Edward Said and the post-colonial by Bill Ashcroft, Hussein Kadhim

By Bill Ashcroft, Hussein Kadhim

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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. These questions are not questions of abstract ethnicity, but questions of everyday life; as the student in the course of such schooling moves daily from a class, say, on English literature, where s/he is taught the glories of Chaucer or Shakespeare, to a class on Turkish literature, where the instructor tells him/her that Europeans at the time of those great authors defecated in their living rooms while subj ects of the Ottoman Empire basked in the glory of hamams.

Admirable though he is in his acknowledgment of his own class positions, too much emphasis on the personal distracts from the need to address broader questions of social formations. Said has little to say about the significance of contemporary class formations understanding which may be essential both to contemporary proj ects of liberation, and to the role intellectuals may play in their realization. For all his insistence on "places," as in the statement above, Said celebrates the "placelessness" of a New York, which makes his defense of ''places" seem less than genuine .

Said, Edward ( 1 998/9), Edward Said, in conversation with Neeladri Bhattacharya, Suvir Kaul and Ania Loomba, New Delhi, 1 6 December 1 997, " Interventions, 1 . 1 ( 1 998/9) : 8 1 -96. Said, Edward ( 1 999), "On Writing a M emoir," London Review of Books, Volume 2 1 Number 9(29 April) : 8-1 1 Saluzinszky, Imre ( 1 98 7), "Edward Said," in Criticism in Society: Interviews London and New York: Methuen. Sprinker, Michael ed. ( 1 992), Edward Said: A Critical Reader Cambridge, MA: Blackwell . Wicke, Jennifer and Michael Sprinker, "Interview with Edward Said," in Sprinker 1 992: 22 1 -264.

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