and unrepentant for its contradictions. Chewing on a . . .

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