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Edward Said

Edward Said

Edward Wadie Said (Arabic pronunciation: [wædiːʕ sæʕiːd]Arabicإدوارد وديع سعيد‎, Idwārd Wadīʿ Saʿīd; 1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003) was a Palestinian American literary theorist and public intellectual who helped found the critical-theoryfield of postcolonialism. Born in Jerusalem in Mandatory Palestine to Palestinian parents resident in Egypt, he was an American citizen through his father. Said spent his childhood in Jerusalem and Cairo, where he attended elite British and American schools. Subsequently he left for the United States, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a doctorate in English literature from Harvard. Said then joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1963, where he became professor of English and comparative literature in 1991.

As a cultural critic, Said is best known for the 1978 book Orientalism. In it, he analyses the cultural representations that are the basis of Orientalism, a term he redefined to refer to the West‘s patronizing perceptions and depictions of Middle Eastern, Asian and North African societies—”the East“. He contended that Orientalist scholarship was, and remains, inextricably tied to the imperialist societies that produced it, which makes much of the work inherently political, servile to power, and thus intellectually suspect. Orientalism is based upon Said’s knowledge of colonial literature, literary theory, andpoststructuralism. Said’s works proved influential in the humanities[citation needed], especially in literary theory, and had a transformative impact on Middle Eastern studies[citation needed], whose practitioners began to study how they examine, describe, and define Middle Eastern cultures[vague]. Said vigorously discussed and debated the cultural subjects comprised by Orientalism, especially as applied to history and area studies; nonetheless, some mainstream academics disagreed with the theory, most notably Bernard Lewis.

As a public intellectual, Said discussed culture, literature, music and contemporary politics. Drawing from his family experiences as Palestinian Christians in the Middle East around the time Israel was established in 1948, Said argued for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Further, he was an advocate for equal political and human rights for Palestinians in Israel, and urged the U.S. to pressure Israel to grant and respect these rights. Said was described by journalist Robert Fiskas the Palestinian people’s “most powerful political voice”.[3] Nevertheless, he also criticized the Arab and Muslim regimes who acted against the interests of their peoples. Intellectually active until the last months of his life, he died of leukemia in late 2003.


Early life

Edward and his sister Rosemarie (1940)

Edward Said was born on November 1, 1935, to Hilda and Wadie Said, a businessman in Jerusalem in the British Mandate of Palestine.[4] Edward’s father was a Palestinian who soldiered in the U.S. Army component of General John J. Pershing‘s American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. Wadie Said and his family were granted U.S. citizenship due to his military service,[5] after he moved to Cleveland before returning to Palestine in 1920. Edward’s mother Hilda, who was born in Nazareth, had a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother.[6] After the war, in 1919, Wadie Said moved to Cairo and established a stationery business with a cousin. Although his parents and family were Protestant Christians, Edward was an agnostic.

At school

Said described his childhood as lived “between worlds”, the worlds of Cairo and Jerusalem, until he was twelve.[7] In 1947, he attended the Anglican St. George’s School, Jerusalem, about which experience he said:

With an unexceptionally Arab family name like “Said”, connected to an improbably British first name (my mother much admired Prince of Wales [Edward VIII] in 1935, the year of my birth), I was an uncomfortably anomalous student all through my early years: a Palestinian going to school in Egypt, with an English first name, an American passport, and no certain identity, at all. To make matters worse, Arabic, my native language, and English, my school language, were inextricably mixed: I have never known which was my first language, and have felt fully at home in neither, although I dream in both. Every time I speak an English sentence, I find myself echoing it in Arabic, and vice versa.[7]

In the late 1940s, the latter school days of Said included attendance at the Egyptian branch of Victoria College (VC), where one classmate was Omar Sharif whom he remembered as a sadistic and physically abusive head boy; other classmates included King Hussein of Jordan, and Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, and Saudi Arabian boys whose academic careers progressed to their becoming ministers, prime ministers, and leading businessmen of and in their respective countries.[8] In that colonial time, the VC school educated select Arab and Levantine lads to become the Anglicized ruling-class, who, in due course, were to rule their respective countries, upon British decolonization. Victoria College was the last school Said attended before being sent to the U.S.:

The moment one became a student at VC, one was given the student handbook, a series of regulations governing every aspect of school life—the kind of uniform we were to wear, what equipment was needed for sports, the dates of school holidays, bus schedules, and so on. But the school’s first rule, emblazoned on the opening page of the handbook, read: “English is the language of the school; students caught speaking any other language will be punished.” Yet, there were no native speakers of English among the students. Whereas the masters were all British, we were a motley crew of Arabs of various kinds, Armenians, Greeks, Italians, Jews, and Turks, each of whom had a native language that the school had explicitly outlawed. Yet all, or nearly all, of us spoke Arabic—many spoke Arabic and French—and so we were able to take refuge in a common language, in defiance of what we perceived as an unjust colonial stricture.[9]

U.S. education

Said proved a troublesome student; he was expelled from Victoria College in 1951 and ended up in Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, a socially elite, college-prep boarding-school where he endured a miserable year of feeling out of place. Nonetheless, he excelled academically and achieved the rank of either first (valedectorian) or second (salutatarian) in a class of 160 students. In retrospect, Said said that having been sent away to a place so far from the Middle East was a parental decision much influenced by “the prospects of deracinated people, like us, being so uncertain that it would be best to send me as far away as possible”.[7] He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton (1957), and then a Master of Arts degree (1960) and a Doctor of Philosophy degree (1964), in English Literature, fromHarvard.[10][11]

Academic career

In 1963, Said joined Columbia University as a member of the faculties of the department of English and of the department of comparative literature, where he taught and worked until 2003 (he became professor there in 1991). In 1974, he was Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard College; in 1975–76 he was a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science, at Stanford University; in 1977, he was the Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and subsequently was the Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities; and, in 1979, he was Visiting Professor of Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.[12] After receiving tenure at Columbia, Said would also go on to teach at Yale University.[13]

Said served as president of the Modern Language Association; as editor of the Arab Studies Quarterly in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; on the executive board of International PEN; in the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in the Royal Society of Literature; in the Council of Foreign Relations;[12] and he was a member of the American Philosophical Society.[14]

Claims of biographical dishonesty

Justus Weiner, an American lawyer and resident scholar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think-tank, claimed that Said had been dishonest about his childhood.[15][16] In the article “My Beautiful Old House and Other Fabrications by Edward Said”, published in Commentary magazine in 1999, Weiner claimed Said lied that “I was born in Jerusalem, and spent most of my formative years there; and, after 1948, when my entire family became refugees, in Egypt”.[17] Despite having acknowledged that Said was born in Jerusalem (Palestine), Weiner reported that Said’s birth certificate lists a Cairo (Egypt) residential address for the Said family; that the boy Edward did not live his formative, boyhood years in Jerusalem with his family, but in Cairo; and that he had not been a full-time student at the St. George’s School in Jerusalem, because the school’s register of students contained no record of his matriculation to the school.

Weiner’s article, described by The Guardian as a “fierce assault…in a small right-wing periodical”, was vehemently criticised by journalists and historians who defended Said’s account.[18] Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair wrote that Weiner had deliberately falsified the biographic record in order to attack Said. They pointed to Haig Boyadjian, who said he had explicitly told Weiner that he had been Said’s classmate at St. George’s, a fact omitted by Weiner.[19] Christopher Hitchens described Weiner’s article as a work of “extraordinary spite and mendacity” and reported that schoolmates and instructors confirmed that Said had been at the St. George Academy.[20] Historian Amos Elon accused Weiner of waging a “personal smear campaign” against Said. Elon said Weiner failed to disprove that in the winter of 1947–48, in light of the Arab–Israeli War, the Said family left Jerusalem for Cairo. “[Said] and his family sought refuge from the war outside Palestine, as did hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians at the time. The fact remains,” Elon wrote, “that shortly afterward, the family’s property in Jerusalem was confiscated. Said and his family became political refugees as the result of the Israeli government’s refusal to allow them to return to the country of their birth.”[21]

In retort, Weiner accused Elon of intellectual dishonesty and Hitchens of having made himself “a poster boy for Palestine”. To Hitchens’s critique that he had not even interviewed Said, Weiner replied that three years of research had made it unnecessary to interview the man about his childhood in British Palestine, and said, in connection to Said’s school days in the Middle East: “The evidence became so overwhelming. It was no longer an issue of discrepancies. It was a chasm. There was no point in calling him up and saying, ‘You’re a liar, you’re a fraud’ “.[16] Said himself said that Weiner’s article was the third such attack to be published in Commentary, and that the perspective of the authors only produced “calumny and falsehood”[22][23] and that the article’s credibility was “undercut by dozens of mistakes of fact”.[24]

Literary criticism

19th-century novelistJoseph Conrad is the subject of Said’s first book, Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966).

Said’s first book, Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966), expanded on his doctoral dissertation. In Edward Said: Criticism and Society (2010), Abdirahman Hussein said that the novella Heart of Darkness (1899), by Joseph Conrad, was the book that proved foundational to Said’s entire career and project.[25] Afterwards, Said redacted ideas gleaned from the works of the 17th-century philosopher Giambattista Vico, and other intellectuals, in the book Beginnings: Intention and Method (1974), about the theoretical bases of literary criticism.[26] Said’s further bibliographic production featured books such as The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983),Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature: Yeats and Decolonization (1988), Culture and Imperialism (1993), Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures (1994), Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004), and On Late Style (2006).

Like his postmodern intellectual mentors, the poststructuralist philosophers Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, Said was fascinated by how the people of the Western world perceive the peoples of and the things from a different culture, and by the effects of society, politics, and power upon literature; thus is Edward W. Said a founding intellectual of post-colonial criticism. Although the critique of Orientalism is his especially important cultural contribution, it was the critical interpretations of Conrad, Jane AustenRudyard KiplingW. B. Yeats and other writers that established his intellectual reputation.[27][28]


The cover of Said’s Orientalismcontained a detail from the 19th-century Orientalist painting The Snake Charmer, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904).

Said is most famous for the description and analyses of Orientalism as the source of the inaccurate cultural representations that are the foundation of Western thought towards the Middle East, of how The West perceives and represents The East. The thesis of Orientalism is the existence of a “subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture”,[29] which derives from Western culture’s long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia, in general, and the Middle East, in particular. That such perceptions, and the consequent cultural representations, have served, and continue to serve, as implicit justifications for the colonial and imperialist ambitions of the European powers and of the United States. Likewise, Said also criticized and denounced the political and the cultural malpractices of the régimes of the ruling Arab élites who have internalized the false, romanticized representations of Arabic culture that were conceived and established by Anglo-American Orientalists:[30]

So far as the United States seems to be concerned, it is only a slight overstatement to say that Moslems and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Moslem life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have, instead, is a series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.[31]

The Reception of the Ambassadors in Damascus (1511)

In Orientalism, Said argued that much of the Western study of Islamic civilization was political intellectualism meant for European self-affirmation, rather than for objective intellectual enquiry and academic study of Eastern cultures. Hence, Orientalism functioned as a method of practical, cultural discrimination applied as a means of imperialist domination, producing the claim that the Western Orientalist knows more about the Orient than do the Orientals.[30][32] Said argues that the history of European colonial rule, and of the consequent political domination of the civilizations of the East, distorts the writing of even the most knowledgeable, well-meaning, and culturally sympathetic Western Orientalists; thus was the term “Orientalism” rendered into a pejorative word:[33]

I doubt if it is controversial, for example, to say that an Englishman in India, or Egypt, in the later nineteenth century, took an interest in those countries, which was never far from their status, in his mind, as British colonies. To say this may seem quite different from saying that all academic knowledge about India and Egypt is somehow tinged and impressed with, violated by, the gross political fact—and yet that is what I am saying in this study of Orientalism.[34]

Orientalism concluded that Western writing about the Orient depicts it as an irrational, weak, and feminised Other, an existential condition contrasted with the rational, strong, and masculine West. This binary relation derives from the European psychological need to create a difference of cultural inequality between West and East; that cultural difference is attributed to immutable cultural “essences” inherent to Oriental peoples and things.[35] Orientalism has exerted great intellectual influence upon the academic fields of literary theory and cultural studieshuman geography and history, and Oriental studies.

Response to Orientalism

Orientalism (1978) provoked much theoretic criticism of the work and its thesis as well as personal controversy about Edward Said, the author and the man.[36]

The criticism by Orientalists such as Albert HouraniRobert Graham IrwinIbn WarraqNikki KeddieBernard Lewis, and Kanan Makiya, addressed what the historian Nikki Keddie said were “some unfortunate consequences” of Orientalism upon the perception and the status of their scholarship.[37][38] [39]

In Approaches to the History of the Middle East, the historian Keddie said that, as critical theory, Said’s work on Orientalism had:

unfortunate consequences … I think that there has been a tendency in the Middle East [studies] field to adopt the word “Orientalism” as a generalized swear-word, essentially referring to people who take the “wrong” position on the Arab–Israeli dispute, or to people who are judged “too conservative”. It has nothing to do with whether they are good or not good in their disciplines. So, “Orientalism”, for many people, is a word that substitutes for thought, and enables people to dismiss certain scholars and their works. I think that is too bad. It may not have been what Edward Said meant, at all, but the term has become a kind of slogan.[40]

Moreover, the Anglo-American Orientalist Bernard Lewis was especially at odds with the thesis of Orientalism, wherein Said identified Lewis as:

… a perfect exemplification [of an] Establishment Orientalist [whose work] purports to be objective, liberal scholarship, but is, in reality, very close to being propaganda against his subject material.[41] For sheer heedless anti-intellectualism, unrestrained or unencumbered by the slightest trace of critical self-consciousness, no one, in my experience, has achieved the sublime confidence of Bernard Lewis, whose almost purely political exploits require more time to mention than they are worth. In a series of articles, and one particularly weak book—The Muslim Discovery of Europe (1982)—Lewis has been busy responding to my argument, insisting that the Western quest for knowledge about other societies is unique, that it is motivated by pure curiosity, and that, in contrast, Muslims neither were able nor interested in getting knowledge about Europe, as if knowledge about Europe were the only acceptable criterion for true knowledge.

Lewis’s arguments are presented as emanating exclusively from the scholar’s apolitical impartiality, whereas, at the same time, he has become an authority drawn on for anti-Islamic, anti-Arab, Zionist, and Cold War crusades, all of them underwritten by a zealotry, covered with a veneer of urbanity, that has very little in common with the “science” and learning Lewis purports to be upholding.[42]

Lewis replied to Said’s characterizations, of his (Lewis’s) works as political propaganda, and of him (Lewis) as an anti-intellectual, with essays critical of Said the academic, and of his works; Lewis later was joined in his criticisms of Said by the academics Maxime RodinsonJacques BerqueMalcolm KerrAijaz Ahmad, andWilliam Montgomery Watt who said that Orientalism (1978) is a flawed account of Western scholarship about “The Orient”.[43]

Said felt the consequences of being a politically-militant, public intellectual in 1985: per Said, the Jewish Defense League compared Said to a Nazi because of his anti-Zionism; an arsonist set afire his office at Columbia University; he and his family were repeatedly targeted with death threats.[44]


Edward Said was a charismatic public intellectual and something of an “intellectual superstar” in America.[45] His field of inquiry included literary theory and comparative literature, history and political commentarycultural criticism and music criticism, and other fields.[45][46] Orientalism proved to be an intellectual document central to the field of post-colonial studies, its thesis being considered as historically factual, true, and accurate for the pertinent periods studied, and especially regarding the cultural representations of “Orientals” and “The Orient” presented in the mass communications media of the West.[47] Nonetheless, Said’s supporters acknowledged that concerning the German Orientalist scholarship, the scope of Orientalism is limited; yet, in the magazine article “Orientalism Reconsidered” (1985), Said said that no-one opponent provided a substantive rationale for claiming that the dearth of discussion about German Orientalism necessarily limits the scholarly value and practical application of the book’s thesis.[48] Moreover, in the Afterword to the 1995 edition of Orientalism, Said presented follow-up refutations of the criticisms that Bernard Lewis registered against the first edition (1978) of the book.[42][49]

Moreover, his critics and supporters acknowledge the transformative influence of Orientalism upon scholarship in the humanities—the former say that is an intellectually limiting influence upon scholars, whilst the latter say that it is an intellectually liberating influence upon scholars.[50][51] Post-colonial studies, of which Said was an intellectual founder, and a scholarly reference, is a thriving field of intellectual enquiry that seeks to explain the post-colonial world, its peoples, and their discontents.[52][53] Hence the continued investigational validity and analytical efficacy of the critical propositions presented in Orientalism (1978), especially in the field ofMiddle Eastern studies.[46]

The scholarship of Said remains critically pertinent to and intellectually relevant in the fields of literary criticism and cultural studies,[46] notably upon scholars studying India, such as Gyan Prakash (“Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World: Perspectives from Indian Historiography”, 1990),[54] Nicholas Dirks (Castes of Mind, 2001),[55] and Ronald Inden (Imagining India, 1990);[56] and upon literary theorists such as Homi K. Bhabha (Nation and Narration, 1990),[57] Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak(In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics, 1987),[58] and Hamid Dabashi (Iran: A People Interrupted, 2007).

Elsewhere, in and about Eastern Europe, Milica Bakić-Hayden developed the concept of Nesting Orientalisms (1992), based upon and derived from the ideas of the historian Larry Wolff (Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment, 1994) and upon the ideas that Said presented in Orientalism(1978).[59] In turn, the Bulgarian historian Maria Todorova (Imagining the Balkans, 1997) presented her ethnologic concept of Nesting Balkanisms (Ethnologia Balkanica,1997), which is theoretically related to and derived from Milica Bakić-Hayden’s concept of Nesting Orientalisms.[60]


Pro-Palestinian activism

Said became politically active in 1967, to counter the perceived stereotyped misrepresentations with which the U.S. news media explained the Arab–Israeli wars; reportage which he felt was divorced from the historical realities of the Middle East, in general, and Palestine and Israel, in particular. His “The Arab Portrayed” (1968) was an essay wherein he described the images of the Arab, as presented in journalism and some types of scholarship, which he feels are meant to evade the specific discussion of the historical and cultural realities of the peoples who are the Middle East.[61] Since then, he participated in political and diplomatic efforts for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

From 1977 until 1991, Said was an independent member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC).[45] In 1988, he was a proponent of the two-state solution to theIsraeli–Palestinian conflict (1948), and voted for the establishment of the State of Palestine at a meeting of the Palestinian National Council meeting in Algiers. In 1993, Said quit his membership of the PNC to protest the politics that led to the signing of the Oslo Accords, because he thought the accord terms unacceptable, and because they had been rejected by the Madrid Conference of 1991.[62] Especially troublesome to Said was his belief that Yasir Arafat had betrayed the right of return of the Palestinian refugees to return to their houses and properties in the Green Line territories of pre-1967 Israel; and that Arafat ignored the growing political threat of theIsraeli settlements in the occupied territories established since the conquest of Palestine in 1967. By 1995, in response to Said’s political criticisms, the Palestinian Authority banned the sale of Said’s books; however, relations improved when Said publicly praised Yasir Arafat for rejecting Prime Minister Ehud Barak‘s offers at theMiddle East Peace Summit at Camp David (2000) in the U.S.[63][64]

In the essay “Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims” (1979), Edward Said argued in favour of the political legitimacy and philosophical authenticity of the Zionistclaims and right to a Jewish homeland; and for the right of national self-determination of the Palestinian people.[65] Said’s books on the matters of Israel and Palestine include The Question of Palestine (1979), The Politics of Dispossession (1994), and The End of the Peace Process (2000). In 1998, for the BBC, Said made In Search of Palestine (1998), a documentary film about Palestine past and Palestine present.[66] With his son, Said returned to Palestine to confront “Israeli injustice”. Despite the social and cultural prestige that BBC cinema products usually enjoyed, In Search of Palestine was not broadcast by the television companies of the U.S.[67]

In 2003, Haidar Abdel-Shafi, Ibrahim Dakak, Mustafa Barghouti, and Edward Said established the third-party political organization Al-Mubadara (the Palestinian National Initiative), headed by Barghouti, to be a reformist and democratic alternative to the usual two-party politics of Palestine, as an alternative to the respectively extremist politics of the social-democratic Fatah and the Islamist Hamas.

Stone-throwing incident

On 3 July 2000, while travelling as a tourist in the Middle East with his son, Said was photographed throwing a stone across the Blue Line Lebanese–Israeli border. In the U.S., that image elicited much conservative political criticism that Said’s action demonstrated an inherent, personal sympathy with terrorism, thus the Commentarymagazine journalist Edward Alexander labelled Said as the “Professor of Terror”.[68] According to Said, there was not much to the incident: “Mr. Said said he was having a stone-throwing contest with his son and called it a ‘symbolic gesture of joy’ at the end of Israel’s occupation of Lebanon…It was a pebble; there was nobody there. The guardhouse was at least half a mile away.[69] However, the As-Safir newspaper reported that a local Lebanese resident said that Said was less than ten metres (ca. 30 ft.) from the IDF soldiers manning the two-storey guardhouse when he aimed and threw the stone over the border fence; the stone struck the barbed wire atop the border fence.[70] Despite the political fracas among conservative Columbia University students and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith International (Sons of the Covenant), the University Provost defended Said’s action as an academic’s freedom of expression: “To my knowledge, the stone was directed at no-one; no law was broken; no indictment was made; no criminal or civil action has been taken against Professor Said”.[71]

Nevertheless, Said faced repercussions, such as the cancellation of an invitation to give a lecture to the Freud Society, in Austria, in February 2001.[72] The President of the Freud Society justified withdrawing the invitation from Said by explaining that “the political situation in the Middle East, and its consequences” had rendered an accusation of anti-Semitism a very serious matter, and that any such accusation “has become more dangerous” in the politics of Austria; the Freud Society thus cancelled their invitation to Said in order to “avoid an internal clash” of opinions, about him, that might ideologically divide the Freud Society.[69]

Criticism of U.S. foreign politics

In the revised edition of Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World (1997), Said criticized the Orientalist bias of the Western news media’s reportage about the Middle East and Islam, especially the tendency towards editorializing “speculations about the latest conspiracy to blow up buildings, sabotage commercial airliners, and poison water supplies”.[73] He referred to the military involvement of the U.S. in the Kosovo War (1998–99) as an imperialist action and described the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act as the political license that predisposed the U.S. to invade Iraq in 2003. He claimed that the continual support of Israel by successive U.S. presidential governments, as actions meant to perpetuate regional political instability in the Middle East. He criticized the 2003 invasion of Iraq in mid-2003,[74] and, in the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper, said that the U.S. war against Iraq was a politically ill-conceived military enterprise:

My strong opinion, though I don’t have any proof, in the classical sense of the word, is that they want to change the entire Middle East, and the Arab world, perhaps terminate some countries, destroy the so-called terrorist groups they dislike, and install régimes friendly to the United States. I think this is a dream that has very little basis in reality. The knowledge they have of the Middle East, to judge from the people who advise them, is, to say the least, out of date and widely speculative.[75]

In January 2006, anthropologist David Price obtained 147 pages of the 283-page political dossier that the FBI had compiled on Edward Said, which indicated that he had been spied upon since 1971, four years since he had become a public intellectual active in the politics to the U.S.[76]


The harmonious Middle East: the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

Said was an accomplished pianist. He worked as the music critic for The Nation magazine, and wrote four books about music:Musical Elaborations (1991), Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (2002, with Daniel Barenboim), On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain (2006), and Music at the Limits (2007). In the latter book he spoke of finding musical reflections of his literary and historical ideas in bold compositions and strong performances.[77][78]

In 1999, Said and Daniel Barenboim founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which is composed of young Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab musicians. They also established The Barenboim–Said Foundation in Seville, to develop education-through-music projects. Besides managing the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Barenboim–Said Foundation assists with the administration of the Academy of Orchestral Studies, the Musical Education in Palestine Project, and the Early Childhood Musical Education Project, in Seville.[79] Composer Mohammed Fairouz acknowledged the influence of Edward Said upon his works: compositionally, the First Symphony thematically alludes to the essay “Homage to a Belly-Dancer” (1990); and a piano sonata titled Reflections on Exile(1984), which thematically refers to the emotions inherent to the eponymous subject.[80][81][82]


Besides honors, memberships, and postings to prestigious organizations world-wide, Edward Said was awarded some twenty honorary university degrees in the course of his professional life as an academic, critic, and Man of Letters.[83] Among the honors bestowed to him was the Bowdoin Prize by Harvard University. He twice received the Lionel Trilling Book Award; the first occasion was the inaugural bestowing of said literary award in 1976, for Beginnings: Intention and Method (1974). He also received the Wellek Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association, and was awarded the inaugural Spinoza Lens Prize.[84] In 2001, Said was awarded theLannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2002, he received the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, and was the first U.S. citizen to receive the Sultan Owais Prize.[85] The autobiography Out of Place (1999) was bestowed three awards, the 1999 New Yorker Book Award for Non-Fiction; the 2000 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction; and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award in Literature.[86]

Death and legacy

On 25 September 2003, after enduring a twelve-year sickness with chronic lymphocytic leukæmia, Said died aged 67 in New York City.[87] He was survived by his wife,Mariam C. Said, his son, Wadie, and his daughter, Najla, an actress, playwright, and a founder of Nibras, the Arab-American theatre troupe.[45][88][89]

Eulogies included Alexander Cockburn, “A Mighty and Passionate Heart”;[90] Seamus Deane, “A Late Style of Humanism”;[91] Christopher Hitchens, “A Valediction for Edward Said”;[92] Tony Judt, “The Rootless Cosmopolitan”;[93] Michael Wood, “On Edward Said”;[94] and Tariq Ali, “Remembering Edward Said (1935–2003)”.[95] In November 2004, in Palestine, Birzeit University renamed their music school the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music.[96]

Palestinian National Initiative-sponsored poster, In memoriam Edward Wadie Said, on the Israeli West Bank wall.


Verso Books published Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward W. Said (2008), edited by Müge Gürsoy Sökmen and Bașak Ertür; the essayists include Akeel BilgramiRashid Khalidi, and Elias Khoury.[97][98] Routledge published Edward Said: The Charisma of Criticism (2010), by Harold Aram Veeser, a critical biography. The University of California Press published Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representations (2010), edited by Adel Iskandar and Hakem Rustom, and featuring contributions about Said’s intellectual legacy by Joseph MassadIlan PappéElla ShohatGhada KarmiNoam ChomskyGayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Daniel Barenboim, among others.

Academic establishments such as Columbia University, the University of WarwickPrinceton University, the University of Adelaide, the American University of Cairo, and the Palestine Center have instituted annual series of lectures about the subjects, topics, and themes that Edward Said discussed in his works; notable among the speakers have been Daniel Barenboim, Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, and Cornel West.

In Berlin the Barenboim-Said Academy was established in 2012. Following the philosophy of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, young music students from the Arab World and Israel will study music and humanities. Construction next to the Berlin State Opera started in May 2014. Studies are set to commence in the fall of 2015.[99]



  1. Jump up^ William D. Hart (2000). “Preliminary remarks”. Edward Said and the Religious Effects of Culture. Cambridge University Press. p. 15. ISBN 9780521778107.
  2. Jump up^ Ned Curthoys, Debjani Ganguly, ed. (2007). Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual. Academic Monographs. p. 27. ISBN 9780522853575.
  3. Jump up^ Fisk, Robert (30 December 2008). “Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony”The Independent. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  4. Jump up^ Hughes, Robert (21 June 1993). “Envoy to Two Cultures”Time. Retrieved2008-10-21.
  5. Jump up^ Turner and Rojek 224.
  6. Jump up^ McCarthy 10.
  7. Jump up to:a b c Said, Edward (7 May 1998). “Between Worlds: a memoir”London Review of Books. pp. 3–7. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  8. Jump up^ Said, Edward W. (1999). Out of Place. Vintage Books, NY. p. 201.
  9. Jump up^ “Between Worlds”, Reflections on Exile, and Other Essays (2002) pp. 556–57.
  10. Jump up^ Edward Said, Out of Place, Vintage Books, 1999: pp. 82–83.
  11. Jump up^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Edward Said, accessed 3 January 2010.
  12. Jump up to:a b L.A. Jews For Peace, The Question of Palestine by Edward Said. (1997)Books on the Israel–Palestinian Conflict – Annotated Bibliography, accessed 3 January 2010.
  13. Jump up^ European Graduate School, The. “Edward Said”. The European Graduate School. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  14. Jump up^ Moustafa Bayoumi and Andrew Rubin, Eds., The Edward Said Reader, Vintage, 2000, pp. xv.
  15. Jump up^ Hitchens, Christopher (7 September 1999). “Commentary’s scurrilous attack on Edward Said”Salon. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  16. Jump up to:a b Offman, Craig (10 September 1999). “Said critic blasts back at Hitchens”.Salon. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  17. Jump up^ “Between Worlds: Edward Said Makes Sense of His Life”, London Review of Books, 7 May 1998, p. 3.
  18. Jump up^ Borger, Julian (23 August 1999). “Friends Rally to Repulse Attack on Edward Said”The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  19. Jump up^ Cockburn, Alexander; Jeffrey St. Clair (1 September 1999). “Commentary ‘Scholar’ Deliberately Falsified Record in Attack on Said”CounterPunch. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  20. Jump up^ Hitchens, Christopher (2 September 1999). “The Commentary School of Falsification”The Nation. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  21. Jump up^ “Exile’s Return’ by Justus Reid Weiner, reply by Amos Elon”The New York Review of Books. 24 February 2000. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  22. Jump up^ Said, Edward (26 August – 1 September 1999). “Defamation, Zionist-style”Al-Ahram Weekly. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  23. Jump up^ Said, Edward (15 June 1999). “Defamation, Revisionist Style”CounterPunch. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  24. Jump up^ Singh and Johnson 19, 219.
  25. Jump up^ McCarthy 16.
  26. Jump up^ Edward Said, Power, Politics and Culture, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2001: pp. 77–79.
  27. Jump up^ Harish Trivedi, ” ‘Arguing with the Himalayas’: Edward Said and Rudyard Kipling” Asia Pacific Reader archive. University of Toronto. Accessed 4 January 2010.
  28. Jump up^ Andy Morrison, “Theories of Post-Coloniality: Edward W. Said and W.B. Yeats”,MA studies, Queen’s University of Belfast, 21 May 1998. Accessed 4 January 2010.
  29. Jump up^ Said, Edward (1978) Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books.
  30. Jump up to:a b Windschuttle, Keith (January 1999). “Edward Said’s Orientalism revisited”.The New Criterion. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  31. Jump up^ Said, Edward (26 April 1980). “Islam Through Western Eyes”The Nation. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  32. Jump up^ Said, Orientalism 12.
  33. Jump up^ Buruma, Ian (16 June 2008). “Orientalism today is just another form of insult”.The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  34. Jump up^ Said, Orientalism 11.
  35. Jump up^ Said, Orientalism 65–67.
  36. Jump up^ Martin Kramer, “Enough Said (review of Dangerous Knowledge, by Robert Irwin)”, March 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  37. Jump up^ Bernard Lewis, “The Question of Orientalism”, Islam and the West, London, 1993: pp. 99, 118.
  38. Jump up^ Robert Irwin, For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies, London: Allen Lane, 2006.
  39. Jump up^ Martin Kramer said that “Fifteen years after [the] publication of Orientalism, the UCLA historian Nikki Keddie (whose work Said praised in Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World) allowed thatOrientalism was ‘important, and, in many ways, positive’ “.[1]
  40. Jump up^ Approaches to the History of the Middle East, Nancy Elizabeth Gallagher, Ed., London:Ithaca Press, 1994: pp. 144–45.
  41. Jump up^ Orientalism: p. 316
  42. Jump up to:a b Edward Said, “Orientalism Reconsidered”, Cultural Critique magazine, No. 1, Autumn 1985, p. 96
  43. Jump up^ Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Natures, Literatures, London: Verso, 1992.
  44. Jump up^ Edward Said, “Between Worlds”London Review of Books, Vol. 20. No. 9 (May 1998), pp. 3–7.
  45. Jump up to:a b c d Ruthven, Malisa (26 September 2003). “Obituary: Edward Said”The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  46. Jump up to:a b c Stephen Howe, “Dangerous mind?”New Humanist, Vol. 123, November/December 2008.
  47. Jump up^ Terry Eagleton, book review of For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies, by Robert Irwin. [1]New Statesman, 13 February 2006.
  48. Jump up^ Orientalism 18–19.
  49. Jump up^ Orientalism 329–54.
  50. Jump up^ Martin Kramer. Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America (2001)
  51. Jump up^ Andrew N. Rubin, “Techniques of Trouble: Edward Said and the Dialectics of Cultural Philology”, The South Atlantic Quarterly, 102.4 (2003):862–76.
  52. Jump up^ Robert Young, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West, New York & London: Routledge, 1990.
  53. Jump up^ Emory University, Department of English, Introduction to Postcolonial Studies
  54. Jump up^ Prakash, Gyan (1990). “Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World: Perspectives from Indian Historiography”. Comparative Studies in Society and History 32 (2): 383–408. JSTOR 178920.
  55. Jump up^ Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind, Princeton: Princeton UP, 2001.
  56. Jump up^ Ronald Inden, Imagining India, New York: Oxford UP, 1990.
  57. Jump up^ Homi K. Bhaba, Nation and Narration, New York & London: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, 1990.
  58. Jump up^ Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics, London: Methuen, 1987.
  59. Jump up^ Ashbrook, John E (2008), Buying and Selling the Istrian Goat: Istrian Regionalism, Croatian Nationalism, and EU Enlargement, New York: Peter Lang, p. 22, ISBN 90-5201-391-8OCLC 213599021Milica Bakić-Hayden built on Wolff’s work, incorporating the ideas of Edward Said’s “Orientalism”
  60. Jump up^ Ethnologia Balkanica, Sofia: Prof. M. Drinov Academic Pub. House, 1995, p. 37, OCLC 41714232The idea of “nesting orientalisms”, in Bakić-Hayden 1995, and the related concept of “nesting balkanisms”, in Todorova 1997. . . .
  61. Jump up^ “Between Worlds”, Reflections on Exile, and Other Essays (2002) pp. 563.
  62. Jump up^ Edward Said, “The Morning After”London Review of Books Vol. 15 No. 20. 21 October 1993.
  63. Jump up^ Michael Wood, “On Edward Said”London Review of Books, 23 October 2003, accessed 5 January 2010.
  64. Jump up^ Edward Said, “The price of Camp David”Al Ahram Weekly, 23 July 2001. Accessed 5 January 2010.
  65. Jump up^ Edward Said, “Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims” (1979), in The Edward Said Reader, Vintage Books, 2000, pp. 114–68.
  66. Jump up^ “In Search of Palestine (1998)”British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  67. Jump up^ Barsamian 57–58.
  68. Jump up^ Julian Vigo, “Edward Said and the Politics of Peace: From Orientalisms to Terrorology”, A Journal of Contemporary Thought (2004): pp. 43–65.
  69. Jump up to:a b Dinitia Smith, “A Stone’s Throw is a Freudian Slip”The New York Times, 10 March 2001.
  70. Jump up^ Sunnie Kim, “Edward Said Accused of Stoning in South Lebanon”Columbia Spectator, 19 July 2000.
  71. Jump up^ Karen W. Arenson (19 October 2000). “Columbia Debates a Professor’s ‘Gesture'”The New York Times.
  72. Jump up^ Edward Said and David Barsamian, Culture and Resistance – Conversations with Edward Said, South End Press, 2003: pp. 85–86
  73. Jump up^ Kramer, Martin (March 2007). “Enough Said: Rev. of Robert Irwin, Dangerous KnowledgeCommentary. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  74. Jump up^ “Syrian Expert Patrick Seale and Columbia University Professor Edward Said Discuss the State of the Middle East After the Invasion of Iraq”Democracy Now!. 15 April 2003. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  75. Jump up^ Elbendary, Amina (27 March – 2 April 2003). “Resources of hope”Al-Ahram Weekly. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  76. Jump up^ Price, David (13–15 January 2006). “How the FBI Spied on Edward Said”.CounterPunch. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  77. Jump up^ Ranjan Ghosh, Edward Said and the Literary, Social, and Political World, New York: Routledge, 2009: p. 22.
  78. Jump up^ Columbia University Press, Music at the Limits by Edward W. Said, accessed 5 January 2010.
  79. Jump up^ Barenboim–Said Foundation, official website, Accessed 4 January 2010.
  80. Jump up^ Rase, Sherri (8 April 2011), Conversations—with Mohammed Fairouz,[Q]onStage, retrieved 2011-04-19
  81. Jump up^ “Homage to a Belly-dancer”, Granta, 13 (Winter 1984).
  82. Jump up^ “Reflections on Exile”, London Review of Books, 13 September 1990.
  83. Jump up^ The English Pen World Atlas, “Edward Said”, accessed on 3 January 2010.
  84. Jump up^ Spinozalens, Internationale Spinozaprijs Laureates, accessed on 3 January 2010.
  85. Jump up^ Columbia University Press, “About the Author”, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, 2004.
  86. Jump up^ The English Pen World Atlas, Edward Said, accessed on 3 January 2010.
  87. Jump up^ Bernstein, Richard (26 September 2003). “Edward W. Said, Literary Critic and Advocate for Palestinian Independence, Dies at 67”The New York Times. p. 23. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  88. Jump up^ “Columbia Community Mourns Passing of Edward Said, Beloved and Esteemed University Professor”Columbia News. 26 September 2003. Retrieved 6 June2013.
  89. Jump up^ Feeney, Mark (26 September 2003). “Edward Said, critic, scholar, Palestinian advocate; at 67”The Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  90. Jump up^ Alexander Cockburn, “A Mighty and Passionate Heart”Counterpunch
  91. Jump up^ ‘A Late Style of Humanism’, Field Day Review 1 (Dublin: 2005),
  92. Jump up^ Christopher Hitchens, “A Valediction for Edward Said” Slate, September 2003
  93. Jump up^ Tony Judt, “The Rootless Cosmopolitan”The Nation
  94. Jump up^ Michael Wood, On Edward SaidLondon Review of Books, 23 October 2003, accessed 5 January 2010.
  95. Jump up^ Tariq Ali, “Remembering Edward Said (1935–2003)”The New Left Review
  96. Jump up^ Birzeit University, Edward Said National Conservatory of Music.
  97. Jump up^ “Conference: Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward Said.” 25–26 May 2007. Bogazici University. European Journal of Turkish Studies. Accessed 5 January 2010.
  98. Jump up^ Jorgen Jensehausen, “Review: ‘Waiting for the Barbarians'” Journal of Peace Research Vol. 46 No. 3 May 2009. Accessed 5 January 2010.
  99. Jump up^ Rebecca Schmid. “Plans for Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin Unveiled”.New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2014.