Please read a famous essay that the well-known Palestinian scholar and political activist, Edward Said, wrote for Harper’s Magazine in the 1980s. Said, who passed away in 2003, is credited with changing the field of post-colonial studies with his landmark book, Orientalism (1977). In addition to reading the article, please watch this movie about Said made by Al Jazeera when his memoir, Out of Place, was published (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoeymZ6-LnY)
After reading the essay and watching the video please answer the following questions:
- Said discusses nationalism and its unavoidable association with exile. What does he mean by nationalism? How do immigrants reproduce ways of living that help bridge the deep chasm between their homelands and their new country? Where and how does nationalism exist in a foreign land?
- Said writes that “exile is a jealous state.” What does he mean by that? In his discussion of Israel’s war on Palestinians living in refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982 he writes that “exile begets exile.” What does he mean by this?
- What does Said mean when he discusses the “mutilations” of exile? Be specific. How might these “mutilations” be healed?
- What were the two events in Middle Eastern politics that shaped the course of Said’s professional and political life? How does he respond to these events – professionally and politically?
- Of all the talking heads in the film, Said’s widow (Mariam) offers the most complex description of his feelings of exile. How does she describe them? Thinking about what Gauri Viswanathan — his colleague at Columbia, now sitting in his office — said, how does he attempt to overcome or address these feelings of exile?
Said Essay :
Edward Said, “The Mind of Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile,” Harpers, Sept 1, 1984