CAIRO – 25 September 2017: September 25 marks the death anniversary of leading author and theorist Edward Said.
He wrote about eastern and western cultural views, Orientalism and the Palestinian case. His efforts opened the gates for many literary theories as post-colonial studies.
Egypt Today gives you a chance to check some important quotes by Said.
“Since the time of Homer, every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric.”
“Until the June 1967 war, I was completely caught up in the life of a young professor of English. Beginning in 1968, I started to think, write, and travel as someone who felt himself to be directly involved in the renaissance of Palestinian life and politics.”
“When you become a public figure, you still think, ‘That's really not me; there's more to me than that’.”
“The inner me was always under attack by authority, by the way my parents wanted me to be brought up, by these English schools I went to. So I've always felt this kind of anti-authoritarian strain in me, pushing to express itself despite the obstacles.”
“The sense of Islam as a threatening other - with Muslims depicted as fanatical, violent, lustful, irrational - develops during the colonial period in what I called Orientalism. The study of the other has a lot to do with the control and dominance of Europe and the West generally in the Islamic world. And it has persisted because it's based very, very deeply in religious roots, where Islam is seen as a kind of competitor of Christianity.”
“History is written by those who win and those who dominate.”
“Ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied.”
“What we must eliminate are systems of representation that carry with them the authority, which has become repressive, because it doesn't permit or make room for interventions on the part of those represented.”
“You cannot continue to victimize someone else just because you yourself were a victim once—there has to be a limit” “Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires.”
“We cannot fight for our rights and our history as well as future until we are armed with weapons of criticism and dedicated consciousness.”
“Power, after all, is not just military strength. It is the social power that comes from democracy, the cultural power that comes from freedom of expression and research, the personal power that entitles every Arab citizen to feel that he or she is in fact a citizen, and not just a sheep in some great shepherd's flock.”
“My argument is that history is made by men and women, just as it can also be unmade and rewritten, always with various silence and elisions, always with shapes imposed and disfigurements tolerated.”
“Ironically, many people, including Osama bin Laden and the mujahedeen, were, in fact, nourished by the United States in the early eighties in its efforts to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan.”
“Since the 1960s, we have seen the failure of the melting pot ideology. This ideology suggested that different historical, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds could be subordinated to a larger ideology or social amalgam, which is "America". This concept obviously did not work, because paradoxically America encourages a politics of contestation.”
“If you live in the [Middle East] area, you see [U.S. actions] as part of a continuing drive for dominance, and with it a kind of obduracy, a stubborn opposition to the wishes and desires and aspirations of the people there.”
“Note that there was no claim for these attacks [on 9/11]. There were no demands. There were no statements. It was a silent piece of terror.”
“It's very hard, for example, to justify the thirty-four-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. It's very hard to justify 140 Israeli settlements and roughly 400,000 settlers. These actions were taken with the support and financing of the United States.”
“The definition of terrorism has to be more precise, so that we are able to discriminate between, for example, what it is that the Palestinians are doing to fight the Israeli military occupation and terrorism of the sort that resulted in the World Trade Center bombing.”