Edward Said

1935 - 2003

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Edward Wadie Said (1 November 1935 – 24 September 2003) was a Palestinian-American academic, literary critic and political activist. As a professor of literature at Columbia University, he was among the founders of post-colonial studies. As a cultural critic, Said is best known for his book Orientalism (1978), a foundational text which critiques the cultural representations that are the bases of Orientalism—how the Western world perceives the Orient. His model of textual analysis transformed the academic discourse of researchers in literary theory, literary criticism, and Middle Eastern studies.Born in Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine, Said was a United States citizen by way of his father, who had served in the United States Army during World War I. After the 1948 Palestine war, he relocated to Egypt and then to the United States, enrolling at Victoria College and Northfield Mount Hermon School, respectively. He graduated with a BA in English from Princeton University in 1957, and later with an MA (1960) and a PhD (1964) in English Literature from Harvard University. His principal influences were Antonio Gramsci, Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Michel Foucault, and Theodor W. Adorno. In 1963, Said joined Columbia University as a member of the English and Comparative Literature faculties, where he taught and worked until 2003. He lectured at more than 200 other universities in North America, Europe, and the Middle East.As a public intellectual, Said was a member of the Palestinian National Council supporting a two-state solution that incorporated the Palestinian right of return, before resigning in 1993 due to his criticism of the Oslo Accords. He advocated for the establishment of a Palestinian state to ensure political and humanitarian equality in the Israeli-occupied territories, where Palestinians have witnessed the increased expansion of Israeli settlements. However, in 1999, he argued that sustainable peace was only possible with one Israeli–Palestinian state. He defined his oppositional relation with the Israeli status quo as the remit of the public intellectual who has "to sift, to judge, to criticize, to choose, so that choice and agency return to the individual" man and woman. In 1999, Said and Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim co-founded the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra, which is based in Seville, Spain. Said was also an accomplished pianist, and, with Barenboim, co-authored the book Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (2002), a compilation of their conversations and public discussions about music at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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